This Week in Arizona Politics: 5 Things to Know

May 25,2018 | Triadvocates

Although the legislative session has ended, there is still plenty of work to be done—and there will be much to report as campaigning heats up for the election this year. You can expect the Navigator to hit your inbox every two weeks or so throughout the interim. We will continue to send our special edition updates when there is breaking news to share.

1. After the end of any legislative session in Arizona, the governor has an additional 10 days (excluding Sundays) to act on the remaining bills on his desk. Last week, Gov. Doug Ducey signed 55 and vetoed another seven bills, thus, officially wrapping up all legislative work. This brings the 2018 session total to 369 bills passed and 23 vetoed. Legislators also introduced another 837 bills that never made it to the governor’s desk—we were the gambling type, we’d bet that many of those bill sponsors are already plotting ways to push those issues to the finish line next session. And in case you were wondering, in the last 60 years, the highest number of bills passed in a legislative session was 438 in 2006. However, the highest number of vetoes happened the year before, when Gov. Janet Napolitano put her veto stamp to good use—rejecting a whopping 58 bills.

2. It has been less than a month since the Legislature adjourned, and we’re already seeing a significant shake-up on the Ninth Floor. A week after Mike Liburdi, general counsel to Gov. Doug Ducey, announced his departure, Danny Seiden, Ducey’s deputy chief of staff for external affairs and policy development, also announced his resignation. Liburdi and Seiden – two of Ducey’s highest-level aides who have been by his side since his 2014 gubernatorial campaign – leave their posts to join the same law firm—Greenberg Traurig. Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for the governor, has also resigned. It remains unclear who the governor is considering for replacements.

3. Arguably one of the most controversial bills of the legislative session was legislation concerning guns and school safety. During the closing days of the session, the Senate Republicans passed a bill to address this issue on a party-line vote. However, the House came up short on votes, and the bill died a quiet death. In response to yet another school shooting last week in Texas, the Senate and House minority leaders sent letters to the governor asking him to call a special session to address the issue. While rumors have been floating around, governors are generally hesitant to call a special session on an issue without first securing the votes necessary for passage. Given the contentious nature of this issue, we don’t anticipate lawmakers coming back to the Capitol anytime soon.

4. Earlier this week, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton announced that he will step down as mayor at 12 p.m. on May 29 to focus on his congressional race. Stanton announced his bid for CD 9 in October to run for the seat Democratic Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema will vacate to run for U.S. Senate. State law requires elected officials to step down from their positions before turning in election petitions for a different office. Stanton's petitions are due May 30. Vice Mayor Thelda Williams will serve as mayor until the council votes on an interim mayor, although many are speculating that the council will select Williams to serve until a new mayor is elected.

5. The departure of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton later this month will trigger a special election on Nov. 6 to fill the mayoral post. Candidates hoping to take over as leader of the fifth-largest city in the country are required to declare their bids within 10 days following Stanton’s resignation. Top contenders, as of today, are Democratic City Council members Daniel Valenzuela and Kate Gallego. They both will have to step down from their council seats before Aug. 8, which is the deadline for filing official election paperwork with the city. When they leave, the remaining council members will appoint interim council members until new council members are elected.

After Rep. John Allen – the majority leader – spoke in opposition of an amendment, catching Rep. Charlene Fernandez – the minority whip – by total surprise:


Rep. Fernandez: “Well, I was planning to say something because I thought Representative Allen was going to support the amendment. But he opposed it. So, I’ll just say…Mr. Majority Leader, you have my respect…for the next five minutes.”

After Republican Rep. Heather Carter fell out of her chair during a heated debate on the House floor:


Rep. Reginald Bolding: “I almost fell out of my chair listening to this as well.”

During a Senate Appropriations hearing on HB 2218:


Sen. John Kavanagh: “I was raised in New York, so every time I see something, I think ‘how can I game this?’”

After Rep.Vince Leach gave an articulate, but lengthy, explanation about one of his bills in response to a question asked by Rep. Mark Cardenas:


*Leach pauses to wait for Cardenas to respond.*


Rep. Cardenas: “Sorry, I quit listening several minutes ago.”

During debate on HB 2479, which would reform the taxation of digital goods and services:


Rep. Vince Leach: “This is a good bill and provides much-needed clarity in the tax code. Is it perfect? No, of course not. But, let’s be honest, who among us has passed a perfect bill?”


*30 hands go up…*


Moments after his colleagues voted to expel him from the Legislature:

Rep. Don Shooter: “I’ve been thrown out of better places than this.”

