Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

May 13, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Legislative Update

  |   Video
  • We'll have news from the state capitol and a look at politics around Arizona in HORIZONís weekly legislative update.
Guests:
  • Jim Small - Reporter, Arizona Capitol Times
  • Kyrsten Sinema - State Representative
  • Peter Gentala - General Counsel, Center for Arizona Policy
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
>>>Ted Simons:
Tonight on Horizon, Arizona lawmakers fail to override a veto on an immigration bill. We'll talk about that plus other news from the state capitol, and it's national tourism week, a new visitor center is unveiled in downtown Phoenix. Also opposing views on a bill that would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Those stories next on Horizon.

>>Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>>Ted Simons:
Good evening, welcome to Horizon. I'm Ted Simons. Citing financial reasons, Arizona State University announced today that it will eliminate three men's sports, wrestling, swimming, and tennis programs will be discontinued to save more than a million dollars a year in operating costs. Vice president for athletics Lisa Love made the decision which is supported by ASU president Michael Crow. The state house of representatives today tried and failed to override a veto on an immigration-related bill nixed by the governor last month. Here with more on that and other news from the capitol, Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small. Jim, Good to have you here. So basically they tried to override a veto on immigration but no go. What happened?

>>Jim Small:
Well, what happened was let me give you background of the bill. It's a bill that would have required local law enforcement to develop a policy for dealing with illegal immigration and final some way to work in conjunction with the federal government with the immigrations and customs enforcement folks. The bill was vetoed because Governor Napolitano said it was unfunded mandate. Could come back and bite the state for $100 million at a time when we're facing $2 billion deficit. She said that was reason enough to veto this bill. What happened today was representative Russell Pierce, who's been at the forefront of most of the immigration laws in this state, made a motion that the house try to override the veto. In order to do that, they need 40 votes. The bill went out unanimously in march, passed the house 58-0. Today, only about 30 votes in support for the override. All 25 democrats on the floor voted against it. In the past couple weeks a number of democrats have come out and said they regretted their vote on the bill, that in the first time it came through, That they should have voted against it and that they urged the governor to veto it. The interesting thing about the move today to override this veto was that it wasn't done by the bill's sponsor, John Nelson from west Phoenix. He was caught off guard. Most of the other people in the house were caught off guard that Representative Pierce did this and had the blessing of republican leadership to do so.

>>Ted Simons:
I was going to say, it wasn't pierce's bill yet he's pushing for the override. What's going on here? I seem to recall Representative Pierce expressing disappointment in the speaker for holding up one of Pierce's legislation.

>>Jim Small:
Right. He has a similar referendum that would go on the ballot in the fall. He's also pushing a citizens initiative that would do a similar thing that would mandate that local law enforcement agencies come to an agreement with ICE and work to apprehend illegal immigrants in their daily duties. There's a number of people at the capitol who saw what happened today as kind of a way of paving the road for that, that way he can get his measure to go to the house floor and get it debated and try to get it voted out and put on the ballot in the fall. Some people saw that this bill by Representative Nelson as kind of a compromise between what people who don't want any involvement from local law enforcement and people who share pierce's views who want local law enforcement to do everything.

>>Ted Simons:
Response from Nelson?

>>Jim Small:
I talked to him briefly today. He was upset by what happened. He said that he'd been basically blind sided by it. He'd been told before they went to the floor today that they weren't even going to try to do this. I know he'd been asked in the past couple weeks to try to push this issue and push for an override, and he was kind of resisting.

>>Ted Simons:
It seems to speak to an increasing presence by a Representative Pierce.

>>Jim Small:
Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, this is problems with another in the line of victories, small though this one may be, on illegal immigration matters that he's had in recent years, and it certainly seems to be a response to the press conference that you eluded to earlier where he called speaker wires for not pushing his referendum.

>>Ted Simons:
Let's move on now to the budget, is there anything to move on toward?

>>Jim Small:
Well, technically they're still doing the same thing, republicans are meeting 15 or 16 republicans are meeting pretty much every day to discuss the budget. Some of the details are starting to seep out now and we know that they're working towards a $2 billion budget deficit, which is a couple hundred million dollars greater in fact than what we -- than what the latest estimate was, and some people are saying it may go up to $2.2 billion for the next fiscal year. The battle right now among the republicans is how much spending cuts do you have versus whether or not you do any kind of borrowing or bonding or anything like that to try to help out for capital finance construction for construction of new schools, and there's a contingent of people who don't want to do any and who say we're not going to do any or agree to any, if there's any borrowing at all in the budget we're not going to vote for it. That's been the hold up for the past week or so within the republican meetings. I've been told the two sides are about $600 million off right now, that they've come to an agreement for about 1.3 or $1.4 billion among the republicans, but this $600 million gap is pretty big, and it's not one I don't think that you can -- many would be willing to solve by cutting an extra $600 million.

>>Ted Simons:
Rainy day fund? Any talk of further draining that?

>>Jim Small:
That would absolutely be emptied. There's only $200 million left in it right now as it is, and that was the intention when they passed the bill about a month ago, was to use that remainder for the upcoming fiscal year.

>>Ted Simons:
The 08 fix was highlighted by the governor and leaders meeting on their own and working amongst themselves. Are we getting that same dynamic here?

>>Jim Small:
Not yet. What we're having right now is just republicans meeting. They're trying to hash out how they want to approach the situation. If you'll remember last year there was a lot of consternation about the budget, especially in the house where house republican leadership tried to put a budget forward and it failed on the floor. They didn't get the support of the caucus. And I think that this is an attempt to definitely make sure that all republicans in the house and senate are informed and know what's going on and had a voice in what's happening.

>>Ted Simons:
Seems an attempt as well to block the governor's idea of emissions restrictions, looks like the legislature's blocking that to a certain degree. How far along is this?

>>Jim Small:
Well, the bill came through the house yesterday and actually got sent up to the governor and got approved. What the bill would do is say any kind of environmental restrictions emissions restrictions like what ADEQ recently adopted, couple years ago, the California model. And that's been tied up in the federal court battle. But it would say the legislature has to approve any kind of emissions restrictions. The people, the critics of the bill, painted it as you guys just don't want to do any kind of restrictions. You don't want to hurt business. You're in pockets of the big auto makers. The republicans who backed this idea on the other hand said this isn't about greenhouse gases; it's about a separation of powers. This is the governor's office dictating state policy that in turn impacts businesses and people across the state, when this is something the legislature that lawmakers were elected to come down there and do. It's unclear what's going to happen to the bill. Officially although I think most people down there expect this will probably get kick backed.

>>Ted Simons:
I think it's pretty dog gone clear what's going to happen to that bill. Sounds like an automatic veto.

>>Jim Small:
I think in most people's eyes it will be, and I think most people would agree that any governor would do this, whether it was republican or democrat, would veto a bill that takes away some of the executive authority.

>>Ted Simons:
Indeed. And real quickly before you go, I know AIMS was the subject today of some talk at the capitol, the senate OK'd augmenting aims scores with high school grades. Talk about that. How far has this gone along?

>>Jim Small
This is an idea that actually came into law a couple years ago, a compromise between the folks who wanted to scrap aims altogether and folks who wanted to increase the standards and make it a true pass this test or don't graduate. And basically the idea behind it, there's thousands of kids who are right on the cusp of passing AIMS, they get "A"s and "B"s in school but don't just quite pass the test for whatever reason even though they've taken it four, five, six times. This would give them a chance to graduate in the fall. The bill passed with an emergency measure, so if it does become law it goes into effect immediately and it's retroactive to the beginning of the year so all the students who have graduated through now would get their diplomas.

>>Ted Simons:
So the house is working quickly on this.

>>Jim Small:
I would imagine so.

>>Ted Simons:
Thanks for joining us.

>>Jim Small:
Thank you.

