Longtime Arizona Legislator, Husband, and Father: Rick Murphy Dies at Age 50

Rick Murphy, who represented the areas around Glendale and Peoria in the Arizona Legislature from 2005 to 2014, passed away on Thursday, leaving behind his wife, Penny Murphy, their five children, and many foster children. Born with hemophilia, he received a tainted blood transfusion as a child that led to hepatitis and finally liver disease, which ultimately took his life at age 50.

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State Rep. Parker Blasts Ousted Arizona Speaker Bowers for Calling GOP ‘Fascist’

Republicans furious with Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa), mainly over denying election fraud and blocking election integrity bills, voted him out of office earlier this month, choosing a Trump-endorsed candidate instead. Bowers lost by almost 30 points to former legislator David Farnsworth, who he was running against for Senate (Bowers was term limited in the House). Bowers spoke out about his massive loss during an interview with The Guardian. 

He compared being voted out of office to “fascism.” He said, “The thought that if you don’t do what we like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves — that to me is fascism.” Bowers was referring to voters being upset about a multifaceted election integrity bill he killed using a technical maneuver. Among other things, HB 2596 would have given the legislature the power to reject election results, allowing an elector to call for a new election. 

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Arizona State House Republicans Launch New Caucus

Following in the footsteps of the federal Congressional House Freedom Caucus, legislators in the Arizona House have started an Arizona Freedom Caucus. A group of conservative lawmakers announced during a press conference last week that nearly a third of the Arizona House’s 31 Republicans have already joined it. 

The founding chairman is State Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), who said he was humbled to “to lead them in battle against the left and the establishment GOP that refuses to answer to the will of the people and instead chooses to answer to special interests and lobbyists’ groups that reside down here — they fill the halls.” 

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Arizona Republican Party Censures House Speaker Rusty Bowers: ‘Unfit to Serve’

The Arizona Republican Party’s Executive Committee formally censured Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) this week, calling on Republicans to vote him out of office during the primary election this year, and urging his Legislative District 10 and the Maricopa County Republican Party to issue their own censures.

The two-page censure contains a lengthy list of Bowers’ actions on bills in the Arizona Legislature, and declares he is “unfit to serve the platform of the Republican Party and will of the voter of the Republican Party of Arizona.” AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward tweeted, “he is no longer a Republican in good standing & we call on Republicans to replace him at the ballot box in the August primary.”

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Conservatives Back Trump-Endorsed Candidate to Defeat Term-Limited House Speaker Rusty Bowers, Now Vying for State Senate Seat

State Representative Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) is facing stiff competition for the Republican nomination for the state senate seat he is now running for, political watchers say, as the term-limited Arizona House Speaker campaigns against the well-known, Trump-endorsed former State Senator David Farnsworth to represent the people of the 10th Legislative District.  

State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) warned that Bowers is a “career politician” who “will betray you repeatedly then lie to make you think they were on your side the whole time.” In a post on Telegram, he relayed a couple of his bad experiences in the Arizona Legislature with Bowers, while refuting Bowers’ new campaign ad.

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Arizona Legislature Considering ‘Most Expansive Education Savings Account Program in the Nation’

The 2022 Arizona legislative session is almost over, but there are still a few key bills policy watchers say have a good chance of making it into law. One is HB 2853, which would expand school choice by opening Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) to all K-12 students in the state.

Cory DeAngelis, a national education policy expert who serves as national director of research for the school choice organization, American Federation for Children, tweeted, “This would be the most expansive education savings account program in the nation. All families would be able to take their children’s education dollars to the education providers of their choosing.”

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True the Vote Testifies to Arizona Legislators Regarding ‘2,000 Mules’ Documentary on Ballot Harvesting, Urges Passage of HB 2289

Two representatives from True the Vote, the election integrity organization whose work using GPS smartphone data to investigate ballot harvesting in Arizona and other states was featured in the recent 2,000 Mules documentary by Dinesh D’Souza, testified during an Arizona Legislative hearing on Tuesday providing further details. Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder and president, and Gregg Phillips, a data expert, drew frequent gasps and clapping, despite a request for no clapping at the beginning. When asked by legislators what Engelbrecht recommended for action, she said pass HB 2289. Sponsored by State Rep. John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction), it bans drop boxes and has passed the House, but has been held up in the Senate. 

Democrats in the legislature tried to interfere with the hearing by forcing a vote on a gun control bill, stalling it for well over an hour. Right Side Broadcasting filmed the hearing live on YouTube, but it was yanked by YouTube by the time it was finished. 

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State Lawmaker Alleges House Speaker Bowers Is ‘Playing Games’ with Election Integrity as Key Bills Fall Short

State House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) considered sending armed Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers after two conservative legislators during remarks on the State House floor, despite State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) telling multiple members of House leadership and their staff that there would not be enough legislators present for a vote to hear election integrity bills.

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Hoffman: Ducey Is Blocking My Anti-Grooming in Schools Bill

Neil W. McCabe, the national political director of The Star News Network, interviewed GOP state Rep. Jake Hoffman (AZ-12), the founder of the Arizona Freedom Caucus and a candidate for state Senate, about his bill to prevent teachers from sexualizing instruction and grooming students into non-mainstream lifestyles.

