Sunday, March 06, 2011

Arizona Legislature week in review

For lege-watchers, it was a colorful week, with a LOT of bad bills gaining passage in one of the chambers, and one going to the governor...

...State Sen. Scott Bundgaard's domestic violence incident kept him in the news all week, as did the fact that he used legislative immunity to avoid arrest.

After issuing some press releases proclaiming his apparent candidacy for sainthood (Catholic variety, not Latter Day variety), Bundgaard took to the Senate floor Monday to pour forth some tears, announce his deep affection for Aubry Ballard, the other person in the domestic violence incident, and request privacy.  Throughout the weekend, Bundgaard's camp hinted/suggested/claimed outright that the incident was due to Ballard's jealousy over his dancing with another woman at a charity event.

That story was blown out of the water when Ballard was interviewed by the media, refuting the spin and handling herself with far more class and aplomb than Bundgaard.

Things got worse when the police released the reports of the incident, including the part where one of the responding officers recommended that Bundgaard face charges after the legislative session is complete.

And then things took a bizarre turn when Senate President Russell Pearce declared that Bundgaard was the real victim in all of this.

Expect more developments in this situation...

...In the first piece of significant good news during this session of the legislature, on Wednesday one of the anti-U.S. government bills, SB1433, went down to defeat in a Senate floor vote.  The bill would have created a legislative committee to oversee the "nullification" of federal laws and regulations.

Alas, the good news lasted all of one day for on Thursday, the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Lori Klein, "moved to reconsider" the bill, and the motion passed.  The bill will be brought back to the Senate floor just as soon as Klein, Pearce, Ron Gould, and the others of their clique have enough votes to secure its passage.

...SB1352, banning municipalities from utilizing photo enforcement systems for traffic laws, failed on a 15 - 15 vote, all nine Democrats and six Republicans opposing.  Could still come back under reconsideration if one of the "yes" votes can persuade one of the "no" votes to move to reconsider the bill.

...On Tuesday, Colleen Mathis of Tucson was selected as the fifth and final member of the new Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC).  This coming week, the U.S. Census Bureau will release Arizona's local level data from last year's census, and redistricting will begin in earnest.

...In "this would be funny, if so many of them didn't really believe it" news:  on Thursday, Sen. Sylvia Allen blamed colleges for the rise in street gangs. (thanks to Tedski at Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion for noticing this).

...Late in the week, Senate President Pearce declared that he is "holding" his anti-immigrant bills until the budget is done.  Most observers think that this indicates that A) the budget negotiations between legislative leadership and the governor's office are almost done, and B) the anti-immigrant legislation isn't going away.  Look for the measures, assuming that they actually are held, to start moving again by the end of the month.

Bills passing one chamber and moving across the quad to the other chamber ("interstate compact" bills relate to forming alliances with other states, usually in opposition to federal law in a given subject area):

HB2002, barring school districts from spending district funds to join organizations that attempts to influence an election, passed the House by 40 - 18, 2 not voting.  Party line vote.

HB2191, prohibiting Arizona courts from awarding punitive damages to undocumented immigrants, passed the House on a mostly party line vote (a few Democrats crossed over).  Intended to help Roger Barnett, a southern Arizona rancher who held some undocumented immigrants at gunpoint and was sued for his trouble.  He lost the suit, a development which has upset certain members of the legislature.

HB2577, allowing the legislature to sweep and reappropriate "non-custodial" federal monies, such as block grants, passed the House on a mostly party line vote (a few Democrats crossed over).

HB2710, creating a legislative committee to study transitioning school funding from a per-pupil basis to a system based on "student achievement" passed the House by a mostly party line vote.  It sounds like they are looking for a way to punish already underfunded schools by taking away more money.

SB1334, allowing hunting within city limits, passed the Senate on a party line vote.

SB1521, requiring school districts to implement policies for students with head injuries and school sponsored athletic events, passed the Senate with two dissenting votes, both Republicans (Biggs and Bundgaard).

SB1546, allowing the state to take federally-owned land via eminent domain, passed the Senate by a party line vote.

