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2011 Session Wrap

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Group plans major overhaul of presidential election process (access required)

A group of frustrated voters from across the political spectrum is hoping to reform the way the nation elects its president, and Arizona will be on the front lines in that fight next year. The only question remaining is whether the state’s conservative lawmakers are willing to abandon the current constitutionally established election method that is as old as the nation.

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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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UpClose with Chad Campbell: House Dems strive for transparency, cite ‘broken’ budget process

With a mere third of the House of Representatives being Democrats, Minority Leader Chad Campbell knew it was going to be an uphill battle trying to put a dent in the Republicans’ agenda this past session.

Predictably, the Democrats couldn’t get their proposals for tax reforms into the budget, nor could they stop a torrent of conservative legislation. But Campbell said that they did manage to get some of their goals accomplished, even if it was just keeping the public eye on the Legislature.

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UpClose with Gov. Jan Brewer: Touts openness, says vetoes represent decision not to ‘blow a hole’ in budget (access required)

After two chaotic legislative sessions, things settled down a bit for Gov. Jan Brewer in 2011.

Having won an overwhelming voter mandate in November, Brewer no longer was the governor who simply inherited the job. And with her hard-fought battle for a sales tax increase won, she was no longer the Republican governor who spent most of her time feuding with her own party.

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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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