Brewer signs student association fee bill

Gov. Jan Brewer signed legislation Friday to block the state's three universities from collecting fees for the Arizona Students Association, a move that could cripple the organization.

The measure, which will take effect this summer, bars universities from transferring any portion of any fees collected from students to any organization that is not controlled or under the purview of the state Board of Regents.

Proponents, led by Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, made it clear they wanted to end the current practice where universities helped, at least indirectly, the student group.

Students voted years ago to add $2 a semester to their fees to go to the association, which lobbies on behalf of issues of concern to students. Students who object can ask for a refund.

The fee came under fire last year when it was learned the association contributed $120,000 in support of Proposition 204, which would have created a permanent 1-cent hike in the state sales tax, with most of the proceeds earmarked for education.

The measure, opposed by the governor and most legislative Republicans, was defeated.

But the conflict brought the student association's actions to the attention of the Board of Regents and Legislature, culminating with this action.

The legislation was crafted to permit universities to continue to provide financial support for each school's student government as well as any "university recognized student organizations.''

Expansion of court nominees approved

If Brewer gets to name another Supreme Court judge before she leaves office, she's going to have more choices - unless a court rules otherwise.

On Friday the governor signed legislation mandating the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments nominate at least five individuals for each vacancy on the high court, the state Court of Appeals and superior courts of Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties.

Right now a governor gets just three, with a prohibition on all of them coming from the same party.

Approval of the measure comes despite warnings from several lawyers the legislation violates the Arizona Constitution.

A 1974 voter-approved constitutional amendment says screening panels can nominate as many people as they want but need only send the governor three.

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, acknowledged the conflict, but said the legislation meets the constitutional requirement by allowing the review commissions to send just three names if two-thirds of them agree there are not five qualified applicants.

Brewer, who has made it clear she does not like having to select from a list, backed Proposition 115 last year to expand the list to at least eight names.

That measure was rejected by voters by a margin of close to 3 to 1.

Capitol Media Services