Arizona Legislature Adjourns After Another Long Night

Published: Friday, May 4, 2018 - 8:09am
Updated: Friday, May 4, 2018 - 9:56am
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Lauren Loftus/KJZZ
The Arizona State Capitol.

Just after midnight Friday the Arizona Legislature called sine die and ended their work for 2018.

Two major issues pushed by Gov. Doug Ducey were left on the table, including a water policy overhaul and a much-discussed school safety bill.

The crux of the school safety bill controversy was over a provision that would allow family members to obtain a court order to remove guns from a person at risk of committing a shooting, and allowing them to be held for a mental evaluation.

Opponents said it would violate Second Amendment rights and due process.

"One of the real challenges we had is that it was a civil action but it looked very much like a criminal action in its consequences,” said Republican Rep. Eddie Farnsworth.

Democrats also opposed the measure because it didn't contain universal background checks and other provisions they wanted.

"We don't have any support at all," Farnsworth said. "The Democrats are off, probably most of the Republicans are concerned and off ..."

The Republican-controlled Legislature also failed to repeal a contentious school voucher expansion law that is set to be on the November ballot. Opponents of the 2017 measure gathered enough signatures last summer to block its implementation.

Republican Sen. Kate Brophy McGee and Sen. Bob Worsley both went on record Thursday opposing any repeal, with Worsley calling the issue "kryptonite" and Brophy McGee simply said, "it needs to go to the ballot."

With all Democrats opposed, there was no way it could pass the Senate.

"The huge grassroots group, and I've talked to them multiple times, checked with them multiple times, they're willing to take it to the ballot," Brophy McGee said. "That's where they want it to go."

Senate President Steve Yarbrough and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard presided over their final sessions Thursday afternoon and evening, after shepherding a $10.4 billion budget through the Legislature in a marathon session that began Wednesday night and ended after daybreak. The budget provides $300 million for 9 percent teacher raises in the fall, with a promise of 5 percent raises in each of the next two years.

Lawmakers did pass a measure that will ask voters to make major changes in the state's public elections financing system. The measure would allow a committee, appointed by the governor, to review rules adopted by the Citizens Clean Election Commission. It would also bar candidates running with public financing from using any of that money for services provided by political parties.

The commission opposes the measure's provision requiring rule reviews by the governor's committee. Democrats opposed to the measure say that puts a politically-appointed agency in charge of the independent commission's authority, while Republicans said it prevents gaming of the system and adds oversight other state offices must follow. The bipartisan five-member commission was created by voters in 1998, and the measure will be on the November ballot.

All 90 seats in the House and Senate will be on the ballot Nov. 6, 2018.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to correct the number of people in the Arizona Legislature.

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