Something's hitting the fan as the Arizona Legislature races to wrap up work
As the Arizona Legislature hurtles towards the end of the session, a whole bunch of legislation is on the move.
Some highlights, as of our Tuesday morning deadline:
• Gov. Doug Ducey rolled out a brand-new idea last week: Creating a new Inspector General with police powers who is appointed by and answers to the governor's office. The legislation creating this new office was a strike-all amendment tacked onto HB 2420, a bill previously calling for a report on government competitiveness. It passed the Senate Government Committee on a 4-3 vote last Wednesday, March 18. Republican Scott Smith, the former Mesa mayor who lost to Ducey in last year's GOP primary, tweeted his assessment of the legislation: "A political appointee who reports to politician boss & has police powers to conduct secret investigations. What could possibly go wrong?"
• HB 2320 would allow anyone with a concealed weapons permit to carry a gun into a public building, such as a city hall, library or recreation center. (Exemptions would include college campuses, school grounds, public hospitals and stadiums with liquor licenses.) If a local government chose to ban firearms, they would have to provide gun safes and armed guards to manage doorways. The bill passed the House on a 33-25 vote on March 12 and was on the agenda of the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, March 24.
• HB 2431 would set the stage for the state to enter into a compact with other states that would strictly prohibit Arizona from enacting any new gun regulations as long as it was in partnership with another state. The bill passed the House of Representatives on March 12 and was scheduled for a hearing the Senate Appropriations Committee this week.
• SB 1291 would allow individuals or groups such as the NRA to sue local officials who attempt to craft ordinances designed to limit the use or possession of firearms or enact background-check requirements as the city of Tucson has done with gun shows on city property and creates personal fines for local elected officials who attempt to regulate guns. The bill passed the Senate last month and passed the House Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee on a 4-3 vote on March 12. It was awaiting a hearing in the House Rules Committee.
• The anti-abortion SB 1318 passed the House of Representatives on a 33-24 vote on Monday, March 23. The legislation would prohibit women from buying health insurance policies that cover abortion on the online federal health-care exchanges and create a new public registry of doctors who perform abortions in Arizona. But it was amended in the House to include a requirement that doctors tell women seeing medication abortion that they can reverse the process by taking another medication, despite the testimony of doctors who said the claim had no basis in medical science. The Senate must now agree to the amendment before it can advance to the governor's desk.
• SCR 1001 would refer a proposition to the 2016 ballot asking voters to end the experiment with public funds for political campaigns by transferring all of the money from the state Clean Elections program to the state's school system. It got through the House Elections Committee on Monday, March 16, and was awaiting a vote in the House Rules Committee.
• HB 2415 is a strike-all amendment that replaces a bill that has gone through the normal committee with some kind of emergency legislation. In this case, the legislation seeks to clean up some confusing language in the campaign-finance statutes, but lawmakers have conveniently added language that allows them to increase the amount they're allowed to receive for their campaigns. The new limit for legislative or statewide candidates would be $6,250, up from the current level $5,000—which itself was a jump from the previous limit of $440 for legislative candidates.
• HB 2407 would throw a bunch of new roadblocks into the path of groups that want to put initiatives on the ballot and make it easier for courts to toss proposed propositions from the ballot. The bill passed the House last month and passed the Senate Rules Committee on Monday, March 23, setting up a vote of the full Senate.
• HB 2368 would prohibit the state, counties or cities from using resources to enforce any presidential executive orders or Department of Justice policy directives that have not been approved by Congress. The bill passed Senate Rules Committee on Monday, March 23, and is set for a vote of the full Senate.
• SB 1273, which would have allowed the state to issue modern driver's licenses that comply with the federal REAL ID Act, died in the House of Representative after Speaker David Gowan chose to file it away rather than assign it a hearing. Here's the problem: Your current Arizona license is not going to meet the standards for boarding a plane starting next year, so you'll need a passport or you'll be grounded. As of press time, there was an effort to resurrect the bill.
You could call lawmakers and tell them how you feel about these bills, but honestly, unless you live in their districts, they probably don't care much of what you think. (And may delight in knowing that they are making you mad.)
The better bet is calling Gov. Doug Ducey, who might be persuadable on at least a few of these issues.
Ducey's Phoenix number: 602-542-4331.
"Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel" airs Sunday at the special time of 9 a.m. on KGUN-9.