Midterm Report

Making the state safe for open records, rock 'n' roll and Ultimate Fighting: Your semi-regular legislative update

It's the time when lawmakers in the House of Representatives are trying to get their bills passed out of the House so they can get a hearing in the Senate, and vice versa. As a result, we're seeing a lot of action up at the Capitol. Some highlights:

HB 2454

WHAT IT WOULD DO: Force Child Protective Services to release records when a child under their jurisdiction dies or nearly dies.

SUPPORTERS SAY: Ensuring that records will be open to public scrutiny will encourage CPS to do a better job.

OPPONENTS SAY: Opening the records could threaten federal funding; the bill will create an adversarial relationship between CPS and prosecutors.

WHERE IT'S AT: Passed the House, 47-12, on Wednesday, March 19.

HB 2159

WHAT IT WOULD DO: Open disciplinary records of state employees for public inspection.

SUPPORTERS SAY: State government is overzealous in guarding records that reveal some state employees do a lousy job.

OPPONENTS SAY: Why do we have to persecute these poor state employees?

WHERE IT'S AT: Passed the House on a 38-20 vote on Wednesday, March 19.

HB 2220

WHAT IT DOES: As part of the 2006 budget agreement between GOP leaders and Gov. Janet Napolitano, the state temporarily suspended a state property tax that funds schools. This bill would permanently repeal the tax before it is slated to return in fiscal year 2009-2010. Estimated impact on that budget: $250 million.

SUPPORTERS ARGUE: Taxpayers deserve a break, especially since property taxes have been rising; any tax cut is a good tax cut.

OPPONENTS ARGUE: With the state facing a massive deficit, this is no time to be cutting back on revenue; the average property taxpayer will save less than $100 a year, but utilities, mines and retailers will save thousands, if not millions.

WHERE IT'S AT: Passed the House, 32-28, on Tuesday, March 11.

SB 1450

WHAT IT DOES: Creates a special taxing district that will allow the creation of an $800 million rock 'n' roll hall of fame in Eloy.

SUPPORTERS SAY: Let's rock! This is just the economic boost that Eloy needs.

OPPONENTS SAY: This is one crazy scheme.

WHERE IT'S AT: Passed the state Senate on a 17-11 vote on Thursday, March 20.

HB 2834

WHAT IT WOULD DO: Loosen restrictions on unarmed man-to-man combat so that Arizona can host Ultimate Fighting championships.

SUPPORTERS SAY: Passing the bill will allow Arizona to host action-packed Ultimate Fighting matches, which could help boost the state's stagnant economy.

OPPONENTS SAY: What kind of role models are these people?

WHERE IT'S AT: Passed the House, 47-12, on Tuesday, March 11.

HB 2339

WHAT IT DOES: Allows citizens to donate money to an "I Didn't Pay Enough Fund" when filing their tax payments.

SUPPORTERS SAY: Libs are always saying that people don't mind paying more taxes for government; let's give them the chance!

OPPONENTS SAY: This is a silly stunt.

WHERE IT'S AT: Failed to pass the House: 31 no, 28 yes; up for reconsideration this week.

SB 1214

WHAT IT DOES: Allows anyone who has a concealed-weapons permit to carry a gun on university or community college campuses.

SUPPORTERS SAY: Students, faculty and staff are sitting ducks if crazed gunmen go on rampages at universities. This law would make crazed gunmen think twice, because they might get killed themselves.

OPPONENTS SAY: Crazed gunmen usually expect to get killed, so it's not much of a deterrent; teachers' guns could be stolen by students who could then go on a rampage; some high school teachers aren't that stable to begin with and may end up shooting students.

WHERE IT'S AT: Passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Rules Committee; still awaiting full Senate action.

SB 1132

WHAT IT DOES: Allows possession of firearms in restaurants that sell alcohol, if the restaurant allows it.

SUPPORTERS SAY: Patrons are now sitting ducks if crazed gunmen go on rampages at restaurants; it's a lot of trouble to leave your gun in your car when you go out to eat.

OPPONENTS SAY: Alcohol and guns are a bad mix; even back in the Old West, patrons were expected to hang up their arms when they entered the saloon.

WHERE IT'S AT: Passed the Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee and the Senate Rules Committee; still awaiting full Senate action.

HB 2359

WHAT IT DOES: Allows county sheriffs to enter into agreements with the U.S. Border Patrol without approval from county boards of supervisors.

SUPPORTERS SAY: Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik wants to have a Border Patrol agent working with his border-crimes taskforce to improve communication between the agencies, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement is requiring an intergovernmental agreement before it approves the deal. The Pima County Board of Supervisors has balked at approving the agreement. This bill would allow Dupnik to enter into the agreement.

OPPONENTS SAY: The bill is meddling in local control of law enforcement.

WHERE IT'S AT: Passed the House, 32-27, on Monday, March 3.

HB 2042

WHAT IT WOULD DO: Force the Department of Public Safety to notify school districts when a teacher is arrested.

SUPPORTERS SAY: Teachers now have to pass a background check, but if they're busted after they're hired, school districts have no way of finding out.

OPPONENTS SAY: Why do we have to persecute these poor teachers?

WHERE IT'S AT: Passed the House, 59-0, on Wednesday, March 19.

HB 2695

WHAT IT WOULD DO: Any retailer who knowingly sells liquor to someone who would then provide it to underage drinkers could be charged with Class 1 misdemeanor. Watch out, rave promoters: Anyone who has an unlicensed gathering where underage individuals are drinking could also be charged.

SUPPORTERS SAY: Too many kids are getting drunk.

OPPONENTS SAY: What's the big deal if a few kids get drunk?

WHERE IT'S AT: Passed the House, 40-19, on Wednesday, March 19.

HB 2813 WHAT IT DOES: Criminals who get hurt while committing a crime on your property and then try to sue you cannot collect monetary damages if they are at least 50 percent responsible for the event that caused the harm.

SUPPORTERS SAY: Why should a criminal be able to sue you if they get hurt trying to rob you?

OPPONENTS SAY: Criminals are citizens, too, and deserve to take advantage of the system.

WHERE IT'S AT: Passed the House, 56-0, on Thursday, March 20.

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