Legislative Update

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Editor Jim Small from the Arizona Capitol Times will give us the latest news from the state legislature.

Ted Simons: In proclaiming his candidacy, Duval said Arizona needs a strategy terror the 21st century economy. He also criticized Governor Brewer and Republican legislative leaders for education cuts, but praised the governor for her push to expand Medicaid. And speaking of that push, the legislature is still considering Medicaid expansion and a budget and a few other things. Here with our mid-week legislative update is Jim Small of the "Arizona Capitol Times." Good to see you. A few other things that may just be a few other -- It's slowing down a little bit.

Jim Small: They are slowing down. Word came out today next week will begin the first three-day workweek. Normally they work Monday through Thursday, but because they're at a point where the budget isn't really moving anywhere, and everything is really kind of -- A lot of things are hinging around this Medicaid proposal, they don't have necessarily a whole lot to do. So rather than drag everyone down there four days, especially folks from out of town, they're only going to do it for three days, they are going to meet Tuesday through Thursday now, at least for the foreseeable future. It could always change, if there is something that happens and things break free and they need to come back to work on Monday, I'm sure they will.

Ted Simons: Just to make it Official, that 100-day session deadline was yesterday?

Jim Small: Yesterday was the hundredth day, which is kind of the call -- The officially recognized day for the end of session. We're nowhere near the end of session that the moment, so they've -- The legislature has extended that deadline, they're allowed to do that through the rules, to extend another week and I'm sure we'll keep seeing extensions every week until we get to the end of session.

Ted Simons: How common is that extending of a deadline? Does it happen very often?

Jim Small: The last two or three years have been suggestions have gotten -- Sessions have gotten done within 100 days, or 110 days. Which was abnormal the last five years before that. A Republican legislature and a Democratic governor, so sessions dug on into may or even in several cases into late June or early July. Which those were a little more abnormal, so it's not uncommon for sessions, you can look back through history, but they've gone 120-150 days.

Ted Simons: The budget is a retirement as far as adjourning. But things like Medicaid expansion and changing the sales tax, these are big priorities for the governor. Those aren't necessarily priorities but are they de facto priorities this session?

Jim Small: Well, yeah. I think they -- Medicaid has to get resolved. You cannot move forward on a budget plan the way the political landscape is laid out. You can't act on a budget until you get this Medicaid thing sorted out. And if the legislature were to decide it wanted to do a budget without the Medicaid issue, it would be what we saw in 2009 where the legislature tried to do a budget without the governor's sales tax increase issue. We saw what happened there when she rejected the budget.

Ted Simons: Is there any attempt do you think to do that, or is that not there?

Jim Small: There hasn't -- There's been talk about it, but there hasn't been any desire to go down that road. Republican leaders we've talked to feel they've made good progress on the rest of the budget, on everything that's not directly tied to that Medicaid proposal. And they feel confident once a resolution is reached on that issue, they'll be able to get the budget done in short order.

Ted Simons: Things are happening at the capitol, not happening all that quickly, and you could be down there for a while.

Jim Small: Yeah. It's interesting, at the beginning of the year everyone is hopeful this would be another hundred-day, or 110 day session, and, yeah, it took about a month before people started to realize this might take longer. And I think the longer we've gone it's become -- The attitude has become more pessimistic. They do an annual pick the SiNE die day. A lot of people, the most popular day was May 31st. People thinking that deadline of not being here in June will prompt people to come to the table and get stuff done. But we'll see.

Ted Simons: Nature will have its way. We mentioned Fred Duval has made it official, he is running for governor. Everyone -- Every democrat in the state seems like they're lining up behind the guy, at least half the democrats in the state. Who is Fred Duval and what kind of chance has he got?

Ted Simons: You mentioned in your intro, former Clinton aide and most recently the board of regents here. He's been around politics for the last 30 or 40 years. Democratic politics. But he's kind of built an image and built a career out of trying to be the guy who bridges the gap. Not a rigid partisan, but the guy who wants to work to find consensus and find that common ground between Republicans and democrats. He talked about that today in his announcement speech. Talked about his first job in government was working for Bruce Babbitt back in the 80's, and how Governor Babbitt set out to work with the Republican-controlled legislature and find things they could agree on and work for major policies. And he said that's what I want to emulate, I want to find these Republicans who are I think he called interested in common sense solutions and not partisan politics.

Ted Simons: That sounds like someone interested in policy. What kind of experience does he have as far as down and dirty elections?

Jim Small: He's had some forays into elections, the most recent was for Congress a number of years ago. Didn't win, obviously. This is -- About as big a scale as you can get in Arizona. He's running for governor, that's about it. So we'll see. He will almost certainly have a primary against Chad Campbell, the house minority leader.

Ted Simons: Is that a pretty much done deal?

Jim Small: Campbell hasn't come out and said he's going to run, but everyone assumes he's going to be running, and he certainly hasn't been backing down, some of Duval's people have been saying oh, Chad should step aside and should just say he's not going to run and Campbell's response has been, no, that's OK, I'm fine doing what I'm doing.

Ted Simons: The Republican side, we have another official candidate for governor, Senator Al Melvin from the Tucson area. A bit of a surprise?

Jim Small: Yeah. He announced on Monday that he is forming an exploratory committee for governor, though it sound like the committee was a pro forma thing to do to make sure he does haven't to resign from office. Sounds like is he fully committed to running for Governor. A Republican from the Tucson area, in his third term in the state senate, and he's -- Someone who is certainly going to have to raise his profile in order to run for an office of this caliber.

Ted Simons: What's he known for at the capitol? I remember he thought Arizona should look at nuclear disposal sites within state boundaries, those sorts of things. Interesting thing to run on, though it sounds like he's a jobs guy.

Jim Small: It's one of his focuses, yes. A lot of Republicans talked about jobs in the last couple years and he's tried to find areas he thinks Arizona can do better. One thing he's talked about a lot in his time in the legislature is building a deep water port in the sea of Cortez, in Mexico and turning Arizona into a shipping corridor for that kind of stuff. Instead of -- So folks wouldn't have to go to L.A., they could come into Mexico and Arizona could benefit from the nuclear recycling, waste recycling you mentioned, another thing he's been big on.

Ted Simons: Hugh Holman making it official, Al Melvin announcing he's going to explore, but explore very hard, Bennett, Ducey, Scott Smith, Christine Jones -- This is shaping up to be as crowded as everyone expected.

Jim Small: You're right, I think the fact you had a vacancy and no incumbent I think is going to attract a lot of people. We'll see how many who can stick it out to the end. A year from now, how many will these people will still looking at this race or still in this race.

Ted Simons: And there will be a vacancy. Correct? Is the governor still making noises about running again, or trying to run again?

Jim Small: The governor hasn't officially said she's not going to seek the chance to run again. But I think the last thing we heard about this was a joke about it. She kind of joked about the fact that I don't know why these Republican legislators think they're going to be done with me in two years, because I got five more years before I'm out of here. I think most people have come to the conclusion that she is probably -- Probably not going to challenge.

Ted Simons: She's having fun with it, but that's as far as it goes for now.

Jim Small: For now.

Ted Simons: That will be good enough for now. Thanks for joining us.

Jim Small:Editor, Arizona Capitol Times;

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