Senate President Andy Biggs and House Speaker David Gowan tell us what’s going on at the State Capitol in their monthly appearance on Arizona Horizon.
Once a month during the legislative session, we hear directly from the leaders of the Arizona house and Senate. Joining us now is Senate president Andy Biggs and Speaker of the House David Gowan. Good to have you both here. Thank you for joining us.
David Gowan: Glad to be here.
Ted Simons: I want to get to the legislative stuff in a second. This has a little side trail to the legislative activity. Your thoughts on the situation with firings of the board of education, with the idea that the reasons the firings were done because the superintendent of public instruction says by statute, she can do this.
Andy Biggs: My thought is let's let the governor and the superintendent deal with that. I think they are dealing with that. I know that there is an interest in and the speaker and I have discussed with them, an interest in clearing up any legislative question that there may be, and that's what we are going to do. They are working together on this. Everybody is kind of worked out their issues, I think, largely. And, you know, I think we are going to come together and if there needs to be some legislation, which there seems to be some consensus that there should be some legislation, we will look at it and see what we can do to clear up some of the issues.
Ted Simons: As far as the current legislation, does she have the authority to fire them?
David Gowan: Again, this is an issue where we are letting the executives handle those. They have asked for clarification and they are getting together. They are doing some good meetings, and as far as legislation goes with that, we are going to be able to look at that and aid them in that sense after they come to a consensus of what they need.
Ted Simons: Have you looked at the issue at all? Do you have an opinion on the issue?
David Gowan: Well, my opinion is, you know, it is the executives are looking at each other in that area, and they're the ones that are bringing those issues up between themselves and I think it is amongst them to deal with that situation and let us deal with the situation we can deal with if they need some legislation, that's where we will handle it.
Ted Simons: As far as clarification though through legislation, it sounds as though someone thinks they have the authority to do something. Others say no, you can recommend but you don't have the authority. Have you looked at the statute? Is there confusion there from where you sit?
Andy Biggs: Well, it isn't really whether I think there is confusion or not, the fact of the matter is, and the speaker is exactly right. We look at this as an issue between the executive branch. You've got they want some clarification. They have come to us, hey, we think maybe there should be some clarification or there should be something done legislatively and we have said great, we will do it. Let us know. Let's find out. If it makes sense, let's do it.
Ted Simons: You would agree then, if needed, if one or both sides already the superintendent says she would like to see clarification are you going to start moving ahead on it?
David Gowan: When they come to an agreement, the two, we know they have been talking and it appears like they're may be an agreement on the horizon.
Ted Simons: You never know.
David Gowan: We will be looking at the legislation and putting it forth and hopefully rectifying the situation. What we can do is just legislation. We will let them have their say and their talk, and at that point, it's it is up to them to handle the situation they have, and for us in the legislative side, we have so many issues that we have to deal with, we will help them in that side that we can, which is legislation.
Ted Simons: When the superintendent says she wants X, you are going to wait for the governor to say he wants X, too?
David Gowan: I think what we want is a consensus so that we know where to go with legislation.
Ted Simons: Do you agree with that?
Andy Biggs: Yeah, I think yeah, I do agree with that. And I think they are working together. I believe they're meeting together and they are talking about this very issue how you, legislation that they might want, and I think we all want to be get it worked out.
Ted Simons: A couple of quotes from superintendent Douglas. And I just want to get your thoughts on this. Because, again, nothing happens out legislation, I.E., you and so when she says the governor has a shadow faction of charter school operators and former superintendents who support common core. It sounds as so that also translates over to the legislature first of all, what do you think of a statement like that?
Andy Biggs: You know, I that's not for me to make a comment on. That's between I think her thoughts and feelings between her and the governor and I think, you know, in reality, they are working through whatever issues that may have may or may not have played out publicly. But for us, I think what the reality is, what we're doing is we have extended the opportunity, if you need legislation and both sides have indicated to us, in fact, we have sat down with both sides and they have indicated they think there might be a need for legislation, and that is what we can deal with. We can't to be frank with you, I know the speaker has got a body with 16, I have a body with 30, to be honest with you I'm focusing on my 30 and the discussions that we have on where we intersect and so.
Ted Simons: Last point, understand why I'm asking the question. Everyone is talking about this. You are the Speaker of the House, president of the Senate, they want to know how you feel about this other than we hope they work it out.
David Gowan: Well, the point that we have been making here we're telling you how we feel in the situation. We have so many things we have to deal with at the legislature that come to bills, just day-to-day, handling of our members, and we have to worry about a lot of things. This is an executive decision in their branch, and what we can do, we're willing to help. As the president was discussing with us here, we have sat with them and talked with them a bit and it looks like they are going to come to a consensus on wanting some fix in there with the legislation and that is the part where we can enter and help them.
Ted Simons: Okay. A push for the department of environmental quality to submit a compliance plan to the EPA regarding coal-fired carbon emissions and that whole business. Your thoughts on this, how far along is this idea?
Andy Biggs: Well, I think that if you mean how far are they in developing a plan or how long with the concept?
Ted Simons: Yes, both.
