This Week in Arizona Politics: 5 Things to Know

February 27,2018 | Triadvocates

1. The House Appropriations Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee met last week for the final committee hearings on bills introduced in the House and Senate, respectively. The Legislature now resumes a normal schedule of hearings in the weeks ahead. Both chambers have largely completed action on bills that originated in that body, with the House having considerably more bills to move than the Senate. There is still no sign of a budget deal, so work will continue on a narrower list of proposals which have already cleared one house.

2. The special election to replace former US. Rep. Trent Franks is finally here. Tomorrow, voters from the political parties in CD8 head to the polls to pick their nominees to go head-to-head on the special general election on March 26. There are 22 candidates on the ballot (15 Republicans, four Democrats, one Libertarian, and two from the Green Party). This race has turned extremely negative in the last week with accusations about infidelity, campaign finance violations and other shenanigans running rampant. It is believed that a majority of votes have already been cast, so it’s unknown what impact these last-minute accusations will have on the race.

3. There have been several staffing changes and additions to the Governor’s Office:

  • Daniel Ruiz, who was senior adviser for agency affairs and election policy, is now the senior adviser for policy strategy. Ruiz, who has played a significant role in the governor’s policy proposals, including on opioids and water, will still oversee constituent services and election policy, but will be more active in policy development.
  • Megan Rose, currently the spokeswoman for ADOA, will take over as the lead for all agency affairs and communications, and will be the team leader for all the state agency public information officers. 
  • Elizabeth Berry, most recently U.S. Senator  Jeff Flake’s press secretary, joins the Governor’s Office as a press secretary.
  • Tamara Skinner, previously a deputy communications director for AZGOP, joins the administration as the governor’s research and press assistant.

4. The House of Representatives has advanced a measure to reexamine an element of the 2016 voter-approved Prop. 206—also known as the “minimum wage law”. HCR2026, sponsored by House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, would eliminate the presumption against an employer if they terminate an employee within 90 days of that employee making a complaint about their wages or paid leave benefits and, according to Mesnard, levels the playing field during whatever adjudication takes place between employees who claim retaliation and their accused employers. After a heated debate on the House floor, the measure passed on a party-line vote. If it passes the Senate, the question will be turned back to the voters on the November ballot for reconsideration.

5. Arizona allows for direct democracy and, with enough petition signatures, voters or groups may submit their ideas directly to the ballot box. A new measure was recently introduced that would mandate an increase in the amount of renewable energy Arizona households purchase from utilities. The proposed ballot measure would increase from 15 percent to 50 percent of renewable energy coming from Arizona’s public utilities. Opponents are rapidly organizing to fight this measure, as they are concerned about what it will do to utility rates. Proponents have until July 5 to collect at least 226,000 signatures.

"Mr. Speaker, I move that a temporary rule be adopted, effective until the end of the Fifty-third Legislature, Second Regular Session, that notwithstanding any other House Rule or committee assignments, HB2023 be brought immediately for Third Reading and if the measure garners the requisite thirty-one votes, the Speaker or the Speaker Pro Tempore is directed to immediately sign the measure in open session and the Clerk is directed to immediately transmit the measure to the Senate.”


Democratic Rep. Randall Friese, with a “Hail Mary” move on the House floor last week after he could not get his bill, which would have banned “bump stocks” on firearms, heard in the House Judiciary & Public Safety Committee where it was assigned. The very rare procedural motion brought his measure directly to the floor for a vote, bypassing the committee. While the Republicans short-circuited the motion through another procedural maneuver, it was a valiant effort by Dr. Friese—and was very much respected by political wonks obsessed with legislative procedure and those who think “Robert's Rules of Order” is fun reading for a casual beach vacation.    

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