Az State Legislature Week In Review – Week Ending March 8

Taxes and election reform again dominated the attention of legislators at the capitol this week. At first glance, it seems odd that there is such a voracious appetite for tax increases among legislators. However, this becomes crystal clear when one considers that an increasing number of AZ voters consists of immigrants, both legal and illegal, from socialist countries, and citizens transplanted from socialist states like California. They tend to elect tax and spend legislators, who naturally favor tax and spend policies.

The other items that shared our legislative attention this week were firearms policy and the quest for a lieutenant governor position.

HB2320 – CAMPBELL: This bill would reduce the highway safety fee to $18. It failed 27-32 when several Republicans voted against. It is not clear whether the Republicans that voted NO did it because they are happy with this fee (tax) or because they favor total repeal, as SB1001 would do. But SB1001 is having troubles of its own.

SB1001 – UGENTI-RITA: This bill, repealing the 2018 highway safety “fee” passed handily with bipartisan support in the Senate 24-6. The only Republican voting against was Brophy-McGee. However, when SB1001 went to the House it was held in the Transportation Committee and apparently faces an uncertain future.

SB1188 – UGENTI-RITA: The first of two bills dealing with election reform this week is SB1188. The purpose here is to remove voters from the early voting list if they do not vote. This makes perfectly good sense and the full Senate vote of 16-14 seems to indicate that. But not everyone likes the idea of cleaning up voter rolls. All Democrats voted NO. They were aided and abetted by Republican CARTER (LD15), who joined the Democrats with her NO vote.

HB2039 – TOWNSEND: It is unfortunate that in order to vote in the election of federal officials, voters do not have to prove citizenship, or even show that they are here lawfully. This bill would enable us to know just how widespread this practice is.

HB2693 – PETERSEN: This is a common sense modification to current law which state that individuals who carry firearms for self protection in their vehicles must unload the firearms before entering the school parking lot, even if the weapons are perfectly secured within the vehicles and are no threat or danger to anyone. Beyond inconvenience, this practice leads to unnecessary handling of firearms which creates a potentially unsafe condition.  Most accidental discharges occur while loading or unloading firearms. This condition is aggravated when the handling has to be done within the confines of a vehicle, while trying to hide from passers by who could raise hell about the operation. HB2693 removes the need for such unnecessary handling. It passed the full House 31—27-2, along party lines.

 

SCR1008 – MESNARD: Passing this bill will enable the voters to decide whether they want to establish the office of Lieutenant Governor, to be elected on the same ticket as the governor. It passed the full Senate in a bi-partisan manner, 23-7. Efforts at doing this have been rejected by the voters twice in the past. But this time it should be approved because companion bill SB1234 addresses most, if not all, the concerns that voters may have.

SB1234 – MESNARD: This bill should put at ease any concerns that voters may have regarding the creation of the office of lieutenant governor. Most, if not all, the opposition to this project is the result of people not reading the bills and having a knee jerk reaction. The facts are that there is no creation of an additional office, with additional staff, and additional cost to taxpayers. The truth is that the lieutenant governor would be replacing the Director of the AZ Department of Administration. This Director is currently an appointed position which would be replaced with the elected Lieutenant Governor, resulting in no additional bureaucracy or increased cost to tax payers. Another misconception is that this is being done by Republicans in retaliation for having lost the Secretary of State position to Democrats. But the fact is that many Democrats also voted in favor of SCR1008 because it makes a lot of sense, and the provisions therein will not take effect until long after the term of the current SOS is expired.

Readers who want to read the bills mentioned may do so by clicking on these links:

HB2320 – highway safety fee; reduction

SB1001 – highway safety fee; repeal; VLT

SB1188 – permanent early voting list

HB2039 – federal form voter registrations; reporting

HB2693 – misconduct involving weapons; school grounds

SCR1008 – lieutenant governor; joint ticket

SB1234 – lieutenant governor; duties; ballot