By Jim Nintzel & Sidney Philips
IT WAS A wacky final week at the Capitol as lawmakers careened toward the finish line.
The circus atmosphere was heightened when a gang of constituents from Republican Rep. David Farnsworth's Snowflake district swarmed down to the Capitol to harass a conference committee about a bill regarding emergency services. Since they'd alerted the authorities to their
arrival with a series of threatening phone calls, extra state troopers were on hand to escort them from the House after they'd spent a brief time haranguing the committee chairman on the finer points of fascism--although it wasn't clear whether they were for or against it.
Things were degenerating on the House floor, too, with some members griping about the need to maintain decorum. Rep Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) was taken to task for doodling derisive cartoons, which he didn't think was fair, since others members were knitting and playing computer poker. Rep. Jerry Overton (R-Litchfield Park) spent his time playing solitaire on a laptop computer and ducking rubber bands fired by fellow House members Jeff Groscost (R-Mesa) and Barry Wong (R-Phoenix).
But when they weren't trying to put each other's eyes out, House members were busy. They passed that vile Environmental Audit Bill, which (as we've said many times before) lets polluting companies off the hook, as long as they secretly report their mess to DEQ and promise to clean it up. The only southern Arizona lawmakers voting in favor of the Polluter Protection Act were Reps Freddy Hershberger (R-12), Dan Schottel (R-12) and Bill McGibbon (R-9). Be sure to vote against these murderous corporate prostitutes at the earliest possible opportunity.
House members also voted themselves a pay raise by doubling their per diem payments, from $60 to $121 a day while the Legislature is in session. A few days later, though, the Senate killed the bill, so they won't be seeing any more dough any time soon. Unless, of course, it's resurrected in the closing hours of the session.
The Demos, who have been reduced to little more than window dressing throughout the session, did win one battle, through the crafty guile of Rep. Art Hamilton (D-Phoenix). Hamilton brought up for reconsideration a GOP bill that would consolidate a bunch of state funds and bring others into the general fund and under the control of the Legislature. Since the Republican caucus had been recently lectured on the importance of sticking together, and because they assumed Hamilton was trying to resurrect some liberal do-gooder legislation, they immediately voted "nay." Moments later, they realized they had killed their own bill, because it could only be reconsidered once.
Across the mall, in the Senate, lawmakers killed the CFC bill that would have made it legal to produce chlorofluorocarbons in Arizona in violation of federal law and international treaty. A few days later, they resurrected and passed the same legislation. They also passed a memorial telling the folks in Washington they weren't happy with the CFC ban, which was later amended to include a request to Congress to make it possible for states to amend the Constititution and some other 10th Amendment gobbledegook.
The Senate also killed a plan by Sen. Ann Day (R-Tucson) to provide health care with federal dollars for 150,000 poverty-level Arizonans. But they did pass the veggie hate crimes bill, which makes it illegal to spread nasty rumors about Arizona's nasty produce.
Meanwhile, the rumor mill was grinding away. Sen. Jim Buster (R-Yuma) said he might retire at the end of his term and take a shot at U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor's seat, while Sen. Patti Noland (R-Tucson) made her annual promise to call it quits next year. It's about time, Patti.
While deadline restrictions prevent us from bringing you a final wrap-up of the session, count on seeing it next week. And in the meantime, enjoy this issue's special Capitoland board game insert in the center of the book. It's all the fun of being there, and more!
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