GOP legislator wants to take constant ‘campaign mode’ out of lawmaking

Rep. Drew John (R-Safford)
Rep. Drew John (R-Safford)

Rep. Drew John, R-Safford, is proposing to extend terms for members of both the House and Senate.

John, a freshman lawmaker, is planning to introduce legislation that would double legislators’ terms to four years from two. The change would still abide by Arizona’s eight-year term limits, holding members to a maximum of two terms instead of four.

The ballot measure would amend the state Constitution, subject to voter approval.

“I’ve served five four-year terms as a school board member and a county supervisor and it kind of hit me upside the head when right after my first session some people came up to me and said, ‘We need to do a fundraiser.’ I’m thinking we just had one,” he said. “I have a lot of things to do, I have to go out and talk to my constituents, I need to tell them the whole story, not part of the story, and now I’m in campaign mode again.”

John said extending term lengths would allow lawmakers to accomplish more during their time at the Legislature and build better relationships with their colleagues, the Governor’s Office and lobbyists, instead of always having their sights set on the next election.

“I just believe, if nothing else, you have two years in the middle of good production, get some things done, look at some things, instead of being in a rush because you might not be here next year,” he said. “We’re always in campaign mode and I just don’t think it’s healthy or good for the people.”

It would also lead to stability and consistency in the Legislature – more than one-third of the members of House last year were newly elected lawmakers with little previous governmental or law making experience – and allow for the development and preservation of institutional knowledge, he said.

The change wouldn’t go into effect until the Legislature’s 56th session in 2023. Lawmakers who were elected to serve a two-year term beginning in 2021 would be allowed to serve two consecutive four-year terms under the proposed bill without violating the state’s eight-year term limit.

John said he also looked at staggering elections but it “created too many problems.”

The bill will be similar to a concurrent resolution Senate President Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, sponsored last year that sought to extend term for state senators to four years from two. SCR1027 passed in the Senate 19-11 but failed to get through the House.

However, John said he thinks his version will face less opposition from members of his chamber.

“I already know the Senate president said he can get it through the Senate. I think it will get through the House,” he said. “I think the biggest problem we had last year was maybe some pride got involved – why do they (senators) get four years and we get two years?”

He said he has talked to many of his colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, and has received positive feedback.

“I’ve gotten a good response from leadership, from past leadership, I’ve talked to the public. The public is a little scared about it because they think it’s a way to get around term limits, but it’s important to say this doesn’t do away with that,” he said.

John said he received the final draft of his proposed bill earlier this week and plans to meet with Yarbrough and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, one final time before introducing the legislation early next week.

Gowan seeks political comeback in LD14 Senate GOP primary

David Gowan
David Gowan (Photo by Rachel Leingang/Arizona Capitol Times)

Arizona’s Legislative District 14 Republican Senate primary pits scandal-plagued former House Speaker David Gowan against Rep. Drew John and an anti-establishment political newcomer.

John, R-Safford, took over Gowan’s House seat two years ago after the former speaker left for a run for Congress amid an investigation into his misuse of government vehicles.

John served as a Graham County supervisor from 2000 to 2015 when he became a state representative. Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, urged John to run for the Senate seat she held since 2011, but had to vacate because of term limits.

Along with Becky Nutt R-Clifton, Griffin and John will form a trio of legislators running together. Griffin is a career politician and is deeply embedded in the Legislature as she attempts to win the other House seat in LD14.

The rural district is made of three counties in southeastern Arizona where population centers are scarce and cattle are the only traffic jam to encounter. Even though the district may be isolated, the RedforEd movement was not lost upon voters there, though, and education will be a deciding issue as the candidates make their appeal to voters.

Gowan supported Proposition 123 in 2016, a ballot proposal to increase annual distributions of state land trust permanent funds to education, providing an additional $3.5 billion to public schools over 10 years. A federal judge has since ruled the funding plan illegal.

