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Brewer backing away from special session talk

Lawmakers may not have to return to the Capitol this year after all.

Gov. Jan Brewer told the Arizona Capitol Times that she had no specific plans for special session and played down the possibility of calling legislators back, just weeks after she first said she was considering the idea for her state employee personnel reform plan.

“I don’t even know if I used the word ‘consider.’ I think I said that there’s a possibility that there might be a special session, and I still believe that there’s a possibility that there might be a special session,” Brewer said. “But I haven’t spoken with leadership in regards to that and if we do that we all certainly want to be on the same page.”

In her April 27 veto letter for SB1186, a tax corrections bill, Brewer wrote that a special session might be needed to implement some of the changes the bill would have made. But on May 5, she said the tax corrections might not be necessary until the Legislature reconvenes for the 2012 regular session.

“I think it was in 2006, the tax correction bill didn’t even arrive up here. It was put on hold and the state didn’t stop running,” Brewer said.

Brewer did not rule out a special session and the personnel reform plan, which would largely eliminate merit protection for state employees, she said, “If we go into special session I would want to pursue that.”

But Brewer’s comments were a significant departure from recent discussions about a special session.

Just days before the Legislature adjourned sine die on April 20, Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said the governor wanted the Legislature to take up her personnel reform plan, “if not this session, then sometime between now and next year.” Shortly before sine die, Brewer said she would probably call legislators back to the Capitol sometime after the summer. And in a veto letter for HB2650, a similar personnel reform plan for county employees, Brewer said the proposal was a “prime candidate for consideration in a special legislative session.”

According to an outline drafted by the Governor’s Office, Brewer’s personnel reform plan was tentatively scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 1. The Legislature would have to approve the plan at the beginning of August in order to meet that timeline, unless Brewer was able to get enough votes for an emergency clause.

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