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: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. State lawmakers are getting ready to wrap up the legislative session. Here with the latest on the flurry of last-minute bills is Luige de Puerto of the "Arizona Capitol Times." Good to see you. Things fast and furious down there.

Luige De Puerto: Fast and furious, passing bills, debating bills, moving bills between the two chambers?

Ted Simons: What did we see today?

Luige De Puerto: Today before I got here, they were going to third read bills. I didn't have a chance to look at what the bills are. Certainly the idea, what some people want to do is get all of this done this week and next week and potentially end the session by the end of next week.

Ted Simons: You didn't have a chance to look at these obviously because you were on the move for this important engagement. Lawmakers, I get the impression they don't know what is in half of the stuff.

Luige De Puerto: What typically happens you are passing, debating, considering hundreds of bills. In last week, this week, next week, they will be going through so many bills I can't imagine anyone of them pouring over and reading everything that they're passing or approving. You know, some of the bills are fairly substantive policy changes. Some of them are not. It is tough for me to imagine that they're reading anything.

Ted Simons: How about bills that we thought were dead but are now miraculously back alive?

Luige De Puerto: Not many bills resurrected at this point. However, we have seen bills that have died in the last few days, and I imagine many of them, some of them would be revived. Efforts to try and revive them.

Ted Simons: What about the election law changes that everyone made a big deal about. We're not going to -- we're going to repeal them so that they can't go on the ballot. We're not going to bring them back. Are they not going to bring them back?

Luige De Puerto: That is a really good question, a good point that you raise. There as bill that is currently in the state Senate that seeks to fix -- last year, they passed this law that created all sorts of headaches. For example, candidates now have to create two separate committee, one for the primary, one for the general. A limit on how much they can transfer. To be clear, all of them, democrats and republicans alike need this fixed. It is becoming caught in this crossfire, if you will. The vote on the bill has so far been, on one side republicans supporting it, other side democrats opposing it. Sponsor of the legislation said if it gets out of the Senate without the emergency clause, which means it would take effect right away, without that provision, I don't know what would be added into this bill. And the fear by some is that, you know, the last year's proposal, a target of a referendum, portions of it might make their way into this proposal.

Ted Simons: And that is a possibility. What about the vouchers expanded government scholarship accounts, what is happening with that one?

Luige De Puerto: Today in the Senate, preliminary approval to a proposal to expand it. They're not expanding it as big as what they wanted it to be expanded to. Right now, the bill that is going to be 3rd read at some point expands it to a certain group of people. It would cover about 115,000 new students.

Ted Simons: We will see where that one goes. What is going on down there with folks making speeches about this Clive and Bundy situation in southern Nevada, we have lawmakers actually going up there and showing solidarity with these folks? What is going on?

Luige De Puerto: Right. As you know it is a fairly straightforward case of rancher out in Nevada who didn't want to pay the fees for having his cattle graze on federal land. And it's now turned into some sort of a symbol of resistance or defiance against the federal government. There is a standoff between the bureau of land management and some armed militias and some of our lawmakers saw it as an opportunity to go and see what's going on, but also some of them came home and were just presumably amazed at what they saw and could not stop talking about it.

Ted Simons: Who in particular could not stop talking about it?

Luige De Puerto: Representative named David Livingston, he lives in the northern part of the valley. He just kept talking and talking about it. Even yesterday when he was voting on bills, he would segu, he didn't really explain his votes, he would talk about his experience being out there on this ranch and basically saying, you know, this is an issue about power and how the feds are, you know, asserting its power, and basically how it's a states right issue.

Ted Simons: And he is supporting the armed insurrection?

Luige De Puerto: I'm not sure if he would be supporting an arm insurrection.

Ted Simons: They are armed and they are saying that the government has no power over them.

Luige De Puerto: They are armed and they are over there. And there is a standoff, that's true. I think he is very sympathetic, it is clear that he is very sympathetic to the armed militias. Not everybody is happy with the fact that he keeps talking about this one. They do have their business at hand. And yesterday they tried to correct him and said, hey, you know, let's stay on the topic. But as you know, as a lawmaker, you can explain your vote, I think in the house you have five minutes to explain your vote and you can talk about anything, your golf course, new car, whatever. Even if it had nothing to do with the bill before you.

Ted Simons: He is deciding to use five minutes on each bill?

Luige De Puerto: He keeps talking about it. And they could not stop him from talking.

Ted Simons: What about Tom Horne?

Luige De Puerto: Now he can say and claim that he has been exonerated, today he sent out an email saying with the headline, I won't back down, will you? Clearly, he's, you know, he can take what the judge has said and turn it into a campaign rhetoric if you will. He would be right in saying that he has not been found guilty by this judge. I want to add that this is not quite over yet. County attorney, who is pursuing this case or litigating this case, has to decide whether she would accept this recommendation or rejected it, if she rejected it, then presumably you would see Tom Horne in court.

Ted Simons: There is some thought she may just say that the election is coming up. We will let the folks, citizens decide and perhaps, you know, just get it off of her plate. We will see about that.

Luige De Puerto: Right. One thing that is clear is that this is not going away as a campaign issue. I mentioned before the show, I'm assuming that the ads are being refined, commercials are being refined as we speak.

Ted Simons: Last question here, they thought with all of this flurry of activity, this power rush going on, we could see signee die by the end of the week.

Luige De Puerto: Definitely not this week, perhaps next week. Andy Biggs told a reporter this morning, if he had, you know, if he were king, essentially, he would like to get out, you know, as soon as possible, but of course he also said even if I made the motion to signee die probably would not get enough votes to pass. Reason is simple. Everybody wants their bill to get to pass. And if you signee die today or the next day, that's the end of the proposal, and some people wouldn't have that.

Ted Simons: And they wouldn't have five minutes to talk about whatever the heck they want to talk about.

Luige De Puerto: Exactly.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here.

Luige De Puerto: Thank you.

Luige del Puerto:Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times;

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