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UpClose with David Schapira: Found some success at blocking legislation with ‘watchdog’ approach

The Senate minority announced an audacious goal this year — to put the spotlight on Republicans and their legislation. That task fell to a young father to articulate his party’s positions in a year when Republicans, who are control both chambers, don’t even need a single Democratic vote to pass emergency legislation.

The immediate challenge for Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, a Tempe Democrat, and his caucus was to avoid being relegated to irrelevance.

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UpClose with Russell Pearce: Recognizes he’s not ‘a party of one,’ can’t do whatever he wants

If you’re looking for proof of how much more conservative the Senate emerged after last year’s election, look no further than the selection of Sen. Russell Pearce, a Republican from Mesa, as the chamber’s leader.

Pearce is often perceived as unmovable, uncompromising, even single-minded — traits that may be good or bad, depending on which side of the aisle you’re sitting. Many wondered what his presidency would look like and some speculated whether he would rule with a hammer.

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Distractions? Yes. Distracted? Probably not too much

Every circus has its sideshows. And this year, the state Capitol was crawling with them. 

For the first time in more than a decade, lawmakers wrapped up their work in 100 days. And they did so in spite of distractions that came in the form of a roadside fracas that cost a Republican leader his post, a college football scandal that ensnared more than a dozen elected officials and a tragic shooting days before the session began that cast a pall over the entire process.

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Biggs, as Senate majority leader, less vocal in opposing bills (access required)

On several occasions, the Senate majority leader voted with the losing side — and against the majority in his caucus.

Those occasions are a stark reminder that the man Republicans picked as caucus leader is a fiscal conservative with a libertarian streak, who backs or supports measures depending on how they hew to or diverge from his reading of the U.S. Constitution.

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Multistate compacts in vogue, not ready for prime time in Arizona (access required)

The sheer number of legislative proposals that were introduced this year seeking to defy the federal government seemed to affirm Arizona’s credentials as a bastion of the states’ rights movement.

But nearly all of the bills that would have allowed Arizona to band together with other states in attempts to check federal overreach fell by the wayside.

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