Senate Minority Leader Anna Tovar and House Minority Leader Chad Campbell give us their take on the latest from the State Capitol.
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Each month during the legislative session we hear from leadership in both the house and senate. Tonight we welcome senate minority leader Anna Tovar, and house minority leader, Chad Campbell. Good to see you both again. Thanks for joining us. Let's get started with this idea of repeal those election changes that came through at the end of the last session. Folks got enough signatures to say we don't want it, lawmakers are saying we don't want it either. Why is that a problem?
Anna Trover: It's a huge problem. It's a slap in the face to the voters. This bill was passed in the middle of the night in last session, a Christmas tree of voter suppression items. We had a rally today, and essentially what democrats want is for the will of the voters to prevail, and to allow them to vote on this repeal. This election cycle. And this is -- this suppression bill is nothing new. Across the nation there are 19 different states putting in similar legislation to make it tougher and create barriers for minorities, and for elderly to vote. So it's an issue that we're going to continue to fight, but essentially what voters should be very upset at is the fact that legislators feel they know what's best for them.
Ted Simons: And yet those legislators are saying, we're just doing what these voters wanted, these people that signed the petitions, they want to get rid of this thing, we're getting rid of this thing.
Chad Campbell: The problem with that theory, that claim from the republicans is, we offered an amendment on the house floor this past week that would have delayed the effectiveness, effective date of the measure. So it would have allowed the voters to actually vote on it, and if they had passed it, it would have stayed in and if they repealed it, they repealed it. But would it have allowed the voters to have their choice and make their voices heard. And the biggest concern for us is this, this is why we're fighting this. They repeal it, it takes the referendum off the ballot, the referral off the ballot, excuse me, and they're going to come back and piecemeal this, put it different in different bills, pass it without the voters and get this done without ever engaging the voters of the state.
Ted Simons: Are some of the issues, though, do they need the attention of a piecemeal? I'm speaking about the early permanent voter list which had a bipartisan group saying this was a mess.
Anna Trover: They might have had a few supporters on it, but as far as the stakeholder meeting with democrats, we didn't have that. And we asked and urged them to have democrats at the table to make sure that the issues that we're presented forward were issues that we approved with. So again, it shouldn't be about county assessors making their job easier, it should be about getting voters and making it easier for them to vote. Essentially we want as many people to vote that are qualified. And that's our major goal.
Ted Simons: So the idea of someone never voting, on the early permanent voting list, they never vote, keep them on the list?
Anna Trover: It's their choice. Permanent early ballot permanent list should mean exactly that. Being on as being permanent.
Ted Simons: If these people are dropping off ballots or doing other things that the recorders and assessors are saying this is a real problem, should it not be addressed in some way?
Chad Campbell: There's ways to address these issues that -- The real issues. But this was packaged together with a lot of different things that were intended to suppress voter activity. And in particular, probably voters and lower income communities, minority communities, elderly communities, it's been a nationwide trend we've seen from the more conservative side of the political spectrum. But there are some legitimate concerns, and let's deal with those in a bipartisan way, work with the county recorders, the groups that do voter outreach and voter engagement and get these things done. But that's not what happened last year. It was forced down our throats, it's one side took every issue they had a problem with and put it in one big bill. And now they don't want to actually let the voters are have their voices be heard.
Ted Simons: With that in mind, they are saying, the Republicans are saying it was too big, too much to it, that's why we've got to get rid of it because if the voters say we don't want this, that's a lot of election law that is now voter protected. Are you concerned about that?
Chad Campbell: Yeah. But I think it's going to lose at the ballot regardless. Anything that is unconstitutional will end newspaper court regardless. We say this every year, we waste so much time down there on bills that are absolutely unconstitutional or going to end up in court, excuse me, and get tossed out. And we're spending taxpayer dollars. We have a whole litany of bills this year, the religious freedom act is going to be another one like that, they're going to end up in court, tax the taxpayers and never see the light of day. We do this time and time again. It's time the republicans learn their lesson and pay the price for passing very bad legislation. That's what this is about. Let's let the voters have their voice be heard.
Ted Simons: Voter rejection would block future election laws, say those who don't want this thing on the ballot. Valid?
Anna Trover: It is a valid concern, as representative Campbell said. This was a bill that was -- Had many, many different aspects much it, but ultimately its major goal was to suppress voters that. Will be very proactive on in making sure our voters prevail.
Ted Simons: The senate president wants an external audit, the proverbial nose-to-toes audit of CPS, what was CPS. Is that needed, do you agree?
Anna Trover: Absolutely. It is needed. But I'm one in favor of this legislation that the president has introduced allows the DOA, a department in Arizona, so actually what I'm -- What I would propose is having an external outside of Arizona have the eyes looking on the CPS. It doesn't do us any good to have an agency in Arizona whose -- Would be biased to CPS to be investigating it. I would love for an outside agency with national expertise to come in and look at Arizona.
Ted Simons: Do you want that outside agency, that audit to be A, mandatory, and B, required for future funding?