Two years later, teachers walked out of schools and rallied around the Capitol, urging lawmakers to pass a 20 percent pay increase. John voted for Gov. Doug Ducey’s 20×2020 plan, which is designed to boost teacher salaries by 20 percent by 2020.

“As far as education, I think we have a good plan in place, but I think people need to understand that all we are doing with this plan is restoring what was taken away,” said John. “Where do we go from there?”

Then there’s Gowan’s support of SB1070, the tough illegal immigration measure, and the endorsement of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt in 2017 for defying court orders for his office to stop detaining people because they were believed to be undocumented.

Gowan did not immediately return requests for comment.

Gowan repaid the state $12,000 that he had wrongfully received as reimbursement for trips he had taken in state vehicles, but reported as taking in his own vehicle, and for per diem pay for days he had claimed to work, but didn’t. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office did not pursue criminal charges, but found there was “substantial disregard for determining whether state funds for per diem, mileage, and official travel were paid pursuant to proper authority” under Gowan’s leadership.

John takes a somewhat moderate approach to immigration, one that could possibly hurt him in the deeply Republican district that borders Mexico.

“I’m very solution oriented,” said John. “I don’t care where the good solution comes from. I don’t care what race it comes from, I don’t care what party it comes from. I think the Republican Party has better ideas, but not always the solutions.”

Newcomer candidate Lori Kilpatrick is trying to mold herself as the most anti-establishment candidate on the ballot, supporting the ideologies of President Donald Trump in a county that voted in favor of him over Hillary Clinton by more than 20 points in 2016.

Kilpatrick’s anti-establishment campaign may prove to be effective as she submitted more petition signatures than either of the two other candidates in the race, but unlike her two opponents, Kilpatrick has never held an elected office at any level.

John’s first term in the Legislature has been without scandal, and as the incumbent, he will attempt to focus the race on his and his opponent’s past service.

“This is my eighth election that I’ve been through,” John said, “and I just talk about what I’ve done, my experiences. Anybody can brag about what they’re going to do. I’m more about what have you done.”

House panel advances bill exempting tampons from sales tax

Tampons and Pads

A panel of legislators today approved a bill to exempt tampons, diapers and baby formula from sales taxes.

HB2217 also exempts sanitary napkins, menstrual sponges, menstrual cup, other feminine hygiene products, and adult diapers from the sales tax. The tax exemptions would expire in 2026.

The measure squeaked by the House Ways and Means, 5-4, with the support of two Republicans and all Democrats on the panel. It will also need the approval of the House Health Committee before making it to debate on the floor.

The bill is Tucson Democratic Rep. Daniel Hernandez’s second attempt to rid the state of its tampon tax. A similar bill last year passed one committee, but fizzled out before reaching the House floor.

This time, Hernandez has three Republican cosponsors: Reps. Drew John, Todd Clodfelter and Michelle Ugenti-Rita.

Last year’s bill would have cost the state’s general fund $7 million.

Ashley Ware, who told the committee she grew up with eight women in her household, said sometimes the family budget didn’t have room for menstrual products. The women would sometimes have to barter for tampons or figure out who could borrow from work friends or classmates or go without, she said.

“Those nickels and dimes for me and my family, for eight women, could have been another meal or a box of tampons before payday,” she said.

Dianne Post, an attorney, said the state already exempts sheep, donkeys and lottery tickets, among many other goods, from the sales tax. And while the state budget is a financial document, it also reveals morals and what a society values, she said.

Daniel Moxley, director of the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, said a third of Arizona moms struggle to provide diapers to her kids. Sometimes, people end up reusing disposable diapers when they can’t afford new ones, which is a health risk, Moxley said.

Several states have approved or considered laws to exempt tampons from sales taxes, as the issue has become more visible in the U.S. and across the world. Some states have passed laws requiring schools to have free feminine hygiene products available for their students.

In 2015, Canada ended its tax on feminine hygiene products following a widely-circulated petition effort. Kenya doesn’t tax tampons.

