Following the Arizona Legislature—with all its committees, rules, and bills—is a difficult task for those whose job it is to cover it day in and day out. It is borderline impossible for the average person to know what goes on in local government when they have their own lives to worry about.
That’s why The Copper Courier is here: to let you know exactly what you may or may not have to worry about coming down the legislative pipeline, or how your life could potentially change based on the votes of the 90 people writing our laws in Arizona’s state House of Representatives and state Senate.
Republicans have maintained control over both chambers since 2003, and from 2009 to this year, they controlled both chambers and the governor’s office.
The Republican trifecta—meaning their control of the state House, state Senate, and governor’s office—has resulted in controversial, extreme, and unpopular laws being put into place, such as prohibiting same-day voter registration and making it illegal for transgender girls to compete in sports with members of their gender in high school.
Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs’ victory in November makes this the first legislative session in well over a decade in which Republicans can’t ship whatever bill they want for the governor to rubber stamp.
Here are a few bills you don’t have to worry about since Hobbs is in office:
1. Anti-Trans Bills Dead on Arrival
Senate Bill (SB) 1001, proposed by Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, would require teachers to get a parent’s permission in order to refer to a student by a pronoun that is different from the student’s sex at birth.
The bill is an attack on student’s privacy, as well as the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming youth.
Many, but not all, young people live with parents who may not be accepting of their identity. Kavanagh’s bill would either force kids to come out to their parents or guardians on the government’s terms—not their own, or go by pronouns they are uncomfortable with at school.
Gov. Hobbs signaled as a candidate she would support transgender people and the trans-community, and her chief of staff said SB1001 would be dead on arrival if it reached her desk.
2. Expect Vetoes on Needless Hurdles to Running Elections
Elections have become a point of contention among one side of the political aisle in the past few cycles, with many Republicans not accepting the results of free and fair elections.
But only in the races where they lost.
Kari Lake, Mark Finchem, and Abe Hamadeh were all candidates for statewide office in 2022, and all three Republican candidates lost to their Democrat counterparts: Hobbs, Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, and Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes
The ceremonial act of declaring victory has turned into somewhat of a farce for some Republican politicians, as election deniers declare victory then turn around and say the election was rigged or stolen for Democrats who won on the very same ballot.
Republicans in the Legislature have aimed in the past to both make it more difficult to vote and make it more difficult for election workers to count votes. House Bill (HB)2307, introduced by 10 Republicans, would require a mandatory hand count of all election votes.
Here’s why that’s logistically impossible:
According to Maricopa County’s 2022 official canvass, 1,562,758 ballots were cast. Ballots on any given year can have dozens of races on them, meaning election workers would have to hand count tens of millions of votes to tally the results of each individual race.
This past election featured many Republican candidates and commentators lamenting the amount of time it took to tally every vote—and that was with the assistance of voting machines. A hand-count of every vote in the entire state could mean Arizonans would go from 1-2 weeks before knowing the result of an election to potentially 1-2 months, and even longer if a race goes to a recount, as several did in 2022.
As former secretary of state, Hobbs has affirmed her belief in the integrity of Arizona’s elections. HB 2307 would likely be vetoed were it to pass both chambers of the Legislature.
3. “Culture War” Bills Can Expect to be Vetoed
A trio of bills target (SB1026, 1028, 1030) drag performances, and would limit where and when drag shows can take place. They would also ban attendance from minors and give cities, towns, and municipalities power to regulate them.
Drag is a form of art or entertainment where a performer dresses up in a way that exaggerates femininity or masculinity. Those who perform exaggerated femininity are drag queens, and those who perform exaggerated masculinity are drag kings.
These bills are part of a nation-wide push by conservatives to equate drag shows and performers with pedophilia and sexual grooming of children. SB1028 bans shows from being held on public property, but the language in it could possibly result in targeting plays where men play women or even transgender people.
The bill describes a drag performer as:
“A person who dresses in clothing and uses makeup and other physical markers opposite of the person’s gender at birth to exaggerate gender signifiers and roles. And who engages in singing, dancing, or a monologue or skit in order to entertain an audience.”
SB1028 was proposed by Sen. Anthony Kern, an election denier who was at or near the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.
Hobbs said in past speeches that she would be diligent with her veto pen if Republican legislators want to stick with partisan agendas, and one would assume laws targeting the latest culture war topics fit the bill.
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