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This week at the Arizona Capitol: House expected to take up border security ballot proposal

The state House of Representatives will be back in session for the first time in about three weeks, when they gavel into session tomorrow. When they do, they’re expected to take up the border security ballot proposal approved by the Senate last month.

With The Show now, as he is every Monday during the legislative session, to talk about what to expect this week at the state capitol is Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services.

Full conversation

MARK BRODIE: Good morning, Howie.

HOWARD FISCHER: Good morning. Well, it's sort of like what Bruce said about the weather. It's going to be an ugly week.

BRODIE: Well, I mean, we'll see how long a week it actually is at the Capitol though, right? I mean, the House is expected to take up this secure the Border Act. Any reason to think that it will run into any problems in that chamber?

FISCHER: I don't think it should. There were some modifications as we know made in the Senate. Senator Ken Bennett of Prescott wanted some alterations to make sure that this was prospective only that we weren't going after DACA recipients, that this is meant to be at the border. We're not picking up people on I-40 saying you cross the border illegally. I think that should be enough to round up the 31 votes. I would not expect any serious changes.

But again, you know, these are 31 independent Republican lawmakers, some of whom fall in line, some of whom perhaps have a more political problems at their November election and may seek some further changes. So we, we're all anxiously waiting to see.

BRODIE: And presumably, you know, three to four more hours of vote explanations coming as we saw in the Senate last month. Howie, let me ask you about another proposal, another proposed ballot measure that's out there as you know, the Legislature is starting to, you know, wrap things up and there are just a few things hanging out there. We've been hearing a lot about this effort to ask voters to not retain a pair of state Supreme Court justices, but there's still this measure out there that would essentially change the way justices keep their seats.

FISCHER: Exactly under the merit system the voters approved in 1974, justices are named by the governor after who has to choose from a special nominating panel. So governor just can't choose anybody. It's not like the U.S. Supreme Court and then Supreme Court justices stand for what they call retain, reject every six years, the rest of the judges on a four-year basis and that occurs pretty regularly. In general up until last year judges were not turned out of office. i think most folks said, you know, gee, sounds good to me. Although I have to admit most folks don't know who most of these judges are. This change would say that unless you've got a specific problem, for example, a bankruptcy or foreclosure, some sort of misconduct on the bench, you would just presume to be retained and your name would not appear on the ballot. The argument is again, since most of the folks don't know who the judges are. There's no reason to clog up the ballot with that.

The tricky part becomes that this measure by Senator David Gowan of Sierra Vista is worded in a way that it's retroactive. So let's assume on November 5, voters say yes, we'd like to have it so that people don't have to appear on the ballot. This would mean that even if voters turned Clint Bollock and Kathryn King out of office, those are the two who have been targeted over their vote on, on the abortion measure, the fact is they'd still be retained and it's, it's, it's, it's a little, little on the tricky side and I think that's part of what annoys people. I think they're willing to have a discussion about the merits selection process, but they think that this is trying to put one over on voters.

BRODIE: Howie, we also saw last week that a special House committee recommended impeachment for the State Attorney General Kris Mayes. Tomorrow will be the first time the house gavels into session since that. Is there a chance we could see articles of impeachment drawn up and potentially voted on against Mayes?

FISCHER: I think they're being drawn up right now. The question of whether they get voted on comes down to somebody counting no's. You need 31 votes in a simple majority of the House to vote out a bill of impeachment. There are only 31 Republicans and while you probably could line up 25 to 28 just because of the fact that a lot of people are unhappy with the Democratic Attorney General over one thing or another, whether it's a water policy, whether it's her policy on crisis pregnancy centers or anything else, maybe a few Republicans who were saying, do we really think these are impeachment issues or is this just somebody following the policies that she was elected to do? Because again, she's an independently elected person and whether you leave Abe Hamada, that he really won. The fact is that Kris Mayes was elected by 280 votes.

So you need at least that the other question that they have to have is what's the point? Even if we have 31, it takes a two-thirds vote in the Senate, which means 20 out of 30 to actually do a conviction. And if you've only got 16 Republicans there, and I don't see a single Democrat going along, are we just doing this for the headlines and sort of like the, what happened with Mayorkas where the house voted out a bill of impeachment on the Homeland Security Secretary and the Senate said, that's nice and dismissed it immediately.

BRODIE: So, I mean, does the fact how, as you say that the Senate is almost certainly not going to remove her from office, do you get the sense that makes it less likely the House will even bother to take it up or is it maybe politically worth it for some number of Republicans in the House to be able to say yes, I voted to impeach her.

FISCHER: Oh, I think for a number of members of the House, for members of the Freedom Caucus, for some people including House Speaker Ben Toma, who's in a very difficult race for CD8, among the Republicans and he needs to show his true Republican credentials. But I think for some others they're gonna say, is this really worth me getting some publicity on, if I am in a district that has probably as many voting Democrats as has voting Republicans, do I really want this to be what I'm gonna have to campaign on that I'm trying to get rid of an attorney general for who, who is being impeached for among other things, the fact that the House is benign to be able to come up with a water plan for rural Arizona to keep the, the Saudi farmers from sucking it dry.

And the attorney general saying, you know, we have negligence laws that say if you're harming your neighbor's property, you can be taken to court. And she says, I'd like to explore negligent laws which again, depending on who you talk to, some of the ag folks say, no, we don't want to do that. But there are some other folks saying, unless the legislature acts, let the attorney general have a whack at it.

BRODIE: Yeah, that'll be interesting to see this week for the House as we say, coming in tomorrow. That is Howie Fisher of Capital Media Services. Howie, thank you as always.

FISCHER: Have a less than ugly week.

KJZZ's The Show transcripts are created on deadline. This text may not be in its final form. The authoritative record of KJZZ's programming is the audio record.

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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.