The lawmakers who voted against the bill made sure to declare their love and support for babies, women and the elderly, and said their opposition isn’t a slight to those populations.

“I love babies. I love children. I love older people who require diapers,” Republican Rep. Jay Lawrence said before voting against the bill.

Republican Rep. Anthony Kern said he wants to see how the federal tax overhaul affects people and suggested holding off on the tampon tax bill until next session.

“I care more about teacher pay at this moment,” he said.

Republican Rep. Jeff Weninger of Chandler, who earlier in the hearing was asked by a Democratic lawmaker if he cares about babies, said he found it “somewhat offensive” to hear insinuations that a person doesn’t like babies or the elderly because that person philosophically disagrees with a bill.

Weninger voted yes, but added that he wants to see the cities be forced to comply with the tax exemption, as well. Otherwise, he said, the bill wouldn’t be “intellectually honest.”

Hernandez said he’s willing to amend the bill to make clear that cities can’t separately tax those items.

Ugenti-Rita, the committee’s chairwoman, wrapped up voting by saying it should be a given that everyone loves babies, the elderly and humans in general.

“For those of you voting no, I think you love babies, too,” she said.

House panel sinks bill requiring partisan city elections

A bill requiring municipal governments to hold partisan elections has failed to clear its first hurdle.

Rep. Jay Lawrence (R-Scottsdale)
Rep. Jay Lawrence (R-Scottsdale)

House Bill 2032, which was introduced by Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, would have required cities and towns to print the political party designation of candidates for mayor and city or town council on the ballot, despite a court ruling that upheld municipalities’ rights to set up elections however they choose.

Speaking before the House Committee on Local and International Affairs on January 17, Lawrence said the bill would allow voters to make a more informed decision.

He argued that though people may question how partisan topics – like abortion, a candidate’s feelings toward President Donald Trump or who a candidate’s congressional hero is – relate to city issues, the question can be answered with three simple words: sanctuary city laws.

“I will give you just one example, and after that example of how does this pertain to city government, there can be no other question,” Lawrence told the committee. “The city of Phoenix has a sanctuary city law. It is illegal. The Justice Department has announced they will prosecute those cities who have instituted this illegal law. … I think every individual running for office should ask about that.”

His argument, however, failed to sway his colleagues. Republican Reps. Todd Clodfelter, of Tucson, and Drew John, of Safford, joined Democratic Reps. Cesar Chavez, Phoenix; Rosanna Gabaldon, Green Valley; and Isela Blanc, Tempe, in sinking the measure.

Rep. Drew John (R-Safford)
Rep. Drew John (R-Safford)

As someone who represents a rural area, John said most people already know each other well and there’s little question about which side of the political aisle candidates stand on. He said partisanship has left “a bad taste in most everybody’s mouth,” and making municipal elections partisan would create a greater divide among residents.

Clodfelter added that although voters may form a preconceived opinion of a candidate based on his or her party affiliation, nonpartisan elections allow voters to get “to know the individual on a personal basis.”

Blanc said most people living within a municipality are more concerned about their streets being improved and their garbage being picked up than their local representative’s thoughts on abortion, which she insisted isn’t a local issue.

Rep. Becky Nutt (R-Clifton)
Rep. Becky Nutt (R-Clifton)

Rep. Becky Nutt, R-Clifton, who voted for the measure along with committee chairman Tony Rivero, R-Peoria, said she supported moving it out of committee so that it could lead to a larger discussion on the House floor.

“I think this is a great conversation, and I think that it’s one that needs to go to the larger body,” she said.
Testifying in committee, Patrice Kraus, a lobbyist for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, said the services cities provide to residents are “fundamentally different” than those provided by the state, and while some of the issues Lawrence brought up may be relevant at the state level, they aren’t at the local level.

“Most of our issues aren’t partisan in nature,” she said.

