As a long-time office worker, I am all too familiar with the “hurry up and wait” game. You rush around to complete a project… just to wait hours, days, or months for the next step in the process to take place.
The Arizona House is stuck in the “hurry up and wait” game. For two weeks in a row, Senate President Karen Fann and Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers called senators and representatives back to the capital to work and/or to vote on ending the second session of the 54th Legislature (AKA sine die).
Perhaps, you remember that back in March, Democratic Legislators were pushing for a comprehensive response to the COVID19 pandemic, and we suggested several components. We wanted to give the governor and the Arizona Department of Health Services guidance in how to spend the money the Legislature allocated. Republicans voted to just hand the money to Ducey with no strings attached. Two months later, it’s obvious that guidance was needed.
I drove to Phoenix last Thursday (May 7) because Speaker Rusty Bowers and President Karen Fann had called the Legislature back for a sine die vote (a vote to end the second session of the 54th Legislature). We have been adjourned and working remotely since March 23.
Unfortunately, I made that trip for nothing. On May 7, after the morning email notice to report for work, House Republicans held a closed-door caucus for several hours (as long as six hours by some reports). At about 8:20 p.m. on May 7, when I was already in Phoenix, Bowers sent a second email saying that the House would not reconvene on Friday (May 8) for the sine die vote. (I drove two hours to a canceled meeting, and Rep. Myron Tsosie drove 5.5 hours from Navajo.)
The Republicans are in complete disarray. For the second Friday in a row, Republicans have scheduled a sine die floor session and canceled it because they can’t agree. I would have driven to Phoenix last Thursday (April 30), also, but that was the day of the LD9 town hall. The May 1 Legislative floor vote was called and canceled before I got in the car.
Bowers has a revolt on his hands, obviously.￼ There is a small but vocal group of Arizona representatives and senators who want to buck Governor Doug Ducey’s executive order to stay home and keep businesses closed. Ducey has flip-flopped several times in recent weeks due to pressure from Libertarians (who, regardless of the public health costs, want to open up the state for business, force people back to work, and rescind Ducey’s executive order closing the economy) and Democrats (who are clamoring for more testing, more contact tracing, more transparency in the data, workplace protections, continued shelter in place, and not opening up too soon). The Open Up Arizona Republicans are marching in lock step with ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council). In fact, 11 Arizona Legislators signed an open ALEC letter to President Trump asking him to open up the economy: Senate President Karen Fann, Senators Vince Leach, Rick Gray, David Livingston, and Reps. John Allen, Walter Balckman, Nancy Barto, Ben Toma, Becky Nutt, Frank Carroll, and Leo Biasiucci.