Chad Campbell: I don't know about any type of mandate or requirement for funding. I don't know if I want to go that far yet. That may be a little bit much. I don't know what the details would be. I do think we need to have external oversight of CPS. My concern with the proposal from senate president is I'm worried this is more after political game aimed at kind of the ongoing feud between him and the governor from last year's Medicaid battle, intended to slow down reforms around CPS. And we can't take more time on this. We've got to get these reforms through this session. We can't push this off to next year. We have a new legislature next year, a new governor, this has to be done, it has to be fixed under our watch. So any delay is something that I can't accept.
Ted Simons: In other words, you're seeing a problem, or perhaps a potential problem between what the governor's office and Charles Flanagan wants and what maybe an audit might recommend.
Chad Campbell: Quite Frankly, we've got too many cooks in the kitchen. We've had several different committees, two committees in the interim, a new committee on it now. We've got to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We note problems. For all my criticism of governor Brewer and how she's handled this and the delay she put in place once this was made public, Flanagan has done a good job. I think the care team report was excellent put together, and let's follow those recommendations now and start doing our job. And build on that and put money and time and resources into the preventive measures to keep kids out of the system in the first place.
Ted Simons: Funding contingent on what the audit recommends?
Anna Trover: I believe it can be, but I think as representative Campbell said, our focus needs to be on creating a new agency that doesn't fail our children. We've learned from the past, and we learned how kids can fall through the cracks. Essentially with the new task force in place, the new legislation that is coming, funding is going to be an essential part of it. But I think the focus needs to be on the preventive services and also the foster care aspect as well.
Ted Simons: Quickly, many folks thought this session CPS would be a major issue throughout the session. Is it?
Anna Trover: I think when you see the realities of the day-to-day workings at the senate and at the house, it is not the priority. We are hearing extreme bills that have nothing to do with the Arizona economy. Nothing to do with public education and investing in our public education. So it is a disappointment to know, being in the minority, and knowing that we don't have control of the priorities that get pushed forward, but it is disappointing to see that we are not tackling CPS as we should be.
Ted Simons: Could you do you agree with that?
Chad Campbell: I do. And I've heard different scenarios from people involved with the ongoing conversations that they're going to come down there with legislation, proposed solutions, in late April, early may I've heard. That's way too long. We cannot wait till session is almost over to start dealing with CPS. It needs to be on the priority list right now, on the front burner getting it done.
Ted Simons: Which brings me to my last point, there's a push for a shorter legislative session out there. We've got the idea of maybe 100 days, maybe adjourning on may 1st, maybe starting in February, 45 days, then you're out, it's over. What are your thoughts on that?
Chad Campbell: I think it's a well-intended effort, but I'm not sure it's the right solution. We already scramble enough down there. We do too much in too short a time frame, too many bills introduced, we don't have full debates and we make mistakes and we have to come back and debate whether to repeal it. Which is what we discussed at the beginning of this show. That exemplifies why we don't want to rush this process. What I proposed a few years ago is limit the amount of bills each legislator can introduce, give us eight bills each and I can guarantee you, we'll make a much more thoughtful approach to the bills we introduce if we're limited to eight, it will take more pressure off the system and give us more time to debate them and vote on them.
Ted Simons: What about the idea of the shorter legislative session, 45 days, 100 days, whatever the case I be -- May be, and have once a month or periodically the rest of the year these vetting sessions, these kind of, I don't know, minor league legislative sessions? What do you think about that?
Anna Trover: Regardless if the session is 100 days, 200 days, the issue of transparency is not addressed. So as long as you don't address the issue of transparency and having these meetings in the light of day, having public participation, having input, we're essentially not going to get rid of how the legislature is run right now. So unless we tackle the issue of transparency and accountability, regardless, it's not going to matter how many days we're in session.
Chad Campbell: Can I add one thing? This idea of interim committees and ongoing work throughout the year, it's going to limit the ability for people to run for office. Most of us have outside jobs as it is, many people can't run for office as it is because they can't leave their job for four to five months to do this. And we don't have a legislature reflective of the actual citizens of the state any longer. We have a small group of people that do not reflect the general population of the state. And if you make people really shift into a time frame where they're going to have to leave their job on a monthly basis throughout the year, you're going to isolate -- You're going to take a lot of people out of the running to ever run for office and that's the last thing we should be doing.
Ted Simons: Other than transparency, do you see any reason for an artificial limit to a session?
Anna Trover: I mean, I believe representative Campbell brings up great ideas. We need to tackle the issue and have a stakeholder meeting on what is most beneficial for Arizona constituents. And in regards to transparency and also meeting during the interim, that's something I think has to be discussed and vetted. And making sure we're doing what's right for Arizona voters.
Ted Simons: All right. It's good to see you both. Thank you for being here.
Chad Campbell: Thanks.
Anna Trover: Thank you.
Anna Tovar:Senate Minority Leader; Chad Campbell:House Minority Leader;