Bill Spill

If lawmakers have their way, clones won't be buying cold beer in this state anytime soon.

There are days when the Arizona Legislature tackles life-and-death issues.

And then there are days when lawmakers decide whether it should be legal to sell cold beer to go. House Bill 2594 would make it illegal to "sell spirituous liquor in refrigerated containers for consumption off the premises."

Ah, Arizona. Land of liberty and freedom.

One legislative lobbyist compares the annual release of bills with one of those nature films that shows tiny turtles hatching on the beach. As thousands of the little critters race for the safety of the sea, birds swoop down and gobble them up. Only a handful survive.

Likewise, of the more than 1,100 bills introduced this session, only a few will make it past the governor's desk and into the law books.

The different bills have different constituencies. The anti-science reactionary crowd, for example, wants to make sure nobody is making an army of Janet Napolitanoes; House Bill 2685 would ban cloning in Arizona.

Elsewhere, conservative Republicans are proposing a new way of dealing with businesses that hire illegal immigrants: shutting them down. House Bill 2448 would penalize businesses caught hiring illegal aliens by stripping them of any license, certification, permit or charter issued by the state for six months. A second offense would revoke all licenses for good.

House Bill 2442 would reduce the fine for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit to a petty offense with a maximum fine of $50. In doing so, it would undermine the current permit process, because the safety class to qualify for a permit costs more than $50. Evidently, a safety class is asking too much from responsible gun owners.

Senate Bill 1279 would prohibit state agencies from hiring lobbyists to communicate with lawmakers about the relative value of their departments. State officials could still brief lawmakers--as long as they were doing it off the clock.

House Bill 2205 would force public buses to chauffeur charter school students around if the bus happened to be going their way. HB 2205 was assigned to three committees; when you see a bill triple-assigned, it's a pretty good sign leadership doesn't like it much.

House Bill 2653 would force traffic intersections to use a leading left-turn arrow (meaning Tucson would have to change many of its traffic lights). House Bill 2572 would make it illegal for a gift certificate to expire.

Lawmakers have a number of constitutional amendments in mind, all of which would have to be approved by voters if they pass the Legislature:

· House Concurrent Resolution 2003 would change the office of secretary of state into the lieutenant governor's office.

· The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (HCR 2032) would prevent state spending from increasing any faster than the rate of inflation, adjusted for population growth, thereby locking in Arizona's current miserly spending on education and social services.

· House Concurrent Resolution 2016 would force any initiative that raises taxes to pass by a two-thirds majority.

· Senate Concurrent Resolution 1015 would spell out that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, meaning that only heterosexuals would have the opportunity to make a mockery of lifetime unions.

· House Concurrent Resolution would expand legislative terms from two years to four and expand term limits from eight years to 12.

· House Concurrent Resolution 2039 would kick judges off the bench unless they got the support of two-thirds of the voters at the ballot box.

Then there are memorials--little postcards the Arizona Legislation likes to send to Washington to weigh in momentous matters. Several of the memorials ask the federal government for more money for education, transportation and law enforcement.

Senate Concurrent Memorial 1004 and HCM 2004 encourage Congress to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban gay marriage.

And House Concurrent Memorial 2009 advises the federal government to withdraw from the United Nations.

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