2016 Legislative Preview: The More Things Change, The More That They Don’t…

By Craig McDermott, crossposted from Random Musings

On Monday (January 11), the 2016 session of the Arizona State Legislature will gavel into session, and I expect it to look a lot like other recent sessions.

…There will be attacks on immigrants.  To whit: State Sen. John Kavanagh (R-Russell Pearce with a NY/NJ accent) has already proposed SB1044, mandating that any “special census” requested by a county or municipality in Arizona not count actual residents but only citizens and legal immigrants.

…There will be attacks on education.  To whit: State Sen. Sylvia “6000 Years” Allen has been appointed to chair the Senate’s Education Committee.  With the selection of Allen to replace Kelli “Chemtrails” Ward (who resigned from the state senate in order to focus on a run for US Senate), Senate President Andy Biggs may have found the one member of the AZ senate who is less intellectually qualified to be the committee chair.

…There will be attacks on women (and doctors and medical marijuana).  To whit: State Rep. Kelly Townsend (R-Gun Nut) has already introduced HB2061, seeking to intervene between pregnant women and their physicians by barring any physician from prescribing medical marijuana to pregnant women, regardless of their medical condition.


A picture tweeted by Townsend during her visit to the armed encampment of Cliven Bundy in 2014

…There will be attacks on the state’s judiciary.  To whit: State Rep. Mark Finchem (R-LD11) has already introduced HB2039, seeking to change the terms of justices on the AZ Supreme Court to four years (currently: six years), subject them to direct elections (currently: justices are appointed and subject to retention elections), and lower their salaries to that of state legislators (currently: justices receive $150K+ annually; legislators receive $24K).

…There will be attacks on the authority of the federal government.  To whit: Finchem (and other neo-secessionists) has already introduced HB2051, giving municipalities and counties the authority to classify something on federal land as a “catastrophic public nuisance” and then to “abate” said nuisance.

…There will be attacks on public safety.  To whit: Kavanagh has already introduced SB1054, imposing restrictions on the public’s right to record the activities of police officers; Finchem has already introduced HB2042, repealing the state’s prohibition of nunchaku.


Example of Nunchaku, picture courtesy Wikipedia

…There will be attacks on the environment.  To whit: Kavanagh has already introduced SB1056, repealing the requirement that state agencies report to the governor and lege on their use of recycled paper.

…There will be attacks on municipal self-direction.  To whit: Rep. Darin Mitchell (R-LD13) has introduced HB2026, a proposal to repeal existing municipal sales taxes on residential rentals and to bar the creation of any new such taxes.

…I could go on, but you get the point.  Every example cited above is just the beginning, and in a couple of cases, may turn out to be mild examples of the corporate/legislative agenda.

Some more general predictions:

– Being an even-numbered year (meaning it’s an election year), the session will be relatively short, probably finishing in April.

– Expect work on prison “reforms” and tax cuts.  Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey has already hinted or stated that those things are part of his agenda.  Don’t be surprised however if “reform” turns out to be synonymous with “privatization” and that any tax cuts will be delayed long enough that they don’t impact the voters’ consideration of his Proposition 123, a scheme for tapping into the state’s land trust to find money to increase funding for education (slightly) without raising taxes.  Cutting corporate taxes (again!) while asking the state’s voters for permission to use the state’s “seed corn” to provide short-term relief for a long-term problem.

– Expect posturing on issues that is intended to “rouse the [Republican] base” such as attempts to defund Planned Parenthood.

Or to sum up:  this session of the Arizona legislature will resemble recent sessions.  Some of the fears mongered will change, but the antipathy toward public service, and the public itself, felt by the majority of the members of the legislative majority will not.

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