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February 26, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Around Arizona: Southern Exposure

  |   Video
  • Hear the latest news and issues from Southern Arizona in our monthly series, “Southern Exposure,” including reaction to SB 1062. Senior Writer Jim Nintzel of “Tucson Weekly” will talk about the big issues from southern Arizona.
  • Jim Nintzel - Senior Writer, Tucson Weekly
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: environment, southern, state, exposure, issues, arizona,

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Ted Simons: The music of Calexico points us to Tucson for our update of issues from the southern part of the state, and joining us is Jim Nintzel, the senior writer for the Tucson weekly. Jim, good to have you here. We're waiting for the Governor to make her announcement whether she'll sign or veto Senate Bill 1062 . As soon as we get that, we'll try to go to it. If not we'll get reaction. Either or, what is the reaction in southern Arizona to all of this?

Jim Nintzel:Same as, I think, everywhere else. You have got a massive amount of people who are opposed to the legislation, and a handful of people who seem to be supporting it. But, the opposition stretches from, from, you know, the faith community to the Democrats, to Republicans, and Republican national committee, Bruce ash, who lives in Tucson, has come out against this legislation and, and I was at the Mayor's office state of the city speech today, and he brought up the bill, and said it was damaging, and you got a roar out of the business community that had assembled to hear what he had to say. And a lot of opposition to this legislation.

Ted Simons: Representative Ethan orr was one of three Republicans to initially vote against this bill. Who is Ethan, and describe his district and explain why he would have voted no. Was this a profile on courage or a profile on political expediency?

Jim Nintzel: I think that Ethan opposed the bill for, for reasons that he just believed it was bad legislation. And, and he represents a very interesting district down in Tucson. It's a district that is, that is relatively competitive. It is split evenly between Democrats, Republicans, and independents. And he, he had a democratic house mate, two representatives there, one is a democrat, Victoria steel, and Ethan is the Republican who represents it, and he's going to have a very tough race this year because he's, actually, been opposed this year by Randall, one of the emergency room physicians on duty when Gabrielle Giffords arrived. The first person to see the Congresswoman as she was rolled into the emergency room, and then first one to care for her. So he's got a really strong campaign going, so Ethan has had a tough re-election race on his hands.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, does his no vote on this particular bill, help or hurt his campaign?

Jim Nintzel: I think it helps him in the district that he's in, in a general election without a doubt. He also voted for the Medicaid expansion last year. On the other hand, he's voted for a lot of things that the Democrats don't like and, and gun laws, he voted to repeal that election law passed last year. So, the Democrats are saying, you know, he's no moderate. He's trying to put himself in a position where he appears to be a moderate.

Ted Simons: Interesting. And Senator Al Melvin, also from southern Arizona. Very much in support of this bill. Talk to us about Al and about his district. Who does he represent?

Jim Nintzel: Well, he represents a district, a little further north, he's from the saddle brook area, which is a retirement community, in the southern Arizona area, and he -- his district is a strong Republican district, however, he's decided to run for Governor this year. He's a gubernatorial candidate, and he had a spectacular appearance on, on CNN earlier this week, and with Anderson Cooper that has gotten a lot of attention in which, which it seemed as if he was in a different world than Anderson Cooper was in. And you know, this is a long shot run for the Governor for, for Al Melvin. I'm not sure what he's thinking in terms of why he thinks that he could be competitive in a primary there. But, it is the end of his legislative career.

Ted Simons: And I think that he's thinking clean election can say get him onboard, and you can ride this thing out to whatever sunset he can find.

Jim Nintzel: I think that that's a pretty good pay economic from the elections.

Ted Simons: Does Tucson, southern Arizona, in general, do folks feel a disconnect from the capitol?

Jim Nintzel: Absolutely. There is not a lot of attention paid to what's going on at the comet. In southern Arizona. If you have people, if you ask people who their state lawmaker is, most people cannot tell you. They are not in tune with what happens down there. Probably because we are so far away from the capitol, with the day-to-day movement of legislation and, and we don't see that much of.

