Join us for our weekly update on the latest news from an Arizona Capitol Times reporter.
Ted Simons- a bill that would require government documents only to be printed in English is making noise at the state capitol. Here's with our legislative update is Luige Del Puerto. Good to see you. Thanks for being here. Before we get to those bills, what's going on with the budget?
Luige Del Puerto: Today and top the Republican leadership in the Senate is beginning was called small group meetings. They would have three to five Republican Senators in a room and they are getting briefing by the budget situation. The goal of the briefing is to familiarize the Republican Senators about the differences in the revenue projections between the governor's proposal and the legislature's budget baseline. I think a few weeks ago we talked about how reconciling those revenue projections is crucial in getting a budget done. The Republican leadership's chance to impress on their members the need for a conservative budget.
Ted Simons: Indeed. The legislature's idea for a budget doesn't include much of anything the governor seems to want.
Luige Del Puerto: Not at this point. The legislature has not yet put out its own budget plan. What we have is essentially very basic spending requirements that the state needs. So those are forms of spending for education and other state agencies.
Ted Simons: Let's get to some of the bills making the rounds here. Let's start with the English only idea pushed buy representatives Steve Smith.
Luige Del Puerto: Steve Smith is from Maricopa County. City of Maricopa. The idea that he wants to do is he essentially wants to prohibit state agencies from disseminating official communication that's intended for the public unless they are in English only. Instead of having them printed and sending them out he wants them posted on the agency's website. Then for those that are sent out to voters those English only documents he wants a line that says if you want a printed copy of the document in another language you can pick it up at the state agency. He's pitching it as a way to save state dollars.
Ted Simons: this is adjunct to prop 103 passed a few years ago which made English the official state language.
Luige Del Puerto: Yes. Precisely. The idea is -- there convenience been previous incarnations of the proposal when it comes to official government actions those should be conducted only in English.
Ted Simons: this is something critics say violate the civil rights act.
Luige Del Puerto: yes. Title 6 of the civil rights act basically says when there's a government program or activity that's funded by federal funds you cannot discriminate based on natural origin, race, or color. The critics are basically saying, this is one of those that would directly contravene the civil rights act.
Ted Simons: how far this is likely to go?
Luige Del Puerto: Well, I think it will not go very far. The reason I say that is that like I mentioned earlier, there have been previous incarnations of this proposal before and they have not gone very far even when the Republicans had a bigger majority in the state legislature. I think when it comes to ushering it out of committee and it goes to the rules committee, I think you would have the rules chairman basically -- not rules chairman, rules attorney in the house in this case pointing out its potential constitutional legal questions.
Ted Simons: That hasn't stopped the legislature from pushing the test case, has it?
Luige Del Puerto: No it hasn't.
Ted Simons: Okay. We'll see what happens.
Luige Del Puerto: quite frankly there have been bills that have gone through rules where the rules attorney would say this is not constitutional, there are defects, this invites litigation. Clearly will invite legislation, the legislature says, we're passing it.
Ted Simons: We want the invitation. What about the idea, this is not a repeal of the medical marijuana law as John Cavanaugh seems to want, but a reform of the law? What's this all about?
Luige Del Puerto: There are competing forces about how to deal with medical marijuana now that we have dispensaries open, one from John Kavanagh repeal the whole thing. Pass a bill, have the voters revote on this issue. But some Republicans say that's not really a good idea. They fear that if there is a ballot measure to repeal medical marijuana that its supporters last time around would just go out in force and reject the proposal. Not only that their fear is that they will vote en masse, if you will, against Republicans from the ticket. So state Senator Kimberly Yee has a proposal that instead of repealing it would fix some of the supposed loopholes or improve the program rather than do away with it all together.
Ted Simons: some of these things would be illegal to have things like lollipops and cookies, these sorts of things?
Luige Del Puerto: Yes. One of her bills says that you cannot Mark it medical marijuana other than what it is, which is medical marijuana. If you're marketing it for candies or any other ways of enticing consumers as in loading them know this is for medical marijuana use that would be prohibited. From one of the proposals is that if the police seized medical marijuana or came into possession of medical marijuana during a criminal investigation they are going to destroy it the way they would do nonmedical marijuana.
Ted Simons: They don't have to give it back, in other words.
Luige Del Puerto: they don't. It stems from a case out of Yuma where the police seized medical marijuana from a lady and the court said you have to return it.
Ted Simons: A lot of gun bills floating around here, there, otherwise. One of them seems to be getting a lot of bipartisan support. In this is the idea, correct me if I'm wrong, felons are not supposed get a gun but if you do try, that becomes against the law.
Luige Del Puerto: that becomes illegal. Right now it's already illegal for a felon to own a gun, so under this proposal attempting to own a gun, going to a store or gun show and saying, hey, I want to buy this, you could get slapped with another felony offense. This proposal is being introduced by Senator Barbara McGuire, a Democrat, from Pinal County. She told me the other day this has the backing of the NRA, national rifle association. More importantly she has persuaded to add good number of Republicans and Democrats to co-sponsor the bill. Just before the show I told you this is the low-hanging fruit. Easier to go after a group of people that don't have the right to own guns anyway and use sort of making sure, doubly sure they don't get to own guns.
Ted Simons: basically that a a real good chance of getting through the legislature and signed by the governor.
Luige Del Puerto: it seems like it.
Ted Simons: Last question before you go, a sales tax holiday for Fourth of July and for Labor Day. This getting any traction down there?
Luige Del Puerto: I think it will get some traction. I don't know for what extent or if it will reach the governor's office. We are trying to stimulate the economy. We just came out from recession. Here's a program that's being done, will be done, more than a dozen states will be having a tax holiday as well this year. Let's give people a break. So when they are buying cars or big ticket items or even small ticket items that that would be stimulating the state's economy. It's a way to encourage people to buy more.
Ted Simons: It's also a way to lose state revenue. Do they have any idea how much it will cost?
Luige Del Puerto: I think a fiscal amount will be made available at some point. I think somebody -- I'm almost certain that one who may support the proposal will be asking for it. This has a fiscal note. Obviously this is a fiscal impact. If Arizonans decide they are going to hold off on their buying spree and decide just to buy stuff including cars during this tax holiday, that would surely have a negative impact on state revenues.
Ted Simons: very good. Sounds busy down there. Is everyone still pretty much getting along so far? Had much in the way of fireworks?
Luige Del Puerto: Nothing yet. You're right. The tone has been more civil than in the past few years. Things are just beginning to pick up. Committees are just beginning to hear bills and we haven't seen any of those hard ringing debates. Not yet anyway.
Ted Simons: Fourth of July still coming. Thanks for joining us.
Luige Del Puerto: Thank you.