With the WGA still on strike, this awards season has been something of a bust, but that all changes tonight... :)
It's a new year, and a new session of the legislature, and it's time to announce the finalists in the 2008 Legislative Loon award.
This year's competition has a number of contenders for the top spot, but the finalists came down to three names familiar to readers of this blog.
This is the first of a series of four posts - one for each finalist, detailing their qualifications for this year's award, followed by a fourth naming the winner. The winner will be announced next week.
On to the finalists...
State Senator Jack Harper(R-LD4), the defending champion, made a strong case to retain his title, sponsoring or cosponsoring at least 10 anti-immigrant bills, three anti-abortion measures, and a offering a number of bills and utterings of the 'unrepentant wing nut' variety.
Some of the highlights of his entries in the category -
...the previously discussed SB1064, a proposal to open up Arizona's presidential primaries - for everyone except Democrats...
...a slightly watered-down version of the infamous "guns in bars" bill. His SB1132 would allow gun owners to carry their weapons in a restaurant as long as the proprietor of the establishment specifically posted that such was allowed. (note: Believe it or not, I could actually support this bill except for the fact that the posting required under the language of this bill doesn't actually clearly state that guns are permitted. Yes, that means that patrons that aren't part of the gun culture wouldn't know that they were around people who were mixing booze and guns. An article on the bill by Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services, via the Sierra Vista Herald is here.)
...his refusal to hold re-confirmation hearings for the commander of the Arizona National Guard, Gen. David Rataczak, because he doesn't like the fact that Governor Napolitano hasn't mobilized the National Guard to patrol the border with Mexico. (EV Trib editorial here)
...his sponsorship of seven bills designed to reduce state or local revenues (i.e. - SB1002, end equalization tax for education; SB1138, bar local development fees to pay for schools in newly'built areas) or increase fiscal irresponsibility (HCR2004, creative use of federal money that isn't subject to specific encumberances).
[And all you CD8 types should remember that Tim Bee is the one who put Harper on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Just something to think about when Bee tries to portray himself as a "moderate Republican" during his campaign to unseat Gabrielle Giffords in November.]
...the reintroduction of a bill to create a state-sponsored and funded anti-immigrant vigilante force...errr..."homeland security force" (SCR1007).
...during a meeting of the Joint Appropriations Committee on January 23rd, he grilled ASU Michael Crow over university courses that "challenge the social norms." He objects to courses that discuss subjects, such as sexuality, that are "deviant from from the majority" and wants "assurance that courses that challenge the social norms will be eliminated in light of budget issues." (The lege's video archive page is here; select the longer January 23, 2008 meeting. Harper's part starts at around the 1:21:00 mark.)
Yes, in a period when the state is facing a budget shortfall in the vicinity a billion dollars, and he's concerned with a couple of individual class offerings that have a single class section. He's actually interested in turning the state universities into higher-ed versions of vocational high schools, not institutions of higher learning -
He wants his "tax money going to train someone for a career not going to push someone's social agenda."
No UFO sightings here, but Sen. Harper offers a well-rounded resume. He's petty, unprofessional, reactionary, and bigoted.
He's made a very strong statement in his campaign to retain the title.
Next up: State Rep. John Kavanagh (R-LD8).