*Mic drop.*

Where is the ice cream?
The 2018 legislative session wrapped up with a noticeable ice cream deficit. For years, it has been a tradition that the arrival of ice cream at the Capitol means the Legislature is ready to wrap up work for the year. Sadly, this sine die came and went—and the ice cream never showed.


No Budget, No Bills (...Just Kidding)
During his tenure as governor, Gov. Doug Ducey has vetoed a total of 61 bills (16 in 2018; 11 in 2017; 14 in 2016; 20 in 2015). However, this session, 10 of the 16 vetoes were not issued based on the policy merits but instead as a standoff with the Legislature over budget negotiations about his 20x2020 teacher pay raise proposal. The Legislature had an unprecedented response to the vetoes—after the budget deal was made, both chambers suspended the rules to allow a late introduction of all 10 vetoed bills and moved them along with the budget through the legislative process.


Cycle of Vacancies
The 2018 legislative session came with multiple legislative vacancies—some were voluntary while others were not. The special election in congressional district 8 resulted in state Sen. Debbie Lesko (R-21) and state Rep. Steve Montenegro (R-13) to resign from their seats in order to run for Congress. The House had its fair share of resignations—as well as an expulsion. Before the start of session, state Rep. Jesus Rubalcava (D-6) resigned due to scrutiny involving campaign finance violations. Most notable was the expulsion of state Rep. Don Shooter (R-13) following a sexual harassment investigation, marking the first legislative expulsion in decades. Let’s also not forget that state Rep. Phil Lovas (R-22) joined the Trump administration toward the end of the 2017 legislative session and, lastly, former State Treasurer Jeff DeWit left Arizona for D.C. last month to join the administration as the NASA CFO.


The Domino Effect
For many legislators, this was the last sine die in their respective chambers—several are retiring (two representatives and two senators), some are seeking higher office (two representatives and five senators), and others are switching chambers (13 representatives and six senators) due to the eight-year term limit. This will not only make for a very active election cycle, but also for an interesting session next year with so many new faces. This is, of course, subject to change, but here’s a quick overview:


Rep. Macario Saldate (D-3); Rep. Eric Descheenie (D-7); Senate President Steve Yarbrough (R-17); Sen. Judy Burges (R-22)


Seeking Higher Office:

Rep. Mark Cardenas (D-19, running for State Treasurer); Rep. Doug Coleman (R-6, running for Justice of the Peace); Sen. Steve Farley (D-9, running for Governor); Sen. Katie Hobbs (D-24, running for Secretary of State); Sen. Catherine Miranda (D-27, running for Congress in CD 7); Sen. Steve Smith (R-11, Running for Congress in CD 1); Sen. Kimberly Yee (R-20, running for State Treasurer)


Switching Chambers:

Rep. Lela Alston (D-24); Rep. Brenda Barton (R-6); Rep. Paul Boyer (R-20); Rep. Heather Carter (R-15); Rep. Eddie Farnsworth (R-12); Rep Sally Ann Gonzales (D-3); Rep. Drew John (R-14); Rep. Vince Leach (R-11); Rep. Ray Martinez (D-30); House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-17); Rep. Tony Navarrete (D-30); Rep. Rebecca Rios (D-27); Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-23); Sen. Nancy Barto (R-15); Sen. Olivia Cajero-Bedford (D-3); Sen. Gail Griffin (R-14); Sen. John Kavanagh (R-23); Sen. Robert Meza (D-30); Sen. Warren Petersen (R-12)

With the support of the entire community, Brophy developed Loyola Academy in 2011. It is an all-encompassing program for boys entering sixth grade who demonstrate substantial academic promise as well as verified financial need. Students attend the three-year middle school program at no cost to their families (average yearly income is $22,500 for a family of five), with all expenses covered through donations from the community. The program shepherds these kids through a rigorous middle school program and prepares them for Brophy and, ultimately, for college. As Loyola Academy Scholars, they have embraced the self-discipline required by an 11-month school year with 10-hour days.


The Loyola Academy students – referred to as “Scholars” – who entered as the inaugural class in 2011 graduated from Brophy last week. As a special celebration, Loyola Academy held the first “signing ceremony” for the 22 students who started this incredible journey six years ago and are now continuing their education at universities around the country. Here’s a short video that captures the magic of this life-changing program. 

YouTube link can be accessed by clicking here:

 Video Credit: Pete Burr



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