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Senate panel discusses climate change (access required)

Critics of federal cap-and-trade legislation told a panel of Arizona lawmakers Sept. 28 that its effects insofar as reducing global carbon emission at the end of this century will be negligible - similar to turning off one 100-watt incandescent bulb in a football stadium. Some participants and onlookers, though, said the panel was a sham.

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Diminished debate: Limits on floor discussion put Senate in quandary (access required)

In the Arizona Legislature, debate usually refers to the Committee of the Whole, a crucial part of lawmaking that facilitates adjustments to legislation. More importantly for some, it is the last chance to thoroughly examine proposed legislation and to sway people's opinion for or against it. In most cases, emotions are checked and the tone is primarily civil. But in the last two years, senators have adopted temporary rules to limit debate during the Committee of the Whole so debate is now but a shadow of its dictionary meaning. In short, the limitation on debate happened when lawmakers discussed subjects that directly impacted the state during a crucial part of the budget process.

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Gray, Barto file motion to intervene in federal abortion suit (access required)

Two lawmakers, along with several conservative groups, filed a motion Sept. 22 to intervene as defendants in a federal lawsuit that was filed to challenge a new state law to restrict abortions. Sen. Linda Gray, a Republican from Glendale and Rep. Nancy Barto, a Republican from Phoenix, argued that they have a right to intervene because the lawsuit could invalidate their votes.

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Lawmakers scrutinize STOs, seeking reform (access required)

A group of lawmakers are taking a closer look at a program that gives income-tax breaks to people who donate money for private school scholarships. A Sept. 21 hearing on school-tuition organizations at the state Capitol came on the heels of newspapers reports that highlighted ways the tax-credit program could be abused.

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A third of Senate to say goodbye in 2010 (access required)

A controversial constitutional amendment that limits the length of time that lawmakers can stay in office will force more than one-third of the senators out of their chamber by the end of next year, a massive revamp unprecedented in recent years.

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Burns, Adams say Brewer’s vetoes violate Arizona Constitution (access required)

Legislative leaders say the governor exceeded her constitutional authority in some of her line-item vetoes of budget bills this month, but they decided against taking the matter to court. Gov. Jan Brewer said she "absolutely" stands by her action, adding she didn't give much thought to the lawmakers' statement that she doesn't have authority to line-item veto items that don't have to do with appropriations.

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Proposed sales tax hike blocks budget deal (access required)

With the clock ticking, lawmakers and the governor held a series of closed-door meetings leading up to the Sept. 5 deadline for action on a slate of budget bills. But the negotiations did not produce the outcome Gov. Jan Brewer had desired - a bipartisan coalition of support for a special election to temporarily raise the sales tax to help balance the budget.

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