Sunday, June 16, 2013

2013 Legislative round up: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

In normal years, the three categories above are enough to cover the activities of the lege.  There hasn't been "good" coming out of West Washington for years, so everything that could be labeled as "Well, it coulda been worse" (surprise vetos, watered-down bad ideas, bad bills that actually failed, etc.) were lumped into the "good" category.

This year, some actual "good" happened at the Capitol.

Which is good, of course, but it creates a dilemma -

Is it better to put the "coulda been worse" items into the "good" category, and possibly diminish the perception of the actual good items, or put the "coulda been worse" items into the "bad" category, and risk raising the perception of the truly bad items?

This was a vexing matter, until I remembered one thing -

I'm not Sergio Leone, so I'm not restricted to three categories.

Did keep the title though - "The Good, The Coulda Been Worse, The Bad, and The Ugly" just doesn't pack as much oomph. :)

On to the meat of the post...

The Good:

Medicaid restoration. Possibly the most "good" thing to come out of the Capitol in decades.  Signing scheduled for Monday morning.

Personal note: Let me now thank the lege's entire Democratic caucus for standing tall and standing united for the people of Arizona.  Additionally, there are 15 Republican electeds who, amazingly (to the rather cynical me, anyway) did the same thing.  I may never have cause to say or write anything complimentary about them again, but today, credit will be given where credit is due -

Governor Jan Brewer
Sen. John McComish
Sen. Steve Pierce
Sen. Adam Driggs
Sen. Rich Crandall
Sen. Bob Worsley
Rep. Doug Coleman
Rep. Jeff Dial
Rep. Frank Pratt
Rep. TJ Shope
Rep. Ethan Orr
Rep. Kate Brophy McGee
Rep. Heather Carter
Rep. Doris Goodale
Rep. Bob Robson

The Coulda Been Worse (mostly bad bills that died or were vetoed):

SB1439, a neo-secessionist measure to make gold and silver bullion legal tender; vetoed by the governor on 5/2/2013

SB1371, messing with local bond and tax elections; vetoed by the governor on 5/2/2013

SB1178, making a citation of religious belief a blanket exemption from all state laws and regulations; vetoed by the governor on 5/23/2013

A striker to SB1069 that would have placed all sort of onerous requirements on the operation of abortion clinics; passed by the House Appropriations Committee but died in the House this past week

Strikers to SB1432 and SB1045 aimed at legalizing some discrimination toward the LGBT community, known as the "show your papers before you pee" bills.  Run by Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) at the behest of the Center for Arizona Theocracy Policy which aghast at the City of Phoenix' passage of a non-discrimination ordinance. Also passed by the committee but died for lack of further consideration.

The Bad (some of these could move up or down a category based on their final disposition):

SB1465, under certain circumstances, exempting solid waste operators from specific ADEQ requirements and oversight; signed by the governor on 4/16/2013

SB1370, messing with local franchise elections; signed by the governor on 4/10/2013

SB1363, expanding Sen. Steve Yarbrough's revenue stream school vouchers; awaiting action by the governor

HB2617, a smaller expansion of Yarbrough's revenue stream, specifically relating to corporate "contributions"; awaiting action by the governor

SB1346, making "class action" status for lawsuits more difficult to attain and retain; awaiting action by the governor

SB1288, barring federal projects and agencies from receiving any funding through the Arizona Water Protection Fund; awaiting action by the governor

HB2645, expanding the exemption from unemployment insurance laws accorded to churches and church-affiliated organizations; awaiting action by the governor

HB2446, expanding the property tax exemption accorded to religious organizations; awaiting action by the governor 

HB2305, an election "reform" bill that makes it more difficult for citizens to place initiative questions on the ballot; awaiting action by the governor (will definitely qualify as "ugly" if the governor signs it into law)

SCR1015, The legislative Republicans' love letter to the NRA in the wake of the Newtown massacre.  Would be in the "ugly" category, but it has no real impact, other than embarrassing the state.

The Ugly:

HB2593, the lobbyist shakedown bill, drastically raises or completely removes limits on campaign contributions; signed by the governor on 4/11/2013

HB2326, barring cities and towns from keeping records relating to ownership of firearms (a Newtown massacre memorial measure?); signed by the governor on 4/29/2013

HB2147, raises adminstrative barriers faced by workers applying for unemployment insurance benefits; signed by the governor on 3/28/2013

SCR1016, a proposed amendment to the AZ constitution that would purport that the state could ignore any federal law, regulation, rule, action, or anything else that it doesn't like; will be on the ballot in 2014.  I was going to put this in the "bad" category because of its pending status, until I realized that the presence of this proposal on the ballot next year means that we will be faced with scads of TV and newspaper ads...and mailers...and radio spots...and emails...and so on... from tea party types and other Koch Brothers-funded astroturf groups.

Given that fact and the content of the proposal itself, this one is definitely in the "ugly" category.

Note:  The above lists are not meant to be comprehensive, but I think that I've covered the worst of the worst, and in the case of Medicaid restoration, the best of the best.

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