It was a bit of surprise to see that a has-been like me was mentioned in an article in the Arizona Capitol Times (‘I hate this bill and I vote aye’, January 25, 2010). I guess there must be very little happening at the Legislature.
This being said, during my days at the House, I was often amused or annoyed by colleagues who would support bad public policy against their better judgment simply to avoid upsetting the apple cart and to support their leadership. There are all manner of excuses for doing so, but the need to “move things forward” in some way, shape or form stands out as the chief reason for abandoning all reason and supporting legislation that legislators know to be flawed.
I frequently wondered, if they had issues with these bills, why didn’t they deal with them then and there, rather than passing the responsibility to some other committee or to the other chamber – or worse, to allow bad legislation to become law with their blessing. Too often, of course, promised fixes simply never materialized.
None of this was the case with my vote on employer sanctions. As I think I made clear at the time, my issue was with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, which had opposed the bill. Since at least 2004, the chamber had been coming to the Democratic leadership to beg for our assistance on this issue, claiming that they were on the verge of unveiling a campaign to promote comprehensive immigration reform.
Instead, the chamber remained silent on the issue for years, even providing active support for the most hysterically anti-immigration legislators, and allowing the debate to reach a point where rational discussion was impossible.
Needless to say, I was pretty annoyed with the chamber’s craven hypocrisy on this and a whole raft of other issues. Given that the bill was going to pass with or without my vote, I voted “aye” as a protest, something which I stated in my speech on the floor and to anyone who asked me.
As for my remarks about letting the Senate fix the problems in the bill, that was sarcasm, something which I thought should have been obvious in context. I should have realized that the Capitol press corps is far too literal-minded and humorless to get irony and nuance.
- Tom Prezelski is a former state representative from Tucson.