PHOENIX, Arizona – In an effort to speed along passage of the budget, Arizona House Republicans pushed through a rule change to limit debate on bills to 30 minutes. After that, amendments on that bill would be moved, explained, and voted on without debate, explanation of vote, or questions. Additionally, all protests were directed to be made in writing and submitted to the chief clerk.
The rule change passed along party lines, 31 to 29.
House Democrats tweeted a copy of the proposed rule changes late Thursday morning as the debate was ongoing.
“Republicans are changing the rules on the fly to deny debate, questions or vote explanations on the #AZBudget,” wrote Arizona House Democrats. “The voices of half the state will be silenced on a budget that will impact millions.”
Republicans are changing the rules on the fly to deny debate, questions or vote explanations on the #AZBudget. The voices of half the state will be silenced on a budget that will impact millions. https://t.co/mZvnPl3l2m pic.twitter.com/GXOifkgGmY
— Arizona House Democrats (@AZHouseDems) June 24, 2021
That sentiment pervaded every Democratic representative’s argument, as nearly all of them stood to speak out against the rule change. They said that the rule change was undemocratic and didn’t represent the people’s will.
State Representative Alma Hernandez (D-Tucson) claimed that House Democrats weren’t included in the process of formulating the budget.
“This is what privilege looks like. This right here,” said Hernandez. “I don’t understand why any of you would think it’s okay to shut us out and not debate any of these matters.”
Shortly after, Hernandez tweeted out her floor speech.
The actions by the #GOP to shut dem voices out today are absolutely crazy. As someone who works hard to work across the aisle, I feel very disappointed in my colleagues. We will NOT be silenced. This budget isn't for #AZ working class. It's for wealthy donors. #azleg #privilege pic.twitter.com/YekFFFoF8P
— (((Rep.Alma Hernandez))) (@almaforarizona) June 24, 2021
State Representative Aaron Lieberman (D-Paradise Valley) quoted the Washington Post slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” as he criticized the rule change. He also quoted Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” asserting that the treatment they were facing as Democrats by the Republicans was comparable to the treatment of the Jews in the play.
State Representative Bret Roberts (R-Maricopa) asked the room rhetorically how many members in the room were running for other offices.
“You don’t want to lose your time to placate your base,” observed Roberts.
Remarks from State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Gilbert) earned multiple contests from Democratic representatives on point of order.
“The only thing that has obstructed this process is every member of the minority decided to abandon their post and leave this chamber and abandon their work,” asserted Hoffman. “The majority party was here ready to work, ready to hear your amendments.”
Midway through those remarks, Democratic legislatures twice called point of order on Hoffman.
Shortly before adopting the rule change, House Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham (R-Gilbert) said that these changes were to keep order.
“We are not preventing debate, we are preventing endless obstructions that would ultimately result in the shutdown of the state of Arizona,” said Grantham.
Those remarks caused uproar on the floor, with multiple rejections from Democrats on points of order. Despite the disruption, the House adopted the rule change and proceeded to the budget debate.
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