>>Ted Simons:
It's national tourism week and there's a new state of the art visitor information center in downtown Phoenix. With the price of gas at record highs it's time to consider visiting some of the world recognized attractions here in Arizona. At the new center you can get specific information about the grand canyon state in a high tech setting while being helped by friendly faces, the old-fashioned way. Merry Lucero has more.

>>Merry Lucero:
Travel experts say tourists are more sophisticated and so while they still like their leaflets and maps, they need a more high tech visitor center. Now they have it in downtown Phoenix.

>> Stephanie Heckathorne:
They're used to advanced technology and we've provided them the opportunity for pamphlets if they want it and brochures, or more sophisticated technology with the imap which allows touch screen viewing Arizona at a glance.

>>Merry Lucero:
the imap is not just a guide from getting to point "a" and "b."

>>Stephanie Heckathorne:
With the touch screen map, Plasma, sort of for the ipod generation, advancement of touching, pulling down, dragging, dropping, it's interactive but also all encompassing, so if a visitor is at the map and want to just access southeastern Arizona or enlarge a region of Arizona and see what else is available at the grand canyon, it's really for ease of access, if they click on a screen and it pulls up all the hotels in one certain region and they pull it up and there's the website, it's very link through friendly where you're getting a lot of information quickly.

>>Merry Lucero:
Another updated information source, the 950 inch plasma screen TVs. They're not just atmosphere, but show scenes of places to see and things to do across the state.

>>Stephanie Heckathorne:
They are indicating all of the tours and businesses in greater Phoenix metropolitan and the state, so we hope that viewers can catch a glimpse of something they might not have known they were interested in visiting while here in this state. So maybe they weren't thinking of a hot air balloon ride and they catch it on the screen and it encourages them to ask more questions while we have them in this space.

>>Merry Lucero:
located on 2nd street at the Phoenix convention center, the visitor center will easily serve convention attendees. But the center is also intended to support vacationers with 15 minute parking meters in front and in the near future, transit improving downtown.

>>Stephanie Heckathorne:
For vacationers we're hoping That with the light rail in coming years and ease of access to downtown, very pedestrian friendly, to get off of the light rail, be downtown and walk toward visitor center. So we hope to service both audiences but with a very captive audience next door, we're hoping convention attendees from Wisconsin, Chicago, the northeast and international, they'll be out for their Starbucks walking down the road, pop right in here and have this wealth of information on Arizona.

>>Ted Simons:
A bill that would place a measure on the ballot to amend the constitution to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman passed the house of representatives SCR 1042 has been at the center of heated debate. It now moves on to the senate. Joining us to talk more, Representative Kyrsten Sinema and Peter Gentala general counsel for the center for Arizona policy. Thank you both for joining us.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
Happy to be here.

>>Peter Gentala:
My pleasure.

>>Ted Simons:
Peter, why is this necessary?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, it's a great thing when the people can decide a very important question and there's probably no more important question than what is marriage, what is the definition of it, and in Arizona that means that the people need to have a chance to exercise direct democracy to decide for themselves so this bill makes it possible for the voters to decide the issue, because at the end of the day it's not something that should be decided by a court or even by politicians, legislature, it should be decided by the people.

>>Ted Simons:
But it was already a law. It is already a law, again, why is this necessary?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, there's a key legal difference between statutory law and the state constitution. The state constitution governs everything. And Arizona, our courts could overturn the legal marriage standards if there's not a constitutional standard that stops them from doing that. That's what happened in the state of Massachusetts and it's really because Massachusetts didn't have an amendment in its constitution to protect the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, that the courts there would just one-judge vote overturn the definition of marriage in that state.

>>Ted Simons:
It's law now, but future courts, future legislatures could see things differently. Make sense to you?

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
I kind of feel like we're having a deja vu. With had this same debate two years ago before they put this question to the voters, they said no. But the fact is this. In 1996 the Arizona legislature did enact a statute that defines marriage as between one man and one woman and Arizona courts actually have decided this issue. In 2003 the Arizona appellate court ruled that the state statute was constitutional and was valid. And in 2004 the Arizona Supreme Court denied review, which means it gave their blessing to the lower court's decision, upheld that decision, so all these arguments that Peter's talking about may be valid for another state but they're not valid in Arizona.

>>Ted Simons:
you say the decision was already made. But there's a key difference between this decision and the one previously made, and that is it does not include union, domestic unions that are not man and woman.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
Right. The question that the voters were asked in 2006 was a two-part question. First, do you want to amend the constitution to I guess say that we really, really mean marriage should just be between one man and one woman even though it's already in state statute, and do the voters want to change the constitution to prohibit recognition of domestic partner healthcare benefits and hospital visitation rights and things like that. Voters said no and I think what's happening now is the Arizona policy realizes they had perhaps misjudged the Arizona public and are trying for a second round.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
Did you misjudge the Arizona public?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, the key thing is that Arizona voters haven't had a chance vote on the actual definition of marriage. This amendment is very simple. It says only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage in this state. So there's no other discussion here, and fact is that the domestic partnership issue is something that is very 13 controversial, there's a lot of debate about that issue, and Arizonans should have the chance to decide on marriage, the key issue of marriage, without having to discuss that. There's a lot of things that divide us --

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
That's what I said last time.

>>Peter Gentala:
There's broad overwhelming unity behind the concept that marriage is between a man and a woman and I think if voters are given the chance to vote on this issue, that's what they'll say.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
I would disagree. Although it's true that Arizonans do believe like most folks across the country that marriage should be between one man and one woman there's really no debate about that in Arizona. No one is arguing that it shouldn't be, and I think what we're seeing here is an attempt to use this as a political ploy to perhaps raise money for the center for Arizona policy or put the issue on the ballot to bring out certain kinds of voters, and I just don't think it's going to work. And I've seen recent polls that show that Arizona voters don't think this should be on the ballot and may not actually support it.

>>Ted Simons:
Is there a threat, I understand what you're saying; you're concerned about future courts. You're concerned about future legislation. Is there a threat when you've already had state court of appeals saying no problem, and the Supreme Court saying don't want to get involved. Where is the threat?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, the court of appeals' decision from 2003 is not binding on the Arizona Supreme Court. Although the Arizona Supreme Court decided not to hear that case, it doesn't have any legal significance, so that decision isn't a blessing one way or the other by the Arizona Supreme Court. So the issue says still open in Arizona until the Arizona Supreme Court speaks to it definitively. Moreover it's still something future legislature could get into and this is something we're seeing across the country, that both courts and legislation are willing to rethink the fundamental definition of marriage. So if that's the case, if we are in the middle service a cultural discussion about this, why should the people of Arizona have a chance to decide this? I think what you see here is two different views, Representative Sinema and her supporters have said this isn't necessary and they'll keep saying that until marriage is vulnerable and is overturned by a court decision or they have more favorable political ones, and if that continues, what we're going to see is the definition of marriage changed in Arizona without the people having spoken. We want to hear the people's voice and that's why this should go on the ballot.

>>Ted Simons:
would you support a change in the definition of marriage, and if so, doesn't that pretty much answer what he sees as a threat?

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
I don't think Arizonans support a change in the definition of marriage, and there's been no effort in the legislature by me or anyone else to change that and I don't think there will be in the future. Arizonans are pretty clear about marriage. What I don't think they want is to see marriage used as a political football which is what we're seeing now in Arizona. I do have to agree that I think there is a way for marriage to become vulnerable, for groups like the center for Arizona policy to use it as a political tool or measure which I think could lead to the ultimate vulnerability of it. I don't think that marriage is an appropriate matter for the constitutional amendment and I think that by continuing to push it in that light, that folks are perhaps wittingly or unwittingly creating some vulnerability I don't think the rest of us want.

