Reversing course, state senators agreed Thursday to give a Gilbert teen one more chance to make his case for declaring lemonade the state drink.
But they deny it’s because the sponsor of the bill, the No. 2 Republican in the House, has put the squeeze on them.
House Majority Leader Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, conceded to Capitol Media Services that he was not going to simply accept Wednesday’s defeat of the legislation.
“I talked to some people,” he said following Wednesday’s 12-18 vote to kill HB 2629.
And what did you say?
“I don’t recall,” Petersen responded.
But it apparently was enough: On a voice vote Thursday, the Senate agreed to reconsider the issue — at some point in the future.
As majority leader, Petersen holds certain powers to help decide what bills do and do not get a vote. But Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, said that’s not what’s behind the move to reconsider Wednesday’s vote.
“He has never threatened anything,” she said. And Fann said Petersen is not holding up action on any Senate bills until he gets his way.
Petersen agreed to sponsor HB 2629 after Gilbert teen Garrett Glover discovered that while Arizona has a state flower, a state gemstone and even a state firearm, it lacks a state beverage.
Until Wednesday, HB 2629 had not proven particularly controversial, having cleared the House on a 57-3 margin.
House Speaker Rusty Bowers said no one is telling senators that their failure to support Petersen’s bill will in any way harm their own legislation awaiting action in the House. All that’s occurring, he said, is some education of lawmakers who are balking.
“A little boy in a classroom, trying to learn about civics, brought it,” Bowers said. “Mr. Petersen would like that known.”
Anyway, Bowers said, it’s not like this is the first time that lawmakers allow their constituents, including school children, to write such state laws.
The two-tailed swallowtail became the state butterfly in 2012 after a statewide poll.
Three years later a teacher and students from Copper Creek Elementary School convinced lawmakers to designate copper as the official state metal.
And it took the exhortations of an 11-year-old boy to convince lawmakers just last year to designate the Sonorasaurus as the official state dinosaur.
Petersen said he’s not the only one applying a bit of pressure to senators to convince them of the error of their ways.
“I know that the young man is calling members, too, as well, to try to get them to reconsider,” he said.
Thursday’s Senate action does not commit lawmakers to now voting for lemonade at the state drink but simply sets the stage for a new vote whenever Fann decides to bring the issue to the floor.