Legislative Update

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A weekly update of legislative news with a reporter from the Arizona Capitol Times.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. State lawmakers got their work done and adjourned sine die early this morning. Here to tell fuss there were any last-minute surprises is Jim Small of the "Arizona Capitol Times" with our weekly legislative update. Good to see you. Any surprises?
Jim Small: I think it was a surprise most people they worked until 5:25 this morning. No one really, everyone knew when they got their yesterday that this was going to be the final day, they were going to be making their last push. Was some hope they would be done early evening, 6:00, 8:00. That kind of dragged on and before long it was, OK, we will be here until after midnight but not too late. 2:00 in the morning, and lo and behold people woke up to, folks who left the capitol woke up turned on their computers their blackberries and saw, holy cow, they are still throughout working and so the sun was coming up and legislators were walking out of the building for the final time for the year.

Ted Simons: Session creep if nothing else. Give us an indication. What did you hear and see down there? Had to be a little testy.

Jim Small: That always happens. Every time you have got a late night, and especially the final night of the session, there's so much procedure that has to happen for all of the voting and they did vote on dozens of bills last night but there's a lot of waiting. You will vote on a bill and then they will recess and go to a committee and have to wait for the bill to go to the Senate or come back from the house. It's a lot of hurry up and wait or stop and go. It does get on people nerves by the end of the night. You can't leave. You can't go take a nap because you are voting on something every 45 minutes. But you -- it's just a situation that really I think does stress people out a little bit. And you see it in debate especially as night goes on and people are debating on bills and you can see other folks, you know, other folks on the floor, folks in the gallery going "wrap it up." You made this point already. We can move on and vote this bill.
Ted Simons: You mentioned a bunch of bills were rushed through toward the end. What were some of the major ones?

Jim Small: The one I think in the house actually that really attracted a lot of attention was the state. Financial good many, naming the colt .45 the state official gun. You had bills dealing with taxes, bills dealing with social issues, bills dealing with the revised tuition tax credit bill that had been vetoed, you know, a couple days ago by governor Brewer and tacked it on a bill and moved it through. There was substantive stuff that happened without a doubt.

Ted Simons: Go back to that tuition tax credit bill. Because obviously the governor wasn't happy with it. Were the changes substantial?

Jim Small: There were substantial changes. We will see. They did it in a way the governor, when she vetoed that bill said, look, we would a deal on tax credits and tax cuts for businesses and this isn't part of the deal. And this is something that is going to hurt our immediate, you know, revenue outlook and we are going to lose money on this so she vetoed it. What they did was rejiggered the thing and created almost, said people can give these tax credits to these other different kinds of groups now and there was words that it will into effect later, although when I went to the bill today I didn't see that in there. But what they did instead of making it a standalone bill that she could veto they tacked it on to a very broad tax correction bill that makes dozens of changes throughout the tax code to kind of bring the state in line with certain Federal things and just kind of cleaned up mistakes of the bill. So you tack it on to that and we will see what happens. Makes it a little bit more difficult in theory for the governor to veto it.

Ted Simons: Overall, this session, he conservatives the big winners but were there -- did they have fewer wins than expected? Considering a conservative governor?

Jim Small: I think you could look at that both ways. I think up until the past week, you know, really I think conservatives saw that everything was going really well. I think with the exception of some of those immigration proposals that frankly even some of more conservative members of the legislature were opposed to. But until Governor Brewer vetoed that school choice bill and vetoed the guns on campuses bill I think conservatives were really kind of strutting their stuff and really feeling like they were victorious. And that veto kind of took the wind off the their sails a little bit, and to the point where we were watching stuff on the internet today and on governor Brewer's Facebook page on just conservative blogs where people are now calling her, you know, a RINO, she's not actually a conservative and saying all sorts of mean and nasty things because she disagreed with them, the birther bill is another one.

Ted Simons: Let's to go those two big vetoes, the birther bill and the guns on campus bill. Those were surprises, weren't they, those vetoes?

Jim Small: I think a lot of people took them as surprises. I think some people figured governor Brewer was going to rubber stamp everything this legislature sent to her because she's a conservative and they are all conservatives so they are all working on things but it didn't take into account this woman did used to be Secretary of State. And she knows how that job works and she has probably a better understanding and appreciation for what, you know, powers maybe should be with that job or that she thinks should be with that job than legislators do. And it was a little bit surprising but I think once it happened, and you took a step back you can look at it and say, OK, it does make sense as to why she did what she did.

Ted Simons: The birther bill, I think she mentioned the state of state is a one person gate keep are to the ballot. Senator Gould was upset with the veto letter, said it was the most rude veto letter he had ever seen. He called it poorly written. She said it was ambiguous at best. She put the hammer on that one.

Jim Small: She really did. She made, you know, it was very clear where she stood on the bill and very clear what she, you know, what she thought of it and what She wanted legislators to do. Senator Gould also had some quibbles with the governor's office had said they were trying to, they had brought some issues up to, you know, to senators and everything like that and Gould said I never talked to them about this. They never reached out to me. Everything, the only time I talked to them was about some nominees they wanted to go through my committee and that was it and we never had these conversations that they say we had and that he ignored.

Ted Simons: We should mention the Republicans obviously big winners in this session. Democrats quote the as saying it was the least productive and most damaging in history from how they see it. Considering how everyone sees it, what does this suggest for the next session?

Jim Small: Well, I think the next session of a lot of these things that we saw that didn't get passed this year are almost certain to come back and, you know, I don't think there will be any shortage of, you know, legislation that is clearly colored by the Tea Party or kind of comes from that perspective. That is I think at the end of the day what a lot of these legislators, you know, the kinds of values that you see in the Tea Party are the values that a lot of these legislators have. And we are going to continue to see very conservative bills being proposed and very conservative laws being created if only because, you know, the numbers don't favor any other outcome really.

Ted Simons: Will we see a different dynamic, should, say, a speaker of the house change?

Jim Small: I think you will absolutely see a different dynamic. As it was, you know, you had an interesting dynamic between governor Brewer and Russell Pearce and most everybody believes Kirk Adams is not long for the legislature, that he will resign sometime soon to run for Congress and so what that happens that will create a power vacuum in the house. You are going to have a lot of people who run for it and whoever ends up winning that election is definitely going to set a different tone and have a different approach to things than Kirk Adams did.

Ted Simons: Before we let you go, it sounds as though the governor obviously this wide ranging personnel overhaul ideas, these ideas of here's, didn't get a run through here. Could we see a special session on that sometime this summer?

Jim Small: The governor told one of my colleagues yesterday that that was the plan, was sometime after the summer, ballpark September, October, sometime in that area, that there will be special session. She wants to have special session to deal with this personnel system reform. It's basically to make it easier to get rid of employees who have, you know, who have done something, take away a lot of protection they have under the current merit system.

Ted Simons: Jim good stuff I am sure we will hear more from you this summer but a busy year, huh?

Jim Small: Without a doubt. Kind of glad it's over. Honestly. It's always that feeling of relief.

Ted Simons: Yeah. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Jim Small:Arizona Capitol Times;

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