>>Peter Gentala:
In 2006 we had similar discussions but there was a key difference and that was Representative Sinema and the others who oppose the proposition 107 dead constantly said this isn't about marriage; it's about the benefits issue. That's true. Now we are going to talk about the definition of marriage and as we're poised to have that discussion with the Arizona people they're industrial trying to obstruct this from the ballot and that should tell but their intentions.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
This amendment isn't about marriage. Marriage is solid and stable and unchanged in Arizona. What this is really about is using the term marriage and the concept of marriage which many in Arizona consider to be sacred, and using it as a political tool on the ballot and I think that's inappropriate. One thing I want to quickly go back to is the argument peter made that the appellate court's holding had no significance, and just for those who aren't attorneys, if someone wanted to challenge the state statute, again they would have to start with superior court and the superior court would have to follow a rule called stare decisis, which means you have to appeal to a rule of the previously established higher court and so would the appellate court, so it's disingenuous to say there's no precedent here because stare decisis does exist and the law of the land is very clear in Arizona.

>>Peter Gentala:
I don't think that's entirely accurate legally. That's one avenue for that to come to court, but another might be special action, which was the way the 2003 case actually did come, and that can be filed originally with the Supreme Court without going to a lower court first.

>>Ted Simons:
I understand what you're saying. You're concerned about future court action and future legislation. This is one law. There are a lot of laws out there, and a lot of them on the books and a lot of them that could be taken to the people to make sure no future courts, no future lawmakers, can mess with them. Why this one?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, let's start with the fact that marriage is a fundamental principle and so if you have something as sacred as marriage between one man and one woman, do we want someone that's unelected making that decision, and the truth of the matter is in the last decade and a half we've seen a pattern of judges getting involved in this decision and increasingly legislatures getting involved in this decision, and not allowing the people to speak up on this issue. If you go back to the early '90s, you have the courts in Hawaii and Alaska and Connecticut looking at changing the definition of marriage, and that's what originally launched the whole concept that, hey, maybe the people need to stand up and speak to this issue and not let it happen by default through the courts.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
But the funny thing is that in Arizona the legislature and courts have gotten involved in this, in 1996 the legislature took it upon itself to change the state statute to clarify that marriage would only be recognized between one man and one woman, and in 2003 when the courts were asked to rule on it, they did so, and they did so unequivocally. So while we may be talking about states I think Arizonans are pretty clear. They don't do what other states do, they do what they want to do and the legislature in Arizona and courts have already spoken and so have the people.

>>Peter Gentala:
I share that confidence and that's the reason why I think there's no real reason to put up Any barriers for the people to vote up language that says only one woman and one man shall be valid as marriage in this state. Simple up or down vote for the people.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
There's no real reason to put it on the ballot unless you have ulterior or different motives, than the true impact of protecting marriage in the state.

>>Ted Simons:
Before we get -- a couple minutes left here. I want to get back to the idea this is all politicized, a way to bring out a base. Certainly that's a factor.

>> Peter Gentala:
Well, I think that there's broad support for this. But marriage is a concept that unites across religious lines, unites across political lines, and it unites across all demographic lines. So I think we will see about, I mean, initial polling by the Arizona marriage coalition has shown 65\% of Arizonans just looking at this language support the concept of marriage between one man and one woman. And frankly Arizonans to say that Arizonans can't have a vote to protect the definition of marriage in the timeless way that it's always been recognized without there being political gamesmanship I don't think is an honest thing to say. What we've got here is a situation where Arizonans can simply just say I think marriage is between a man and a woman. It's not a political issue. It's a timeless cultural issue.

>>Ted Simons:
Is marriage a societal norm? A tradition? To the point where this extra protection makes sense?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
well, I think that everyone would agree that marriage is part of American culture and society. I don't understand how using an initiative like this or referenda in this case creates any additional protection. There is no threat to marriage in Arizona and I think it's very clear that the folks who are pushing this are pushing it not necessarily to protect marriage because again there's no threat, but if other motives, and we've seen this play out in the legislature, although the bill did pass yesterday in the house with the very narrow margin, two of the folks who voted yes, republican members who voted yes, voiced serious concern and discontent about not only the bill but the way it's been gone about and people in the senate have that concern as well.

>>Ted Simons:
Before we go, a general question here regarding protecting the definition of marriage. How is marriage being threatened? How is my marriage right now threatened by something this would address?

>>Peter Gentala:
well, it's a key definitional issue. It's what is the accepted cultural understanding of what marriage is. Not saying that there can't be other types of relationships, we're just saying what is marriage itself. And frankly the way the law recognizes marriage has deep significance, just ask parents in Massachusetts, for example, where their preschoolers, kindergarteners and first graders are learning that marriage is entirely different from the concept of marriage they grew up with. Those are folks who didn't think that that was what they were in for but that's what they got through the court decision.

>>Ted Simons:
All right. And we do have to stop it right there. Thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
Thanks.

>>Peter Gentala:
Thank you. Appreciate it.

>>>Ted Simons:
Tomorrow governor Janet Napolitano makes her monthly stop on horizon. She'll talk about the budget for the next fiscal year, talk about signs and vetoes and a state trust land that has lawmakers fuming. That's Wednesday's on Horizon. Before you go, visit our website, azpbs.org/horizon for video and transcripts of this program. That's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.

Marriage Amendment

  |   Video
  • A bill that would place a measure on the ballot to amend the constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman has passed the state house of representatives. SCR 1042 has been at the center of some heated debate. The legislation now moves to the senate. Representative Kyrsten Sinema and Peter Gentala, General Counsel for the Center for Arizona Policy join Horizon to talk more about the marriage amendment.
Guests:
  • Jim Small - Reporter, Arizona Capitol Times
  • Kyrsten Sinema - State Representative
  • Peter Gentala - General Counsel, Center for Arizona Policy
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
>>>Ted Simons:
Tonight on Horizon, Arizona lawmakers fail to override a veto on an immigration bill. We'll talk about that plus other news from the state capitol, and it's national tourism week, a new visitor center is unveiled in downtown Phoenix. Also opposing views on a bill that would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Those stories next on Horizon.

>>Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>>Ted Simons:
Good evening, welcome to Horizon. I'm Ted Simons. Citing financial reasons, Arizona State University announced today that it will eliminate three men's sports, wrestling, swimming, and tennis programs will be discontinued to save more than a million dollars a year in operating costs. Vice president for athletics Lisa Love made the decision which is supported by ASU president Michael Crow. The state house of representatives today tried and failed to override a veto on an immigration-related bill nixed by the governor last month. Here with more on that and other news from the capitol, Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small. Jim, Good to have you here. So basically they tried to override a veto on immigration but no go. What happened?

>>Jim Small:
Well, what happened was let me give you background of the bill. It's a bill that would have required local law enforcement to develop a policy for dealing with illegal immigration and final some way to work in conjunction with the federal government with the immigrations and customs enforcement folks. The bill was vetoed because Governor Napolitano said it was unfunded mandate. Could come back and bite the state for $100 million at a time when we're facing $2 billion deficit. She said that was reason enough to veto this bill. What happened today was representative Russell Pierce, who's been at the forefront of most of the immigration laws in this state, made a motion that the house try to override the veto. In order to do that, they need 40 votes. The bill went out unanimously in march, passed the house 58-0. Today, only about 30 votes in support for the override. All 25 democrats on the floor voted against it. In the past couple weeks a number of democrats have come out and said they regretted their vote on the bill, that in the first time it came through, That they should have voted against it and that they urged the governor to veto it. The interesting thing about the move today to override this veto was that it wasn't done by the bill's sponsor, John Nelson from west Phoenix. He was caught off guard. Most of the other people in the house were caught off guard that Representative Pierce did this and had the blessing of republican leadership to do so.

>>Ted Simons:
I was going to say, it wasn't pierce's bill yet he's pushing for the override. What's going on here? I seem to recall Representative Pierce expressing disappointment in the speaker for holding up one of Pierce's legislation.

