Majority Leader Rick Gray, GOP Senate Leadership Kills Arizona Term Limits Push

Senators Karen Fann and Rick Gray.

In spite of widespread support for Congressional Term Limits, GOP leadership in the State Senate killed a term limits bill for the second consecutive year. Last year Senate President Steve Yarbrough refused to bring the bill up for a vote in spite of it having majority support and in spite of promising to allow the vote. Yarbrough had even indicated that he would vote for the bill and had supported previous measures that included term limits.

This year the same game was played by Senate President Karen Fann, who signed a pledge to the voters of her district to help pass term limits, yet blocked the bill from coming to the floor in spite of having support from a majority of members. Two Senators indicated that the problem wasn’t Fann personally but rather was Republican Majority Leader Rick Gray who was opposed to term limits and wanted the bill killed. They indicated that Fann was “taking a bullet” for Gray. The other two Republicans who had declared their opposition were David Farnsworth and Eddie Farnsworth. Notably, three Democrat State Senators had also signed pledges to support the bill, giving the bill a two-vote cushion for passage, although Democratic Senator Andrea Dalessandro had indicated that she would break her pledge if the bill came up for a vote.

Polling has shown that more than 80% of voters support term limits for members of Congress but Congress will never take steps to limits its own terms. That means that the limits must originate with “we the people”, which is precisely what US Term Limits has been working to do in various states. Arizona was seen as a likely state to join the cause given the broad support for the measure and the state’s history of support for Article V efforts, but having Republican leadership step in to protect the Washington DC status quo for two straight years is an obvious setback to the effort. At this point it is unclear if another effort will be made in 2020, but voters in Fann’s and Gray’s district should take note.