by Jim Nintzel
Senate President Andy Biggs traveled from Phoenix to join a panel that includes state Sen. Linda Lopez and former lawmakers Paula Aboud and Jonathan Paton.
The AZ Illustrated Politics panel tackled the question of whether the Legislature will go along with Gov. Jan Brewer's call for the expansion of the state's version of Medicare to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Biggs said he thought there will still many unanswered questions, while Sen. Lopez said she wanted to see the expansion happen in order to provide better healthcare to low-income Arizonans and boost the financial bottom line of struggling hospitals and clinics. Paton argued that the measure would probably require a two-third majority from both houses of the Legislature because it raises taxes, but Aboud said she believed a simple majority would suffice.
The panel also discussed a package of bills introduced by Lopez to require universal background checks on gun sales and limit the size of ammunition magazines. If the bills are not heard in committee by the end of next week, they are likely dead for the session.
The panel shared their thoughts on a federal court ruling tossing a state law that would have prohibited any healthcare funding from going to Planned Parenthood or other healthcare providers that offer abortion services. Biggs said that an appeal was on the horizon and predicted the case might go all the way to the Supreme Court, while Lopez cheered the decision.