>>Jim Small:
Right. He has a similar referendum that would go on the ballot in the fall. He's also pushing a citizens initiative that would do a similar thing that would mandate that local law enforcement agencies come to an agreement with ICE and work to apprehend illegal immigrants in their daily duties. There's a number of people at the capitol who saw what happened today as kind of a way of paving the road for that, that way he can get his measure to go to the house floor and get it debated and try to get it voted out and put on the ballot in the fall. Some people saw that this bill by Representative Nelson as kind of a compromise between what people who don't want any involvement from local law enforcement and people who share pierce's views who want local law enforcement to do everything.

>>Ted Simons:
Response from Nelson?

>>Jim Small:
I talked to him briefly today. He was upset by what happened. He said that he'd been basically blind sided by it. He'd been told before they went to the floor today that they weren't even going to try to do this. I know he'd been asked in the past couple weeks to try to push this issue and push for an override, and he was kind of resisting.

>>Ted Simons:
It seems to speak to an increasing presence by a Representative Pierce.

>>Jim Small:
Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, this is problems with another in the line of victories, small though this one may be, on illegal immigration matters that he's had in recent years, and it certainly seems to be a response to the press conference that you eluded to earlier where he called speaker wires for not pushing his referendum.

>>Ted Simons:
Let's move on now to the budget, is there anything to move on toward?

>>Jim Small:
Well, technically they're still doing the same thing, republicans are meeting 15 or 16 republicans are meeting pretty much every day to discuss the budget. Some of the details are starting to seep out now and we know that they're working towards a $2 billion budget deficit, which is a couple hundred million dollars greater in fact than what we -- than what the latest estimate was, and some people are saying it may go up to $2.2 billion for the next fiscal year. The battle right now among the republicans is how much spending cuts do you have versus whether or not you do any kind of borrowing or bonding or anything like that to try to help out for capital finance construction for construction of new schools, and there's a contingent of people who don't want to do any and who say we're not going to do any or agree to any, if there's any borrowing at all in the budget we're not going to vote for it. That's been the hold up for the past week or so within the republican meetings. I've been told the two sides are about $600 million off right now, that they've come to an agreement for about 1.3 or $1.4 billion among the republicans, but this $600 million gap is pretty big, and it's not one I don't think that you can -- many would be willing to solve by cutting an extra $600 million.

>>Ted Simons:
Rainy day fund? Any talk of further draining that?

>>Jim Small:
That would absolutely be emptied. There's only $200 million left in it right now as it is, and that was the intention when they passed the bill about a month ago, was to use that remainder for the upcoming fiscal year.

>>Ted Simons:
The 08 fix was highlighted by the governor and leaders meeting on their own and working amongst themselves. Are we getting that same dynamic here?

>>Jim Small:
Not yet. What we're having right now is just republicans meeting. They're trying to hash out how they want to approach the situation. If you'll remember last year there was a lot of consternation about the budget, especially in the house where house republican leadership tried to put a budget forward and it failed on the floor. They didn't get the support of the caucus. And I think that this is an attempt to definitely make sure that all republicans in the house and senate are informed and know what's going on and had a voice in what's happening.

>>Ted Simons:
Seems an attempt as well to block the governor's idea of emissions restrictions, looks like the legislature's blocking that to a certain degree. How far along is this?

>>Jim Small:
Well, the bill came through the house yesterday and actually got sent up to the governor and got approved. What the bill would do is say any kind of environmental restrictions emissions restrictions like what ADEQ recently adopted, couple years ago, the California model. And that's been tied up in the federal court battle. But it would say the legislature has to approve any kind of emissions restrictions. The people, the critics of the bill, painted it as you guys just don't want to do any kind of restrictions. You don't want to hurt business. You're in pockets of the big auto makers. The republicans who backed this idea on the other hand said this isn't about greenhouse gases; it's about a separation of powers. This is the governor's office dictating state policy that in turn impacts businesses and people across the state, when this is something the legislature that lawmakers were elected to come down there and do. It's unclear what's going to happen to the bill. Officially although I think most people down there expect this will probably get kick backed.

>>Ted Simons:
I think it's pretty dog gone clear what's going to happen to that bill. Sounds like an automatic veto.

>>Jim Small:
I think in most people's eyes it will be, and I think most people would agree that any governor would do this, whether it was republican or democrat, would veto a bill that takes away some of the executive authority.

>>Ted Simons:
Indeed. And real quickly before you go, I know AIMS was the subject today of some talk at the capitol, the senate OK'd augmenting aims scores with high school grades. Talk about that. How far has this gone along?

>>Jim Small
This is an idea that actually came into law a couple years ago, a compromise between the folks who wanted to scrap aims altogether and folks who wanted to increase the standards and make it a true pass this test or don't graduate. And basically the idea behind it, there's thousands of kids who are right on the cusp of passing AIMS, they get "A"s and "B"s in school but don't just quite pass the test for whatever reason even though they've taken it four, five, six times. This would give them a chance to graduate in the fall. The bill passed with an emergency measure, so if it does become law it goes into effect immediately and it's retroactive to the beginning of the year so all the students who have graduated through now would get their diplomas.

>>Ted Simons:
So the house is working quickly on this.

>>Jim Small:
I would imagine so.

>>Ted Simons:
Thanks for joining us.

>>Jim Small:
Thank you.

>>Ted Simons:
It's national tourism week and there's a new state of the art visitor information center in downtown Phoenix. With the price of gas at record highs it's time to consider visiting some of the world recognized attractions here in Arizona. At the new center you can get specific information about the grand canyon state in a high tech setting while being helped by friendly faces, the old-fashioned way. Merry Lucero has more.

>>Merry Lucero:
Travel experts say tourists are more sophisticated and so while they still like their leaflets and maps, they need a more high tech visitor center. Now they have it in downtown Phoenix.

>> Stephanie Heckathorne:
They're used to advanced technology and we've provided them the opportunity for pamphlets if they want it and brochures, or more sophisticated technology with the imap which allows touch screen viewing Arizona at a glance.

>>Merry Lucero:
the imap is not just a guide from getting to point "a" and "b."

>>Stephanie Heckathorne:
With the touch screen map, Plasma, sort of for the ipod generation, advancement of touching, pulling down, dragging, dropping, it's interactive but also all encompassing, so if a visitor is at the map and want to just access southeastern Arizona or enlarge a region of Arizona and see what else is available at the grand canyon, it's really for ease of access, if they click on a screen and it pulls up all the hotels in one certain region and they pull it up and there's the website, it's very link through friendly where you're getting a lot of information quickly.

>>Merry Lucero:
Another updated information source, the 950 inch plasma screen TVs. They're not just atmosphere, but show scenes of places to see and things to do across the state.

>>Stephanie Heckathorne:
They are indicating all of the tours and businesses in greater Phoenix metropolitan and the state, so we hope that viewers can catch a glimpse of something they might not have known they were interested in visiting while here in this state. So maybe they weren't thinking of a hot air balloon ride and they catch it on the screen and it encourages them to ask more questions while we have them in this space.

>>Merry Lucero:
located on 2nd street at the Phoenix convention center, the visitor center will easily serve convention attendees. But the center is also intended to support vacationers with 15 minute parking meters in front and in the near future, transit improving downtown.

>>Stephanie Heckathorne:
For vacationers we're hoping That with the light rail in coming years and ease of access to downtown, very pedestrian friendly, to get off of the light rail, be downtown and walk toward visitor center. So we hope to service both audiences but with a very captive audience next door, we're hoping convention attendees from Wisconsin, Chicago, the northeast and international, they'll be out for their Starbucks walking down the road, pop right in here and have this wealth of information on Arizona.

>>Ted Simons:
A bill that would place a measure on the ballot to amend the constitution to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman passed the house of representatives SCR 1042 has been at the center of heated debate. It now moves on to the senate. Joining us to talk more, Representative Kyrsten Sinema and Peter Gentala general counsel for the center for Arizona policy. Thank you both for joining us.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
Happy to be here.

