Our citizen’s legislature, intended to be in session for 100 days a year, finally ended on day 204!
Monday July 31st saw the legislature reconvene after six weeks of recess. The day’s session was an odd mix of activity.
1. A vote was held on a modified bill to extend the Maricopa Co. ½ cent transportation tax. Dems were instrumental in the bill passing. The governor signed the bill on August 1st and Maricopa Co. can now put the question of a transportation tax extension to voters in 2024.
2. Deals were made. The original transportation bill SB1102 was modified to gain consensus. Not everyone was happy but all claimed victory except the Freedom Caucus. The hang up issue of the light rail was modified to reduce light rail funding from 39% of money collected to 37%, and to include conditions not to extend the light rail nor have a light rail stop at the capitol. (republicans really did not want people without cars getting to The People’s House!
3. Members of the Freedom Caucus ranted about the way the bill was modified and saw changes as capitulation to the governor and democrats. Rep. Kolodin was exceptionally garrulous in his remarks. He needed to be reprimanded several times for not following procedure.
4. A newly appointed democrat was sworn in on the same day they adjourned.
5. A bill, SB1131, passed on June 13th just before the most recent recess, was not sent to the governor in June as it should have been. It was held as a bargaining tool. This bill repealed rental tax on apartments. Republicans really wanted this bill passed but cities and towns rely on those taxes for essential services. The governor was not a fan of the bill. The bill was slightly modified and used as leverage. If the governor wanted a yes vote on the transportation tax, she needed to sign the rental tax repeal. SB1131 was sent to the governor on July 31 and Governor Hobbs signed it on Aug. 1st.
6. The last bill of the session HB2670 was passed, sponsored by a democrat! It had been held up with all the recesses called this session. Unfortunately, a great bill originally instructing all state agencies to make sure their veteran members knew about all veteran services was amended in the senate and watered down. As passed the bill adds The Space Force to the definition of Armed Forces of the United States. It also permits members of the Arizona National Guard and the U.S. Armed Forces Reserves to be buried in veteran's cemeteries.
Numerous complaints were heard from republicans moaning they were kept in the dark and not given new information on the transportation bill until just before voting.
The democrats showed great restraint in not bursting into laughter as that is the standard maneuver used daily toward democrats.
There is an old saying about growing mushrooms…..