Legislative Update

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An Arizona Capitol Times reporter provides a mid-week update on news from the Arizona State Legislature.

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. It's official. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords formally resigned today on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. She handed her letter of resignation to the house speaker John Boehner and was greeted with a long-standing ovation and tearful speeches from her colleagues. Governor Jan Brewer must now call a special primary and general election to fill Giffords' seat in Congress. Those elections are expected to take place in April and June. Gabrielle Giffords's resignation is sending ripples all the way to the Arizona state capitol as some lawmakers contemplate a run for her seat. Here with more in our weekly legislative update is Luige Del Puerto of the Arizona Capitol Times. Good to see you again. Was this a surprise at the capitol? The timing more than anything?

Luigie del Puerto: it was a huge surprise. It happened on a Sunday when we saw that posting on her Facebook site and basically said she's going to announce she's resigning after she's completed one thing, which is to finish -- watch the president give his state of the union address. So it was completely out of the blue.

Ted Simons: Yeah, and now we have the president in town this afternoon. This evening. I'm guessing not too many Democrats hanging around the state capitol right now.

Luigie del Puerto: I know for sure many of them are there. I was speaking with one of them. He was there. I imagine many of them are in fact there right now.

Ted Simons: At the president's speech.

Luigie del Puerto: Yes.

Ted Simons: I'm imagining other lawmakers may be thinking of going down to Tucson to run for this particular seat. How does Gabrielle Giffords's resignation impact the legislature with some city lawmakers thinking I could run for this?

Luigie del Puerto: It impacts the legislature in very dramatic terms. You have a couple of lawmakers considering running to fill her seat, which means to say they have to organize, raise the money, run for the primary and then in June. Which means they have one question they have to decide, which is are they going to resign from the state legislature and run for the seat. It's kind of hard to stay in the state legislature and run full-time when you have such a short time frame to raise the money and organize your campaign.

Ted Simons: In many respects you're running two campaigns. You're filling out this particular cycle and then you're running again for a whole different district, CD2, which encompasses CD8.

Luigie del Puerto: Correct. These lawmakers who are considering running now I would imagine are essentially the same guys who said they are going to run for what is essentially CD8 and CD2. So they will have to run in the primary, if they win they have to decide whether to run for election in the new district.

Ted Simons: Democrats Steve Farley, Paula Bowd, Matt Hines. Anyone else?

Luigie del Puerto: Those are the three lawmakers right now that being -- those are three guys considering at least are indications they may run for the seat. On the Republican side we have the senate majority whip also considering running to fill that seat. So he has a bigger problem since he has a leadership position which means he has to decide whether he wants to resign. If he stays in the legislature he has to decide whether he wants to continue being whip. The whip is a huge job, they have the budget to craft. You're whipping at the same time you're running for Congress and your district is two hours away.

Ted Simons: Keep an eye on that. Also give us more information regarding the idea of no public testimony during debate for the budget. What's going on here?

Luigie del Puerto: The appropriations committee from the Senate typically holds budget presences. Basically, they hear from agencies about their spending, programs that are very important to them. These hearings give lawmakers a sense of where they should -- in crafting the budget gives them a sense where to cut, where to put money in, et cetera. It's not unprecedented for these hearings to not take in public testimony. People are not able to -- people, lobbyists, interest groups, your regular individuals who are there at the capitol being able to have their say. Now, Don, the chairman of the Senate appropriations committee, yesterday decided the committee will not have public testimony yesterday. It's not unprecedented. He also told me in fact after the hearing that he is also considering not having any public testimony at all throughout the budget process, which means even when the budget bills are considered, we may not actually have public testimony.

Ted Simons: And that would be unprecedented, wouldn't it?

Luigie del Puerto: For budget bills I would think that would be unprecedented. I have only covered the state legislature for five years and in those five years I have always seen public testimony during at least the budget bills.

Ted Simons: let's keep it moving here. There's efforts to repeal SB 1070. Obviously that's not going to go anywhere. We have to understand that, but it does open a dialogue. The dialogue got pretty loud there at the capitol a couple days ago.

Luigie del Puerto: On Monday there was dueling protests. Pro 1070, anti 1070, and they held their seperate press conferences on the Senate lawn. It was rowdy, There was heckling, chanting, one side people giving their pieces and you would hear the other side heckling. So it was kind of fun for a while. The point is this bill like you said will not go anywhere. It's introduced by Stephen Fallardo. Ron Gould, who is the chairman has already indicated if it landed on his committee it will not come out. I don't imagine, even if it did, which is very iffy, even if it got out of the legislature, very doubtful, I can't imagine the governor reversing her decision two years ago to sign this bill, repeal it this time.

Ted Simons: That would be a major story if it's even heard down there.

Luigie del Puerto: It would be. The assumption is that even Gallardo acknowledges his point is to start conversation and starting conversation I don't imagine really this bill getting heard in committees.

Ted Simons: One more thing regarding immigration, the Arizona accord making noise similar to the Utah compact. Again, that doesn't sound like it's likely to fly too far.

Luigie del Puerto: Many Republicans are giving it the cold shoulder. The idea is to offer the set of principles that would guide how we debate the immigration issue. Essentially the ultimate aim is to have more humane, more comprehensive solution that is very complex and often emotional problem. Republicans like I said some said we don't really need it. The principles are so vague. The groups are advocating for this are saying it's very concrete. When we say we shouldn't enact policies that would separate families it can't be more concrete than that. Of course some Republicans actually do like this Arizona accord. Jerry Lewis, The new Senator from Mesa is very supportive, early supporter of this idea.

Ted Simons: we'll keep an eye on that one. Appreciate your help. Thanks for joining us.

Luigie del Puerto: Thank you.

Luige Del Puerto:Arizona Capitol Times

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