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home : opinion : opinion April 30, 2016

2/17/2013 6:01:00 AM
Editorial Column: More useless 'look at me' legislation

Alan Choate
News Editor

Last week, Arizona senators voted to pick a fight with the federal government.


This time, it's a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Arizonans a means to ignore whatever "federal action" people found to be unconstitutional. There's been a lot of yammering along these lines in protest of federal gun rules and the president's health care law, but the bill is much broader than that - the idea is that the state could just say "no" to anything, be it gun restrictions, clean air rules or education standards.

Should this end up getting through the approval process, all it will lead to is litigation, rancor and grandstanding that will accomplish nothing, same as the last time Arizona decided to be mavericky with some supposed "stand" against the feds.

It would be bad enough if this was the only useless "look at me" bill before the Legislature, but that's never the case. There's an entire constellation of them.

Take the Oath Bill, for example, which would require high school students to recite an oath ending with "so help me God" before they could graduate. Forget the church and state problems; part of the oath includes the phrase, "I take this oath freely," even though, since it's a graduation requirement, there would be no free will involved.

Or how about the bill that hit a wall last week that would've diverted $1.5 million earmarked for underperforming schools in order to advertise education options other than public schools? That's just great - take money needed for a legitimate state interest and use it to undermine that very interest.

Here's another one: HB 2511 would bar the state, cities, counties, school districts and any other Arizona political subdivision from participating in an incentive program that promotes the use of solar or wind energy.

This has been a pet cause of the sponsor, Rep. John Allen, R-Scottsdale, for some time, and he's admitted that he's kind of the "only voice in the wilderness" on this topic.

So why do it? The bill's probably going nowhere, but it still takes time and resources to prepare and file it. Besides, I thought mandates from on high were supposed to be a bad thing.

We expect the private sector to innovate, but local and state governments should be experimenting too - they are, after all, the "laboratories of democracy," or so it's said.

We in the media deserve some scrutiny here too, since we willingly, even excitedly, cover these messes masquerading as deliberative lawmaking. I'm guilty too, and I freely admit that a tussle over limiting birth control coverage for religious reasons interests me more than wrangling over the school funding formula, even if it's all bluster and pandering.

The coverage serves a purpose, though. It keeps the silliness out in the open where everyone can see it, and there's a record when bad bills become law. Accountability for the perpetrators seems rare. But one can hope.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Edward Tomchin

The politicians you speak of should rightly be named the Arizona Taliban and their right-wing medley plays out against education, justice, compassion or anything else that may threaten their powerbase.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: What a State

Yea, kudos for keeping the madness that is the Republican party before us. The only part missing from your article is how our local representatives view these issues.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Amazing Just Amazing

HB2511 protects the Republican oil, gas, energy interests.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Poor Republicans - They See Danger Under Every Rock

The 1.5 mil to advertise alternatives is another step in destroying public schools because they see them as union strongholds.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Tax Money Well Spent

Amazing for a party that apparently hates lawyers it sure keeps them busy.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Fairness in Telling

Whether or not I agree with your position, I am glad to read that you hold a different opinion than Thurlow in what appears to be Kelli Ward's bill "that would've diverted $1.5 million earmarked for underperforming schools in order to advertise education options other than public schools", if passed. This tells me that-along with the various comments to articles that are published in the KDM- opposing opinions held by others are not stifled by the "boss", and therefore, the newspaper is more likely to be balanced, and can be trusted for the most part.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Butch Meriwether

Interesting take on Alan.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Uncle Anson

Great piece Alan. You hit the nail on the head. Silliness in government at every level. If government did it's job then we would not have people like Pelosi standing up in defiance of a wage freeze for congress because people just do not know all congress does while they walk to the beat of their personal agendas, thumbing their collective noses at the people chanting How do you like me now.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: R H

Yes , 'You In The Media' deserve a lot of scrutiny because YOU have not been paying attention to the federal overreach occurring RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. This nullification effort is the result of voters fed up with Washington DC contacting their legislators and DEMANDING Arizona follow the constitutional lead of other states also going this route. The feds have no right to do what they are doing and this effort is simply asserting the power that was never supposed to be relinquished.
You need to examine the failure of media (the Fourth Estate) in their job as a protector of liberty. Media has dropped the ball in such a huge way that cannot be blamed on anything but willful compliance and SUPPORT of the police state. When our rights are abrogated and all you can comment on is how "you make us look silly (having the gall to stand up for our rights)" , what does that say about YOU ?.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

Thanks Alan for a voice of reason here in the wilderness. Most or all of these bills come from the rightwing. They see their role in govt. as protectors of freedom but the reality is far from that. They don't want govt to work for the people so they do everything in their power to put up roadblocks against change they don't believe in. Sen McCain has sadly taken on the role of chief obstructor along with a few others. It has become obvious to me that he is more interested in stopping any real progress that the present administration puts forward than responsibly working for the betterment of all the people of Arizona. Many in the Republican party realize that they are becoming more and more unelectable nationwide. Yes they can dominate in pockets of rightwing states like Arizona but their efforts will not bare fruit as the party ages it becomes out of touch with more and more voters. Vaginal probe comes to mind. Or how about legitamate rape or fighting against Obamacare when it is basically a Republican plan from the past that the president has adopted to try and work with the right. It seems that we have become a state of cry babies rather than adults. As I'm writing this Sen Mccain is appearing on Meet the Press saying that Chuck Hagel is not qualified to be secretary of defense while David runs a old clip where he says the exact opposite. I for one would like our senator to work for the poeple of Arizona rather than embarass our state on a weekly basis. It also would probably be a lot better for the Republican party. When Carl Rove becomes the voice of reason something is surly wrong.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: nnp .....

a person unfamiliar with Arizona living could get the impression that this is a freedom-loving state, rather than the corrupt police state that it actually is.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: J J

Bring on the usual parade of under-educated WASPs that think they're constitutional scholars telling us how "this is 'Murrikah, so Arizona can do what we want," or the ever hilarious "this is all Obama's plan to take my gun, then give it to an army of aborted fetuses that will force me onto a FEMA train off to a death panel."

Good story Choate. Glad to see our legislators wasting our money on nonsense. Didnt see any mention of any jobs bills in there. Strange. Wait, that's because jobs bills don't play to their base, and they need their base to stay in power

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