February 2 - February 8, 1995

Wild Bills

The Arizona Legislature Continues Its Hard Work Making The World Safe For Stupidity.

By Morgan Falkner

SEVERAL BILLS PENDING before the Arizona Legislature point to an apparent surplus of time on lawmakers' collective hands. A sampling:

House Bill 2373. This get-tough bill apparently fills a gaping hole in Arizona law: It makes "torture"--or the attempt to commit it--illegal.

The bill defines torture thusly: "A person commits torture by intentionally or knowingly causing cruel or extreme pain and suffering for the purpose of revenge, extortion, persuasion or other sadistic purpose and inflicting serious physical injury on another person."

The definition then adds: "The offense of torture does not require proof that the victim suffered pain." Torture is defined as a capital offense and would be punishable by death.

Undoubtedly this will apply to loudmouth TV news anchormen named "Bud."

HB 2327. This measure would prohibit state agency spokesmen from lobbying legislators on any proposed measures. Lobbying by others with vested interests--say, the Cattlemen's Association or the Association of Realtors--would not be affected.

But of course--this is Arizona.

HB 2339 and 2296. These bills would create what a majority of Arizona voters seemed to have rejected in the November election--a pay raise for some lawmakers. This would be accomplished through creative changes in the way state government figures its per diem compensation for some Arizona legislators.

Currently, a lawmaker's $15,000 annual salary is supplemented by $35 for every day spent on legislative business. Add another $25 for those legislators whose permanent address is outside Maricopa County.

"We're just trying to catch up on the (rising) cost of living," explained Sen. Peter Goudinoff, D-Tucson, a sponsor of HB 2296. That measure would rely on the U.S. Internal Revenue Service's calculation of the cost of living in a given area.

Goudinoff said the figure for 1995 has been set at $121 per day, and would apply to legislators who live more than 50 miles from the state capitol. The bills' chances, Goudinoff said, appear to be slim. "I don't think it's going to go anywhere. It's just not going to happen," he said.

It's just as well--if we paid 'em more, the job might attract some really smart crooks, instead of the ones we've already got.

HB 2206. Call this one the Waco bill. Currently it's illegal in Arizona to fortify buildings for the purpose of preventing entry by law enforcement officers intent on busting drug operations. HB 2206 would remove such activity as a crime, and leave in its place other existing language that merely prohibits occupants from willfully using buildings in the course of narcotics operations.

Bill sponsor Don Aldridge, R-Prescott, did not return phone calls to his office for comment.

Reckon he was busy fortifying his office.

HB 2257. This would bring the hammer down on anyone who commits "willful or malicious public dissemination of false information" regarding the safety of agricultural food products for human consumption. The penalty for such slander, as set forth in the bill: compensatory and punitive damages, possibly even triple damages.

Great idea--with a law like this limiting free speech by concerned activists and all lawsuit profits going to farmers, who needs big subsidies for agribusiness?

SB 1137. Another Goudinoff-backed bill of the "this-won't-fly" variety would put an end to the front-yard delivery of unsolicited flyers and shoppers. If this were to pass--and again, Goudinoff is not optimistic--violators would face a minimum of a $100 per violation.

Goudinoff, at the behest of the Letter Carriers Union, introduced the measure, he said, for reasons of home security. Goudinoff argues that when residents leave their homes on business or vacations, such free flyers announce to would-be burglars that nobody's home. Unsolicited flyers in the mail and political advertisements would be exempt from the bill.

Does this mean Tucson Newspapers Inc. would have to stop throwing that awful Tempo on our lawns? God, we hope so.

Other amusements on the agenda:

Senate Concurrent Resolution 1018 asks the feds to create a mechanism for the states to amend the U.S. Constitution. Sure, who needs that nasty Congress anyway?

SCR 1014 asks Congress to order the judiciary to stop "imposing state and local taxes" by ordering that laws must actually be enforced.

At least the legislators are consistent--they want to stop enforcing state laws, too.

SCR 1015 basically tells the judicial branch of government to buzz off: "A court shall not have the power to declare the public policy of this state, or, if the legislature declares public policy, override it."

If we don't need congress and we don't enforce the laws, it only stands to reason...

SB 1299 makes stalking a Class Six felony, even though it's already in statute under "harassment" and was made a Class Six felony two years ago.

You can't prosecute these perverts enough, even if we don't want any laws.

SB 1209 creates a 900 number you can call to find out if your new neighbor is a registered sex offender.

And, we hope, you'll also be able to hear some hot talk in the process.

SB 1281 makes tattooing a minor without the physical presence of a parent or guardian a felony. The definition would include all ear, nipple, navel and nose piercing, self-inflicted or otherwise.

Why not just apply the capital punishment for "torture" law above?

HB 2427 would create a "daddy bounty" of $150 for an unwed Aid to Families with Dependent Children recipient who names the father of her child.

Thirty pieces of silver might make for a more effective public relations blitz.

SB 1232 would force folks filing malpractice suits against doctors and others to hire a similarly licensed expert to fill out an affidavit on the merits of the case before it can be filed.

Yeah, like doctors are really quick to rat on one another.

SB 1142 is yet another "pay to get on the ballot" bill, and also removes all limits on campaign donations put in statute by voters in the mid '80s.

You know Gov. J. Fife Symington III's gotta love it.

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February 2 - February 8, 1995

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