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Home / Session Wrap 2010 / With 19 bills signed, Nelson most successful senator in ’10

With 19 bills signed, Nelson most successful senator in ’10

A veteran Republican lawmaker passed the most bills in the Senate this session, but the highest batting average belongs to a Democrat.

The governor signed two of three bills that Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor, a Democrat from Phoenix, introduced, giving her a success rate of 67 percent.

But in actual numbers, it was Sen. John Nelson, a Republican from Litchfield Park, who took home the mythical trophy for the most bills signed.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed 19 of the 33 bills authored by Nelson, a long-time member of the Phoenix City Council before joining the Legislature a decade ago.

“I think in essence, it gives some credibility for the caliber of bills that I run, and the folks who bring bills to me have some confidence that, you know, I’ll work to get them done,” he said.

Many of Nelson’s bills are technical and non-controversial. A few aimed to address the foreclosure problem, including prohibiting foreclosure consultants from charging upfront payments until all services have been performed, and requiring them to fully disclose all fees to homeowners.

Nelson said a key to success is commitment. A lawmaker has to be willing to attend all committee hearings and other activities related to the bill. A lawmaker must also know the issue inside and out. He or she must be able to answer questions and ably defend bills in committee.

While lawmakers’ styles vary, the formula for success appears to be early work on bills, often before the session, the ability to get everyone on board, lobby aggressively, and get the cooperation of chairmen and chairwomen.

Some, like Landrum Taylor, would add to that the nurturing of personal relationships.

“Where you could feel comfortable to walk into anyone’s office, that makes the big difference,” she said.

Some lawmakers scored low because they didn’t have any chance to introduce bills in the first place. Such was the case with the Senate’s two late arrivals, David Braswell of Phoenix and Ed Bunch of Scottsdale, who replaced senators who resigned.

Others who had traditionally fared well in previous years didn’t accomplish as much this session because they left the Capitol to run for higher offices. Some, like Jim Waring, who went on to run for Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District, introduced fewer bills than usual. Of the eight bills Waring authored, only one was signed into law.

Then there’s Sen. Frank Antenori, a former House member from Tucson who replaced Jonathan Paton in the Senate. Antenori was in the position to push for his House bills when they crossed over to the Senate. He got eight of 33 bills enacted.

Expectedly, most Senate Democrats didn’t get any of their measures signed into law. Without the leverage of being a chairman or chairwoman, some minority members labored to even get their bills heard.

But some Republicans, too, failed to have any bill signed.

One of them is Sen. Ron Gould, a conservative Lake Havasu City Republican. Of the 18 bills he authored, none reached the governor’s desk.

One explanation is he didn’t have any leverage as his committee, Retirement and Rural Affairs, was dissolved last year, stripping him of his chairmanship.

“I had no horse to trade,” Gould said. “I hope to get a better horse next year.”

Gould is also known for his “no” votes, a stance that can work against any lawmaker.

“When you’re willing to vote against what you consider bad bills, it hurts the feelings of that bill’s sponsor and a lot of times they retaliate and won’t give you the support on your bills,” he said.

Gould, a Republican with a libertarian bent, doesn’t seem to mind his predicament. He didn’t join the Legislature to create more laws anyway, he said.

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