Arizona governor to open Legislature's 2021 session remotely
PHOENIX - Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will present his annual state of the state address Monday remotely as the Legislature foregoes its ceremonial opening day joint session because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Unprecedented security measures are also in place around the Capitol in the wake of mob violence by insurrectionist backers of President Donald Trump who broke into Congress last week in Washington, D.C.
The entire state Capitol complex is now ringed by a double-layer of fencing and the general public will not be allowed into the Senate or House or into the plaza between the two buildings. Only a limited number of invited guests will be on hand as the 90 lawmakers are sworn into office and formal elections for House speaker and Senate president are held.
Republicans who control both chambers have already chosen their leaders but it's possible some GOP House members may not back Rusty Bowers for speaker. Although Republicans backed him after the election, some are angry Bowers refused to back Trump’s unfounded claims that he won Arizona’s electoral votes.
With the GOP holding just 31 of 60 House seats, just one defection during Monday‘s formal vote would mean Bowers would need backing from Democrats to be elected speaker. It’s unclear if he could muster that without cutting some sort of deal.
Ducey will deliver his speech via video and has not announced an intent to make an in-person appearance.
Ducey said in an interview Friday that his annual address will largely focus on the pandemic that has killed more than 10,000 Arizonans and sickened more than 600,000.
The Republican governor said the policies and priorities he’ll announce Monday will include a focus on education and proposals on how to get children back to in-person learning and caught up from months of mainly remote classes. He didn't give many other details of his planned speech, which is scheduled for 2 p.m.