Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 30, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Legislative Update


  • A mid-week legislative update with Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small.
Guests:
  • Jim Small - Reporter, Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
>>Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon": State Lawmakers are working on bills that may affect how Child Protective Services does its job. The Governor has been busy signing and vetoing bills; A Capitol reporter gives us an update. And a long-time food activist talks about his new book and his thoughts on hunger and poverty. All coming up next, on "Horizon".

>>Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by the "Friends of Eight": members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>>Ted Simons:
Hello and welcome to "Horizon", I'm Ted Simons. Just this week, Governor Janet Neapolitan vetoed bills related to immigration, concealed weapons, and DUI. Here to tell us more is Jim Small, a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times. Jim, good to see you.

>>Jim Small:
Good to be here.

>>Ted Simons:
Thanks for joining us. The veto of the new DUI law. This was supposed to be a compromise, wasn't it?

>>Jim Small:
Yea. This was something that was kind of got born out of a lot of frustration earlier in the session. There were a number of DUI bills that put out, mostly in the Senate. They got over to the House, and Speaker Jim Weiers triple assigned them. There was a lot of - people speculated as to why that happened. The prevailing theory was that Liquor Industry didn't like what happened last year by requiring first-time DUI offenders to put an Ignition Interlock (device) on their cars for a year. And so, the idea was that they were using Speaker Weiers to try to kill some of these efforts to try to change the law. What ended up happening was Speaker Weiers worked with the proponents of the DUI Legislation with Senator Linda Gray and Senator Jim Wearing, and they came to a compromise, reduce the interlock to only six months, instead of a year, if the person successfully goes through a treatment or counseling program. And the bill also includes a number of other things. It rectified a conflict in the law with how people with higher Blood Alcohol Contents are sentenced. And it also applied the same standard in the current law to operating watercraft, so boats. And the Governor vetoed it, saying, you know, that it was too soon to go ahead and get rid of that one year.

>>Ted Simons:
The interlock thing.

>>Jim Small:
The one-year interlock thing. She said it hasn't been in place long enough. We've only got a partial year's worth of data. We need to take a look at it, and see what the results of this really are before we starting with it.

>>Ted Simons:
OK, what were her reasons regarding the penalty for carrying concealed weapons without a permit.

>>Jim Small:
Well, similar to something she did last year. This bill came up last year. This year was Representative Russell Pearce's bill, last year was Senator Karen Johnson from Mesa. And what the bill would have done is, instead of it being a crime punishable by a hefty time and jail time for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, would have made it a petty offense, a couple, $2-300 fine, get off, basically, a slap on the wrist. The Governor said that we have laws for concealed carry permits in the State for a reason, and people, if they want to be able to carry their weapons, can certainly go through the process to get that permit.

>>Ted Simons:
OK. And earlier in the week, there was a veto requiring police departments to work with the Feds in terms of training and cooperation, regarding immigration control and such. Veto as well. Again, reasons?

>>Jim Small:
Reasons for that was she claimed it was going to be an Unfunded Mandate on the State. The way the law was structured is it required law enforcement agencies across the State to develop a relationship with Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), either through just a working relationship, or through training, or through embedding some of those ICE officers within the actual department. She looked at it and said, you know, if this training happens, it would be required to be paid for by the State if there's no Federal dollars. So, if every department went out and said we're going to comply with this law by putting our officers through this Federal training, and there's no Federal money, that charge comes back to the State. Ergo, we face $100 million at a time when we're obviously facing almost $2 billion in deficit.

>>Ted Simons:
Representative John Nelson said it was "absolutely disgraceful", as far as the vetoes were concerned. Some harsh words there.

>>Jim Small:
Yea. There's been some very critical reaction, from Republicans especially, and the people who supported this bill. I think a lot of people saw it as a way to do something, to get law enforcement involved in this, without doing some of the Mandates that have been out there with requiring training or requiring certain policies to be put in place.

>>Ted Simons:
Any word, finally, on Employer Sanctions, the revisions? I know it's on her desk. Anything? Any word, anything?

>>Jim Small:
We haven't really heard anything yet. The Governor didn't have her typical weekly press briefing today. She was out of town. I believe she was down in Tucson. But all indications are business community is neutral on it. They're not opposed to it, which is really, I think, the best you could hope for as far as getting a piece of legislation like this out. And I think everyone would be very surprised if this came back vetoed.

>>Ted Simons:
And real quickly, all indications are the two initiatives this bill was designed to thwart: they're going ahead.

>>Jim Small:
Yea. And that's something, in fact, that we reported in The Capitol Times months ago. The proponents of that said - each one says they don't know what the other one's doing. Don Goldwater says he wasn't going to back down off of his more strict proposal, because he didn't know what the business community was going to do, and he needed to make sure to cut them off at the pass. The business community said, well we don't know if he's going to get this one that they find really onerous on the ballot. They need to put a counter one up there.

>>Ted Simons:
All right, busy times. Jim, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

>>Jim Small:
Thank you.

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