Az State Legislature Week In Review – Week Ending March 1

This week again taxes were foremost in the mind of political observers, as the governor refuses to budge on his stand, which will lead to the highest tax increase in AZ history. Trump’s tax cut involved tweaking deductions and exemptions, in combination with reduced rates, the result of which was lower taxes for all income levels. The problem in AZ is twofold. First, Ducey wants to conform the AZ code to the US code without the rate reduction, which will result in higher state taxes for everyone. Second, conservatives in the legislature are in the minority, with many Republicans stumbling all over themselves to see who can support the highest tax increase. Tax payers are the losers in this scenario.

There was more than income tax activity as both chambers scrambled to finalize bills in anticipation of the turnover, which is the point at which bills that survived one chamber move over to the other chamber to begin the process all over again. Along the way we made some modest gains as four of the good bills we are tracking advanced.

HB2320-CAMPBELL – Highway safety fee reduction. This bill advanced by clearing the House Committee Of the Whole (COW) with a DP (do pass) recommendation. It is not so much a reduction but rather a scaling back of an obscene “fee” increase. In recent years it has become fashionable to apply the term fee to a tax so that it may be increased without going through the pesky, constitutional ordeal of obtaining a 2/3 majority in both chambers. We should have a vote on HB2320 by the full House some time next week.

HB2693-PETERSEN – Misconduct involving weapons; school grounds. Opponents of this bill are having fits which, as usual, are totally unfounded but fit their anti rights agenda. The fact is that this is nothing more than a safety measure. Anyone that knows any thing about firearms knows that accidental discharges happen most often while loading and unloading a weapon. Minimizing handling is very much a common sense goal. Enacting HB26593 will enable firearms to remain safely tucked away in vehicle by removing the requirement that they be handled to unload before entering school parking lot. This bill also cleared the House COW with a DP recommendation.

SB1090-UGENTI-RITA – Emergency voting procedures; board action. This is one of two elections related bills that advanced this week. It instructs boards of supervisors to take steps to prohibit the types of abuses perpetrated by Fontes in Maricopa County. It barely passed the full Senate 16-14. All Democrats voted NO and all Republicans voted YES with one exception. Carter of LD15 joined the Democrats and voted NO. It is hard to understand why a self proclaimed conservative Republican would vote against such a beneficial bill. Now HB1090 goes to the House where its future is uncertain.

HB2026-KAVANAUGH – Public resources; influencing elections; penalties. This is the other elections related bill that advanced. It discourages the use of public resources to influence the outcome of elections. The full House vote went 31-29, along party lines. Cynical observers have no problem understanding what Democrats are doing. The rest of us find it hard to believe that Democrats would find it perfectly OK to use public resources to influence the outcome of elections. Obviously present day Democrats in the AZ legislature are more comfortable with Karl Marx than with John F. Kennedy.