Ted Simons: And we talked to, on the last appearance we talked about things happening in downtown Tucson and the city of Tucson. And, and does it really feel like you are almost in a different state down there?

Jim Nintzel: Absolutely. It's very different, I think, from the Maricopa county. Our sheriff is a different personality than your Maricopa county sheriff Joe Arpaio, for example.

As we await the Governor should be speaking in three, four, five, ten, as soon as she does we will try to get that, or at least get the information for you, as she makes a decision, we think, on Senate Bill 1062 . Until then, more news from Tucson. Defense secretary wants to cut the a-10 the war hog fleet, talk to us about what the a-10 is and how important is this fleet to southern Arizona?

Jim Nintzel: It's hugely important. It is based at Davis Monthan. These are fighter jets the army appreciates because they can swing in very low and assist troops that are, are under fire, or in some kind of trouble, the A-10 is a jet that they really depend on to come to their rescue in those situations. And it's a flexible weapon, but it is on its way out. The air force is now working on these F-35 jets, the next generation of fighter jets, and it appears as if judging from what the defense secretary says, that he wants to retire the fleet all together, and the army is not excited about that. They like the jet, a great deal. And they say the F-35 is not going to be able to perform the same kind of support functions, so, there is a bit of a battle going on there.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the importance of Davis Monthan to southern Arizona, as far as the economy, as far as everything down there, and is there thought, I think the next base closing at 2017 , is there thought that Davis is in someone's targets?

Jim Nintzel: That would be the concern, if we did not have the, the A-10. Certainly because that's one of the primary missions down there. There are other missions that, that Davis Monthan serves, and a wonderful boneyard, you can go down and take a look at these jets that are down there. But, a lot of concern that losing Davis, which is a key linchpin of the southern Arizona economy would be tremendously damaging.

Ted Simons: Ok and, and we should mention the fort Hauchuca with Drones and Cyber security and all those things, they are very much in business along those lines.

Jim Nintzel: Exactly. Yes.

Ted Simons: So southern Arizona, between Davis and the fort, a lot of military activity, a lot of security work down there?

Jim Nintzel: Yeah. We definitely count on that to keep the economy rolling in our part of the world.

Ted Simons: Rosemount mine, what is the Rosemount mine and where will it be -- is it, is it going to happen? Is it a done deal? What's going on with this?

Jim Nintzel:It's getting closer to getting approval. It's a massive open pit mine that would be located in the Santa rita mountains, which are south of Tucson, but still within Pima county, and this mine operation has been underway for about six years of getting approval from the Federal Government because although the mining company owns the land they would like to mine, they need U.S. forest service land in order to dump all their waste material and mine operations, so they have been working with the Federal Government now for six years to get their permits, and they are getting very close to, to completing that process, and there is one very key permit that they have not gotten for the clean water act, and that, that is being held up by the EPA at this point. And they are in negotiations with the epa. They raised a lot of red flags about the impact of the water and, and what this mine would do to the water supply down in Arizona. Or southern Arizona, so we are waiting to see what comes out of that, Rosemount is confident they are going to get it. The opponents are confident that Rosemount will not get it, and the whole thing will probably go to court no matter what ruling comes forward.

Ted Simons: Is this mine, is it politically popular? Publicly popular? Or, or unpopular? What do people think?

Jim Nintzel: The elected officials are opposed to this mine.

Ted Simons: Opposed to it?

Jim Nintzel: Yes. A lot of the, the -- there is a very vocal opposition to the mine. This is a beautiful area of the state. It's an area that, that depends a lot on tourism, and they are afraid that opening up this mine is going to permanently spoil the area for 20 years worth of jobs, and they are concerned that this is not a good deal for other industries in southern Arizona.

Ted Simons: All right. Before we let you go, Tucson weekly, celebrating 30 years. Describe the Tucson weekly and where it fits into the media landscape.