>>Peter Gentala:
My pleasure.

>>Ted Simons:
Peter, why is this necessary?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, it's a great thing when the people can decide a very important question and there's probably no more important question than what is marriage, what is the definition of it, and in Arizona that means that the people need to have a chance to exercise direct democracy to decide for themselves so this bill makes it possible for the voters to decide the issue, because at the end of the day it's not something that should be decided by a court or even by politicians, legislature, it should be decided by the people.

>>Ted Simons:
But it was already a law. It is already a law, again, why is this necessary?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, there's a key legal difference between statutory law and the state constitution. The state constitution governs everything. And Arizona, our courts could overturn the legal marriage standards if there's not a constitutional standard that stops them from doing that. That's what happened in the state of Massachusetts and it's really because Massachusetts didn't have an amendment in its constitution to protect the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, that the courts there would just one-judge vote overturn the definition of marriage in that state.

>>Ted Simons:
It's law now, but future courts, future legislatures could see things differently. Make sense to you?

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
I kind of feel like we're having a deja vu. With had this same debate two years ago before they put this question to the voters, they said no. But the fact is this. In 1996 the Arizona legislature did enact a statute that defines marriage as between one man and one woman and Arizona courts actually have decided this issue. In 2003 the Arizona appellate court ruled that the state statute was constitutional and was valid. And in 2004 the Arizona Supreme Court denied review, which means it gave their blessing to the lower court's decision, upheld that decision, so all these arguments that Peter's talking about may be valid for another state but they're not valid in Arizona.

>>Ted Simons:
you say the decision was already made. But there's a key difference between this decision and the one previously made, and that is it does not include union, domestic unions that are not man and woman.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
Right. The question that the voters were asked in 2006 was a two-part question. First, do you want to amend the constitution to I guess say that we really, really mean marriage should just be between one man and one woman even though it's already in state statute, and do the voters want to change the constitution to prohibit recognition of domestic partner healthcare benefits and hospital visitation rights and things like that. Voters said no and I think what's happening now is the Arizona policy realizes they had perhaps misjudged the Arizona public and are trying for a second round.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
Did you misjudge the Arizona public?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, the key thing is that Arizona voters haven't had a chance vote on the actual definition of marriage. This amendment is very simple. It says only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage in this state. So there's no other discussion here, and fact is that the domestic partnership issue is something that is very 13 controversial, there's a lot of debate about that issue, and Arizonans should have the chance to decide on marriage, the key issue of marriage, without having to discuss that. There's a lot of things that divide us --

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
That's what I said last time.

>>Peter Gentala:
There's broad overwhelming unity behind the concept that marriage is between a man and a woman and I think if voters are given the chance to vote on this issue, that's what they'll say.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
I would disagree. Although it's true that Arizonans do believe like most folks across the country that marriage should be between one man and one woman there's really no debate about that in Arizona. No one is arguing that it shouldn't be, and I think what we're seeing here is an attempt to use this as a political ploy to perhaps raise money for the center for Arizona policy or put the issue on the ballot to bring out certain kinds of voters, and I just don't think it's going to work. And I've seen recent polls that show that Arizona voters don't think this should be on the ballot and may not actually support it.

>>Ted Simons:
Is there a threat, I understand what you're saying; you're concerned about future courts. You're concerned about future legislation. Is there a threat when you've already had state court of appeals saying no problem, and the Supreme Court saying don't want to get involved. Where is the threat?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, the court of appeals' decision from 2003 is not binding on the Arizona Supreme Court. Although the Arizona Supreme Court decided not to hear that case, it doesn't have any legal significance, so that decision isn't a blessing one way or the other by the Arizona Supreme Court. So the issue says still open in Arizona until the Arizona Supreme Court speaks to it definitively. Moreover it's still something future legislature could get into and this is something we're seeing across the country, that both courts and legislation are willing to rethink the fundamental definition of marriage. So if that's the case, if we are in the middle service a cultural discussion about this, why should the people of Arizona have a chance to decide this? I think what you see here is two different views, Representative Sinema and her supporters have said this isn't necessary and they'll keep saying that until marriage is vulnerable and is overturned by a court decision or they have more favorable political ones, and if that continues, what we're going to see is the definition of marriage changed in Arizona without the people having spoken. We want to hear the people's voice and that's why this should go on the ballot.

>>Ted Simons:
would you support a change in the definition of marriage, and if so, doesn't that pretty much answer what he sees as a threat?

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
I don't think Arizonans support a change in the definition of marriage, and there's been no effort in the legislature by me or anyone else to change that and I don't think there will be in the future. Arizonans are pretty clear about marriage. What I don't think they want is to see marriage used as a political football which is what we're seeing now in Arizona. I do have to agree that I think there is a way for marriage to become vulnerable, for groups like the center for Arizona policy to use it as a political tool or measure which I think could lead to the ultimate vulnerability of it. I don't think that marriage is an appropriate matter for the constitutional amendment and I think that by continuing to push it in that light, that folks are perhaps wittingly or unwittingly creating some vulnerability I don't think the rest of us want.

>>Peter Gentala:
In 2006 we had similar discussions but there was a key difference and that was Representative Sinema and the others who oppose the proposition 107 dead constantly said this isn't about marriage; it's about the benefits issue. That's true. Now we are going to talk about the definition of marriage and as we're poised to have that discussion with the Arizona people they're industrial trying to obstruct this from the ballot and that should tell but their intentions.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
This amendment isn't about marriage. Marriage is solid and stable and unchanged in Arizona. What this is really about is using the term marriage and the concept of marriage which many in Arizona consider to be sacred, and using it as a political tool on the ballot and I think that's inappropriate. One thing I want to quickly go back to is the argument peter made that the appellate court's holding had no significance, and just for those who aren't attorneys, if someone wanted to challenge the state statute, again they would have to start with superior court and the superior court would have to follow a rule called stare decisis, which means you have to appeal to a rule of the previously established higher court and so would the appellate court, so it's disingenuous to say there's no precedent here because stare decisis does exist and the law of the land is very clear in Arizona.

>>Peter Gentala:
I don't think that's entirely accurate legally. That's one avenue for that to come to court, but another might be special action, which was the way the 2003 case actually did come, and that can be filed originally with the Supreme Court without going to a lower court first.

>>Ted Simons:
I understand what you're saying. You're concerned about future court action and future legislation. This is one law. There are a lot of laws out there, and a lot of them on the books and a lot of them that could be taken to the people to make sure no future courts, no future lawmakers, can mess with them. Why this one?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, let's start with the fact that marriage is a fundamental principle and so if you have something as sacred as marriage between one man and one woman, do we want someone that's unelected making that decision, and the truth of the matter is in the last decade and a half we've seen a pattern of judges getting involved in this decision and increasingly legislatures getting involved in this decision, and not allowing the people to speak up on this issue. If you go back to the early '90s, you have the courts in Hawaii and Alaska and Connecticut looking at changing the definition of marriage, and that's what originally launched the whole concept that, hey, maybe the people need to stand up and speak to this issue and not let it happen by default through the courts.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
But the funny thing is that in Arizona the legislature and courts have gotten involved in this, in 1996 the legislature took it upon itself to change the state statute to clarify that marriage would only be recognized between one man and one woman, and in 2003 when the courts were asked to rule on it, they did so, and they did so unequivocally. So while we may be talking about states I think Arizonans are pretty clear. They don't do what other states do, they do what they want to do and the legislature in Arizona and courts have already spoken and so have the people.

>>Peter Gentala:
I share that confidence and that's the reason why I think there's no real reason to put up Any barriers for the people to vote up language that says only one woman and one man shall be valid as marriage in this state. Simple up or down vote for the people.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
There's no real reason to put it on the ballot unless you have ulterior or different motives, than the true impact of protecting marriage in the state.

