AZ State Legislature Week In Review – Week Ending April 7

Arizona capitol

This week, our state experienced two events that solidly establishes Arizona as a state well on its way to becoming a RSINO (Red State In Name Only).

First, we saw the appointment of Steve Pierce to the State House in District 1, to fill the seat vacated by the embattled David Stringer. Among people who pay attentions to voting records, two facts are very clear. Stringer, for all his faults, real or imagined, had a very decent conservative voting record. We at the AZRRT like to remind people that we do not elect a pope; we elect a member to what is a very sleezy club, namely our state legislature. Therefore, it pays to weigh voting records more heavily than we do when choosing the object of our support or opposition. From a conservative point of view, Pierce’s performance in the Senate was dismal, especially during his time as Senate President, and especially when compared to Stringer’s record.

Second, our senators approved House Bill HB2109, which doubles the amount of excise transportation tax that may be imposed by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). One major problem is that that RTA is managed by the Pima Association of Governments (PAG), not known as a fiscally responsible group. It is hard to understand why a Republican representative, Shope (LD8) would introduce such a bill. Just as difficult to understand is the vote of eight Republican senators in favor of this bill, which caused the bill to pass handily 21-8-1. They were Borrelli (LD5), Brophy-McGee (LD28), Carter (LD15), Gray (LD21), Livingston (LD22), Pace (LD25), Pratt (LD8), and Fann (LD1).

But the news was not all bad. Some good bills made progress, although their enactment into law is far from being a done deal:

HB2032 – TOWNSEND. This bill has the distinction of having had not one, but two strike-all amendments. Some observers have expressed surprise, since they did not know that this was possible. In its current form, it prohibits the political and religious indoctrination of public school students by public school personnel. It passed the Senate Appropriations Committee 6-3-0.

HB2026 – KAVANAUGH. This bill prohibits the use of public funds to advance political agendas. It passed the Senate Appropriations Committee with bipartisan support, 8-1-0, which is surprising because it had a very bumpy ride in the House.

SB1001 – UGENTI-RITA. Since the citizen-enacted requirement that tax increases must be done via a 2/3 majority vote of both chambers, our legislators have been busy at finding ways to get around that pesky requirement. To that end, it has become fashionable to relabel taxes as fees and enable unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats to impose these “fees”, against which the citizens have no recourse. SB1001 is aimed at reversing one such scheme, namely the highway safety fee enacted in 2018. It cleared the House Appropriations Committee 6-5-0. All Democrats voted against repeal of the scheme. All Republicans voted for this bill, except UDALL (LD25), who is obviously in favor of the scheme.

Links to the bills mentioned in this report.

HB2109 – county transportation excise tax.

HB2032 – (NOW: early ballots; tabulation period)

HB2026 – public resources; influencing elections; penalties

SB1001 – highway safety fee; repeal; VLT