This week, as a public service, we will be sharing with you the legislative agendas of state lawmakers from Southern Arizona. We reviewed the bills each is sponsoring and sought to speak with them about their goals and priorities.
• First up, State Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia, a Democrat from District 27, is the Senate minority leader. He is the primary sponsor of six bills and one Senate Concurrent Resolution that seeks to send a constitutional change to the ballot.
The measure, SCR 1031, would extend to local jurisdictions an existing state requirement that any initiative or referendum must also provide a revenue source to pay for itself. It also would allow local governments to scale back spending if the revenue drops.
"I watched the Proposition 200 debate last year and obviously that created a big challenge to the city's general fund," Garcia said.
Prop 200 would have mandated certain levels of fire and police staffing and service, at a cost of many millions of dollars. It included no dedicated funding source and was defeated 70-30 by voters.
If the constitutional change goes through, Garcia said, then "if the police wanted to fund that staffing level, they would say let's impose a tax, a rental tax or a food tax, or add a penny to the property tax," he said.
"What we've learned in the state is that there's got to be a funding source," Garcia said. "One example is Proposition 204, which gave health care to everyone at 100 percent of poverty," he said. As the rolls of those eligible for services have grown, "there are not enough state dollars to keep up."
Garcia said his other bills focus on revenue generation for the state, including expanding the sales tax to include services such a manicures, dance classes, maid service and auto repair.
• State Sen. Jonathan Paton, a Tucson Republican from District 30 who is running for Congress in District 8, said his premiere bill is SB 1264, which would require comprehensive reporting of the actions of governments on the Internet.
"The more time I've spent watching government, I've realized that the more sunshine there is on what we do, the more effective and accountable government is to the taxpayer," Paton said.
The bill would require jurisdictions from the state down to operate Web sites that include crime statistics, thorough financial reporting such as posting their checks and receipts online, information on taxes and fees, and more.
"I expect a robust fight," Paton said of the future legislative debate on the bill. "The municipalities will argue that this it too expensive, but in places where's it been done it hasn't cost that much." He said the state of Alaska has a similar law.
Paton also is the primary sponsor of dozens of bills largely because, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, "it falls to me when people from the county attorney's office need a change. They go to the judiciary chair."
•State Sen. Al Melvin, a Republican from District 26 near SaddleBrooke, did not respond to the Star's inquiries Monday about his legislative priorities.
Melvin's legislative Web site lists him as being connected to more than 110 measures, and he is listed as the primary sponsor on 30 of them.
Border security, parental school choice and "tax relief for all businesses and property owners throughout Arizona" are among the list of priorities listed on Melvin's Senate site.
He has been vocal about his goal of having no-kill animal shelters across Arizona by 2020, as well as his desire to ban texting while driving.
His primary sponsorships include technical fixes or changes to existing legislation, including allowing Arizonans to claim a tax credit for donations to a private-school tuition organization made from Dec. 31 through the April 15 of the current tax year on their prior year's return.
Another bill, SB 1125, would expand the existing prohibition against selling animals on the side of the road to every county in Arizona - it applies only to Maricopa and Pima counties now.
Melvin has spoken about his desire to build multiple nuclear plants in Arizona and SB 1126 would exempt materials, equipment and nuclear reactor fuel created or mined within the state boundaries from federal law or other federal requirements that fall under the U.S. Congress' ability to regulate interstate commerce.
Arizona Daily Star
To learn more ...
For more information, go to www.azleg.gov/ online and click on the "Senate" tab, and then on the "members" tab. Click on a member's name to see the bills sponsored or cosponsored.