>>Ted Simons:
Before we get -- a couple minutes left here. I want to get back to the idea this is all politicized, a way to bring out a base. Certainly that's a factor.

>> Peter Gentala:
Well, I think that there's broad support for this. But marriage is a concept that unites across religious lines, unites across political lines, and it unites across all demographic lines. So I think we will see about, I mean, initial polling by the Arizona marriage coalition has shown 65\% of Arizonans just looking at this language support the concept of marriage between one man and one woman. And frankly Arizonans to say that Arizonans can't have a vote to protect the definition of marriage in the timeless way that it's always been recognized without there being political gamesmanship I don't think is an honest thing to say. What we've got here is a situation where Arizonans can simply just say I think marriage is between a man and a woman. It's not a political issue. It's a timeless cultural issue.

>>Ted Simons:
Is marriage a societal norm? A tradition? To the point where this extra protection makes sense?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
well, I think that everyone would agree that marriage is part of American culture and society. I don't understand how using an initiative like this or referenda in this case creates any additional protection. There is no threat to marriage in Arizona and I think it's very clear that the folks who are pushing this are pushing it not necessarily to protect marriage because again there's no threat, but if other motives, and we've seen this play out in the legislature, although the bill did pass yesterday in the house with the very narrow margin, two of the folks who voted yes, republican members who voted yes, voiced serious concern and discontent about not only the bill but the way it's been gone about and people in the senate have that concern as well.

>>Ted Simons:
Before we go, a general question here regarding protecting the definition of marriage. How is marriage being threatened? How is my marriage right now threatened by something this would address?

>>Peter Gentala:
well, it's a key definitional issue. It's what is the accepted cultural understanding of what marriage is. Not saying that there can't be other types of relationships, we're just saying what is marriage itself. And frankly the way the law recognizes marriage has deep significance, just ask parents in Massachusetts, for example, where their preschoolers, kindergarteners and first graders are learning that marriage is entirely different from the concept of marriage they grew up with. Those are folks who didn't think that that was what they were in for but that's what they got through the court decision.

>>Ted Simons:
All right. And we do have to stop it right there. Thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
Thanks.

>>Peter Gentala:
Thank you. Appreciate it.

>>>Ted Simons:
Tomorrow governor Janet Napolitano makes her monthly stop on horizon. She'll talk about the budget for the next fiscal year, talk about signs and vetoes and a state trust land that has lawmakers fuming. That's Wednesday's on Horizon. Before you go, visit our website, azpbs.org/horizon for video and transcripts of this program. That's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.

Phoenix Visitor Center

  |   Video
  • Itís National Tourism Week and a new, state-of-the-art visitor information center is being unveiled in downtown Phoenix. With the price of gas at record highs, rather than traveling this summer, you might consider visiting some of the attractions right here in Arizona. The new center provides access to location-specific information about the Grand Canyon State.
Guests:
  • Jim Small - Reporter, Arizona Capitol Times
  • Kyrsten Sinema - State Representative
  • Peter Gentala - General Counsel, Center for Arizona Policy


View Transcript
>>>Ted Simons:
Tonight on Horizon, Arizona lawmakers fail to override a veto on an immigration bill. We'll talk about that plus other news from the state capitol, and it's national tourism week, a new visitor center is unveiled in downtown Phoenix. Also opposing views on a bill that would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Those stories next on Horizon.

>>Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>>Ted Simons:
Good evening, welcome to Horizon. I'm Ted Simons. Citing financial reasons, Arizona State University announced today that it will eliminate three men's sports, wrestling, swimming, and tennis programs will be discontinued to save more than a million dollars a year in operating costs. Vice president for athletics Lisa Love made the decision which is supported by ASU president Michael Crow. The state house of representatives today tried and failed to override a veto on an immigration-related bill nixed by the governor last month. Here with more on that and other news from the capitol, Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small. Jim, Good to have you here. So basically they tried to override a veto on immigration but no go. What happened?

>>Jim Small:
Well, what happened was let me give you background of the bill. It's a bill that would have required local law enforcement to develop a policy for dealing with illegal immigration and final some way to work in conjunction with the federal government with the immigrations and customs enforcement folks. The bill was vetoed because Governor Napolitano said it was unfunded mandate. Could come back and bite the state for $100 million at a time when we're facing $2 billion deficit. She said that was reason enough to veto this bill. What happened today was representative Russell Pierce, who's been at the forefront of most of the immigration laws in this state, made a motion that the house try to override the veto. In order to do that, they need 40 votes. The bill went out unanimously in march, passed the house 58-0. Today, only about 30 votes in support for the override. All 25 democrats on the floor voted against it. In the past couple weeks a number of democrats have come out and said they regretted their vote on the bill, that in the first time it came through, That they should have voted against it and that they urged the governor to veto it. The interesting thing about the move today to override this veto was that it wasn't done by the bill's sponsor, John Nelson from west Phoenix. He was caught off guard. Most of the other people in the house were caught off guard that Representative Pierce did this and had the blessing of republican leadership to do so.

>>Ted Simons:
I was going to say, it wasn't pierce's bill yet he's pushing for the override. What's going on here? I seem to recall Representative Pierce expressing disappointment in the speaker for holding up one of Pierce's legislation.

>>Jim Small:
Right. He has a similar referendum that would go on the ballot in the fall. He's also pushing a citizens initiative that would do a similar thing that would mandate that local law enforcement agencies come to an agreement with ICE and work to apprehend illegal immigrants in their daily duties. There's a number of people at the capitol who saw what happened today as kind of a way of paving the road for that, that way he can get his measure to go to the house floor and get it debated and try to get it voted out and put on the ballot in the fall. Some people saw that this bill by Representative Nelson as kind of a compromise between what people who don't want any involvement from local law enforcement and people who share pierce's views who want local law enforcement to do everything.

>>Ted Simons:
Response from Nelson?

>>Jim Small:
I talked to him briefly today. He was upset by what happened. He said that he'd been basically blind sided by it. He'd been told before they went to the floor today that they weren't even going to try to do this. I know he'd been asked in the past couple weeks to try to push this issue and push for an override, and he was kind of resisting.

>>Ted Simons:
It seems to speak to an increasing presence by a Representative Pierce.

>>Jim Small:
Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, this is problems with another in the line of victories, small though this one may be, on illegal immigration matters that he's had in recent years, and it certainly seems to be a response to the press conference that you eluded to earlier where he called speaker wires for not pushing his referendum.

>>Ted Simons:
Let's move on now to the budget, is there anything to move on toward?

>>Jim Small:
Well, technically they're still doing the same thing, republicans are meeting 15 or 16 republicans are meeting pretty much every day to discuss the budget. Some of the details are starting to seep out now and we know that they're working towards a $2 billion budget deficit, which is a couple hundred million dollars greater in fact than what we -- than what the latest estimate was, and some people are saying it may go up to $2.2 billion for the next fiscal year. The battle right now among the republicans is how much spending cuts do you have versus whether or not you do any kind of borrowing or bonding or anything like that to try to help out for capital finance construction for construction of new schools, and there's a contingent of people who don't want to do any and who say we're not going to do any or agree to any, if there's any borrowing at all in the budget we're not going to vote for it. That's been the hold up for the past week or so within the republican meetings. I've been told the two sides are about $600 million off right now, that they've come to an agreement for about 1.3 or $1.4 billion among the republicans, but this $600 million gap is pretty big, and it's not one I don't think that you can -- many would be willing to solve by cutting an extra $600 million.

>>Ted Simons:
Rainy day fund? Any talk of further draining that?

>>Jim Small:
That would absolutely be emptied. There's only $200 million left in it right now as it is, and that was the intention when they passed the bill about a month ago, was to use that remainder for the upcoming fiscal year.

>>Ted Simons:
The 08 fix was highlighted by the governor and leaders meeting on their own and working amongst themselves. Are we getting that same dynamic here?

