Legislative Update

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A mid-week legislative update with Arizona Capitol Times reporter Luige del Puerto.

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Senate president Russell Pearce this week decided that press conferences held inside the senate building will no longer be open to the public. That after reports that certain people have been black listed from entering the building. Here to explain all this in our weekly legislative update is Luige Del Puerto of "The Arizona Capitol Times." Good to see you again. Before we get to that business with the senate president Pearce, just late today now the idea of the state nullifying federal laws, that got a vote.

Luige Del Puerto: That got a vote today and it died in the senate. It is among a slew of bills, when we call states' rights bills, basically expressed our objections to what the federal government is doing so far as regulating commerce or air quality, or greenhouse emissions, or what have you. That bill died in the senate. 18 Republicans voted against it. Lori Klein, who's the sponsor of the bill, had to vote no at the end so that she can reconsider the bill later on. So the bill is not dead, and as you know in a session a bill is never dead until the session ends.

Ted Simons: Were you surprised at this vote? Were observers surprised this went down?

Luige Del Puerto: I think many would have been surprised by that vote. We kind of expected it, a conservative senate, and there's been so much discussion about these bills, that more conservative senate, you would get these bills through. So it was a little bit of a surprise, but Republicans voted against it. The caucus was pretty much split on this issue.

Ted Simons: OK. Let's get now to the other issue that we're hearing an awful lot about, that is regarding access to the senate. Restricting press conferences now inside the senate. Talk to us about this.

Luige Del Puerto: Yesterday senate president Russell Pearce sent out this memo that basically says press conferences, inviting the public that conference would not longer be allowed inside the state senate building, and the reason that he gave is basically for members' safety, what happened in Tucson, with all the destructive behavior he said we've seen in the last few days, he felt it best that we do it this way. His reasoning is that press conferences used to be held outside the senate, they used to do it on the house lawn, on the senate lawn, that's to him is the tradition. And this is just going back to that tradition. And so, yeah, press conferences now -- that have people basically invited to that press conference will no longer be allowed.

Ted Simons: OK. But obviously media allowed, but public, no.

Luige Del Puerto: Right. And there was a little bit of discussion about what the public means, and does that include media, who is the public, is a reporter part of the public, but, yeah, I mean, as far as reporters, there's no restriction in so far as attending press conferences. Obviously you can't hold one without the media people in there.

Ted Simons: A press conference without the press is a little counterproductive. Democrats, critics, what are they saying about this?

Luige Del Puerto: Democrats were particularly unhappy about this whole thing. Steve Guardado, when I spoke to him on the phone about it, he said we've never seen a senate president ban people from the senate, now basically saying you can't hold a press conference inside the senate. They're very upset about it. Leah Landrum Taylor said on the floor, what happens, if I'm -- I'm talking to a reporter or talking with someone with my constituents and then we go into one of these hearing rooms and then the reporter walks in with us, what happens in that situation? But I think what Russell Pearce wants to do is basically disallow a situation where we have Democrats and Republicans basically inviting people into a room and holding a press conference, and then you have your people clapping or booing or what have you. I think that's the situation that he wants to avoid.

Ted Simons: Tie that story in with the idea, president Pearce says there is no black list, other folks aren't quite so sure. People were photographed identified and apparently banned, so is there -- what's going on? Is it semantics?

Luige Del Puerto: Well it may be semantics. The fact is there are people who are not allowed to set foot in the senate building. And those people -- Pearce, the source of the disruption, if you recall during the senate committee hearing, senate appropriations committee hearing on the immigration bills, there was a huge number of people who were there, they were directed to the an overflow room or overflow rooms and they were clapping and what have you. And basically security officers came up to Russell Pearce and said we had this situation, and Russell Pearce said, we'll do something about it, and -- but obviously you can't black list or will ban 200 people. So Pearce suggested why don't you just identify the ring leaders, and among those identified is the immigrant activist, Salvador Reza. He's a very well known immigration activist, we know him 1070. So now he cannot set foot in the senate building. When he did, security officers said, you're not allowed to be in here, he refused to leave, they arrested him.

Ted Simons: Actually in the future now, anyone banned from the senate, if you're on the list that's not a list, I'm getting this correctly, but you are banned, you can petition senator -- president Pearce to ask to be allowed in the building?

Luige Del Puerto: There is a question in so far as how long the senate president can ban somebody from entering the senate building. So we asked senate president Pearce. He said, you know what, he's open to allowing them back in the senate as long as they appeal to him and basically -- in short, tell him they're going to be in their best behavior next time. And if they did that, then he might reconsider the ban, the black list, whatever you call it.

Ted Simons: Whatever they're calling it down there.

Luige Del Puerto: Yes.

Ted Simons: All right. Luige, as always, interesting times there at the capitol. Thanks for joining us.

Luige Del Puerto: Thank you.

Luige del Puerto:Arizona Capitol Times;

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