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Myriad questions await 2011 redistricting commission (access required)

When Arizona's second Independent Redistricting Commission convenes in 2011, it will have an advantage that its predecessor didn't - precedent. The first commission, created by a 2000 amendment to the Arizona Constitution to redraw the state's legislative and congressional districts, faced the prospect of ballot initiatives, new legislation and years of court challenges stemming from disputes over the way it determined district boundaries.

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House panel to begin school tuition tax credit program review Oct. 14 (access required)

A special House panel will hold the first of three meetings next week to examine whether the state's private school tuition tax credit program works properly. Rep. Rick Murphy, a Peoria Republican appointed to chair the Private School Tuition Tax Credit Review Committee, said the goal will be to evaluate the effectiveness of the program, not debate the merits of school choice. He said the committee will be "more utilitarian than ideological."

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Lawmakers react to injunction on abortion laws (access required)

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge has granted a preliminary injunction against new state laws that place restrictions on abortion. Although the decision has been embraced by state Democrats, the Republican co-sponsor of both bills said it's another case of courts infringing on the territory of the Legislature.

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JLBC OKs $7M to complete parks projects

The State Parks Board, with the approval of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, released about $7 million to finish nearly completed projects that were put on hold in February. About $50 million of the parks budget was swept as part of state budget cuts and about a third of the agency was laid off, said Ellen Bilbrey, a public information officer for the Parks Board. In the process, Heritage Fund grants were suspended.

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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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