SB1157, requiring that municipalities can charge only the users of municipal wastewater and trash collection services for those services, not absentee property owners (unless the owners actually contract for the services), passed the Senate on a party line vote.  Bill sponsor Sen. Gail Griffin objects to a bill for "capital" charges that she received on a rental property of hers that is vacant, so she ran this measure.

SB1231, lowering the state's revenue expenditure limit, passed the Senate on a mostly party line vote.  The current limit is 7% of total personal income.  Expenditures have never exceeded or even reached that number; for FY2011, actual expenditures are at 5.95%.  The bill would lower the limit to the previous fiscal year's actual percentage.

SB1403, barring the award of public project contracts being contingent on the use of union labor, passed the Senate on a party line vote.

SB1406, an "interstate compact" bill, to unite with other states to build a fence along the border with Mexico, passed the Senate on a party line vote.

SB1465, prohibiting the state or its political subdivisions from accepting consular ID cards as valid identification, passed the Senate on a party line vote.

SB1525, redefining and limiting municipalities' ability to assess and collect development related fees, passed the Senate 16 - 13, with all nine Democrats and four Republicans opposing.

SB1530, creating a position (unpaid) of State Poet Laureate, passed the Senate.

SCR1024, a legislative postcard to D.C., declaring that the federal government (particularly the EPA) has no jurisdiction over waters that are contained within Arizona, passed the Senate on a party line vote.

SCR1025, a proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution to bar the use of public funds for political candidates (aka - ending Clean Elections), passed the Senate on a party line vote.

SB1088, an anti-health care reform bill, passed the Senate on a party line vote.

SB1393, stating that state legislative authority is superior to that of federal authority when it comes to regulating manmade emissions of pollutants in Arizona, passed the Senate on a party line vote.

SB1394, an "interstate compact" bill related to SB1393 above, titled the "freedom to breathe" act, passed the Senate on a party line vote.

HB2153, barring municipalities from adopting a code or ordinance requiring the installation of fire sprinklers in residential buildings of two or fewer units, passed the Senate on a mostly party line vote (two Republicans joined the nine Democrats in opposition).  This one now goes to the Governor for her signature.

The Governor's contact info and web contact form is here.

SB1490, requiring a county to obtain proof of citizenship or immigration status prior to issuing a food service worker card, passed the Senate on a party line vote.

SB1368, defining a "human smuggling organization" and creating related offenses and penalties, passed the Senate with four Democrats opposing.

SB1522, relating to harvested rainwater (rainwater that is captured for future use prior to it reaches a ground channel.  Pushed by former state senator Carol Springer, lobbying for Yavapai County (she's a county supervisor there), which is looking for a way to supplement its dwindling groundwater supply.  Passed the Senate, over the reservations of water professionals, on a party line vote.

SCR1059, a Republican resolution supporting the efforts of Wisconsin Republicans to roll back collective bargaining rights for public employees, passed the Senate on a party line vote.

SB1201, a firearms "omnibus" bill that makes multiple changes to laws related to firearms, passed the Senate on a party line vote.  Innocuous sounding title, but REALLY bad.  Legislative summary here.

SB1286, putting a 60-day time limit on a municipality to approve or deny a permit request.  If no decision is rendered within that time, the permit is deemed to be approved.  Passed by the Senate on a mostly party line vote (four Republicans crossed over).

SB1391, an "interstate compact" bill, relating to minimal firearms restrictions, passed the Senate on a party line vote.

SB1412, making numerous changes to early voting laws, including making possession of more than six voted early ballots for delivery to election officials a class 5 felony.  Aimed at Democratic Party GOTV efforts.  Passed the Senate on a party line vote.

SB1472, requiring the publication of arguments against (and for) retaining a judge up for a retention election in a pre-election publicity pamphlet, passed the Senate on a party line vote.

SB1590, relating to multiple employers pooling health insurance risk, passed the Senate on a party line vote.

SB1592, an "interstate compact" bill relating to uniting with states that pass laws in opposition to federal health care reform, passed the Senate on a party line vote.


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