Pay hike flap leaves rank and file lawmakers with little to do

(Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)
Thousands of teachers, students and Red for Ed supporters gathered at Chase Field on April 26 before marching to the Arizona Capitol on the first day of a statewide strike. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

As teachers around the state prepared to strike, legislators sat nearly idle for four days as they got into a stand-off with Gov. Doug Ducey over how to give teachers pay raises.

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, announced on April 19 the schedule for April 23 to April 26 would likely be fluid because lawmakers were “running out of things to do.”

Work nearly came to a halt after Ducey vetoed 10 House bills on April 20, asking that the Legislature instead focus on passing a budget that includes funding for his proposed teacher pay raises, in addition to restoring district and charter additional assistance.

Though the move appeared to break the budget logjam, sparking serious budget discussions between House and Senate leadership and the governor’s staff, other business at the Capitol slowed considerably, sidelining the vast majority of lawmakers who weren’t part of the budget negotiations.

Some lawmakers were frustrated for being left out of the budget conversation, or wished they could be back in their district talking to constituents, or campaigning.

Rep. Drew John, R-Safford, said though the easy schedule would give the Legislature more time to concentrate on finding a sustainable funding source to pay for Ducey’s proposed 9 percent teacher raise in FY2019, most members were just waiting to see a plan.

Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix, who is running for state treasurer, said it has been difficult balancing having to be on the floor and traveling throughout the state to meet with voters.

While the Senate debated several bills in Committee of the Whole, and gave third and final readings to a few others throughout the week, the House had nothing substantive on the calendar.

It’s unlikely that the House, for the time being, will send many more bills to the Governor’s Office, if any at all, said Mesnard.

“I’m not really planning on sending more bills. I don’t have very many left anyway,” he said.

On April 23, the House gaveled in, read messages from the Senate and Governor’s Office, and adjourned in less than 15 minutes. Floor sessions usually last more than an hour.

The following day, the House met for roughly 30 minutes, but didn’t vote on any measures.

On April 25, again with little work to do on the floor, House members spent more than 90 minutes debating the offensiveness of rap lyrics after Democratic Reps. Reginald Bolding and Gerae Peten took issue with a commentary written by Rep. Maria Syms, R-Paradise Valley, that they said not only sought to discredit the #RedForEd leaders but also disparaged black people.

Things got so slow that Mesnard even toyed with the idea of canceling the April 24 floor session, a suggestion that he said was not well received by some members.

“We contemplated not having to do the pray, pledge, adjourn maneuver, but some said that would look bad,” he said. “My thought was: Why pull everybody in if they could be having conversations with teachers in their districts and other constituents?”

Even if they aren’t on the floor, it doesn’t mean they aren’t working, Mesnard said, adding that members have met throughout the week to discuss the budget.

But there were other outstanding issues to tackle.

Ducey’s school safety plan is slowly making its way through the Legislature, getting the nod in the Senate Rules Committee on April 23. Three Senate bills were approved in the House Rules Committee and in caucus this week. And both chambers introduced a resolution on April 4 to approve the appointment of Lindsey Perry as auditor general, which is being fast tracked through the Legislature, but still needs to be voted on.

Mesnard said leadership also needs to discuss what ballot referrals will be sent to the Secretary of State’s Office this year.

One incentive that might push lawmakers to sine die soon – starting on the 120th day of session, legislators will get a smaller subsistence allowance. Instead of $60 per day for non-Maricopa County lawmakers, the per diem drops to $20, while for Maricopa County residents, it dips to $10 from $35.

Rash of GOP bills seek to empower lawmakers, disempower voters


Arizona Republican legislators have a habit of pushing ideas that make their own lives easier, but harder for voters to have their voices heard.

Critics say the GOP-led efforts are a consolidation of legislative authority, designed to fend off an increasingly independent and incensed electorate in a state that’s becoming slightly more competitive every two years.

Some examples include legislation like SB1023, which would allow legislative candidates to identify fewer of those individuals who make financial contributions to their campaigns, leaving voters in the dark about who’s influencing elections.