Andy Biggs: Concept, I think, is pretty well developed in the sense that we a lot of us feel anyway that the EPA has really overstepped its bounds with their demands on Arizona, where we are looking at where we are going to have to shut, convert coal-fired plants to natural gas. We think that we probably have a better handle on it in the state. We think DEQ should probably begin working on that and I think they have begun work on that, at least preliminarily. Yeah, I support the concept. And I think that there is broad support at least in the in the republican caucus in the Senate to support that concept
Ted Simons: It means changing that law, 2010 law, that says a state agency can't regulate greenhouse gases
David Gowan: A problem with what we agree on our side a little EPA overreach. But to combat that we need to be able to have one of our department is, DEQ, put forth the message that we're willing to work on this situation while we continue to look at the broader situation with the EPA. And hopefully we can we could play it out a little bit and get it correct. We don't agree with the EPA on a lot of their issues that they are giving to us, but we know we're in a box of sort and we need to be able to put out the a fix of sort, the measure of saying this is our plan and lay it out because it is either we get EPA's plan or we can lay one out and we can implement that and we actually have a bit of control on that and still work on what we need to do to push back a little on the EPA.
Ted Simons: 2010, that law, put you in a bit of a box here?
Andy Biggs: I don't think necessarily that put us in a box. I think the box we have been put in, federal overreach of EPA, federal EPA has come in. We see this not just with the EPA, but with the the wolf reintroduction program basically any time we want to do something with regard to infrastructure we are hounded and harassed by the feds, and I think I am not going to speak for the speaker, because that is in his title, speaker. For me anyway, the box that I say we're in, EPA overreach. We have to respond and we are going to respond as best we can to that overreach.
Ted Simons: I want to get back to the reason that this bill exists, to change what happened in 2010, and what happened in 2010 was that it looked like there was a move to keep any state agency from implementing any plans regarding greenhouse gases. Was that a wise move at the time?
Andy Biggs: Well, I believe it was. I think the idea that we we were concerned with is a move to regulate in different ways. At that time, if I remember correctly, there was a push, for instance, to get us into the western regional states, which were actually working towards implementing Kyoto protocols in the western United States. We felt that that was not where we wanted to go. So, that's why we we were placed in a box then. So, you you end up fighting the box on both sides. There is not that push anymore. But now the push is coming from the feds itself.
Ted Simons: Are you going to have to close that box if that kind of a push emerges yet again. I know legislative oversight is key in this particular bill. Still in all, legislatures change, are we ready to go back and forth on this kind of a thing?
David Gowan: We can't predict what our future legislature is going to do. However, this legislature looks as we go down the trail here, I believe with this governor here, are ready to push back on the EPA and a bit of the federal overreach and that's what we are trying to do in this, is to make sure we can take a next step after we implement that plan to fight back.
Ted Simons: Senate bill 1330 wants to outlaw federal gun laws and I think some see federal gun laws as being another example of federal overreach. That can be debated. Quickly, all federal laws, acts, orders, rules, regulations in violation of the second amendment that are unauthorized by the constitution, that violate the second amendment true meaning and intent as given by the founders and ratifiers, invalid and void in this state. Who decides all of that?
Andy Biggs: Well, I'm not sure that the bill says who decides all of that. What it does, that sets up in my mind what that does is sets up two things. Number one, the idea that we are going to we want to Adhere to the second amendment, which is considered to be one of the most fundamental rights. Once you set up that philosophy and recognize that formally, which you would think that you would have recognized it formally with just the fact that we are within the U.S. constitution and its bounds, but we find that the courts have, in my opinion, misinterpreted the second amendment. Although some retrenchment even there. Second thing this does it sets up probably the idea for litigation. Because you may end up with some litigation, and it's important to actually create a, in my mind, a statement that either somebody has to attack or defend. Further clarifies. We will make one more point on that.
Ted Simons: Yes.
Andy Biggs: Arizona has a terrific statement on right to bare arms. And we clearly say within Arizona's constitution, that that right is an individual right. And it cannot be abridged or limited. Kind of like the federal constitution except for far clearer, and I think that this actually is an attempt to try to add some teeth to the federal constitution.
Ted Simons: Who gets to decide whose teeth? I mean, again, who decides which laws are in violation and who decides how those laws are in violation? You are talking
David Gowan: Who Does already?
Ted Simons: The courts.
David Gowan: There you go. The point here, I mean, that would be your basic instinct, right? But also that is why we have the bicameral system and committees that these run through. Those questions can be asked and hopefully answered as they go through the process.
Ted Simons: All right. So, a statement if nothing else?
David Gowan: Well, there is no doubt but it's I guess it is a statement to say that are we going to abide by the U.S. constitution, if it has oversight on us? That is basically what that is stating there.
Andy Biggs: I mean, think about it this way. Legislature is trying to assert the fact that we make laws. We have courts that interpret, sometimes misinterpret laws and sometimes we actually put intense statements in our laws. We are trying to, I think, make a strong, powerful statement.
Ted Simons: All right.
David Gowan: Courts
Ted Simons: We have to stop. Thank you both very much. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you for joining us. You have a great evening.
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Andy Biggs:Arizona Senate President; David Gowan:House Speaker;