This week at the Arizona Capitol: Familiar 'culture war' bills and speed cameras

By Mark Brodie
Published: Monday, February 26, 2024 - 10:36am

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Tempe speed limit sign Mill Avenue
Tim Agne/KJZZ
A speed limit sign on Mill Avenue in Tempe.

Arizona lawmakers will be debating bills on some familiar topics this week — from elections to so-called "culture war" issues. This, as House and Senate committees start taking up measures from the opposite chamber after last week’s crossover week.

Once again, Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services joined The Show to talk about what to expect this week at 1700 W. Washington St.

Interview highlights

So speaking of deja vu, let's talk about elections and voting centers. There's a measure that would basically get rid of them, right?

HOWARD FISCHER: Yes. The complaint is that the voting centers caused some of the problems that we had in Maricopa County last election because there are a lot of people being funneled into a few places. The advantage of voting centers is you can go to any one, they print out the ballots there, they know where you're from. You get your school board races, your legislative races. The complaint is that, if you had precinct voting that why you could only go to your own precinct you would know immediately how long the lines are and you would be able to count the ballots easier, and you could, some people wanna actually count them there at the precinct, which goes to some larger questions about one day voting and everything else.

This has been a, a big issue for the conservatives who want to say we, they want to make it as, I don't want to say as difficult as possible, because it depends on how you're, you're talking about it. They do point out that state law says you're entitled to three hours off during the day to go vote. So you don't necessarily need a voting center, but it's a matter of faith for a lot of these folks that voting centers are a problem and we're gonna get rid of them.

Right. Howie, there are also some, quote unquote culture war issues coming up for debate in the Senate. One dealing with, with the pronouns that, that people would like to have used another, having to deal with, sort of accommodations for changing in showers. How similar or dissimilar are these to the kinds of bills that we've seen in, in the recent past?

FISCHER: Well, the one about the showers is a little different because originally this started years ago as John Kavanaugh's bathroom bill about what bathroom it can go to, depending, literally speaking, on your plumbing, if you will. They backed it off to talk about showers because you know, in a bathroom, you have stalls, there are things you can do. A shower is basically an open area. And they're saying, look, there is no reason that somebody who is born male, we can get into questions about biological male gender and all that stuff, should be in a shower room with females. Some folks have said, well, you can put in shower curtains. I'm not sure how much of a of an answer that is. And what they've done is say, look, if you're unable or unwilling to use the shower room that matches your biological birth, then you have to do a reasonable accommodation, which could include a, a single room that has only one shower in it, maybe the staff room. And so they're trying to make some accommodation there.

The issue of pronouns is one of those things about what kids want to be called and should parents have to give their permission. In other words, if Johnny comes to school and says I want to be called her or she, you know, should you have to notify the parents? Should you have to force school teachers to go ahead and acknowledge what a student feels? And this gets very tricky because as you get into older children who clearly know what they are or, and, and should you have to go ahead and say, well, I'm sorry, Johnny, we're gonna call you he and Johnny because that's what's on your birth certificate.

Howie, is there any reason to believe that assuming that any of these, these three bills that we've talked about so far get to the governor's desk that she would sign them?

FISCHER: I'd say that the odds are very, very small. She doesn't like all these culture war issues. She's vetoed several of them in past years. Why they're coming up again, you know, that comes down to politics. You know, it's an election year. Well, we want to show that Gov. Katie Hobbs is out of touch with what parents want. I think she'd have a real problem. You know, she might be willing to do something perhaps on a shower bill if she could, to the reasonable accommodations to be sufficient. But again, I'd say, you know, she got to 143 vetoes last year. If they keep sending her this stuff, I'd say she could break her own record.

Howie another bill up for a debate in the Senate this week would basically set a maximum fine for,, photo enforcement for speed camera violations. And in some cases, this would be a pretty dramatic drop in revenue for, for cities that use these.

FISCHER: Well, the point of this is a lot of folks don't like the idea of photo enforcement, both the idea of radar, which is used extensively, for example, in Paradise Valley. And then red light cameras, which are used by a number of Valley cities, because of the fact that we have people here who can't seem to understand that red means stop. So unable to get a bill out to kill it, unable to even put that on the ballot. They were trying to go ahead and minimize the impact. So it would do two things. Number one, it would say the total revenue is $100 because a speeding ticket could be $200, $300 or more. More of the points of getting people to pay them and not fight them. It says if you pay it within 90 days, you won't get any points on your license. And more again, more particularly, we won't tell your insurance company about it.

So I think the belief is that somehow this could get through and get the votes it needs. Now what the governor will do with things like that. This hasn't been one of her issues in the past, but it, it's hard to say.

Has this had bipartisan support so far going through the process?

FISCHER: It's had some more than, than before. I think the issue of revenue to cities is not so much the issue. The issue is public safety. And if people think, well, so what if I get a, a speeding ticket going up Lincoln Drive in Paradise Valley? No big deal. I can afford the 100 bucks. But I think that a lot of the Democrats say, do you really want to strip rights away from the city? Do you really want to undermine their ability to enforce their speeding laws?

Yeah, that is interesting.

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