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This week at the Arizona Capitol: Next steps after vetoed border bill

Republican leaders in the Arizona Legislature are planning to announce their next steps on border-related bills Monday,

This comes after Gov. Katie Hobbs last week vetoed the measure known as the Arizona Border Invasion Act.

Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services joined The Show to talk more about what to expect this week at the state Capitol. 

Full interview

MARK BRODIE: Good morning, Howie.

HOWARD FISCHER: Good morning. Another week in paradise here at the Capitol.

BRODIE: Absolutely. So what could the next steps be after Gov. Hobbs vetoed this bill that supporters said would, would really tamp down on, on people being here that shouldn't be here and critics said was basically the son of SB 1070.

FISCHER: Well, there isn't much left that the state can do, which of course was one of the points that a lot of folks have raised on both sides. This is a federal issue. Now, there are some moves to try to force the governor to put more Guard on the border. Obviously they won't be in a position to arrest anyone that a lot of that got thrown out with the, the governor's veto, as you point out of the earlier bill. I think a lot of it's gonna come down to money, support and a lot of politics, quite frankly, you know, this is an election year and I think the Republicans have realized that if the Democrats have an Achilles heel, it is the border and to the extent that they may not be able to get rid of Katie Hobbs, they may be able to keep the Legislature from going Democrat and they may be able to ha hang on to Congress.

BRODIE: Well, so does that mean that maybe border related issues become part of budget negotiations? 

FISCHER: Oh, I think everything becomes part of budget negotiations, you know, in terms of transit policy and we'll talk about that. I think it all comes down to, do you want your budget? What can we put into it? What can we take out of it to make sure that we get the policies that we want? Now, as you point out there's this presser later today press conference and we'll find out what else the Republicans have up their sleeves. I think a lot of it quite frankly is meant for television. I know you're shocked to know that that politicians would, would go ahead and stand out in the law to, to get some TV coverage. But that's what a lot of this is and it comes down to who can send the best message.

BRODIE: All right. So how you mentioned transportation policy. There is a measure coming up today that would continue the state Transportation Department, but not just do that.

FISCHER: Well, exactly. And this comes down to what we were talking about if you can't get what you want through separate bills. And Lord knows there are bills to deal with what the state can spend money on whether it's greenhouse gasses or Marxist policies, the way you do it is you attach it to a bill that's needed. ADOT needs authorization to continue for another four to eight years, depending on how long they do that. And so what they've tugged into that are two things: number one, no Intercity rail. So all the folks who are counting on being able to live in Tucson or Casa Grande or, or Maricopa and get to downtown Phoenix on a rail, no, we're not gonna let you do that. We're not even gonna let you spend federal money to do that. And the other says you cannot plan for any sort of greenhouse gas emissions. You can't even study it. And that's sort of the, you know, putting your fingers in your ears and saying not only don't we want any money spent on it. We don't want to know what the issues are. So this is gonna become something that if the bill gets to the governor in that form, she's got to decide, does she sign it or you veto it? And say, OK, you want to play games, let's dance.

BRODIE: Right. Well, I mean, that, that is kind of a tricky situation, right? Because in theory, you could risk the state Transportation Department going away. But obviously those other things you mentioned are not things that you would think the governor would support.

FISCHER: Well, it's gonna come down to whether there are some Republicans who are unwilling to hold ADOT hostage. There are a lot of folks who had transportation committees who have projects that they want ADOT to fund and if ADOT goes away so does their ability to spend not only the state dollars but the federal dollars. And will cooler heads prevail? Again, it's an election year. I'm not making any bets on that.

BRODIE: Yeah. All right. Howie, let me ask you about another measure that deals specifically, with, with local elections and when they can and cannot happen. sounds like they're, they're trying to make it so that elections of line up with each other and, and don't take place at times when voters might not be expecting them. 

FISCHER: There are a couple of bills on this, as you point out, the broader bill says, that you could only have elections for local issues including school boards and school bonding on November of the even numbered years. The idea is to get some more turnout now. Right now, there are four times every year that folks could hold the local elections you know, if you need your bonding, you don't, you can't necessarily wait two years. You have some cities, you know, like, you know, that decide we want to have elections and primaries in March or May because we think that we can focus on this. And this has been one of the arguments of cities which is, you know, if we are buried at the bottom of some, what's gonna be an overly long ballot, you know, do we end up with ballot drop-off and we don't end up really with any really higher, turn out on the whole thing. So that's a piece of it.

The other piece is specifically aimed at Tucson, which has this interesting modified ward system that you are nominated from your, one of your six wards. But then everybody in the city gets to vote for those people. Now this becomes a problem for Republicans because Tucson is a blueberry in the sea of strawberries if you want to call it that. And so the Republicans can get nominated in their districts. They just can't win general elections. So there's a measure that's gonna go to the ballot to go ahead and overrule that and say we know in the entire state how Tucson should elect its people. Lawmakers love monkeying with local government again. This is what another example of, well, we don't want Washington telling us what to do, but cities, yeah, that's sort of our purview.

BRODIE: Well, Howie, quickly before we let you go, the state trying to get involved in how Tucson does its elections. This is not a new thing.

FISCHER: Oh, no, no, no. They've, they've passed several bills before the state Supreme Court and even the U.S. Supreme Court said that the system that Tucson uses is legal and the state has no role because Tucson is a charter city. We have 19 charter cities that get to make their own rules. Well, now there's another bill again by Justine Wadsack to say for the largest cities in the state, we're gonna take away your charter powers, which deals with a whole bunch of things that cities can do. So in order for her to get Tucson through that ballot measure, she's also gotta go ahead and override Phoenix's Charter City, and I don't know how well that's gonna go over all again. The question becomes, the lawmakers say we know better than local voters. 

BRODIE: All right. That is Howie Fisher of capital media services. Howie, thank you as always.

FISCHER: Have a great day.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.