Friday, November 13, 2009

When you outlaw laws, only outlaws will have laws

Tedski at Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion has covered this already, but it's worthy of more coverage.

Especially in light of the apparent fizzling out of next week's likely-to-remain-a-rumor special session of the lege to address the ongoing budget deficit...

Russell Pearce likes to tout himself as a "rule of law" type, but it seems that his enthusiasm for obedience to the laws of the state and country doesn't exactly apply to Pearce himself obeying the law.

From the Arizona Capitol Times -

Sen. Russell Pearce told our reporter yesterday he is advocating lawmakers "simply ignore" the maintenance of effort requirements for K-12, universities and healthcare funding that the state agreed to when it accepted the federal stimulus aid earlier this year.


"Our economy is worse than theirs. We simply cannot do it," he said. "It’s time to tell the federal government, 'Sorry, we can’t do it.' I intend to balance the budget without tax increases."
Of course, federal law regarding budget matters is the least of the budget-related laws that Pearce ignores at will.

Consider the highest law in the state, the Arizona Constitution.

From Article 9, Section 3 (emphasis mine) -
The legislature shall provide by law for an annual tax sufficient, with other sources of revenue, to defray the necessary ordinary expenses of the state for each fiscal year. And for the purpose of paying the state debt, if there be any, the legislature shall provide for levying an annual tax sufficient to pay the annual interest and the principal of such debt within twenty-five years from the final passage of the law creating the debt.

No tax shall be levied except in pursuance of law, and every law imposing a tax shall state distinctly the object of the tax, to which object only it shall be applied.

All taxes levied and collected for state purposes shall be paid into the state treasury in money only.
From Article 9, Section 4 -
The fiscal year shall commence on the first day of July in each year. An accurate statement of the receipts and expenditures of the public money shall be published annually, in such manner as shall be provided by law. Whenever the expenses of any fiscal year shall exceed the income, the legislature may provide for levying a tax for the ensuing fiscal year sufficient, with other sources of income, to pay the deficiency, as well as the estimated expenses of the ensuing fiscal year.
Arizona - the place where the loudest lawmakers are also the loudest lawbreakers.

Note on the special session talk: if it does happen next week (and according to sources, it's not completely dead quite yet, though it's thisclose to being kaput), it may just be a one day session where the members show up, vote without reading what they are voting on, collect their per diem, and head back to the hills.

The original "plan" (such as it was) was for a three-day session from Monday to Wednesday.

Except that the Speaker of the House, Kirk Adams, will be out of town on Monday, and there are all sorts of events on Tuesday that will keep members away from the Capitol on Tuesday until mid to late afternoon, when they have another meeting scheduled.

And then other members will be heading out of town in preparation for the holidays later in the week.

Also, in all of the tentative budget patches/fixes that are being floated around unofficially (in other words, nothing available online yet), more massive cuts to K-12 education and DES are featured but nothing to address revenue has been included, including the Governor's proposed referendum on a sales tax hike. That was supposed to be considered, MAYBE, in a December special session that would have set up a March election on the matter.

While something *could* still happen next week, at this point I'd bet on nothing happening until January at the earliest.



Eli Blake said...

Russell Pearce has a strange view of the law anyway.

A couple of years ago he attacked fellow Republican Bill Konopnicki, who voted against an anti-immigration measure Pearce was pushing, as 'not following the law' by voting against it.

Which I always thought showed how unhinged Pearce was because the basic logic is that if you are voting on a piece of legislation then it is not yet the law, so you can't be breaking it, and if it already was the law (say, some other law) then you'd have an obligation to vote against it because it would be redundant in that case and needlessly complicate the books.

To be honest something that gets me about some Republicans (Pearce, Joe Arpaio, Andrew Thomas, George W. Bush) is that instead of fitting what they want to do into the framework of the law, they do what they want to do and then interpret the law to justify it after the fact.

cpmaz said...

First comment deleted because is was spam.

Thane Eichenauer said...

There are plenty of elected officials who selectively obey the law. I hope that one of these days that the Congress slaps those who issue signing statements.