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Arizona's Legislation Steps and Structure

Info: 2336 words (9 pages) Essay
Published: 18th Mar 2021 in Politics

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Describe the structure of Arizona’s legislative branch in the state government, including the number of members in each house, who elects them, who draw up the boundaries, and when and how those boundaries are drawn.  What are the qualifications for-and limitations to serving in the legislature?

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 The Arizona legislative branch includes the Senate and the House of Representatives, who make the decisions and represent the citizens of Arizona. The Senate is made up of 30 Senators, and the House of Representative has 60 representatives for a total of 90 state legislators. Senators and Representatives are elected by the voters. 

Arizona currently has 30 legislative districts, based, in part, on the U.S. Census.  Qualifications for a state legislator in Arizona include being a citizen of the United States, be at least 25 years old, be a resident of Arizona for at least 3 years, and be a resident of the county from which he or she is elected for at least 1 year, be able to read, write, speak and understand English.  The state legislators may not hold another office in the U.S. or state government and are ineligible if they are state employees.  All legislators serve 2-year terms of office, and four consecutive terms in the same office.  Arizona state legislators are part-time because the “Arizona Constitution intended to have a citizen legislature.”  Legislative business requires a quorum of members, they determine lawsuits against the state, and provide continuity in the event of an emergency, they enact laws regarding juvenile offenders, but are not allowed to hand out extra pay for services after a contract is signed.  ("POS221 Lesson 2") 

Every 10 years, reapportionment occurs to draw up boundaries for the state.

legislative apportionment, subdivision of a political body (e.g., a state or province) for the purpose of electing legislative representatives. In the United States, the Constitution requires that Congressional representatives be elected on the basis of population. State legislatures, not bound by the constitutional strictures, were apportioned according to considerations including population, as well as geographic size, special interests, and political divisions such as counties or towns. This often resulted in unrepresentative, minority control of the state legislature. The state legislatures were responsible for drawing up districts for the purpose of electing representatives to Congress. ("legislative apportionment")

In the case of Arizona, the reapportionment happens and redrawing of district maps to account for people who have moved into Arizona or from one part of the state to another so districts have roughly equal populations. 

In 1966 a redesign of the legislative representation took place in which federal judges had to step in to draw the political districts because the original format became unconstitutional in Arizona.  They restructured so that a total of 30 senator and 60 representatives were divided among the districts based on population. ("POS221 Lesson 2")  

In 2000, the voter initiative took the power away from the legislator and gave the redistricting right to the Independent Redistricting Commission.  Since its establishment, there have been many issues and accusations against the IRC, one of which is gerrymandering.  ("POS221 Lesson 2")

Summarize the major steps in Arizona’s bill-to-law process, including how many votes it takes in each house to pass bills.  At which steps in the process can the public speak for or against bills?

The major steps in Arizona’s bill-to-law begin as legislative proposals known as bills.  Bills are introduced at each annual session of the state legislature.  They are proposed, voted on, and pass or fail in some committee or during floor action.  Legislators depend on the recommendation of others to help them decide on the bills. ("POS221 Lesson 2")

The bill-to-law has to be introduced and only sitting legislators can introduce bills in an official bill format by the Legislative Council.  They assign a title to each bill, and the “enacting clause” must be present on the first line of each bill to identify it as an initiative proposed by the people or proposal of the legislature. After received, legislators “drop” the bill or place it in the “hopper” (a box into which proposed bill is dropped and thereby officially introduced). It then receives a bill number.  Once introduced, it awaits committee assignment by the presiding officer. ("POS221 Lesson 2”) The bill then goes to committee.  At this point the members of the public may speak for or against bills.  A bill cannot move further until it passes all the assigned committees. 

The Rules Committee looks over each bill to determine if it does not violate the state constitution or the U.S. Constitution and federal laws.  The Rules Committee chairperson will determine if the bill can be scheduled for a hearing or not.  Bills that pass through all the committees and the Rules Committee are then scheduled for the Caucus hearing, which is an informational process to review the bill.  If a bill requires an amendment, it then goes to the Committee of the Whole and once out of COW, a third reading of bills occurs and goes up for a vote of the entire chamber (“POS221 Lesson 2”)  

