This is my fifth year in the Arizona House, and it is full of surprises.
It started last fall when a whole cadre of newly elected Libertarians joined forces with other conservatives and attempted to oust Speaker Rusty Bowers. Bowers is still in the speaker’s chair, but he doesn’t have the power he once did.
It’s very obvious that the place is being run completely differently from what happened in the last two years. In fact, I wonder if the Republicans are watching my videos. Some of the tactics that I complained vehemently about have changed. For example, keeping Ds in the dark about everything, gaming the floor schedules in order to make sure 31 R votes were in their chairs, refusing to pass bills that would have a majority of D votes, refusing to hear D bills, and gaveling down the Ds when we’re speaking were common practices in the 54th Legislature￼.
In the 55th Legislature, these things are not happening with the frequency that they did in the past. Also, the leadership teams are meeting regularly.￼ Everything is more orderly and respectful. That said, we are still hearing some really horrible bills. The voting is different with so many Libertarians who are willing to vote independent of their leadership.￼ They need the Ds to help them pass the more reasonable reasonable bills — like voting to draw down federal funds for childcare assistance or voting for criminal justice reform.
I said “bipartisanship abounds” in my headline because there are many crossover issues. For example, Libertarians and some Progressives have been voting against tax giveaways, pork barrel projects,￼ and unnecessary bureaucracy and for increased transparency. On the corporate side, you see Ds and Rs voting together on corporate tax incentives, gaming, and special taxing districts. Some bills have passed with 10-18 Rs voting “no.” Those bills would never have come up for a vote in the past.￼ (Regarding Libertarians and tax giveaways: they don’t like business incentives that “pick winners and losers,” but they do support otherwise giving away taxes. I am still voting against all tax giveaways.)
The party line votes are on the really horrible bills … like voter suppression and anti-abortion bills. Last week we debated many voter suppression bills but didn’t vote on any of them because all 31 Rs were not present. Today is March 2. Yesterday, eight members were not present and voting. Rumor has it that we will do no voting today because so many people are missing in action due to illness, international junkets￼, or attendance at the CPAC meeting.
Let’s hope some of the really horrible bills that Covid stopped in 2020 will be stopped again in 2021. Stay tuned.￼