>>Jim Small:
Not yet. What we're having right now is just republicans meeting. They're trying to hash out how they want to approach the situation. If you'll remember last year there was a lot of consternation about the budget, especially in the house where house republican leadership tried to put a budget forward and it failed on the floor. They didn't get the support of the caucus. And I think that this is an attempt to definitely make sure that all republicans in the house and senate are informed and know what's going on and had a voice in what's happening.

>>Ted Simons:
Seems an attempt as well to block the governor's idea of emissions restrictions, looks like the legislature's blocking that to a certain degree. How far along is this?

>>Jim Small:
Well, the bill came through the house yesterday and actually got sent up to the governor and got approved. What the bill would do is say any kind of environmental restrictions emissions restrictions like what ADEQ recently adopted, couple years ago, the California model. And that's been tied up in the federal court battle. But it would say the legislature has to approve any kind of emissions restrictions. The people, the critics of the bill, painted it as you guys just don't want to do any kind of restrictions. You don't want to hurt business. You're in pockets of the big auto makers. The republicans who backed this idea on the other hand said this isn't about greenhouse gases; it's about a separation of powers. This is the governor's office dictating state policy that in turn impacts businesses and people across the state, when this is something the legislature that lawmakers were elected to come down there and do. It's unclear what's going to happen to the bill. Officially although I think most people down there expect this will probably get kick backed.

>>Ted Simons:
I think it's pretty dog gone clear what's going to happen to that bill. Sounds like an automatic veto.

>>Jim Small:
I think in most people's eyes it will be, and I think most people would agree that any governor would do this, whether it was republican or democrat, would veto a bill that takes away some of the executive authority.

>>Ted Simons:
Indeed. And real quickly before you go, I know AIMS was the subject today of some talk at the capitol, the senate OK'd augmenting aims scores with high school grades. Talk about that. How far has this gone along?

>>Jim Small
This is an idea that actually came into law a couple years ago, a compromise between the folks who wanted to scrap aims altogether and folks who wanted to increase the standards and make it a true pass this test or don't graduate. And basically the idea behind it, there's thousands of kids who are right on the cusp of passing AIMS, they get "A"s and "B"s in school but don't just quite pass the test for whatever reason even though they've taken it four, five, six times. This would give them a chance to graduate in the fall. The bill passed with an emergency measure, so if it does become law it goes into effect immediately and it's retroactive to the beginning of the year so all the students who have graduated through now would get their diplomas.

>>Ted Simons:
So the house is working quickly on this.

>>Jim Small:
I would imagine so.

>>Ted Simons:
Thanks for joining us.

>>Jim Small:
Thank you.

>>Ted Simons:
It's national tourism week and there's a new state of the art visitor information center in downtown Phoenix. With the price of gas at record highs it's time to consider visiting some of the world recognized attractions here in Arizona. At the new center you can get specific information about the grand canyon state in a high tech setting while being helped by friendly faces, the old-fashioned way. Merry Lucero has more.

>>Merry Lucero:
Travel experts say tourists are more sophisticated and so while they still like their leaflets and maps, they need a more high tech visitor center. Now they have it in downtown Phoenix.

>> Stephanie Heckathorne:
They're used to advanced technology and we've provided them the opportunity for pamphlets if they want it and brochures, or more sophisticated technology with the imap which allows touch screen viewing Arizona at a glance.

>>Merry Lucero:
the imap is not just a guide from getting to point "a" and "b."

>>Stephanie Heckathorne:
With the touch screen map, Plasma, sort of for the ipod generation, advancement of touching, pulling down, dragging, dropping, it's interactive but also all encompassing, so if a visitor is at the map and want to just access southeastern Arizona or enlarge a region of Arizona and see what else is available at the grand canyon, it's really for ease of access, if they click on a screen and it pulls up all the hotels in one certain region and they pull it up and there's the website, it's very link through friendly where you're getting a lot of information quickly.

>>Merry Lucero:
Another updated information source, the 950 inch plasma screen TVs. They're not just atmosphere, but show scenes of places to see and things to do across the state.

>>Stephanie Heckathorne:
They are indicating all of the tours and businesses in greater Phoenix metropolitan and the state, so we hope that viewers can catch a glimpse of something they might not have known they were interested in visiting while here in this state. So maybe they weren't thinking of a hot air balloon ride and they catch it on the screen and it encourages them to ask more questions while we have them in this space.

>>Merry Lucero:
located on 2nd street at the Phoenix convention center, the visitor center will easily serve convention attendees. But the center is also intended to support vacationers with 15 minute parking meters in front and in the near future, transit improving downtown.

>>Stephanie Heckathorne:
For vacationers we're hoping That with the light rail in coming years and ease of access to downtown, very pedestrian friendly, to get off of the light rail, be downtown and walk toward visitor center. So we hope to service both audiences but with a very captive audience next door, we're hoping convention attendees from Wisconsin, Chicago, the northeast and international, they'll be out for their Starbucks walking down the road, pop right in here and have this wealth of information on Arizona.

>>Ted Simons:
A bill that would place a measure on the ballot to amend the constitution to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman passed the house of representatives SCR 1042 has been at the center of heated debate. It now moves on to the senate. Joining us to talk more, Representative Kyrsten Sinema and Peter Gentala general counsel for the center for Arizona policy. Thank you both for joining us.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
Happy to be here.

>>Peter Gentala:
My pleasure.

>>Ted Simons:
Peter, why is this necessary?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, it's a great thing when the people can decide a very important question and there's probably no more important question than what is marriage, what is the definition of it, and in Arizona that means that the people need to have a chance to exercise direct democracy to decide for themselves so this bill makes it possible for the voters to decide the issue, because at the end of the day it's not something that should be decided by a court or even by politicians, legislature, it should be decided by the people.

>>Ted Simons:
But it was already a law. It is already a law, again, why is this necessary?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, there's a key legal difference between statutory law and the state constitution. The state constitution governs everything. And Arizona, our courts could overturn the legal marriage standards if there's not a constitutional standard that stops them from doing that. That's what happened in the state of Massachusetts and it's really because Massachusetts didn't have an amendment in its constitution to protect the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, that the courts there would just one-judge vote overturn the definition of marriage in that state.

>>Ted Simons:
It's law now, but future courts, future legislatures could see things differently. Make sense to you?

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
I kind of feel like we're having a deja vu. With had this same debate two years ago before they put this question to the voters, they said no. But the fact is this. In 1996 the Arizona legislature did enact a statute that defines marriage as between one man and one woman and Arizona courts actually have decided this issue. In 2003 the Arizona appellate court ruled that the state statute was constitutional and was valid. And in 2004 the Arizona Supreme Court denied review, which means it gave their blessing to the lower court's decision, upheld that decision, so all these arguments that Peter's talking about may be valid for another state but they're not valid in Arizona.

>>Ted Simons:
you say the decision was already made. But there's a key difference between this decision and the one previously made, and that is it does not include union, domestic unions that are not man and woman.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
Right. The question that the voters were asked in 2006 was a two-part question. First, do you want to amend the constitution to I guess say that we really, really mean marriage should just be between one man and one woman even though it's already in state statute, and do the voters want to change the constitution to prohibit recognition of domestic partner healthcare benefits and hospital visitation rights and things like that. Voters said no and I think what's happening now is the Arizona policy realizes they had perhaps misjudged the Arizona public and are trying for a second round.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
Did you misjudge the Arizona public?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, the key thing is that Arizona voters haven't had a chance vote on the actual definition of marriage. This amendment is very simple. It says only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage in this state. So there's no other discussion here, and fact is that the domestic partnership issue is something that is very 13 controversial, there's a lot of debate about that issue, and Arizonans should have the chance to decide on marriage, the key issue of marriage, without having to discuss that. There's a lot of things that divide us --

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
That's what I said last time.

