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House Advances Bill Prohibiting Most State Agencies From Hiring Lobbyists

Arizona lawmakers have advanced legislation that would prohibit many state agencies from contracting with lobbyists.

Pledging it would save taxpayer dollars, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey fired lobbyists hired by state agencies, boards and commissions last year — except for those overseen by elected officials, including his own office. Now state lawmakers are trying to pass a law making that permanent.

Republican Rep. John Allen said agencies shouldn’t be spending money to lobby state lawmaker on certain policies "some of them not in the same direction in which their bosses, the executive, wish."

Allen said that practice "seems to me one of the worst movements I can ever think of. Why are we worried about lobbyists?"

But Democrats who oppose bill, like Rep. Kirsten Engle, said it creates an uneven playing field since this isn’t getting rid of all lobbyists.

“The agencies that are supposed to be out there protecting the public, they don’t have that same access, that same expertise that can be provided to this body because we are going to have this prohibition,” she said.

The bill would not let agencies contract with lobbyists, but it would still allow those directly employed by the state to lobby at the Legislature as part of their job.

The House must still take a roll-call vote on the bill.

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.