House Speaker-elect Rusty Bowers has dissolved the House Sentencing and Recidivism Reform Committee that Rep. David Stringer was slated to chair.
Bowers, R-Mesa, said the House Judiciary Committee will now pick up those criminal justice reform efforts.
Bowers also appointed Rep.-elect Walter Blackman, R-Snowflake, to replace Stringer, R-Prescott, as vice chair of the Judiciary Committee. Republican Rep.-elect Leo Biasiucci of Lake Havasu City will also replace Stringer on the House Education Committee.
Stringer remains on the House Government Committee.
Bowers’ decision to dissolve the reform committee carries implications beyond Stringer, who was forced out of chairmanship after making racially-charged comments. The path to criminal justice reform now goes through the same Judiciary Committee, where it was tackled in previous sessions with mixed results.
This is not the first time Stringer’s views on race and immigration have affected criminal justice reform efforts.
Stringer was serving as chairman of an ad hoc committee to study criminal justice reforms when a first round of controversial comments were made public in June. He had positioned himself to take on a leading role in those endeavors, which he would have as chairman of the reform committee as well as vice chair of judiciary. House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, disbanded the ad hoc committee.
Mesnard feared Stringer’s comments would overshadow the committee’s work, even though its members continued their talks in a less public setting.
Rep. John Allen, R-Scottsdale, has now been charged with seeing that effort through.
“Speaker-elect Bowers has asked me to pick up the mantle of criminal justice reform in the Judiciary Committee, and I’m excited to do so,” Allen said in the House press release.
He’ll be joined by Rep. Kirsten Engel, D-Tucson, who had been a ranking member of the now-defunct reform committee. Engel is the ranking Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee.