The 2014 legislative session is over, and Arizonans can breathe a sigh of relief for now. After months of wrangling over public policy, almost all legislators will now begin the work of wrangling voters.
With one final battle that lasted until the wee hours of the night, the Arizona Legislature tackled important issues ranging from the licensing of barbers to school vouchers.
The winners this year were the handful of cronies on Tucson’s Rio Nuevo District Board, and the losers were 100,000 to 120,000 low-income students who had hoped to be granted Empowerment Scholarships.
The Legislature had hoped to protect gun owners, but Governor Jan Brewer used her veto stamp and wiped out nearly everything the legislators had worked on all year.
Senate president Andy Biggs refused to allow a vote on the Compact for a Balanced Budget, which the House passed HB2305. Biggs refused to budge.
But Biggs had little real power and it showed in the death of HB2700 (the federal lands inventory bill) at the hands of McComish, Pierce and Worsley.
Nothing epitomized the legislative session more than a proposed piece of legislation by House Whip David Gowan that would have helped the city of Glendale cover public safety costs during next year’s Super Bowl. The bill passed the House, failed in the Senate. According to ABC15, Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers said the city cannot afford to cover those costs on its own. Weiers then threw a bit of a tantrum over the loss. He claimed that the city it might not be able to host in the future without assistance.
Other than the squabble over a religious rights bill, in which democrats took advantage of the republicans’ inability to communicate on almost any level, the session was peaceful.
The budget is based on numbers that few believe are realistic, but the Governor got what she wanted when she wanted it.
Democrat lawmakers like Representative Dave Bradley and Senator Steve Farley will return to their districts and complain that they simply couldn’t get anything done for the little people while they will most surely receive thanks from donors associated with Rio Nuevo Board and the League of Cities.
Republican representatives like Senator Al Melvin will see their political careers finally and mercifully come to an end. While others like Representative Heather Carter begin the scramble to keep their offices, using the hundreds of thousands of dollars the Governor helped to amass as payback for their votes on Medicaid expansion. One republican operative summed it up, “Carter has the advantage of a combination of low information voters and $100K to spend misinforming them.”
Others like John McComish, will have to spend very little to secure his next comfy gig as a justice of the peace.
On Thursday, Representative Ethan Orr and Senator Steve Farley were back in Pima County to ask taxpayers to support new taxes.
Very little changed, and very little will change.