The 15 Worst Moments From This Year's Legislative Session
Gage Skidmore/Flickr Creative Commons
The end is in sight.
Now that next year's budget has passed, the state Legislature is about to wrap up for the year.
So what better time to take a walk down memory lane and reflect on some of this legislative session's worst moments?
1. Right off the bat, Rep. Bob Thorpe introduced bills to ban social justice-themed events and classes at Arizona schools, and prevent students from registering to vote at their campus addresses. Both died quickly, but not before they made the national news and prompted people around the country to wonder what's wrong with Arizona.
2. Next, lawmakers introduced legislation that would allow teachers with no specialized credentials to teach special ed, which would save money but potentially be a disaster for kids with learning or physical disabilities. That one passed through the Senate, and is currently waiting on a final vote from the House.
3. The Arizona Senate passed a bill that would potentially have allowed prosecutors to seize people's assets, including their homes, if a protest that they helped plan ended up turning violent. It was later killed by House Speaker J.D. Mesnard after generating a firestorm of controversy in the national media.
4. Rep. David Stringer managed to offend teachers everywhere when he claimed that teaching was an easy part-time job that doesn't require any special skills. That same week, he accused high school newspapers of being vehicles for liberal propaganda.
5. Arguing that people in urban areas should have the right to shoot snakes and rats in their backyards, Rep. Jay Lawrence attempted to gut Shannon's Law, named for a 14-year-old killed by a fallen bullet. It was ultimately shot down in the Senate.
6. The passage of Proposition 206, which raised the minimum wage, prompted conservatives to pass HB 2404, which will make it harder to get similar initiatives on the ballot in the future.
7. Rep. Bob Thorpe threatened to call security to have Rep. Isela Blanc removed from a committee hearing, prompting a discussion about sexism and bullying in the state legislature.
8. Thanks to the lobbying of Cathi Herrod and the right-wing Center for Arizona Policy, Arizona's abortion restrictions got even stricter. Clinics are now forced to do everything in their power to preserve the life of an aborted fetus or embryo if it's born with a heartbeat, even in cases where women had elected for an abortion because doctors had determined that the fetus had developmental abnormalities and was unlikely to survive after birth.
9. Over objections that it could give officers a chance to alter their stories, the legislature voted to pass a bill that requires police to review body camera footage before they make any statements about an incident involving the use of force.
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10. In what was perhaps the most controversial vote of the entire legislative session, lawmakers approved a massive expansion of the state's school voucher program, making it possible for all public school students to use state money to attend private and parochial schools. Critics say that it will benefit only wealthy parents who can afford the difference between what the state voucher covers and what tuition at a private school actually costs, while taking badly needed funding away from already struggling public schools.
11. House Republican leaders criticized atheist lawmaker Athena Salman for delivering an invocation that wasn't religious enough for their tastes.
12. In a pointed response to the Black Lives Matter movement, the state Legislature passed the "Blue Lives Matter" law, increasing the penalties for assaulting off-duty police officers. Weirdly, a lot of Democrats supported it.
Teachers protested Rep. John Allen's remarks by bringing a flotilla of boats to the state Capitol.
13. Rep. John Allen offended teachers across the state (are you seeing a theme emerging here?) when he suggested there was nothing wrong with the fact that many Arizona teachers are forced to work multiple jobs, and that some of them are doing it in order to buy boats. The #BillsNotBoats controversy, which led to a "boat parade" demonstration at the state Capitol, was further fueled by the legislature's decision to allow uncertified teachers into public school classrooms, over the objection of professional educators.
14. Complaining that it had been sprung on them at lunchtime, House Republicans refused to even debate ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.
15. In a last-minute attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, Republicans slipped a provision into the state budget that could potentially lead to a loss of Title X funding and the closure of clinics across the state. It passed at 4 a.m. on Friday, despite Democrats' attempts to have it scrapped.
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