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Gun fight brewing at Legislature

Arizona's gun laws are already among the most permissive in the nation, but that's not good enough for gun-rights advocates who are taking aim at restrictions on who may carry guns, where they may carry them and when they may use them to shoot people.

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Lawmakers’ first duty: Show up and vote (access required)

Here’s the simple mathematics of representative government: Arizona taxpayers pay for lawmakers to show up and vote on every bill in the Legislature. Now here’s the flaw in that equation: Lawmakers get paid whether they show up or not. Unfortunately, many Arizona residents were underrepresented at the Capitol during last year’s regular legislative session.

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Long session led to many missed votes

The Arizona House of Representatives held 382 floor votes during the 2009 regular session, which stretched into July as lawmakers struggled with the budget deficit. Rep. Rich Crandall, a Mesa Republican, didn't participate in 254 of them, nearly two-thirds of the total.

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UpClose with Ken Cheuvront (access required)

While others prefer to be diplomatic, Sen. Ken Cheuvront speaks his mind without sugarcoating it. When Janet Napolitano resigned her post as governor early this year to become President Obama's secretary of Homeland Security, the Phoenix lawmaker was quite blunt in his criticism of her decision. "Janet always does what's good for Janet," he said.

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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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