PHOENIX — House Republican leaders outmaneuvered a bid by Democrats to finally get the Legislature to vote whether to approve the federal Equal Rights Amendment.
Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, D-Tucson, complained during floor action Thursday that her legislation to put Arizona on record in favor of the amendment never even got a hearing. So she made a motion that the measure be brought to the full House for an immediate vote.
The maneuver, which is legal under House rules, caught GOP leaders by surprise.
But rather than simply allowing a vote on her motion, Speaker J.D. Mesnard made a procedural motion to instead have the House recess. That was approved along party lines, denying Democrats the vote they sought — and effectively keeping Republicans from having to go on the record on whether they support or oppose the amendment.
The proposal, approved by Congress in 1972, says that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.” And it would empower Congress to enforce provisions.
That action sent it to the states for ratification. Legislatures in 36 states have acted, most recently Nevada earlier this year; HCR 2012 sought to add Arizona to that list, though four states have taken action to rescind their prior votes.
The measure needs approval of 38 states to become part of the U.S. Constitution.
A parade of Democrat lawmakers urged colleagues in the Republican-controlled House to quash the motion to recess and allow a vote.
“Do you want to go home and tell your daughters and granddaughters that you preferred to take a recess than actually have the opportunity to be leading and continuing to lead the state of Arizona?” asked Rep. Isela Blanc, D-Tempe.