Jim Nintzel: Well, now, we are the second largest newspaper in southern Arizona come out every week. You can find us at And we are a heck-raising newspaper that covers politics, science, rock 'n' roll, the arts, and you name it, and we're probably writing about it in southern Arizona, and we try to tell the stories of southern Arizona. We are locally owned by a company in Sierra vista.

Ted Simons: Congratulations on that.

Jim Nintzel: We are going to go to the Governor because she is about to announce, we think, whether she will sign or veto will veto the bill.

Governor Jan Brewer: I give great concern and careful evaluation and deliberate consideration, especially to Senate Bill 1062. I call them, like I see them. Despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd. I took the necessary time to make the right decision. I spoke with my attorney, lawmakers and citizens. Supporting and opposing this legislation. As Governor, I have asked questions, and I have listened. I have protected religious freedoms when there is a specific and present concern that exists in our state. And I have the record to prove it. My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona. When I address the legislature earlier this year, I made my priorities for this session, abundantly clear. Among them, passing a responsible budget that continues. Arizona's economic comeback. From CEOs to entrepreneurs, to business surveys, Arizona ranks as one of the best states to grow or start a business. Additionally, our immediate challenge is fixing a broken child protection system. Instead, this is the first policy bill to cross my desk. Senate bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where business owners religious liberty has been violated. The bill is broadly worded, and could result in unintended and negative consequences. After weighing all the arguments, I have vetoed Senate bill 1062 moments ago. To the supporters, of this legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long hails norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes. However, I sincerely believe that Senate bill has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It divide Arizona into ways it cannot even imagine, and no one would ever want. Religious liberty is a core, American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination. Going forward, let's turn the ugliness of the debate over Senate bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among all Arizonans and Americans. Thank you.

Ted Simons: All right, there you have it. Again, the governor has vetoed Senate bill 1062. We have Hank Stephenson of the Arizona Capitol Times joining us again as we had you earlier before the announcement. We have got you now, after the announcement. And not really a surprise.

Hank Stephenson: No. I think that most people would have been shocked had it gone the other way. I have not talked to a single person since Friday who thought that she would sign this bill. On Friday, last week, it was kind of up in the air, 50-50. And just the change in the continue -- into the tone made it clear that she would veto this legislation.

Ted Simons: And she mentioned the economic comeback that she likes to talk about regarding Arizona and her time in office doesn't help that. Doesn't address, she said, a specific or pressing concern. She hasn't seen one example that this bill would address. And broadly worded, more problems than it solves. We had heard that she was going to spend today and tomorrow, perhaps, and maybe tomorrow or Friday to make her decision. It sounds like that decision needed to be as soon as possible?

Hank Stephenson: Yeah. The business community has been kind of urging her, let's, let's get this over with. And if you are going to veto the bill, do it sooner rather than let this drag on. Brewers has a sense for the dramatic. She, she put it off for a couple days, and, you know, she might have been studying the bill and listening to supporters and opponents. But, there is not that much to really figure out on this. The media, you know, had a day to do it. So, Brewer finally made the decision and we're moving on.

Ted Simons: This is yet another loss for Cathi Herrod’s at the center for Arizona policy. Talk to us quickly, who is Cathi Herrod and what is the center for Arizona policy and why do so many of the bills that get passed the legislature, wind up not making it into law either because of judicial action or Governor veto?

Hank Stephenson: They have had a lot of bills struck down in recent years through the court system. The center for Arizona policy is the major Christian lobby in the state. They are very, very powerful. I spoke to a Republican today who said you know, we are, we are honestly fearful to vote against Cathi’s legislation because they hold so much sway over the election process, and so much influence at the capitol and, and they really don't forget somebody who, who votes against them.

