News & Opinion » Currents Feature

Mounting Bills

Border security! Tax cuts! Nipple exposure!


Sparring between Gov. Janet Napolitano and GOP leaders continued at the Legislature last week over the English-language lawsuit, even though a legislative plan to resolve funding issues is now in the hands of a federal judge.

Republicans were so upset by Napolitano's criticism of the bill and Attorney General Terry Goddard's comments that he might not defend the plan that they voted to hire their own attorney, David Cantelme, to argue on its behalf.

"It is Terry Goddard's duty to defend what is passed out," said Barrett Marston, spokesman for House Speaker Jim Weiers. "There's nothing unconstitutional in this legislation."

Napolitano also continued to clash with Republicans over the question of putting more National Guard troops on the border.

Although Napolitano called for additional National Guard troops on the border in her State of the State speech, she said she wanted the federal government to foot the bill. Bush administration officials have yet to offer any additional funding for such a program.

Last week, Napolitano vetoed House Bill 2701, which would have forced her to call out the National Guard, saying it undercut her authority as commander in chief. She said she would have otherwise signed the bill, which also provided $10 million in state money to cover the cost of troop deployment.

"It is time to stop playing political games and get serious about the border," Napolitano wrote in her veto letter. "Send me a clean bill that provides sufficient resources to enable more of our Guard to deploy to the border in a manner that respects the constitutional role of the commander in chief, and I will promptly sign it."

Napolitano also issued an executive order deploying additional National Guard troops to the border once federal or state money was available to cover the cost. But given the current level of mistrust between Republican lawmakers and the governor, it's unlikely they'll hand her a blank check.

The biggest fight remains on the horizon: GOP leaders have yet to unveil their budget plan. House spokesman Marston said the budget proposal would emerge by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are advancing or dispatching loads of legislation:

· HCR 2021, which would have asked voters to amend the Arizona Constitution to limit certain state budget-balancing tricks, failed on a 32-28 vote, but was scheduled for reconsideration later this week.

· HB 2489, which cuts individual and corporate income taxes, passed out of the House on a 38-21 vote and was headed for the Senate.

· HB 2376, which decriminalizes female nipple exposure while women are publicly breast-feeding, passed on a 56-3 vote. Opponents feared that without an age limit in the legislation, adult exhibitionists could use the law to engage in public displays of nipple sucking. The measure was headed for the Senate.

· Senate Bill 1331, which would have allowed college students to opt out of reading material they found offensive, died on a 17-12 vote.

· HB 2785, which prohibits the unauthorized sale of cellular telephone records, passed on a 60-0 vote and was headed for the Senate.

· House Concurrent Resolution 2044, which asks voters to make it a state crime to knowingly hire an illegal alien, passed on a 31-29 vote and is headed for the Senate. Employers that repeatedly hire illegal immigrants could be fined, jailed or have their business licenses revoked. By sending the measure to voters, lawmakers would eliminate a possible gubernatorial veto.

· HB 2777, which would have provided a $5 payout for anyone who had to wait more than a half-hour at an Motor Vehicle Division outlet (with additional $5 payments for each additional half-hour), failed on a 36-24 vote.

· Rep. Tom Prezelski, a Tucson Democrat, managed to persuade his House colleagues to unanimously pass HB 2796, which defines what constitutes a motorized scooter. The bill, designed to help a local cycle maker who has been building souped-out bicycles whose riders have been cited by local cops, is now headed for the Senate.

Add a comment