As we enter the second month of our legislative session, we see the development of a pattern regarding the bills that are being considered. Legislation that only a few years back would have been considered laughable, is now being taken seriously. It is no laughing matter because what happens at the capitol does not stay at the capitol, but affects the whole state. We did have a bit of balance with some good bills, but not enough. Here are some examples.
STEELE – Requires forced transition of state vehicles to electric vehicles. This is among the worst bills that were discussed this week. Thankfully, it was discussed only, and no action taken. Agencies should be allowed to decide on the merits of the vehicles, not forced into one politically correct and expensive choice. If this bill had mandated use of only gasoline or diesel powered vehicles, it would be as worthy of opposition.
MESNARD – This bill calls for dividing the 30 current legislative districts into 90 house of representatives sub-districts. Each of these sub-districts would elect one representative. This would give us 90 representatives instead of 60. The number of senators would remain the same at 30. As introduced, this bill is a bad idea. We need more politicians like we need a hole in the head. Also, we have the problem of cost. We would be paying salaries and benefits to 30 more officials and their staff. We would need to have a new building or add to the current building to accommodate the added personnel. It would really be a nightmare. However, there is one part of the bill that makes sense. Under the current system we elect two representatives per district, Both the highest and the second highest vote getter are elected, which is not a good thing. This bill addresses that issue but it does so in the wrong manner. All we need to do is subdivide each district into 2 sub-districts instead of 3. This can be accomplished with an amendment to the bill to insert a 2 where now there is a 3. The Senate Government Committee missed an opportunity here as it passed this bill 5-2 with a Do Pass recommendation and no amendments.
FRIESE – This is a very bad bill. Ostensibly it encourages teachers to remain teachers by providing discounts on university tuition. However, it makes the teachers’ spouses and dependents also eligible. Appropriates initially $2 million, but no limit in subsequent years. Appropriated moneys are in addition to any other education appropriations. It creates a bureaucracy to administer the program. This is a pilot program, and presumably we don’t know the degree of success until we complete the test period. But common sense tells us that discounts at a university will not make a teacher stay if he was already disposed to leaving. Furthermore, it also provides the same discount for spouses and dependents. It is not clear how that would be helpful. There is no definition of what constitutes a dependent. This bill looks a lot like a scheme to transfer taxpayer money to universities via a back door. It passed Appropriations 10-3-0. Earlier it also passed Education. To their credit, five Republicans have shown opposition to this scheme: Roberts, Pingerelli, Hoffman, Kaiser, and Nutt
KAVANAGH – Calls for substantial pay raises for county employees. Under the current governor induced economic debacle, it is very unwise to hand out substantial pay raises to any government official, especially the members of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors. Fortunately, this bill was held in the House Government and Elections Committee. It is not clear if it will be rescheduled.
LEACH – For civil suits resulting from damages during a pandemic related state of emergency, the burden of proof is elevated from the customary preponderance of evidence, to clear and convincing evidence. It is aimed at preventing the customary onslaught of ambulance chasers and opportunists that these conditions generate. This is a good bill. Until we can enact meaningful tort reform, piecemeal statutes like this will have to suffice. It cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee 5-3.
DUNN – Increases the vote required to pass initiatives and referenda from a simple majority to a supermajority of 60%. Regardless of what side of the direct democracy debate one is on, most people would agree that it is not a good idea to amend a state’s constitution with a simple majority of the people voting. This bill, if ultimately approved by the voters, will bring some very needed relief to the process. Unfortunately, it was held in the House Government and Elections Committee. We don’t know if it is or will be rescheduled.
Next week promises to be even more exciting than this because of the crazy bills that are scheduled for committee hearings. Among the craziest are two bills that show Sen. Steele’s infatuation with electric cars. We will also deal with a huge tax increase proposal and a pittance of assistance for businesses that have been destroyed by COVID inspired executive edicts.
Those readers who wish to view complete reports on what activity has taken place, or will be taking place next week, with the bills we are tracking, may do so by going to: https://www.facebook.com/AZRRT or https://mewe.com/i/joseborrajero
Both sites provide opportunities for readers to make comments, including suggestions for bills to add to our tracking list.