By Another view

Evidence that it’s an election year is beginning to surface at the State Capitol.

Despite more than 1,800 bills and consent resolutions introduced this session, lawmakers are collectively realizing they have neither the time nor the desire to accomplish all that is on their agenda. The rising tide that is the Democratic Party in Arizona and a surprising number of intra-party Republican primary contests have shifted the focus from legislating to campaigning for several of the incumbents.

Friday provided the most relevant and recent examples. After a week of emotional arguments on a consent resolution aimed at prohibiting cities and counties from designating themselves “sanctuary” sites, Gov. Ducey put an end to the debate. After consulting with legislative leaders, the Governor announced the initiative would be pulled from further consideration.

Discussion of groundwater pumping is another example of a sudden desire among lawmakers to get out of Phoenix. Despite the impassioned pleas from supporters of proposed legislation making it easier for Arizona water regulators to limit well-drilling in farming areas, state Senators on Friday pushed off acting on the measure. Cochise County was held up as an example among opponents of regulating groundwater pumping during the Senate debate. Instead of oversight, opponents pointed to the series of meetings being held here, organized by Supervisor Peggy Judd, which are discussing what can be done to prevent aquifers from going dry. Farmers and those in the agriculture industry prefer self-regulation over state oversight.

Decisions not to act on these measures indicate the complexity of the issues involved and a lack of willingness to risk political consequences entering what most people acknowledge will be a hotly contested campaign season.

Lawmakers are distracted with ethics complaints involving improper sex and romantic relationships, a vocal constituency who have compared the Governor’s sanctuary cities bill with the racially-controversial SB1070 initiative adopted in 2010, and angry gun-rights advocates worried about “red-flag” laws.

Watch for the Legislature to turn its attention to adopting a budget within the next few weeks, letting go several of the more controversial bills in favor of fulfilling their mandated responsibility and finishing up the session in a timely manner.

Politicians will turn their efforts toward inspiring their constituents to get out and vote and leave the issues for debate on another day.

Easter arrives April 12, and we’ll see an end to the 54th Legislature shortly after that date.

Reprinted from Sierra Vista Herald/Review

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