Arizona legislature off to a fantastically kooky start

Feb 6th, 2013 | By | Category: climate change, education, Featured Articles, foster parents, guns, Main Article

Republican legislators do not like it when Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts calls them kooks. They want us to believe they are serious lawmakers. But who, in her right mind, would call these bills anything other than kookery?

We have a bill that tells the federal government to “go fly a kite.” Another one that assumes all rich, married couples are perfect parents. One that demands science teachers ignore scientific facts in favor of political posturing and yet another that takes money from poor kids to inform them they have choices they cannot afford.

You can’t make this stuff up, though I truly wish it was just a joke. Unfortunately, the joke isn’t the legislation but the legislators who will probably get some of these ridiculous bills passed.

Carl Seel, our infamous ‘birther’ politician from Phoenix, was recently seen hobnobbing with the Sons of the Confederate Veterans (those would be the people who lost the Civil War and the ‘right’ to keep slaves) at a pro-gun rally at the Capitol. In speaking about his bill that makes it a state crime to enforce federal gun laws, Seel said, “This bill tells the federal government to go fly a kite. We’ll show ‘em what we’re gonna do with our firearms.”

Here you have a State Representative who calls himself a ‘Constitutionalist’ and ‘Defender of Liberty,’ crafting an unconstitutional bill while making veiled threats against the federal government. And this is okay?

At what point are the leaders within this man’s party going to stand up and tell him this is not behavior becoming of an elected official?

The media has tried. Laurie Roberts listed Seel as one of the Kooks in her “Dekook the Capitol” campaign. The Daily Show pointed out Seel’s lack of consistency (and intelligence) when he was interviewed about his bill to outlaw photo radar on the freeways. He claimed it was okay for police to stop people based on the suspicion that they might have committed a crime, aka SB1070, but not okay for cameras to catch people who have actually committed a crime, aka speeding, because that would be infringing on people’s civil liberties.

And yet Seel was reelected in November, which begs the question, “Who the hell is voting in LD 20?” Clearly, the people in his district either 1) don’t pay attention to what their local legislators do or 2) are just as crazy as this guy.

If there’s one thing Carl Seel is good at, it’s making a fool of himself and his state. No doubt, the people at Comedy Central appreciate this man much more than this writer does. Of course, the people at Comedy Central don’t have to live with the results of Carl Seel in power.

Nor do they have to live with the results of Kelli Ward in power. Ward, the replacement for Ron Gould, is another anti-federal government legislator making her mark in the land of bad bills. She recently proposed a bill that would take $1.5 million away from funding for low-income kids in K-12 schools and instead funnel the money into a pamphlet that promotes educational choices in Arizona. Low-income kids, no doubt, appreciate being told they could enroll in a private school (if only they had enough money) or a charter school (if only they could afford both transportation and hot lunches).

Another ‘birther’ legislator and honorary AZ Republic ‘kook’ is Judy Burges from Skull Valley. She’s introduced legislation that helps muddy the waters, so to speak, on climate change. Instead of relying on accurate and widely accepted scientific data, Burges wants to allow teachers the ability to present ideology and religious belief as part of their science curriculum. Climate change denial and “intelligent design” (meaning, anti-evolution) would be accepted in science classrooms. Considering Americans already fall well below their worldwide peers in science, I’m not sure why we would dumb down our standards, but then again, I’m not a state legislator.

Apparently, not being a state legislator is also why I fail to understand why, in a state that has struggled to provide assistance to abused children, a lawmaker would actually make it easier for couples to forgo criminal background and child-abuse checks before becoming a foster-care parent. Warren Petersen, State Representative from Gilbert, wants to get rid of those requirements if the couple looking to foster is rich, married and has a high credit score. We all know only poor people with bad credit abuse their kids, right?

If this legislation passes, the state will actually lose money because federal law requires the background and child-abuse checks. But what’s an additional $20 million to a state that already underfunds child welfare? And why listen to child welfare advocates, the ones pleading with Peterson and the other co-sponsors, which includes a few Democrats, to leave the law as it is? Apparently, state legislators know more about the needs of traumatized children than those who actually work with them.

To be fair Republicans have introduced some good bills, as have Democrats. The good Republican bills will most likely pass. However, if the prime sponsor of a bill is a Democrat, they have little to no chance of getting it assigned to a committee, meaning it’s already dead in the water. In Arizona’s legislature bills can only be heard, debated and voted on if they are sponsored by Republicans. It’s one of those unwritten rules the electorate isn’t privy to understanding.

Yes, only one-third of Arizonans consider themselves Republicans. However, that one-third is slightly higher than the approximately one-third of Arizonans who consider themselves Independents (and have zero representation at the Capitol) or the slightly less-than one-third of Arizonans who are Democrats. In other words two-thirds of Arizonans are screwed.

Spoils of war, er, election, I guess, and don’t count on it changing anytime soon. If, however, you are rich, no longer in school, an attorney (they stand to make a killing off all the unconstitutional bills that will be challenged in court), or a Son of a Confederate Veteran, you can count your good fortune. For the rest of us, there’s always another election and a snowball’s chance in Hell that things will change.

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3 Comments to “Arizona legislature off to a fantastically kooky start”

  1. Mike Durham says:

    Many of the bills are interesting to read. (I may need a life.) Secessionist bills, I believe, get introduced either to tweak the government’s nose or create feedback on an issue or just to vent. On the one hand it is a waste of time on the other the sponsor can turn to a secessionist and say that the legislature is backing down from a civil war. Every one gets to grouse about the feds being a dictatorship and the issue sort of dies. The love-hate relationship with the process is a real pain sometimes. Often the Dems have to wait until the Republicans see a condition get worse before considering Dem issues. I like reading your comments; they provoke thought.

  2. The Arizona Republic AND Laurie Roberts are complicit in minimizing the power of Democrats to get their bills heard. Last week, Roberts made a statement that no bills had been introduced to address the problems we saw with Dark Money in 2012. When she was corrected, she specifically stated that she declined to include the bills in question BECAUSE they were sponsored by Democrats.

    • Julie Erfle says:

      That’s part of the problem… no one talks about the reality at the state Capitol. Dems can introduce any bill they want, but the fact is they almost never get a hearing in committee.

      It was laughable a few weeks ago when Andy Tobin went on Sunday Square Off and said he was angered that Chad Campbell had introduced gun legislation to the media before introducing it to him. He acted as if he has an interest in bipartisanship, but the reality is that he does not. The only way Campbell or any Democrat can get a bill through the legislature is if they sell it to the public and the public demands passage. This is what both Laurie Roberts and Brahm Resnik and others should point out when Tobin or others complain or make outrageous statements. And when Dems introduce good legislation and it’s not assigned or double or triple assigned to committees, again, the media should point that out to the public so they realize what’s really going on at the Capitol.

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