Rep. Bret Roberts (R-LD11) has taken part in his share of contentious committee debates in his time at the state legislature. But on Thursday, he did something he doesn’t remember doing before – Roberts changed his vote in the middle of a committee meeting.
As a member of the House Committee on Government & Elections, Roberts initially voted in favor of HB2590 which would designate the third Tuesday in January as the National Day of Racial Hearing. It would be a non-legal state holiday such as Navajo Code Talker’s Day, Purple Heart Day, and Public Lands Day.
In explaining his vote at the time, Roberts noted he has a bi-racial family and saw “no harm in the bill” sponsored by Rep. Reginald Bolding Jr., a Democrat. But minutes later, Roberts advised the committee chairman he could no longer support HB2590 after listening to other members, one of whom suggested anti-racism training when several white committee members voted against the bill.
Roberts campaigned under the slogan “Your Vote is Your Voice,” and on Friday he told Arizona Daily Independent he was disappointed by how some legislators politicized HB2590, a bill he saw as something which “could bring people together.” But after reflecting on the matter, Roberts stood by his decision to vote against the Bolding’s bill.
“After originally voting for the bill, it became clear by the offensive testimony from members on the opposite side of the aisle that some weren’t truly interested in healing,” Roberts said. “At that point I decided I wanted no part of it and changed my vote.”
In the end, the bill narrowly received a Due Pass recommendation by way of a 7 to 6 vote. Bolding’s bill must now be taken up by the House Rules Committee if it is going to move forward.
However, some legislators say that the seemingly “anti-white” racist comments by Rep. Raquel Teran (D-LD30) likely doomed HB2590 despite the fact it was expected to have enough bi-partisan support to get to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk. Teran is the newly elected chairwoman of the Arizona Democratic Party.