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Political firestorm looms as lawmakers advance strict anti-labor measures (access required)

In what is shaping up as one of the biggest political fights this year, conservative lawmakers are pushing a slew of measures that would fundamentally weaken public-sector unions in Arizona.

Taken together, the anti-union bills that were approved this week by a legislative committee are more restrictive than what was enacted in Wisconsin, where political turmoil erupted after its governor proposed to curtail collective bargaining rights for most state and local public employees.

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Pearce eyes Senate comeback

Recalled former Sen. Russell Pearce is eyeing a return to the Capitol and recently filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s Office that would set the stage for 2012 campaign.

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Two anti-illegal immigration measures are back (access required)

Undeterred by major setbacks last year, a freshman legislator is once again pushing immigration bills that could lead to another showdown over how best to confront the issue.

Sen. Steve Smith, a Maricopa Republican, is proposing laws that would require school districts to count the number of students who are in the country illegally and to require hospitals to report patients who cannot prove their lawful status.

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Tobin defends secretive map drawing (access required)

While legislative Republicans have repeatedly castigated the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission for sometimes operating outside of the public’s view, House Speaker Andy Tobin’s counterproposal was written out of anyone’s view.

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