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Steve Kozachik vs. Frank Antenori; Russell Pearce vs. undocumented workers; state vs. feds

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When we rounded up our gaggle of bills that we'd be following this year (see "You Say You Want a Revolution," Feb. 17), we overlooked SB 1339, which would essentially eliminate all state regulations that weren't approved by the Legislature.

SB 1339, which passed out of the Government Reform Committee and is headed for a vote before the entire Senate, would repeal the 10-volume collection of administrative rules that govern state agencies which are charged with overseeing air quality, water quality, day-care-center conditions and everything else that's regulated by the state.

All future rules would have to be approved by the Arizona Legislature before they could go into effect.

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik sums up the impact of SB 1339 thusly: "If the regulation came from an agency and was not implemented by legislated statute, it's toast. This is a wonderful example of reductio ad absurdum: Take a principle, and apply it across the board without thinking it through for possible unintended consequences."

Kozachik has been critical of his fellow Republicans in recent days. He's particularly upset with state Sen. Frank Antenori, who sponsored SB 1339, along with numerous other bills that would weaken and restrict cities, including:

• SB 1345, which is up for a vote of the full Senate. It sets limits on the number of employees a city can hire based on a percentage of the city's population, and limits city pay based on average salaries of city residents.

• SB 1322, which would require city governments to put every service it provides out to bid, with the exception of the police and fire departments, the judiciary, prosecutors and tax collectors. If a city did not accept a bid, it would have to publish its costs compared to the private contractor's bid, and provide a written explanation as to why the service was not outsourced.

If SB 1322 were to become law, private contractors could take control of Tucson Water, local parks, swimming pools, garbage collection, landfill management and building inspectors.

Kozachik says that offering a bid for every service will create a bureaucratic nightmare for the city's procurement office, which already works extensively with the private sector.

"Why in the world does Frank Antenori think that we ought to be creating a huge bureaucracy to oversee contracts that we bid out?" asks Kozachik, who argues that the city's management best knows how to run the city. "If the state knew best, maybe they wouldn't have a $2 billion deficit themselves."

If Antenori's city-related bills become law, Kozachik warns, the new restrictions will hinder efforts to bring businesses to Tucson, because the new laws' consequences will "absolutely gut some of the city services and parks and all the amenities that go with living in a nice place."

Antenori has justified his crusade against cities and counties by insisting that, while states have clear constitutional sovereignty to freely challenge the federal government, cities and counties are subsidiaries of the state and need to be reined when they're "doing something that harms the state or harms the economy or people's liberties or freedoms."

Kozachik is blunt in his assessment of Antenori's position.

"I find it a gross hypocrisy, because these are the same guys who whine like hell when the federal government pre-empts them, and they talk about the 10th Amendment and states' rights and all that," Kozachik says. "If you want to be philosophically consistent, the same principle applies going downstream."

Elsewhere at the Legislature, Republicans advanced their battle against the federal government on a number of fronts:

• SB 1433, which would create a Joint Legislative Committee on Nullification of Federal Laws, passed the Senate Committee on Border Security, Federalism and States Sovereignty last week. The committee would be made up of state lawmakers who could declare federal regulations null and void in Arizona if lawmakers determine that the rules exceed the scope of powers laid out in the U.S. Constitution.

• HB 2077, which would require federal regulators to register with and pay fees to county sheriffs, passed out of the House Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee. The bill also requires sheriffs to alert the targets of a federal investigation that federal regulators were in town, and requires that any fines levied by the federal government be claimed by the state.

• State Sen. Al Melvin, who rules over Catalina Foothills, Oro Valley and SaddleBrooke, suffered a bit of setback when SB 1545, which would allow Arizona to mine and process nuclear fuel without federal oversight, was taken off the agenda in the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee.

He had better luck with SB 1548, which would create a Nuclear Recycling Public School Fund: The bill passed the Commerce and Energy Committee. The bill calls for the federal government to pay to build a nuclear-recycling facility, which would be run by the feds, the state and a private entity. The feds would pay the state to recycle the nuclear fuel, with the proceeds going to a fund that would pay for schools, therefore reducing the need for education dollars from the state's general fund.

We're almost out of space, but we've got to mention that Senate President Russell Pearce capped this year's bill frenzy by dropping his long-awaited illegal immigration bill on Monday, Feb. 21. SB 1611 is pretty much what you'd expect: It would throw illegal immigrants who drive cars in jail. It would seize their vehicles for auction, with proceeds swallowed by the state. It would require legal residency for children to register for elementary schools. It would throw illegal immigrants out of public housing. It would shut down businesses that don't use E-Verify. Undocumented people could get no community college or public benefits.

You'll find more details online at the Blogislature, part of The Range, our daily dispatch (daily.tucsonweekly.com), where you'll also learn the fate of the birthright citizenship bills; discover what's going on with abortion legislation; find new details in the fight to save state parks; get the story on the latest GOP efforts to block federal protection for the endangered Mexican gray wolf; and so much more.

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