And Republicans are also leading an effort to quash a movement in Tempe to reveal the sources of “dark money” in local elections. It’s a GOP bid to keep campaign dollars spent by groups that don’t disclose the source of their money a secret.

And there are more.

Arizona is no stranger to bills that are criticized as a power struggle between lawmakers and voters, but Zachary Smith, a regents professor of politics and international affairs at Northern Arizona University, said this year’s wave of legislation is unprecedented.

“In 30 years of watching the Arizona Legislature, I’ve never seen such blatant attempts to empower the Legislature and disempower the voters, and that’s taking all of these things into consideration,” Smith said.

Republican lawmakers say there’s no concerted effort to undermine voters, and make the case for bills on an individual basis as good for Arizona and good for their constituents. But on some issues, their policy positions contradict popular public opinion.

Rivko Knox, a volunteer lobbyist with the League of Women Voters, recalled one legislative hearing this year on a bill with dozens of speakers signed in to oppose, and minimal support, but still, a lawmaker claimed the measure was widely backed.

The “request to speak” system is by no means a definitive arbiter of public opinion. Still, in the face of overwhelming opposition at the hearing, “the legislator said, ‘That’s not what I hear in my district,’” Knox said.

If that’s the case, she said, “to what extent you’re really representing your district, I don’t know.”

Power retention

In some ways, Knox sees Republican efforts to consolidate power in the Legislature as instinctual, albeit a tactic that shies away from transparency and shows a disrespect for the public, she said.

“To some extent it’s almost a natural reaction, in the sense that one body wants to retain power,” she said.

Joel Edman
Joel Edman

Those bodies, the Republican-dominated Arizona Senate and House of Representatives, are frustrating lobbyists like Knox and Joel Edman, executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network.

“Instead of having huge debates on how we can get more money into classrooms, and how we can take care of the families that don’t have reliable access to health care, that we’re trying to figure out, can we raise the salaries of legislators, can we make it so we don’t have to run for re-election so often, can we make it so we can hide some of our campaign contributions?” Edman said. “It’s a really sort of twisted view of the priorities.”

There is in fact an effort to dramatically increase legislative salaries, though such a pay hike would require a vote of the people, and Arizonans haven’t been keen on rewarding lawmakers with a raise for years.

Arizonans may also be asked whether they want senators and representatives to serve four-year terms, rather than two years. The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Drew John, R-Safford, would halve the number of elections in which legislators must campaign, a boon for institutional knowledge, some argue. Even Edman and Knox see the benefits of such a proposal.

And yet, HCR2006 finds a way to make legislators’ lives even more easy because legislative elections would only be held every four years during midterm elections, when voter turnout is at its lowest and campaigns are dominated by the most passionate, and arguably far-right and -left, of each party, Edman said.

“That means that some segment of voters who show up just for presidential years aren’t going to have their voices heard at all – they’re basically irrelevant as far as the state Capitol is concerned. And so that’s a whole segment of voters that are taken out of the process,” he said.

Should they vote every year? Sure, Edman said. But as long as they don’t, fewer elections should at least be held at a time when more voters are likely to cast ballots, he said.


Edman and Knox speculate that avoiding voters might be the underlying goal. For example, it has become routine for Republicans to sponsor bills that chip away at the initiative process, by which voters can bypass the Legislature and pass laws on their own, or even block laws the Legislature approved.

Proposition 206, a citizens initiative to raise the minimum wage that voters approved in 2016, seems to have accelerated those efforts, Edman said.

“Certainly it brought on all these attacks on the initiative process, but I think folks down here, and I think in particular a couple of powerful interests groups like the (Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry) who were used to getting their way saw they can’t always get their way with the electorate,” he said. “So let’s see if they can again find a way to make the electorate less important in how the state runs things.”