>>Peter Gentala:
There's broad overwhelming unity behind the concept that marriage is between a man and a woman and I think if voters are given the chance to vote on this issue, that's what they'll say.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
I would disagree. Although it's true that Arizonans do believe like most folks across the country that marriage should be between one man and one woman there's really no debate about that in Arizona. No one is arguing that it shouldn't be, and I think what we're seeing here is an attempt to use this as a political ploy to perhaps raise money for the center for Arizona policy or put the issue on the ballot to bring out certain kinds of voters, and I just don't think it's going to work. And I've seen recent polls that show that Arizona voters don't think this should be on the ballot and may not actually support it.

>>Ted Simons:
Is there a threat, I understand what you're saying; you're concerned about future courts. You're concerned about future legislation. Is there a threat when you've already had state court of appeals saying no problem, and the Supreme Court saying don't want to get involved. Where is the threat?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, the court of appeals' decision from 2003 is not binding on the Arizona Supreme Court. Although the Arizona Supreme Court decided not to hear that case, it doesn't have any legal significance, so that decision isn't a blessing one way or the other by the Arizona Supreme Court. So the issue says still open in Arizona until the Arizona Supreme Court speaks to it definitively. Moreover it's still something future legislature could get into and this is something we're seeing across the country, that both courts and legislation are willing to rethink the fundamental definition of marriage. So if that's the case, if we are in the middle service a cultural discussion about this, why should the people of Arizona have a chance to decide this? I think what you see here is two different views, Representative Sinema and her supporters have said this isn't necessary and they'll keep saying that until marriage is vulnerable and is overturned by a court decision or they have more favorable political ones, and if that continues, what we're going to see is the definition of marriage changed in Arizona without the people having spoken. We want to hear the people's voice and that's why this should go on the ballot.

>>Ted Simons:
would you support a change in the definition of marriage, and if so, doesn't that pretty much answer what he sees as a threat?

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
I don't think Arizonans support a change in the definition of marriage, and there's been no effort in the legislature by me or anyone else to change that and I don't think there will be in the future. Arizonans are pretty clear about marriage. What I don't think they want is to see marriage used as a political football which is what we're seeing now in Arizona. I do have to agree that I think there is a way for marriage to become vulnerable, for groups like the center for Arizona policy to use it as a political tool or measure which I think could lead to the ultimate vulnerability of it. I don't think that marriage is an appropriate matter for the constitutional amendment and I think that by continuing to push it in that light, that folks are perhaps wittingly or unwittingly creating some vulnerability I don't think the rest of us want.

>>Peter Gentala:
In 2006 we had similar discussions but there was a key difference and that was Representative Sinema and the others who oppose the proposition 107 dead constantly said this isn't about marriage; it's about the benefits issue. That's true. Now we are going to talk about the definition of marriage and as we're poised to have that discussion with the Arizona people they're industrial trying to obstruct this from the ballot and that should tell but their intentions.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
This amendment isn't about marriage. Marriage is solid and stable and unchanged in Arizona. What this is really about is using the term marriage and the concept of marriage which many in Arizona consider to be sacred, and using it as a political tool on the ballot and I think that's inappropriate. One thing I want to quickly go back to is the argument peter made that the appellate court's holding had no significance, and just for those who aren't attorneys, if someone wanted to challenge the state statute, again they would have to start with superior court and the superior court would have to follow a rule called stare decisis, which means you have to appeal to a rule of the previously established higher court and so would the appellate court, so it's disingenuous to say there's no precedent here because stare decisis does exist and the law of the land is very clear in Arizona.

>>Peter Gentala:
I don't think that's entirely accurate legally. That's one avenue for that to come to court, but another might be special action, which was the way the 2003 case actually did come, and that can be filed originally with the Supreme Court without going to a lower court first.

>>Ted Simons:
I understand what you're saying. You're concerned about future court action and future legislation. This is one law. There are a lot of laws out there, and a lot of them on the books and a lot of them that could be taken to the people to make sure no future courts, no future lawmakers, can mess with them. Why this one?

>>Peter Gentala:
Well, let's start with the fact that marriage is a fundamental principle and so if you have something as sacred as marriage between one man and one woman, do we want someone that's unelected making that decision, and the truth of the matter is in the last decade and a half we've seen a pattern of judges getting involved in this decision and increasingly legislatures getting involved in this decision, and not allowing the people to speak up on this issue. If you go back to the early '90s, you have the courts in Hawaii and Alaska and Connecticut looking at changing the definition of marriage, and that's what originally launched the whole concept that, hey, maybe the people need to stand up and speak to this issue and not let it happen by default through the courts.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
But the funny thing is that in Arizona the legislature and courts have gotten involved in this, in 1996 the legislature took it upon itself to change the state statute to clarify that marriage would only be recognized between one man and one woman, and in 2003 when the courts were asked to rule on it, they did so, and they did so unequivocally. So while we may be talking about states I think Arizonans are pretty clear. They don't do what other states do, they do what they want to do and the legislature in Arizona and courts have already spoken and so have the people.

>>Peter Gentala:
I share that confidence and that's the reason why I think there's no real reason to put up Any barriers for the people to vote up language that says only one woman and one man shall be valid as marriage in this state. Simple up or down vote for the people.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
There's no real reason to put it on the ballot unless you have ulterior or different motives, than the true impact of protecting marriage in the state.

>>Ted Simons:
Before we get -- a couple minutes left here. I want to get back to the idea this is all politicized, a way to bring out a base. Certainly that's a factor.

>> Peter Gentala:
Well, I think that there's broad support for this. But marriage is a concept that unites across religious lines, unites across political lines, and it unites across all demographic lines. So I think we will see about, I mean, initial polling by the Arizona marriage coalition has shown 65\% of Arizonans just looking at this language support the concept of marriage between one man and one woman. And frankly Arizonans to say that Arizonans can't have a vote to protect the definition of marriage in the timeless way that it's always been recognized without there being political gamesmanship I don't think is an honest thing to say. What we've got here is a situation where Arizonans can simply just say I think marriage is between a man and a woman. It's not a political issue. It's a timeless cultural issue.

>>Ted Simons:
Is marriage a societal norm? A tradition? To the point where this extra protection makes sense?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
well, I think that everyone would agree that marriage is part of American culture and society. I don't understand how using an initiative like this or referenda in this case creates any additional protection. There is no threat to marriage in Arizona and I think it's very clear that the folks who are pushing this are pushing it not necessarily to protect marriage because again there's no threat, but if other motives, and we've seen this play out in the legislature, although the bill did pass yesterday in the house with the very narrow margin, two of the folks who voted yes, republican members who voted yes, voiced serious concern and discontent about not only the bill but the way it's been gone about and people in the senate have that concern as well.

>>Ted Simons:
Before we go, a general question here regarding protecting the definition of marriage. How is marriage being threatened? How is my marriage right now threatened by something this would address?

>>Peter Gentala:
well, it's a key definitional issue. It's what is the accepted cultural understanding of what marriage is. Not saying that there can't be other types of relationships, we're just saying what is marriage itself. And frankly the way the law recognizes marriage has deep significance, just ask parents in Massachusetts, for example, where their preschoolers, kindergarteners and first graders are learning that marriage is entirely different from the concept of marriage they grew up with. Those are folks who didn't think that that was what they were in for but that's what they got through the court decision.

>>Ted Simons:
All right. And we do have to stop it right there. Thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

>>Kyrsten Sinema:
Thanks.

>>Peter Gentala:
Thank you. Appreciate it.

>>>Ted Simons:
Tomorrow governor Janet Napolitano makes her monthly stop on horizon. She'll talk about the budget for the next fiscal year, talk about signs and vetoes and a state trust land that has lawmakers fuming. That's Wednesday's on Horizon. Before you go, visit our website, azpbs.org/horizon for video and transcripts of this program. That's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.

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