A mid-week legislative update with Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small.
Ted Simons: The governor postponed her state of the state address Monday in honor of those killed or injured in the Tucson shootings. Lawmakers also quickly introduced a bill to keep protestors away from the funerals of the shooting victims. Here to give us an update on the first week of the legislative session is Jim Small of "The Arizona Capitol Times." Jim good to see you. Thanks for joining us. You'll be joining us every Wednesday to update us on the goings-on down there. That opening day, the mood, talk to us.
Jim Small: It was definitely a somber mood, a reflective kind of I think tone to everything. It certainly unlike anything I've ever seen. I haven't talked to anybody that had seen anything quite like this. It's really because of what happened Saturday down in Tucson. The political community in Arizona, while it may be contentious at times is a small-knit community. Especially when you're talking about someone who served at the legislature just a few years ago. Before she went on to run for Congress in 2005, when she resigned. So you have a lot of people down there, staff, legislators, lobbyists, who knew her and who worked alongside her. So this was something that shook a lot of people to their core.
Ted Simons: And most -- it sounds like most of the celebratory aspects of opening day, those were put aside for the most part and the speeches pretty much were about the shootings and just getting along and trying to get thing done.
Jim Small: Yeah they did and I think that was really the focus. Everyone wanted to say we don't want a normal day at the capitol. This shouldn't be politics as usual where you have opening day and you thank family and friends and campaign workers, you talk about some of the political gains you want to make during the year. No one wanted to do that. It didn't feel right given that this was the first time everyone had been together since the shooting. So that was what we saw. And Governor Brewer as you mentioned earlier, kind of put off her traditional speech where she talks about policy issues, and she spoke to what it means to be a public servant and the impact that has on the state and on people around them.
Ted Simons: Regarding the governor's state of the state address, obviously it doesn't have to be a speech, I guess she can just go ahead and deliver to legislatively -- how does that work?
Jim Small: We're still waiting to find out. There was some talk that that may come out by the end of the week, but
it will probably be sometime next week or the week after. At the very least her initiatives and the things she wants to achieve will come out, and some of it I think will be released in the budget that we're going to get at the end of the week from her office. But other things that are not necessarily financial related are going to come out either they'll issue them through press releases or they might just deliver a copy of her agenda to legislative leaders and the press.
Ted Simons: That budget proposal is still scheduled to be released Friday correct?
Jim Small: Yeah, it is. It's statutorily required to be released at the end of the first week of the legislative session. So that has to happen. That's usually the first look at what the governor wants to do in terms of the budget and obviously that's a big deal this year with the massive deficits the state is facing.
Ted Simons: Any ideas what that budget is going to be -- what the proposal at least will entail?
Jim Small: We haven't gotten a lot out of the governor's office. We've certainly been asking her for the kinds of things we can expect to see in there. Certainly I think we can expect to see some cuts. Education and health care, I would imagine the health care they've been petitioning, the federal government to get released from some of the mandate in the federal health care overhaul that is going to cost the state about a billion dollars this year. They're petitioning to get release from those requirements, I imagine the budget will include probably some or all of that funding not paid for contingent on that waiver coming. The other thing I think that a lot of people think might happen is the department of water resources and department of environmental quality and the land department, there's been a lot of rumors that those three agencies may be combined somehow, two or three may be put together and we did just recently see the department of water resources had Herb Gunther resign.
Ted Simons: OK. Real quickly, this bill blocking funeral protestors, passes unanimously. No problem there?
Jim Small: No. For an unprecedented week we saw an unprecedented thing yesterday, which was a bill that passed on the second day, earliest a bill has been sign in addition law, it went through both chambers without debate, without a committee hearing, without amendments. Just went through, probably two or three hours from the time they started to the time they finished.
Ted Simons: Another bill of import and certainly of curiosity is the gun bill from Jack Harper allowing the professors, college professors to carry concealed. What's going on with that?
Jim Small: I spoke with him a little bit this afternoon about it, and he still is pushing it. He says this is the kind of thing that is needed for folks to be able to defend themselves on college campuses, especially in light of the 2002 shooting down at U of A where a nursing professor got shot and the Virginia tech massacre from a few years ago. If professors were allowed to legally carry firearms, assuming they were permitted to do so, that those shootings wouldn't have happened or wouldn't have been as bad as they ended up being.
Ted Simons: Last question, does there seem to be a mood at the capitol that this may not be the best of times for such legislation? What are you hearing?
Jim Small: One of my colleagues spoke today to a gun rights lobbyist who said, we're really not going to be pushing anything this year, we're just going to sit back, we've gotten a lot of victories the last couple years, we're going to take the foot off the gas pedal, and because of what happened and the outrage that there is over some of these gun things, whether this was directly related to anything they've done in the past or not, they want to -- they realize it's in the public's mind and they don't want to try to overreach.
Ted Simons: All right. Good stuff, Jim, thanks for joining us we appreciate it.