The Range

Another Blow in the War on Terror

Bad news for all you eco-terrorists planning to burn down luxury homes and send your suicide squad against SUV dealers: The Arizona Legislature is taking action to stop your arson spree! As of press time, the state House of Representatives was on the verge of approving Senate Bill 1081, which extends Arizona's anti-racketeering statutes to cover "animal and ecological terrorism."

"We question the need for the legislation as well as the potential unintended consequences," says Sierra Club lobbyist Sandy Bahr. "The Sierra Club has long condemned violence, including that done in the name of protecting the environment. There are ample conditions under current law to prosecute those engaged in illegal conduct, however."

If Gov. Janet Napolitano signs the bill, it will join other notable laws against disrupting labs and agricultural facilities, including the Veggie Hate Crimes statute, which, as Bahr points out, covers legal liability for "false claims against perishable agricultural food product."

The House of Representatives has been so busy in the War on Terror that GOP leaders have yet to propose a budget. But after months of backdoor sessions, the Arizona Senate began considering its own $7.2 billion budget proposal that appears to "pretty darn good," in the words of Sen. Gabrielle Giffords, who was happy to see more funding for universities and the Department of Economic Security, raises for state employees and movement toward all-day kindergarten.

Meanwhile, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee reported more good news about the state's finances: At the end of March, state revenues were running $210 million more than the original budget forecast. Unemployment has dropped to 4.9 percent, and the state has 45,100 more jobs than it did a year ago, including 15,200 in the construction industry.

We'll Bet Them Phasers Would Work Real Good on the Eco-Terrorists

Tucson-based Ionatron Inc. announced plans to leave town for a new home at a mothballed area at the Stennis Space Center located on the Gulf Coast in Mississippi.

Ionatron is developing "a new Directed Energy Weapon technology, which in the non-lethal mode can direct electrical discharges, through the atmosphere, to disable vehicles, such as cars, trucks or boats, without harming the vehicle occupants," according to a company press release. "When fully developed, the technology also has the capability of stunning personnel, in a manner similar to a common TASER--but is wireless and capable of much longer ranges."

That leaves us with one question: What's the lethal mode do?

The company merged earlier this year with U.S. Home and Garden Inc., which appears to be pursuing a radical approach to eliminating garden and lawn pests.

Although Ionatron kept a low profile in Tucson, a tidbit did turn up in a recent issue of Business 2.0 in an article on new super-weapons being developed for the Pentagon.

"The most mind-boggling technology of all ... is being developed by supersecret Ionatron, of Tucson, Ariz.," the magazine reported. "Although the company refuses to discuss its business, the Pentagon is abuzz with news that it has successfully tested a Star Trek-like directed energy weapon. The ray gun uses a laser-induced plasma charge to disable vehicles, communication devices, or even people."

The firm was lured to its new headquarters when Tucson leaders couldn't match a promise from Mississippi to provide a protective force field reverse-engineered from Area 51 saucer technology.

Fresh Meat

Republican Bruce Ash, who has been involved in managing his family's extensive commercial and apartment real estate holdings in addition to various civic organizations, announced his bid for the Arizona House of Representatives last week.

Ash, whose first high-profile political gig was chairing the independent campaign committee that trashed Democrat Tom Volgy in last year's mayoral race, told a gathering in Green Valley that "as a citizen lawmaker, I believe I can be a moving force when leaders are needed to influence the public good." And who could be against the public good?

It's yet to be seen if Ash will actually be running for office in Green Valley and the rest of District 30, where state Rep. Randy Graf is stepping down to take on Congressman Jim Kolbe in the Republican primary. The state's legislative boundaries remain in limbo because a lawsuit has forced the Independent Redistricting Commission to redraw the political maps. A decision in the case must be made soon, because the deadline for filing petitions to run for office is less than two months away.

If the new maps are used, Ash, a Tucson Country Club resident, will be running against Democrats Ted Downing and David Bradley in a midtown Tucson district that slightly favors the incumbents. But under the old maps, Ash will be running in a Republican stronghold dominated by a politically powerful group of Christian conservatives.

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