PHOENIX – This week was the first week where legislators didn’t meet for committee hearings. Instead, their time was devoted to dozens of votes in the House and Senate and watching the governor’s pen for new laws all before working through the budget in the coming weeks. Speculative word around the watering hole is that the legislature will be taking a special section to really dig into that budget, and that we might start seeing some preliminary budget information.
New Laws of the Land
This week, Gov. Doug Ducey signed quite a few bills into Arizona law. Among them, he signed nine bills on Monday, five on Tuesday, including two bills sponsored by Democratic legislators, and a whopping 32 on Wednesday.
Also this week in the governor’s office, Ducey signed tax cuts for airlines at the expense of Phoenicians.
And the first veto of the 2017 session took place last Friday when Ducey vetoed House Bill 2162, which would change residency requirements for justices of the peace.DuceyVeto
On Wednesday, a contentious abortion bill hit Ducey’s desk and his decision whether or not to sign it could spark quite the debate.
Senate Bill 1367, introduced by Sen. Steve Smith, R-District 11, would require a physician performing an abortion in Arizona to document and report all the measures performed to maintain the life of the fetus or embryo if it was delivered alive.
Currently in Arizona, if an abortion is performed and the fetus or embryo is delivered alive, the doctor must use all “available means and medical skills” to “promote, preserve and maintain the life.” A doctor is not currently allowed to knowingly perform an abortion of a viable fetus. A viable fetus is defined in the law as “the unborn offspring of human beings that has reached a stage of fetal development so that, in the judgment of the attending physician on the particular facts of the case, there is a reasonable probability of the fetus’ sustained survival outside the uterus, with or without artificial support.” Basically, any fetus that could possibly live outside the uterus.
The bill passed through the Senate on an 18-11 vote and the House with a 34-22 vote. Now that it’s been transferred to the governor’s office. Many expect he will pass the bill into law, since Ducey has never vetoed any pro-life bills.
I hope I’m a weasel
The Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council got rid of the call-in number for the public to listen to their public meetings by phone, and according to a report by the Arizona Capitol Times, that’s because members of the council don’t want the public to know their strategies to kill bills.
“We should eliminate the phone option in my view as they are on to us and can stalk. If people had to appear by video or in person we would at least know the weasel was there,” MacEachern wrote, according to Hank Stephenson of the Arizona Capitol Times.
Apparently license plates are somehow a priority
So far this legislative session there have been multiple laws passed that deal with license plates.
The most recent law passed this Tuesday, outlawing plastic films that cover the plates, since it is now illegal to cover your license plate with anything “that obscures from any angle the number, characters, year validating tabs or name of the jurisdiction issuing the plate.”
There are also new special license plates in the state: an amateur radio plate, a collector car special plate that includes a special plate for military installations, and a science education special plate.
This week, it was discovered that Rep. Todd Clodfelter, R-District 10, has a pet tarantula, Luther. Luther lives in Clodfelter’s office in the Arizona House of Representatives, and he might just be the first Arizona legislature pet.
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.