On March 5th, Democratic Perspective examined the 2012 session of the Arizona Legislature which, once again, seems to have dived into the shallow end of the pool and hit their collective heads.
We all know what happened to the Arizona economy after the legislature passed SB1070 in 2010. This year, Tea Party Republicans seem determined to cause further damage to the state’s economy. For example, here are just a few of the bills that have been proposed this session:
State Senator Steve Smith is pushing a bill which would mandate drug testing for the unemployed, and would force them to pay for the tests before they could collect the unemployment insurance they’re entitled to. HB2318/SB1485 would prevent government agencies from recognizing, bargaining with or even meeting with union members and organizations. HCR2056 would lower minimum wage for workers who are under 20 years of age if their employment is part-time or temporary. And HB2519 would make it significantly harder to qualify for unemployment insurance.
Of course, the legislature is continuing its love affair with guns. HB2640 would allow hunters to use silencers and eliminate limits for gun magazines. SB1474 would allow guns on college and university campuses. HB2729 would allow anyone to carry a weapon into a public building or event, including those which serve alcohol. And SB1083 would fund an Arizona “Special Missions Unit” (a state-sanctioned militia) to patrol the border at a cost of $1.4 million plus set-up costs.
In response to the Obama administration mandate that employer-based insurance cover contraceptives, HB 2625 would allow any employer to refuse to provide coverage of birth control for religious beliefs. And, if the bill passes it might well allow anyone to breach a contract based on religious beliefs.
Another version of the “Birther” bill has been proposed this session. HB2650/SB1481 would demand that candidates show their birth certificates before they can be placed on the ballot. HCR2025 would call on Congress to dissolve US membership in the United Nations. And HB2437 would prohibit states from implementing federal mandates unless the federal government provides proof of constitutionality.
Angered by the new legislative maps, Republicans have proposed a number of bills that would change or eliminate the Independent Redistricting Commission. You may remember that the commission was forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to fight Governor Brewer’s removal of the commission chairperson. Now the legislatlure is refusing to provide funds for the commission to pay its legal bills. And State Senate SCR1035 would repeal the voter-approved the commisssion altogether.
Of course, extremist bills have been proposed on assorted variety of other topics. HB2441 would make private conversations between legislators and constituents exempt from public records requests. HB2039 would remove the requirement that teachers receive a certificate in order to teach. HB2563 allows high schools to offer classes on the influence of the Bible on American history. And SB1202 would prevent teachers from speaking “partisan doctrine” in the classroom, even teaching about political parties in a historical context.
Much of this legislation is simply political posturing by Tea Party Republicans. We assume they know it will be knocked down by the courts. But Republicans are serious (or at least hopeful) that much of it will be signed into law.
The question is, since most Arizonans are moderate, how did we get such an extreme legislature?
You can review all of the proposed legislation by visiting http://www.azleg.gov/bills.asp.