Saturday, March 12, 2011

Arizona Legislature Week In Review...

The non-legislatiion highlights of the week:

- Senate President Russell Pearce announced that his "hold" on his anti-immigrant legislation was off.  Last week, he had announced that those bills would be "held" until the state's budget was completed.  I could speculate on his reasons for rescinding the hold (nativist orthodoxy is more important to him than fiscal responsibility?  ...the budget negotiations between Pearce, House Speaker Kirk Adams, and Governor Jan Brewer aren't going as smoothly as some thought?), but the end result is the same - the nasty stuff is moving again.

- State Sen. Scott Bundgaard (R-Domestic Violence Incident) is spinning as fast as he can.  He's gone from sending out press releases proclaiming his "good guy" status, to tearing up on the Senate floor, to staving off removal as the leader of the Republican caucus in the Senate by claiming that his now ex-girlfriend, Aubry Ballard, pulled a gun on him during the incident that has precipitated the furor that currently surrounds him.

Now, he is giving interviews where he displays a pistol that he claims is the gun in question, and is promising "more" details to come.

If there are many more "details" like those that Bundgaard has spouted so far, next year, Jason Rose is going to be eligible for an Oscar for his writing.

Passing the Senate this week ("party line vote" = bill passed with all Rs supporting and all Ds opposing):

SB1553, school vouchers, under the name of "Arizona Empowerment Accounts" - party line vote

SB1561, giving the legislature the ability to sweep and reappropriate "non-custodial" federal monies such as community block grants - party line vote

SCR1027, a proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution to require that voters reauthorize any ballot measures that reserve or expend monies for a specific purpose (things like First Things First, placing AHCCCS eligibility at 100% of FPL, mandatory education funding, etc.) - party line vote

SCR1051, a proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution to mandate that any voter-approved measure (initiative or referendum) that doesn't identify a funding source other than the state's general fund, then the measure is subject to legislative appropriation (or non-appropriation, as is more likely); a move to circumvent the Voter Protection Act, without seeming to do so - party line vote

SB1188, mandating that when placing children for adoption, DES must give preference to married couples.  Single people will need to jump through some serious hoops, and same sex couples need not apply - mostly a party line vote (one R crossover)

SB1288, giving professionals who refuse to do their jobs properly because of their religious beliefs an out - they get to keep their licenses.  Plus there is a clause that is clearly targeted at the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments for refusing to approve a candidate for the Independent Redistricting Commission when that candidate stated that he wanted more religious involvement in/control of secular society - party line vote.

SB1329, barring public employees from engaging in lobbying or political activities during work hours.  Aimed at teachers - party line vote.

SB1363, protecting employers from the horror of labor actions - party line vote.

SB1495, establishing a state guard that is answerable only to the governor, but is funded by money siphoned from the Arizona National Guard - party line vote.

SB1598, micromanaging the ability of cities and counties to conduct zoning, inspection, and related regulatory activities, to the point of it becoming the "inability" to do so - passed on a party line vote.

SB1610, proclaiming the Colt Single Action Army Revolver as the official state firearm - passed 18 - 12 (three Rs crossing over).

SCR1026, a proposed amendment to the AZ constitution reducing the state's revenue expenditure limit, basically a version of TABOR - party line vote.

SCR1040, a proposed amendment to the AZ constitution politicizing judicial appointments - passed 19 - 11 (2 Rs crossing over).

SB1282, exempting religious entities that engage in political activities from having to register as political committees - party line vote.

SB1365, barring payroll deductions for political purposes, targeted at unions, except for those for law enforcement personnel (there's a specific exception carved out for LEO organizations) - party line vote.

SCR1016, calling for a constitutional convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to mandate that the approval of a majority of state legislatures is required before Congress can raise the federal debt limit - FAILED 13 - 17 (8 Rs crossing over).

SB1433, creating a legislative committee to oversee the nullification of federal laws and regulations - FAILED 12 -  18 (9 Rs crossing over).  YES!!!

SCR1019, another TABOR-like amendment proposed for the AZ constitution - party line vote.

SCR1029, banning photo radar from Arizona - passed 18 - 12 (3 Rs crossing over)

SCR1032, a proposed amendment to the AZ constitution to require a 60% vote of the voters to raise a tax, levy a new tax, or to reduce or eliminate an existing tax credit - passed 16 - 14 (5 Rs crossing over)

Passed the House -
HB2523, expanding current law so that someone driving on a license that is suspended or revoked for any reason who is involved in an accident resulting in death or injury is guilty of a class four or class five felony - passed on reconsideration, with bipartisan support and opposition.

HB2707, further shackling state expenditures (TABOR by another name) - mostly party line vote (three Rs crossed over).

HCM2002, a postcard to the U.S. Congress requesting that they take the gray wolf off of the Endangered Species List - party line vote.

HB2565, giving students the right to not do coursework, if they cite religious belief as their reason - mostly a party line vote (1 D crossed over).
HB2718, Kirk Adams' $5 million gift to Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu - mostly a party line vote (1 D crossed over).
HB2099, restoring hospice care coverage to AHCCCS; expected to be cost neutral - passed 38 - 22 (18 Rs crossed over).  Yes, an actual good bill has passed a chamber of the legislature in 2011.
HB2501, micromanaging state agencies, counties, and municipalities by mandating that any ambiguous language in a rule, ordinance, or law be interpreted in a manner favorable to applicants or licensees (relating to permits, licenses, and zoning) - a mostly party line vote (1 D and 1 R crossed each way).
HB2581, expanding and basically uncapping STO tax credits - mostly a party line vote (1 R crossed over).
HB2617, limiting the ability of workers involved in workers' comp cases to reopen cases if something new but related arises - party line vote.
In non-legislature campaign news this week -
- Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley has formed a campaign committee for reelection to his seat (SD2)
- Jean McGrath, former legislator and current member of the governing board of the Central Arizona Project, has formed a committee to run for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors District 4.  SD4 is currently represented by Max Wilson.  A call to Wilson's office inquiring about his plans for next year went unreturned.
- Timothy Coomer of Phoenix has formed a committee to run for Maricopa County Sheriff next year as a Democrat.  He's done this before.

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