Wednesday, January 07, 2015

2015 Arizona legislature: getting ready for the "same old, same old"

Update on 1/8 for a correction: eagle-eyed reader and fellow blogger Steve Muratore (Arizona Eagletarian and Blog for Arizona) noted an error in this post.  The "Allen" who sponsored HCRs 2001 and 2002 is state representative *John* Allen, not state senator *Sylvia* Allen.

Corrected where appropriate, with thanks to Steve and apologies to readers.

End update.

It's early (the legislative session hasn't even started yet), but even though less than 70 bill proposals have been posted on the lege's website, a few familiar patterns have emerged -

1.  One of the GOPers' attacks on the majority of civil society will be an attempt to impose "tyranny of the minority".

Reps. Phil Lovas, TJ Shope, and John Allen, are pushing HCR2001 and HCR2002.

HCR2001 would change judicial retention election requirements so that judges subject to such elections would need the votes of 60 percent of the voters in an election to retain their offices.

HCR2002 would change the process of amending the state constitution so that proposed amendments would need the support of 60 percent of the voters in an election to be approved.


If the first one was in force for the 2014 elections, no state supreme court or appellate level judges would have been voted out, and four Maricopa County judges would have lost their jobs (in reality, one, Benjamin Norris, was not retained).

The three that would have lost their jobs include one who probably should have lost his job (he was considered to be qualified, but marginally so) and two were nowhere near unqualified.

Of course, one of those two was Bill Brotherton, a former Democratic state legislator.

Just a guess here, but Lovas et. al. probably wouldn't lose any sleep over Brotherton losing his job, notwithstanding his fitness for the job.

Having said that, this probably is less a personal attack on Brotherton and more one of the lege's annual attacks on the independence of the judiciary.

Note: Evaluations from the Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review are here.

As for HCR2002, I am totally unsure of what they are trying to do here.  If enacted, it would effectively block almost all amendments to the Arizona constitution, including most supported by the sponsors.  Such as 2014's Proposition 122, the neo-secessionists' proposal about the state being able to nullify any federal law, regulation, or rule that the lege doesn't like.

My first impression, subject to change (assuming these measures move forward), is that the sponsors of the measures have looked at the US Senate and its gridlock (it takes 60 percent of the 100-member body to do almost almost anything beyond waking up in the morning) and decided that's a good model for Arizona to follow.

Of course, if they (Lovas, Shope, and Allen) really thought 60 percent was so wonderful, they would propose changing election rules so that legislative incumbents need to earn 60 percent of votes cast to win reelection.

Not holding my breath waiting for that one...

2.  The quadrennial windmill tilt has already started.

Every four years, some bright-eyed and bushy-tailed type vents his umbrage at the fact that Arizona is not the first state to hold its presidential preference primary.

This year, Rep. Lovas (him again! :) ) has proposed HB2015, changing the date of the state's presidential preference election to that of the date of the Iowa caucuses, unless Iowa's are no longer the first in the nation.

3. There are going to be a *lot* of strikers this session.

44 out of the 62 measures currently posted on the lege's website are "technical correction" bills, which exist primarily to serve as "vehicle" bills for strikers.

4. The "bay at the moon" caucus is still peeved over the 2011 recall of disgraced former Senate president Russell Pearce.

To stop that from ever happening again, they have proposed HB2048, which would turn recall elections into partisan elections (primary and general).

In 2011, no Democrat ran against Pearce in his recall election and the sponsors of this bill apparently think that Pearce would have won a purely partisan affair (they seem to be blithely ignoring Pearce's 2012 primary election loss by the same percentage as his 2011 recall election loss).

5. Attacks on the poorest Arizonan will continue much as they have in recent years.

Already submitted: HB2051, barring recipients from using TANF EBT cards at fast food restaurants (with a very vague definition of "fast food".

Summary: whatever we've seen from this bunch in years past will be back; the names of the legislators have changed, but the culture of contempt for their constituents has not.

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