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: This week the state Senate passed a bill to change how recall elections are conducted, and today it approved a bill that would require Amazon.com to collect state taxes on the items it sells. Here now with more on those stories in our midweek legislative update is Luige del Puerto of the Arizona Capitol Times. Good to see you again.

Luige del Puerto: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: Let's start with the Amazon thing, I thought there was supposed to be a vote on that today.

Luige del Puerto: It was on the calendar but they abruptly ended voting after voting on just one bill. The bill they passed had something to do with proclaiming March 12 as Girl Scouts day, and the official explanation is that -- let me backtrack. There were a couple of other bills they were supposed to vote on, so it wasn't just the Amazon bill they didn't get to. The official explanation is that one of the members was absent and he wanted to be able to vote on another bill. This is not the Amazon tax bill. They were trying to accommodate him. Senator Steve Pierce says this is not unusual to accommodate lawmakers. He said he's done it for Democrats as well. The other thing that happened was Senator Lori Cline I think had one or two bills on there, and she also asked Senate president to hold off on voting on the bill. Apparently she wasn't sure if she had the votes to pass them.

Ted Simons: I want to get to Senator Cline in a second. As far as the Amazon bill, basically the idea is that it's not fair that Amazon doesn't collect these transaction taxes on items it sells to Arizona residents. Correct?

Luige del Puerto: Correct. The bill redefines what it means to have a nexus, for a business to have a nexus in Arizona. Now it would apply to distribution centers and warehouses which would in effect apply to Amazon and the idea is that it should be -- taxing should be fair. That they are selling products to Arizona residents and when they do that they should be collecting taxes on those purchases.

Ted Simons: And I guess the idea I know there was some talk of a compromise, working something out to start paying these taxes in 2014, maybe wait until a federal resolution is achieved in Congress, but we had the retailers association on last night saying we don't want this done before the holiday shopping season. That's a big deal for the retailers in Arizona.

Luige del Puerto: It goes back to their charge that this is an issue of fairness. Other side says this is a legislation targeting or will target just one retail -- online retail, Amazon.com.

Ted Simons: Which would be unconstitutional.

Luige del Puerto: That's the argument. The argument that critics of this bill have is that when you're going after just Amazon.com or rather when you're going after Amazon.com that it's special legislation that could be unconstitutional, but also that after they have moved in here, after they expanded operations now we're going after them. They are saying that's a terrible idea.

Ted Simons: We have red light camera, the idea to refer this to the ballot so voters can vote on them. Why is this thing not getting any traction? I thought the legislature was against red light camera and photo enforcement.

Luige del Puerto: The idea of getting rid, prohibiting enforcement, has been floating around since I have been covering the state legislature. Each time they try to prohibit it statewide it has not gained any traction. It came close this time. It had 14 yes votes yesterday. But that means still lacks results to pass out of the Senate. For some it's unpopular, but for others, they think it's a public safety issue. And in addition to that they also believe that local government should have the decision or should be able to make that decision whether they want to enforce their traffic rules -- like photo camera.

Ted Simons: So it failed for the second time in the Senate. It could be a striker in the house --

Luige del Puerto: I don't see how it could be revived again given the fact that Senators are adamant about their no vote. Frank Antenori, the Senator who was the sponsor, says he has some ballot measures in the house he could strike them but he said he would only do that if those bills are failing. Then when they come back to the Senate or when the legislation comes back to the Senate he faces the problem he had yesterday.

Ted Simons: We talked about a recall overhaul obviously in reaction to the Pierce recall. How does it stand?

Luige del Puerto: The Senate passed it on Monday by 17 votes. It's now in the house. I haven't seen it getting assigned in a committee yet, but there's still time to do that. The important thing for the sponsor right now, it's out of the Senate, the bill essentially says if there's going to be a recall election we're going to require a primary. The idea is that whatever happened to Russell Pearce, which he was recalled successfully, he had a fellow Republican challenge him in the special election, so you had Democrats, Independents and Republicans voting on that during the special election. They say that's not fair. You know, you became a lawmaker through a process including a primary process. That should apply when you're recalled.

Ted Simons: You got here through a particular system, if you're going to be removed it's got to be the same particular system. It's funny this didn't seem to be an issue until this past recall.

Luige del Puerto: The sponsor doesn't deny this was a direct reaction to the defeat of Russell Pearce. The Senate and the legislature were stung by that defeat. Critics of the bill say this is legislation to protect incumbents, makes it tougher to recall an incumbent. Obviously an incumbent would have his or her own following, especially within the party. So when you go through a recall process, chances of the incumbent winning is pretty high.

Ted Simons: Shouldn't be surprised Jerry Lewis among the handful of Republicans who didn't like this idea.

Luige del Puerto: He voted against it. So did Rich Crandall and if I'm not mistaken, so did Adam Driggs.

Ted Simons: Senator Lori Cline is saying her HOA is targeting her because she's targeted HOAs. She's not picking up dog poop or something?

Luige del Puerto: Lori Cline has several bills that go after HOAs, one creating an office of ombudsman to mitigate disputes between the HOA board and the resident if there are disputes over fines. She has a couple other HOA-related bills. That one died last week. I should say that one died in the Senate on Monday, died pretty handily. I think it only got two yes votes. She had changed her vote to a no so she could revive it. The bill is still alive, but I don't see a way where she can get more people to vote for it. Now, she is saying that her HOA sent her a bunch of notices, three in fact, one for parking on the street, which is prohibited, another is that she had let out her dogs without a leash and didn't pick up their droppings. She says they are going after me because of my legislation.

Ted Simons: Is there any indication that they are going after her because of her legislation?

Luige del Puerto: I talked to the firm that manages her HOA, and they flatly deny that this was in any way retaliation for her legislation. They said it just happened. We have these complaints against her and we had to process them. If we didn't send them to her we would be in effect doing something special for her because she's a lawmaker.

Ted Simons: She's thrown a lot of these HOA bills out there and none of them are doing real well, are they?

Luige del Puerto: What's surprising is not just that they are dying but the margin of defeat is huge. 26 people -- I should say 25 people vote nothing on one bill, 24 Senators voting no on another. It's not unusual for a Republican bill to fail, but for the six bills she has that have failed, all failing successively, two with such huge margins of defeat, that's quite interesting.

Ted Simons: Good stuff. Good to have you. Thanks for joining us.

Luige del Puerto: Thank you.

Luige del Puerto:Arizona Capitol Times

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