By Jim Nintzel and Sidney Philips
JUST WHEN WE were certain it couldn't get any stranger at the state Capitol, lawmakers decided to put a bounty on endangered species.
Rep. Jeff Groscost, one of those screwball Mesa Republicans who see their mission in life as deregulating any restrictions on the omni-benevolent business community, introduced HB 2548, which would offer $500 of taxpayer money to anyone who shot a wolf dead and dragged its head back to Game and Fish (Not only that--the hunter would also get to keep the carcass for skinning!).
Groscost--who has sponsored more than 100 bills this session, including one to license gila monster breeders--describes the wolf bounty bill as another one of those "wake-up calls" to the feds. He claims the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to consult the state regarding its plan to reintroduce wolves in eastern Arizona--an intriguing argument, given the dozens of public meetings Fish and Wildlife has conducted on the reintroduction plan.
So this is what the great states' rights crusade has come to: We have the right to hunt a creature to extinction if we damn well choose, and it's no business of some bureaucrat in Washington to tell us otherwise.
Elsewhere on the states' rights front, lawmakers are now looking at stopping cities and counties from accepting Crime Bill money. After hearing Heritage Foundation Deputy Director Wesley Smith say that accepting federal dollars was like "being trapped in an opium den," the Senate Government Reform Committee voted against allowing local municipalities to accept the funds.
If the bill makes it past the rest of the legislature and is signed into law by the governor, then Tucson and Pima County will lose out on close to $2 million.
Continuing the battle against the feds, the Constitutional Defense Council--that troika of angry white men with fragile egos--fired off a nasty letter to Attorney General Grant Woods after he exercised his authority to approve their contract with an attorney so they could begin the expensive (and taxpayer-supported) process of suing the federal government over environmental restrictions.
In a subsequent fit of pique, they shot off another missive at Mesa Tribune columnist Pat Murphy, informing him he was just plain ignorant for daring to criticize them.
Capitol insiders suspect the CDC's puffery stems from the fact that the council was given the smallest hearing room in the state Senate.
Meanwhile, the House Environmental Committee continues its hard work churning out obscenely pro-industry, anti-conservation bills. A high point came during a hearing on water pollution, when Rep. Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) unexpectedly began grilling Department of Environmental Quality chief Ed Fox on the visitation rights of non-custodial fathers.
In other legislative business:
Thirteen lawmakers introduced a bill which would give an automatic hearing to every bill introduced, no matter how inane. However, the automatic calendaring of bills bill is itself unlikely to get a hearing, since all 13 sponsors are Democrats.
Four Dems also sponsored House Bill 2532, which would boost the salaries of county officers by more than 25 percent come 1997. County supervisors--like Mikey "The Waffle" Boyd and Paul "Dim Bulb" Marsh--would be in line for a $14,866 raise, from $42,000 to $56,866. Funny, that's right about when term limits would force most of the bill's sponsors to retire from the statehouse and pursue another elected office.
Rep. Jack Jackson (D-Dist. 3) introduced legislation making it illegal to buy booze or open a bar on Sundays or national holidays. That should go over well with the NFL crowd, especially when the Superbowl is played at Sun Devil Stadium next year.
House Bill 2510 exempts midwives from regulation, provided they perform their services as a hobby. And what a fun hobby it would be, too.
Senate Bill 1373 states that "The legislature finds that adult-oriented businesses pose a substantial risk to the health and safety of this state's citizens and that the proliferation of these businesses has significantly lowered the standard of living and quality of life in urban areas throughout this state. The legislature therefore declares adult-oriented businesses to be a matter of statewide concern that require regulation by this state, notwithstanding any provisions of a city charter." So much for getting government out of people's private lives and deregulating business.
Four GOP lawmakers have also introduced a bill to regulate the travel industry. Do you suppose someone's luggage ended up in Muncie?
Finally, there's House Bill 2482, which would guarantee that thugs convicted of a drive-by shootings would lose their driver's licenses. Now that's what we call a deterrent!
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