Update to Authoritarian Arizona GQP Leadership Adopts Rules To End Transparency And Accountability.

Jim Small at the Arizona Mirror writes, Fear and loathing in the Arizona legislature


The Republicans who run our state legislature are terrified.

They’re terrified that their policy proposals are deeply unpopular. Terrified of facing even a tiny bit of accountability. Terrified of anyone knowing what they’re doing or who they’re talking to.

They’re terrified of being forced to work with Democrats. Terrified of compromising even a little bit with Gov. Katie Hobbs. Terrified that, if they stubbornly refuse to do so, some pragmatic GOP lawmakers will broker a deal with Hobbs and the Democrats in a repeat of 2004, when Republican leaders were rolled after months of deadlocked budget negotiations. [Good times, good times.]

Republicans are terrified that their nearly 60-year stranglehold on power in the legislature is coming to an end, and they’re desperately trying to maintain control.

That fear is the driving force behind staggering new rule changes passed this week in the Arizona Senate and House of Representatives that stifle debate, muzzle Democratic objections, exempt legislators from the state’s public records laws and greatly expand the power of the top Republican leaders in an effort to preemptively crush any revolt against their rule.

Rather than stand tall in the marketplace of ideas that they supposedly champion, Republicans are running from it with their tails between their legs. Debates on the House and Senate floor will now be limited to 30 minutes, with no exceptions, before voting begins. GOP Rep. Travis Grantham, the House speaker pro tem, decried lengthy debates as a “weapon” of Democrats, which is definitely the position of someone who has confidence that Arizonans agree with his positions and not a thin-skinned politician who can’t stomach criticism of the extremist measures his party rallies around.

The same partisans that howl about a need for more transparency in schools have declared, “Sunshine for thee, but not for me!” as they guarantee that legislators’ emails and calendars will swiftly be purged, ensuring that their constituents will have little chance to keep tabs on what they are up to at the Capitol. Apparently, when the Arizona courts repeatedly rule that the legislature is bound by the state’s public records laws and can’t weasel out of turning over thousands of embarrassing emails and text messages about the phony “election audit,” the solution is the nuclear option: Exempting yourself entirely.

But the most consequential change is one that eradicates any chance of a rebellion from GOP legislators by requiring that the House speaker and Senate president — the top Republicans in each chamber — be in the majority on any vote to change or suspend the chamber’s rules.

That means there is no risk for them if they dig in their heels and refuse to negotiate with Hobbs on anything, including the state budget — even if it means driving the state headlong into a government shutdown. Where once there was a risk of an uprising from more pragmatic Republicans, who could independently cut a deal with Hobbs and Democrats and then suspend the chamber’s rules to force a vote, now GOP leaders can stake out extreme positions with absolutely no fear of reprisal.

Any expectation that provisions with the support of a majority of the House or Senate, even if opposed by GOP leadership, could advance on their merits is now dashed. The speaker and president will rule over what measures receive votes with an absolute iron fist.

These aren’t changes made from a position of strength. They’re the cynical last gasps of an increasingly desperate Republican majority that recognizes its grip on power at the Capitol is slipping, but is unwilling to deal with that reality. They don’t have a mandate from voters — tiny one-vote majorities in each chamber and a Democratic governor — but want to govern as though they do.

It’s not what voters want, and you can bet they’ll notice when Republicans insist on driving the state government straight off a cliff. For now, they can try to govern with impunity. But accountability is only an election cycle away.

The flaw in this plan is that districts were gerrymandered by the so-called Independent Redistricting Commission to give Republicans an advantage, and Republican voters have demonstrated that GQP tribalism is far more important to them than any destructive thing the legislature does. They are morally bankrupt nihilists who actually want to watch the world burn in order to “own the libs.”

Until there is a “come to Jesus moment” and epiphany among Republican voters who finally realize the error of their misbegotten ways and a realization that they must throw these reprobates out of office, they will continue to support the criminal enterprise known as the Republican Party.

E.J Montini adds at The Arizona Republic, Republican lawmakers change rules to cover up future misconduct:

The Republican majority in the Arizona Legislature, which claims to believe in government transparency, changed the rules lawmakers must follow so that they can hide everything.

Or as the Cheshire Cat says to Alice, “We’re all mad here.”

Republicans, using their small majority in the House and Senate, decided this week to exempt lawmakers from public records laws in order to cover up future misconduct.

That’s not how they described their action, of course.

In fact, Republican House Speaker Ben Toma told Capitol Media Services, “I don’t think there’s any intention on my part to hide anything.”

If there’s nothing to hide, why allow hiding it?

It’s an interesting statement, since what GOP lawmakers did was create rules that allow them to hide their official exchanges from the public.

The guidelines the Republicans pushed through over the objections of Democrats allow lawmakers to destroy all email correspondence sent or received by lawmakers or staff after 90 days.

Bad behavior does not always come to light quickly.

If such a rule were in place for the past couple of years, for example, we might not have ever known about the extent Arizona Republican lawmakers went to overturn the election victory of President Joe Biden.

That’s why records should be maintained.

Now, lawmakers will be able to shield themselves from future embarrassments (or investigations) by simply destroying the evidence of who they are and what they said.

The fact that some lawmakers presume the need for such protection should give us pause, don’t you think?

A 30-minute debate limit on ‘controversial’ bills

That’s not the only change Republicans pushed through, either. They’ve decided to limit debate on what is considered controversial legislation (as if there is another kind) to only 30 minutes.

I’d guess lawmakers in North Korea may get more time than that.

They also decided that their Republican speaker has the final say on any future rule changes, even if a bipartisan majority of the Legislature would like to pass one.

How about creating a de facto governor?

This led Democratic Minority Leader Andres Cano to say, “If a member wants veto power, run for governor.”

They tried that. It didn’t quite work out for Republicans in the last election.

So, since the person the Republican majority favored did not win the popular vote, GOP lawmakers decided to manufacture a de facto version of governor in the form of the speaker.

I’d guess that even the grim old dudes running North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party hadn’t thought of that maneuver.

Although, they might now.