Legislative Update

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Luige del Puerto from the Arizona Capitol Times will give us the latest news from the State Capitol in our weekly political update.

Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," our weekly political update with the Arizona Capitol Times and the report is released today on how to help support the economic self-sufficiency of Arizona women. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon."

"Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of , members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. It's a little quieter at the state capitol this week but bills are moving including an effort to kill a recently implemented education standards that the legislature approved four years ago. Luige Del Puerto is here for our weekly political update. That bill was moving. Is it still moving?

Luige Del Puerto: Not any more. The State Senate today voted down that bill five Republican Senators and the whole democratic caucus voted against the proposal by Senator Al Melvin which would have prohibited the state from implementing the common core standards or any standards associated with common core.

Ted Simons: What was the reason? Approved in 2010. Arizona did have input on this. Superintendent of public instruction very strongly for it. Education folks like it for the most part. Business leaders love it. Al Melvin running for governor. What was the reasoning for this bill?

Luige Del Puerto: Among the grass roots of the Republican -- within the Republican party, common core is almost like Obamacare. Or we can almost say it's the new Obamacare, something that has riled up the conservative base and tea partiers, who believe that common core is just another agenda, another program that basically the Feds are using to control education in the state. You're right; this community is for the implementation of common core. Yesterday the state chamber of commerce wrote to the Senator saying if you voted for Al Melvin's bill there would be chaos in the classrooms. We have been implementing these standards for four years now. If you pass this bill, then it puts us in limbo.

Ted Simons: Let me get this right. Those who are against -- it's now called the Arizona college career ready standards. Even the name change was made to placate those who heard common core and threw up red flags. Are they giving examples of why this is not good for education or is simply one of these states' rights, we don't like it ideologically?

Luige Del Puerto: All those interests and concerns. What we hear most clearly from folks who are opposed is the fact that it's supposedly an elite group of educators that represent Arizona that then helped to develop this new standard. There was no input from parents.

Ted Simons: Not necessarily good or bad for kids, it's who came up with it.

Luige Del Puerto: Right. At this point. We can't really tell if it's a good thing or not. The standards are stricter, but we don't even have -- we haven't even implemented testing yet aligned to the new standards.
Ted Simons: A surprise that the Senate voted it down?

Luige Del Puerto: No. We have heard from enough folks from the Republican side of the aisle basically saying, no, we have the standards. It would cause trouble if we did. So these bills are not going anywhere.

Ted Simons: We have state lawmaker announcing he's gay. Is that a surprise?

Luige Del Puerto: Well, to the public it is a surprise. Senator Steve Gallardo, veteran lawmaker, a political activist, very prominent within the Hispanic community, today called a small group of reporters and told them he is gay in public. He's kept this one private for many years. He only came out to his friends I think when he was 25 years old and to his parents when he was 30 years old. But this is an opportune time for him, probably the best time for him to declare his sexual orientation. He's running in a district, a liberal district. Central Phoenix, that area has had a history of being represented by lawmakers who are homosexuals. Ken Chevron, for example, before, even Kyrsten Sinema now.

Ted Simons: I guess because you're running in a congressional race this would be almost preemptive in the sense if anyone wants to make a deal out of this or whisper - Here it is, I'm out.

Luige Del Puerto: Probably the district does not matter.

Ted Simons: Speaking of gay issues, LGBT poll finds support for gay marriage higher than it has been and civil unions higher than it has been.

Luige Del Puerto: In Arizona this issue has always divided the state. But today 49% according to the latest poll from a democratic polling firm shows that 49% are supportive of same-sex marriage. 41% are opposed. That's a stark -- very stark change from where we were even two years ago. Clearly what we are seeing is a dramatic change, social upheaval if you will, people becoming more tolerant of gay rights issues. We see this across the nation there was a poll out today, "Washington Post" poll, that shows that 59% of Americans now support same-sex marriage. Half of Americans believe it's a constitutional right for them to marry. That's an all-time high.

Ted Simons: But it makes you wonder if that particular momentum is cresting, is it going to continue where it is and level off? There's ballot measures suggested for 2016, and some say the media frenzy is the result of numbers. You come 2016 the whole thing could change again.

Luige Del Puerto: It's not just media frenzy. We have seen this trend moving towards gay rights for the last five, six years, moving very rapidly. If you look at what the landscape was ten years ago it was radically different. The movement toward gay rights has moved I think beyond most people's expectations. In Arizona if it's 49 against 41. That's a huge change.

Ted Simons: Indeed. Civil unions as well is interesting. That was part of the polling question as well. Those numbers, even 32% against marriage, gay marriage, still okay with civil unions.

Ted Simons: Right. It goes to show that society is changing. That has lots of political implications; don't get me wrong, this battle will go on for a couple more years. We may see something on the ballot in 2016.

Ted Simons: Before you go, last question. Is Kyrsten Sinema serious? She's sitting legislator in congressional district 9, certainly the frontrunner, certainly seems like she has quite the backing behind her to succeed in her next campaign, a Republicans have some folks running but there isn't a clear threat. She's thinking of moving over to CD 7, where a whole bunch of folks -- what's going on?

Luige Del Puerto: She has refused to speak anything disclosing what their political plans are, which fuels this speculation that she is seriously considering moving into congressional district 9. What we have heard mostly from Republican consultants is this a good this evening for her. This is the case or a case where self-preservation, self-advancement is key. And the only factor she should consider is whether this is good for her or not.

Ted Simons: Are we hearing that from Republican consultants, I can understand why, all of a sudden CD 9 is open for business. What are we hearing from the Democrat consultants?

Luige Del Puerto: When I spoke with a spokesperson of the Democratic party, they are keeping out of this potential primary battle but we have heard from Latino leaders in particular who say please do not move to CD 7. We are cognizant of the fact we have more than $1 million in the bank. If you move you will be a game changer. This is a district that overwhelmingly is Hispanic and we want someone Hispanic to continue leading this district.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here.

Luige Del Puerto: Thank you.

Luige del Puerto:Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times;

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