PHOENIX – By mid-day in the beginning of March, it’s already too warm to spend much time outside in Phoenix, but you wouldn’t know that at the State Legislature. Senators, representatives, interns and pages are all working from 9 a.m. to well into the evening, blocking off most of the sun-lit hours.
Gov. Doug Ducey has finally started signing bills into law, and the late-night marathon sessions have given legislators dozens of bills to read every day.
Not So Nice Things
Every legislator can flip his or her laptop open on the House or Senate floor, hook up to the wifi, and surf the web during sessions. From the outsider, it looks like they’re probably reading bills, looking up the schedule or seeing how they’re going to get free lunch that day. However, according to the blocked websites through the legislator’s wifi, people using it might be up to some “not so nice things.”
The AZPower network has free WiFi, funded by the Arizona Legislature, that is available to anyone who is visiting the state house or senate. Initially, according to the website manager, AZPower did not block any site. Recently, some users of the service “started to download illegal content, upload spam emails, and do other not so nice things.”
The service doesn’t have a complete list of blocked sites, but it sparks the questions: what are these “not so nice things?”
The Senate passed HB2022, introduced by Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Fountain Hills, a bill that allows citizens to shoot guns loaded with rat-shots or snake-shots within the city of Phoenix.
As long as the pellets are 1.3 millimeters or less in diameter and loaded into a rim fire cartridge with a .22 caliber, you could soon fire it within city limits. That’s all rat or snake shots within city limits.
Opposition to the bill includes residents and activists who worry it will encourage residents to shoot snakes and rodents on their property instead of calling professionals.
Those in favor, including the committee chairman Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Maricopa, vehemently deny that the bill has anything to do with snakes or rodents.
HB2022 is now on its way to the governor’s office to be signed into law or vetoed.
Are Voter Initiatives Too Easy?
Apparently so. The House agreed on Wednesday to add yet another roadblock for voters to create their own initiatives, requiring initiatives get signatures from all 30 legislative districts. HCR2029, introduced by Rep. Don Shooter, R-Glendale, was approved by the House on a 33-23 vote.
The bill will go up for a vote in the Senate next.
It’s that time of the year at the legislature. Bills are either making it through their chambers, or fizzling out for the session.
The Senate killed SB1243 with a 14-16 vote. Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, introduced the bill, which would have allowed folks with concealed carry permits to bring them into all public buildings. The operators of the buildings would have had to install metal detectors and hire security guards if they wished to have a gun-free building.
The rioting bill that didn’t settle well with Arizonans also died this week. Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, introduced Senate Bill 1142. It passed through the Senate last week, but didn’t make it through the House.
SB1142 would have expanded racketeering laws to include rioting, allowing police to intervene and arrest protestors before they become aggressive, just on the mere conspiracy to commit a riot. If SB1142 passed, police could arrest people who are simply planning these political events if officers suspect those events could turn into riots. Due to the angry political blowback, the bill has been killed.
Christianna Silva is the Don Bolles Fellow covering the Legislature for Arizona Sonora News, a service provided by the school of journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.