That feeling is also reflected in efforts like HCR2022. Sponsored by Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, the resolution would ask voters to give up their right to elect partisan candidates in primary elections for the U.S. Senate. Instead, legislators from the Republican and Democratic parties would select two nominees each whose names would appear on the General Election ballot.

When the resolution was approved by a House committee on a 6-3 party-line vote, Republican representatives said the measure will better serve the state by ensuring U.S. senators are acting in the best interest of the state.

“That to me is such a blatant way of saying, ‘We ought to control what’s going on. We want senators that are dependent on us,’ as if the legislators are the people of the state, and they’re not,” Knox said.

Some don’t pan out

Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff)
Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff)

The sponsors of resolutions like HCR 2022 are often criticized for not having their finger on the pulse of the electorate. Rep. Bob Thorpe, the Flagstaff Republican who has sponsored several bills to draw the fire of progressive and nonpartisan interest groups alike, said he knows exactly what he’s doing – it’s what his voters want.

Not all constituents may like it, but Thorpe said he’s doing right by his Legislative District 6.

Sometimes that means pitching bills that don’t pan out. Thorpe said he sponsored HCR2014, the resolution to block independents from voting in partisan primaries, because a voter in his district asked him to. But he backed off the idea after consulting with state Republican leaders, who weren’t in favor of the idea.

Thorpe said most bills come from ideas from constituents. There’s nothing nefarious going on, as if Republican lawmakers are plotting with one another about ways to undermine the will of the voters.

“We are all free agents down here, and it’s very rare that as we’re crafting bill ideas that we’re having conversations with members. … I think what you might be suggesting and other people might be suggesting is there’s a collaborative effort to push the agenda in a certain direction,” Thorpe said. “We don’t even have right now a majority plan in place, where the majority has decided we’re going to be pushing A, B and C.”

For Thorpe, the best way to represent the voters of his district is to push for what he philosophically believes is in the best interest of the state of Arizona.

Take the minimum wage issue as an example.

Thorpe argued that such a high minimum wage – Arizona’s now stands at $10.50 per hour, but will increase to $12 by 2020 – is bad for businesses and ultimately hurts the residents it’s trying to help. So he supports efforts to freeze the minimum wage at its current rate and undo paid-leave protections for employees that were approved by voters less than 18 months ago.

Initiatives like Prop. 206 that increased the minimum wage get in the way of Thorpe’s view of a representative form of government.

“People elect us to come down here and the Legislature to write laws,” he said. “So when you have a bill, whether it’s well intentioned or not, a referendum, it basically steps on our toes as the Legislature.”

Stepping on toes or not, Prop. 206 passed with little opposition. Roughly 58 percent of voters approved the minimum wage hike across the state, and in Thorpe’s LD6, the proposition passed with more than 57 percent of the vote, according to an analysis prepared for Arizona Wins, a progressive advocacy group.

So how does Thorpe reconcile supporting a measure to undo something that voters in his district supported?

“I look at my constituents. When I go before the people in northern Arizona, I’m thanked for the job I’m doing,” he said.

And if he keeps getting elected, that must mean there’s at least some voters in LD6 who approve of what he’s doing, like undermining the minimum wage initiative.

“Any election, (voters) have the opportunity to get rid of me and to elect someone else. I’m coming up for re-election now, and they have that opportunity to do so,” Thorpe said. “So if I’m not doing what they want me to do, they’ll replace me.”

Ignoring the popular vote

Smith, the NAU professor, said there are many factors that create an environment where a lawmaker like Thorpe can ignore the popular vote in his district. Lawmakers are listening to some, but not all, of their constituents, he said.

As far as having their finger on the pulse of the electorate, it’s a valid criticism, Smith said, “but see, they don’t have to, because they only have to have 51 percent of the people that vote in the Republican primary in their district, and most of those guys know it.”

Smith said that Republicans in charge of the state right now are “enriched and empowered by forces that weren’t in play in the past” – particularly anonymous campaign expenditures like the ones Tempe wants to shine a light on, but Republican legislators want to keep in the, well, dark.