At this point, once read, the bill must receive a majority of elected members of the chamber:  31 in the House and 16 for the Senate and then passes out of the first chamber and goes through the same process in the other chamber.  ("POS221 Lesson 2") If no changes are made to the bill, it goes to the governor.  If changes are made, it goes back to the starting chamber for yet another vote to concur or refuse the changes.  Both chambers must vote on the same form before the governor signs it.  The starting chamber then revotes and the bill is given the final reading.  If changes are refused, the bill goes to a conference committee where they work out any disagreements. If disagreements are not settled, the bill dies.  If all is agreed upon, a final reading is done by both chamber and then it goes to the governor.  The governor can then sign the bill into law, allow the bill to become law without a signature, or veto the bill. If vetoed, the legislator has the power to override the veto with a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate. ("POS221 Lesson 2")

In the state of Arizona, a recall or impeachment can remove an elected official from public office.  Explain each process.  In the impeachment process, be sure to include the number of votes needed in impeachment, the charges possible and what happens if the official is successfully removed.  For the recall effort, explain the election process if the drive is successful.

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In the state of Arizona, a recall is the process by which the Constitution outlines the removal of elected officials from office in addition to regular elections.  The people can recall the elected official by special elections by getting enough constituents or 25% of those who cast votes in the last election, to sign a petition asking for a recall.  Once the signatures are received and filed, the elected individual has the option to resign within 5 days. ("POS221 Lesson 2") A special recall election is scheduled if the individual refuses to resign and at which point the official may campaign to remain and others may campaign to replace the official. Primary elections are not required for a recall election.  ("POS221 Lesson 2")

 The impeachment process in Arizona is the removal of an elected official without a special election in which charges of committing high crimes, misdemeanors, or malfeasance while in office have happened.  In this process, the House of Representatives has the power to impeach by bringing up charges.  The Senate acts as jury and votes to convict the official. ("POS221 Lesson 2") This conviction is the removal from office.  The Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court presides as judge.  If removed the legislator can elect to prohibit the person from holding a public office again, which is called the “Dracula Clause”. ("POS221 Lesson 2")

The Constitution of the State of Arizona allows for citizen participation in the legislative process through initiative and referendum.  Questions 4 and 5 will address these two processes.  Describe how the process of initiative works.  Be sure to discuss both normal laws and constitutional amendments.  As part of your explanation, create one example of a possible initiative.

The Constitution of the State of Arizona allows for citizen participation in the legislative process through initiative and referendum. ("POS221 Lesson 2") An initiative is started by the citizens.  They propose new laws or they will propose amendments to the constitution, that can then appear on a ballot for citizens to vote on during elections.  Before these proposed changes can be made, they have to qualify to go on the ballot.  This is done with citizen signatures.  It must receive signatures that are 10% of total votes from the last gubernatorial election and in order for constitutional amendments to change 15% of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election are required. ("POS221 Lesson 2”)

As part of the Red for Ed movement teachers asked for higher pay and other demands to fund our schools.  In spite of receiving over 250,000 signatures on the petition to put this initiative on the ballot, “Red for Ed’s momentum to win full funding for public schools was halted when the state Supreme Court threw the Invest in Ed initiative – which would have paid for education by taxing the rich – off the ballot last fall.” (Blanc, 2019).

As a citizen, I would propose an initiative that all citizens upon turning eighteen, were given $1,000 by the state government to begin their adult years with a nest egg.  I would have to find out how many qualifying signatures would be needed and receive enough signatures to submit the initiative to the Secretary of State months before Election Day.

Describe how the process of referendum works.  Again, be sure to discuss both normal laws and constitutional amendments and create one possible example of a referendum.

A referendum is the process by which a legislative bill or constitutional amendment is referred to the people for a vote. ("POS221 Lesson 2") A common practice is legislature sending constitutional issues to be voted on by the people.  This is primarily done because legislature does not have the authority to amend the state constitution without the vote of the people. ("POS221 Lesson 2") Unlike an initiative, which requires signatures, a referendum is voted on by legislature to be brought up to the people for voting. ("POS221 Lesson 2")

Another type of referendum is the “protest referendum”.  This referendum does require signatures.  When a protest referendum happens, it is because the people desire a vote on a bill that was already passed.  ("POS221 Lesson 2”) There are exceptions, in some cases there is a 90 day wait period, which gives the voters a chance to collect 5% of the last gubernatorial election signatures and gives the people a chance to vote directly on the referendum.  ("POS221 Lesson 2")

An example of a possible referendum could be a curfew for all individuals under the age of 21.  In the city of Phoenix, the curfew hours are 10 p.m. for children 15 and younger and midnight for 16- and 17-year old children.  This curfew is in effect every day, all year.  (flores, 2017) The proposal to change the law to individuals, 21 and younger, would have to be brought up to the voters to change it from 18 or younger.

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