On Monday, democrat lawmakers rejected bills that would allow them to represent their constituents, choosing instead to preserve Gov. Doug Ducey’s hold on authority during emergencies.
Despite the democrats’ resistance to representation, the bills passed through the Senate Government Committee.
“Today, the difference between Legislative parties was made abundantly clear regarding who was willing to represent their constituents and who was content to abdicate their role to the Executive and unelected bureaucrats,” said Rep. Kelly Townsend after the hearing.
“When the public feels that they have been wronged, their recourse is at the ballot box and they vote for a different candidate. However, under the current state of affairs, agency directors have almost unfettered power and answer to no one except the governor,” explained Townsend. “There is nothing ordinary citizens can do about it, and that is a dangerous place to be.”
“The Democrats on today’s committee seemed perfectly fine ceding their power and settling for dereliction of duty. Even the Governor of California knows to go to his legislature to seek their permission to address the COVID emergency.” Townsend continued, “That is a sorry state of affairs when we are upstaged by our neighbors to the West.”
“I am glad, however, that today’s bills will advance and I am relieved that the majority of the Senators chose to move toward a restoration of the balance of power in Arizona,” concluded Townsend.
Committee chair, Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita’s bill, SCR1001, terminates the Governor’s March 11, 2020, Declaration of Emergency related to the COVID-19 outbreak in Arizona.
The Governor’s state of emergency powers end when the state of emergency proclamation has been terminated by proclamation of the Governor or Concurrent Resolution of the Legislature (A.R.S. § 26-303).
Townsend’s bill, SCR1010, which is subject to voter approval, requires the Governor to call a special session when the
Governor declares a state of emergency to address matters relating to the state of emergency.
Sen. Warren Petersen’s bill, SCR1003, which is also subject to voter approval, constitutionally terminates a state of emergency proclaimed by the Governor after 14 days, unless extended by Concurrent Resolution of the Legislature.
SCR1003 requires the Governor to call a special session of the Legislature within 10 days of proclaiming a state of
|SB1084||state of emergency; automatic termination|
|SCR1001||state of emergency declaration; termination|
|SCR1003||executive orders; emergencies; reauthorization; termination|
|SCR1010||legislative special session; emergencies|
|SCR1014||automatic termination; state of emergency|
Democrat Committee members, Sen. Juan Mendez, Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai, and Sen. Martín Quezada argued passionately in favor of the Governor having sole authority in the decision-making process.
Sen. Mendez questioned the wisdom of attempting to have a “collaborative process where all the parties would sit down at a table, find all these solutions, and we would listen to the experts.”
“So after a year in which they were largely critical of Governor Ducey’s efforts on the pandemic, as part of campaigning for votes in the 2020 election,” said one Capitol observer, “Senate Democrats reversed course today, and voted unanimously to keep Ducey in charge of emergency responses to the pandemic, turning down the opportunity to participate in the decision making process as legislators.”
“This was the day and the bill when Democrats could have taken some authority away from the governor and given themselves a seat at the decision-making table,” said the observer, “instead, they voted no in order to oppose a bill sponsored by a Republican, even though it meant endorsing Governor Ducey and his handling of the pandemic response.”