Ted Simons: And we should mention that the response outside the capitol, a lot of folks are out there, we saw ABC 15s feed and a lot of folks were out there, very calm, it sounds like folks were cheering, as we heard that, but nothing crazy going on out there. Are we going to see anything crazy going on at the legislature in terms of the trying to reintroduce something like this? Or see divides emerge because of there?

Hank Stephenson: No. I absolutely it won't get reintroduced. This year, who knows, maybe they will bring it back, a different legislature and a different governor next year. But, I think that the Republicans, who voted for this issue, a lot of them have changed their minds on it, whether it be publicly or privately. We have had quite a few come out in support of, or against the bill, initially, supporting it. And it would not have the votes to make it out of the chamber at this point.

Ted Simons: Such with the three already saying that they would like to get their vote back. Does this energize the business community? We thought the Medicaid debate last session might have energized the business community. Obviously they were no one to be found during this episode. Are they getting clause down there, some teeth?

Hank Stephenson: That's one of the things that a lot of opponents of the bill brought up immediately, had the business community come out two or three days before, we would not have this problem. We would not be asking whether she is signing or vetoing. I think this boosts them at the capitol, more than anything else, this advances the lgbt community in this state. They proved that they can organize and make a difference in a way that they never have before in this state.

Ted Simons: Again, that's a good point. Hank, we thank you very much for your time, and for your insight. Again, as we heard before, and after the Governor's decision, and we should mention that again, as you saw here live, courtesy of ABC 15, the Governor has vetoed sb-1062 saying it does not advance Arizona. It does not solve any problems that she has seen any specific problems broadly worded, and it seems to be a problem for Arizona as opposed to a solution to a problem for Arizona. Tomorrow on "Arizona Horizon," we will talk about the political and the economic impacts of the debate over Senate bill 1062, and we will also invite to you join us for more discussion on the Governor's action of along with American pop art, an exhibit highlighted in Tempe. That is it for now. Thank you very much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Legislative Update

  |   Video
  • Hank Stephenson of the Arizona Capitol Times will give us the latest news from the State Capitol in our weekly legislative update.
  • Hank Stephenson - Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Legislature   |   Keywords: legislative, update, legislature,

View Transcript
Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon" -- the latest on Senate Bill in our weekly political update with the Arizona Capitol Times.

We'll also hear how folks in Tucson are reacting to Senate Bill in our monthly series southern exposure and look at plans to increase the efficiency of solar thermal projects. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon".

"Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Eight. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.
The fallout continues over Senate Bill 1062, which gives legal protection to those who deny services based on sincerely held religious beliefs. Here with the latest in our political update is Hank Stephenson of the Arizona Capitol Times. And Hank, we should note that we are live 5:30 at this afternoon, this evening, and we'll rebroadcast again at 10pm. By tonight, we may well know what the Governor is going to do. She's supposed to speak in 15 minutes.

Hank Stephenson: It looks like veto watch is coming to an end here. We've been teasing the public with some tweets and some, some kind of remarks that you cannot tell which way she's leaning, although most observers would be, would be shocked if she signed the bill into law today. But, in a couple of minutes we should know.

Ted Simons: Indeed, and again, you would think that if she acts this quickly, it would be to veto in order to keep the damage at a minimum. Every day that goes on, the damage is out there. Talk -- you wrote quite a piece on reality versus rhetoric. In the Senate 1062 Bill debate. Talk to us about that.

Hank Stephenson:Yeah. I mean, I've been watching a bit of, of MSNBC and CNN, and some of the national news networks to get a feel for what's happening outside our capitol sphere. And, and it's amazing, kind of, the takes on what this bill does, and you get the same thing kind of echoed at the legislature. You get Republicans saying this has nothing to do with gays. You have Democrats saying, this could, this could force discrimination of all sorts of people. And the truth is, somewhere, kind in between. This, this bill, obviously, is aimed at allowing some sort of discrimination against the gay population. There are Federal protections and state protections for that matter against other populations.

Ted Simons: There are also city protections for the lgbt community. And those city protections now are impacted by this.

