Legislative Update

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An Arizona Capitol Times reporter will join us for a weekly update on news from the state legislature.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome To "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Plenty of activity at the legislature, with everything from Medicaid expansion to bathroom regulations being considered. Here now with our weekly legislative update is Luige del Puerto of the "Arizona Capitol Times". Let's start with what sounds like the governor and leadership at the legislature trying to jockey around for position. Give me what I want -- what is happening here?

Luige del Puerto: It is not a threat, not yet anyway. The governor spokesperson said if it were a threat it would be laid out more clearly, and as you know, the governor has not been shy about sending other or communicating a threat, if that is what she intends. What is going on, governor asked legislative leaders to slow down the pace of sending bills to her office, and instead she wants them to focus on passing her priority agenda, Medicaid expansion, performance funding for schools --

Ted Simons: TPT is the sales tax simplification efforts.

Luige del Puerto: That's right.

Ted Simons: She is saying slow down with the bills. Are they sending a lot of bills her way?

Luige del Puerto: Not a whole lot. This is the time of the session when both chambers have already crossed over bills that have been passed out of their chambers and the other chambers is hearing those bills. We will see a lot of the bills getting voted for and getting passed.

Ted Simons: She is basically saying don't do that before you do this?

Luige del Puerto: Yes, in a kind of soft diplomacy kind of a way.

Ted Simons: Yeah. The hard diplomacy would be a threat of vetoes. Is that just over the horizon here?

Luige del Puerto: It is possible, if the governor does not get her Medicaid expansion, for one. I think many have not precluded the idea of the governor saying you know what? We will stay here as long as you get me what I'm asking you to do.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the three priorities. Medicaid expansion, informational hearing, still going on, I believe?

Luige del Puerto: When I left the office this afternoon, still ongoing. Last person I saw speaking in the committee was Glen hammer in the state chamber and he was in support of the expansion--

Ted Simons: What was said, what was emphasized?

Luige del Puerto: Nothing really novel and new about the argument -- some members were concerned about the fact that it would potentially increase the federal debt. There was concern about the requirement that since this is a tax increase, that it should require two-thirds vote in the state legislature. There were party -- told the lawmakers just keep in mind that the grass roots are against this proposal. On the other side, we also saw the usual, typical arguments for an expansion and how this would be good for the state and how we would be drawing down federal funds to pay for the insurance coverage bill on access.

Ted Simons: Grass roots vote, you mentioned that the governor said it really wasn't a threat. Those people are threatening?

Luige del Puerto: Yes, they are threatening. Pass out resolutions saying that we don't want Medicaid expansion. Implicit in the resolutions is a threat to republican lawmakers who may be supportive of the plan. They would get challenged very likely in a primary if they did vote for the governor's proposal.

Ted Simons: We are seeing the governor's point person at the legislature. Heather Carter. She has already found opposition. The name of the -- Heather Casey is going to be facing Heather Carter?

Luige del Puerto: Yes, it is a battle of the Heathers, if you will. Heather Casey is a nurse and works at a children's hospital in the valley. And this week she filed paperwork to run against Heather Carter, precisely because of Carter's support of the governor's Medicaid expansion plan.

Ted Simons: Is this a real threat or more like a warning shot to others?

Luige del Puerto: It is hard to say at this point. Ms. Casey held a media briefing at noon at the state capitol. It was lightly attended. There wasn't much press there. Party activists helped out to organize the press conference. What was interesting to me about the media briefing, she said she is challenging Heather Carter because of the Medicaid expansion proposal, she refused to answer questions about what she is against in the Medicaid expansion plan.

Ted Simons: It almost has an Olivia Cortez feel to it--

Luige del Puerto: It is tough to stay how serious she is as a challenger. Heather Carter is very well liked in her district. Last primary, she won 40% of the vote. The second place, John Hollin, who got, I think, 23% of the vote.

Ted Simons: It will be interesting to see how much name confusing, Heather Carter, Heather Casey. Interesting.

Luige del Puerto: Heather Casey is also from the same precinct where Heather Carter is from.

Ted Simons: Before we let you go, Luige, we have to get to this bathroom bill. Explain what a striker bill is.

Luige del Puerto: Essentially an amendment to a bill that is still alive and so you -- the idea is that you want to revise a proposal -- you take out a draft -- you take out a proposal, put it on and tag it on, attach it to a bill that is still alive. It didn't actually happen, but offered a striker that would deal with the Phoenix decision last February if I'm not mistaken to expand the antidiscrimination ordinance.

Ted Simons: Block transgender folks from using the --

Luige del Puerto: Impact of the proposal, what he wants to do, essentially penalize a person that walks into a bathroom, locker, that clearly says it is of female sex or male sex and you were of the other sex and went in. It would be disorderly conduct under the proposal.

Ted Simons: True emergency clause --

Luige del Puerto: It has an emergency clause. This is a way of getting to the Phoenix ordinance and ensuring that it doesn't get implemented?

Ted Simons: Do we know how this will be enforced?

Luige del Puerto: That is tough to say. Proposals like this one it is tough to see how they would be implemented on the ground. How would you know if a person is of one sex or another sex, first of all? It would be asking a person not to go in and that person belongs to that sex. It is tough to see how this plays out.

Ted Simons: I will be curious if it does get to the governor's desk what she would do with that.

Luige del Puerto: I would be curious to see what happens then.

Ted Simons: Thank you for joining us.

Luige del Puerto: Thank you.

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