The financial influence of anonymous political spending stretches from the highest office in the state – Gov. Doug Ducey was the beneficiary of $8.2 million in dark money during the 2014 election — to some legislative races.

On the bright side, Smith noted that many of these legislative efforts are dead or dying.

Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, is killing SB1023, which would shield some campaign contributor s from exposure, in the face of opposition, including some from his own party. A Thorpe bill to exempt communications on personal devices from the public record never passed a committee hearing.

But bills like the dark money ban pre-emption and an effort to overhaul Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission are alive and will likely be approved along party-line votes. Progressives like Edman are hopeful that the changing demographics of the state will alter that reality.

Some see a not-too-distant future where that might be the case.

Sen. Robert Meza (D-Phoenix) (Cronkite News photo by Griselda Nevarez)
Sen. Robert Meza (D-Phoenix) (Cronkite News photo by Griselda Nevarez)

In a committee hearing on the resolution to undermine the voter-approved minimum wage hike, Sen. Robert Meza, D-Phoenix, warned his GOP colleagues that a wave is coming in the form of a young, educated, and arguably angry voter fed up with legislators who don’t listen to the people.
Smith isn’t so sure.

“You know if you’re a Republican sitting in a safe district, you can do just about anything,” he said. “Is there gonna be a backlash? Yeah, I think some of these things are going to be a bit too far. Is the backlash gonna extend to throwing people out of office? No.”

Legislation voters likely won’t love

Critics say that Republican lawmakers are pushing ideas to make legislators’ lives easier at the expense of voters, who would be cut off from vital knowledge about their elected officials and in some cases denied opportunities to vote. Here are a few examples of those bills they oppose – many have failed, but others are still making their way through the process.

SB 1023
Sponsored by Sen. John Kavanagh, the bill would have hidden the identities of most individuals who donate to political campaigns and legislative candidates in elections. Roughly three out of every four donors would not have their identities disclosed. Kavanagh won’t pursue the bill after facing some criticism from his GOP colleagues.

HB 2153
Sponsored by Rep. Vince Leach, the bill would bar Arizona municipalities from requiring politically active, tax-exempt organizations from revealing their donors. No city, county or town currently does this, but Tempe is considering the idea. The bill already passed the House, but must now be voted on in the Senate.

HB 2256
Sponsored by Rep. Bob Thorpe, the bill would undermine a recent ruling by the Arizona Court of Appeals that found records stored on public official’s personal media devices are subject to public records laws. The bill would exempt those records, even if a public official was using a personal device to conduct official business. The bill never received a hearing.

SCR 1034
Sponsored by Senate President Steve Yarbrough, the resolution would increase the members serving on the Independent Redistricting Commission, the body responsible for redrawing Arizona’s congressional and legislative district boundaries. The bill has faced criticisms that it re-politicizes a process that voters explicitly don’t want legislators to be involved in. It awaits a vote on the Senate floor.

SCR 1002
Sponsored by Sen. David Farnsworth, the resolution sought to require voters to re-consider statewide initiatives or referendums every 10 years, essentially putting laws up for a revote each decade, something not required of laws approved by the Legislature. The resolution never received a hearing.

SCR 1016 and HCR 2026
Sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Allen and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, the resolutions second-guess the voters, who in 2016 approved an initiative to hike the minimum wage and give protections for employees who need paid sick leave. Mesnard’s resolution would weaken those protections, while Allen’s goes further and seeks to freeze the minimum wage at its current rate of $10.50 per hour, rather than let it climb to $12 as voters approved. Both measures are working their way through the Capitol.

HCR 2022
Sponsored by Rep. Travis Grantham, the resolution would eliminate primaries when it comes to electing U.S. senators to represent Arizona in Congress. Legislators, not voters, would get to decide which partisan candidates run in the general election. It was approved in a House committee, but awaits a vote by the full chamber.