Hank Stephenson: That's the one place that this bill will have an impact, is in Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff, and have anti-discrimination ordinances, which, which protect the lgbt community from certain types of discrimination. With this, if this bill were to become law, the effect would be to somewhat negate those anti-discrimination ordinances, not entirely, in order to discriminate or to say, I'm not going to, to serve a gay person in my business. You would have to prove that, that it does substantially burden your religious beliefs, in order to be able to deny them services. So, and those kinds of protections even, you know, if the bill were signed into law, don't, don't exist in the rest of the state outside of those specific municipalities.

Ted Simons: When this bill was being -- first of all, at the capitol, are folks surprised at the reaction?

Hank Stephenson: I think folks on both sides are surprised about the reaction. Certainly, Republicans didn't see it coming. Democrats were warning about this, but we debated almost the exact same bill last year. It was passed to Governor Brewer, and she vetoed it, but she vetoed it in a stack of bills that she had kind of warned the legislature, don't send me anything right now because you have not finished the budget and Medicaid expansion. And, and so, I think, I think everyone is kind of shocked at how much attention this has gotten. Especially since it was something that flew under the radar last year, and frankly it did until it was passed to the Governor's desk last week.

Ted Simons: So, what happened here? Why did this -- bills pass the legislature all the time. And, and eyebrows are raised almost constantly at these things. Why is this different?

Hank Stephenson: That's, that's a really good question. I mean, that's something that we're trying to get to the bottom of. This is just kind of caught the attention of national groups, to the point that we have not seen Senate Bill 1070. If you turn on the national news, any time in the last week, Arizona is, is usually starting the show, which is just fascinating. And these kinds of laws, or bills are being proposed in a lot of other state legislatures. It's, it's a trend that's kind of catching on, in other conservative states. But, the difference between last year and this year, I think it was, it was a very smooth P.R. operation. I think that the Democrats and the groups against this bill really just manage to, to grab, grab the issue by the horns and kind of, of handle it. They have done an impressive job on, on getting out their message, at least.

Ted Simons: And you have got -- you have got everyone in the business -- anyone of any stature in the business community here in Phoenix, and in Arizona, around the state, they are vigorously against this. They are vociferously against this. Where -- this passed the legislature, besides a co-sponsor, where are all the proponents? Are they making speeches somewhere that we're not hearing? Why are they not in front of this parade?

Hank Stephenson: I saw a good clip on CNN last night where, where there was a reporter chasing members of the legislature, Republicans back and forth from the house and the Senate, and trying to get them to, to defend the law, and it was three or four of the lawmakers, just flat shutting her out, and saying no, I don't want to talk about it. There's been a lot of misconceptions about this bill, but I don't care to clear the air on it. So, they are being very, very quiet right now, other than the center for Arizona policy, one of the Christian lobbies who is very powerful at the capitol, this was their bill, their bill this year, and they have come out supporting it, and basically, their message is read the law, it does not say anything about gays, for example. It does not need to say anything. It doesn't need the word "gay" in it to impact the gay community.

Ted Simons: And as we await the Governor. She's supposed to speak here in another ten minutes or so, and we'll try to get that for you as soon as she does make her announcement, whether she's going to veto or sign 1062 as we record here right now, but we'll replay it later on this evening. Is this the kind of thing that will stick with this legislature? Is this -- I mean, obviously the Medicaid fight stuck to its certain degree. You have factions down there. Can this be tearing the GOP caucus apart? What's the fallout from this?

Hank Stephenson: I am hoping that the fallout is they, the, they close up shop earlier, focus on the budget and get it done and passed and send it to Brewer and everyone goes home, you know, and bruised but happy. So, that's, that's my personal hope.

Ted Simons: All right, Hank, it's good to have you here, and when the Governor comes back, if we have time to talk to you, get a response from you and what you are hearing regarding Twitter and the social media regarding what she says, we would love to get you back. Thanks for joining us.

Hank Stephenson: Thanks for having me.