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11 Substantial Election Integrity Bills Were Signed into Law Last Year in Arizona; So Far This Year, Only One

A couple of Republican legislators have been holding up election integrity bills from passing this year, but there was plenty of groundwork made last year. The Arizona Legislature pushed hard to get 11 of these bills passed in 2021, in large part due to concern there was fraud in the 2020 presidential election. So far this year, Gov. Doug Ducey has only signed one election integrity bill into law. 

Along with a list of last year’s successful bills provided to Republican Briefs, State Sen. Vince Leach (R-Tucson) said, “For those of you who think that our legislature did nothing for election security, here are the actual bills passed this [past] session. … The rest will have to wait until we have a larger majority.”

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Arizona Senate President Karen Fann: Decertification Is an Option If AG ‘Finds Huge Differences in the Vote Count’

Many Arizonans are concerned that if there is clear evidence of massive voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election race in Arizona, the election will need to be decertified. Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) reaffirmed this during an interview with the progressive organization Under Current. Fann appeared to be under the perception the reporter was a conservative.

Under Current reporter Laura Windsor asked Fann about the investigation into the independent Maricopa County ballot audit by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who has produced a preliminary interim report. “Is Brnovich taking this seriously, is he going to certify?” Windsor asked. Fann responded,

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Gov. Ducey Signs 2022’s First Election Integrity Bill Which Closes Loophole on Non-Citizens Voting, Opponents Blast It

The whole country is watching Arizona to see if it will strengthen election integrity laws after fraud was highly suspected there in the 2020 presidential election. So far during the 2022 legislative session, the Arizona Legislature has referred one comprehensive measure to the ballot, the Arizonans for Voter ID Act, and sent its first bill to Gov. Doug Ducey to sign or veto. HB 2492, sponsored by State Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), requires proof of citizenship in order to vote, with the exception of voting in congressional elections which is preempted by federal law. 

The law, which passed both chambers along party lines, establishes tough penalties for those who violate it; it is a felony for election officials to register voters without proof of citizenship. County recorders are required to regularly cross-reference registered voters with citizenship databases. It gives the Arizona Attorney General authority to investigate. 

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Arizona Legislature Passes Two Bills Centered on Transgender Issues, All Eyes on Gov. Ducey Now

Withstanding a noisy opposition campaign, the Arizona Legislature passed two bills addressing heated issues involving transgenders, which will be sent to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to sign or veto. SB 1138 bans irreversible gender reassignment surgery for those under 18. SB 1165 prohibits males from participating in sports in public schools or at private schools that compete against public schools from playing on teams designated for girls. 

Rep. Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), who co-sponsored SB 1165, testified regarding how she played on girls’ teams in high school, but would have never been able to make the men’s teams. “The advantages bestowed by biological male puberty are so big that no amount of training or talent can enable biological female athletes to overcome them,” she said. 

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Arizona Legislature Approves Bill Vetting All Voters for Citizenship Before They Can Cast a Ballot

Arizona lawmakers approved new voter safeguards that supporters said will ensure only U.S. citizens can cast ballots.

A unanimous Republican caucus approved House Bill 2492 in the Senate, sending the legislation to Gov. Doug Ducey for consideration. 

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State Rep. Espinoza Sponsors Bill to Fight Back Against 6,500 Percent Surge in Catalytic Converter Thefts

Diego Espinoza

The theft of catalytic converters has become a big problem in Arizona, and State Rep. Diego Espinoza (D-Tolleson) is sponsoring legislation to expand the law against it. Current law only prohibits buying or selling a used catalytic converter outside of regular transactions; HB 2652 goes beyond that to make it illegal to possess, solicit, or advertise a used catalytic converter outside of regular transactions. It would also mandate reporting sales to DPS and tracking.

HB 2652 looks very likely to pass, as 49 members of the House voted for it and only 10 Republicans voted against it. It passed the Senate Committee on Transportation and Technology 9-0, and is now headed for the Senate Rules Committee. 

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Arizona GOP Legislators and Gov. Ducey Drafting Legislation to Combat Initiative That Would Derail Historic Tax Cuts

Last year, Arizona enacted historic tax cuts, changing the state’s tax code law to mostly a 2.5% flat tax rate. But opponents collected enough signatures to put an initiative on the ballot this fall, Prop. 307, that would reverse the legislation. In response, Republican state legislators are working with Gov. Doug Ducey to pass legislation that would make the initiative null and void — and maybe implement even more striking tax cuts. 

State Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), who sponsored legislation last year that would have repealed and replaced the historic tax cuts with an even more far reaching 1.5% tax rate, told The Arizona Sun Times, “I told the Governor’s office that the 2.5% tax rate he’s pushing for can only be the starting point. With yet another year of record budget surpluses of nearly $4 billion, the people of Arizona are being overtaxed. We must cut taxes even more during the budget process.” 

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Democratic Former Maricopa County Recorder Running for Secretary of State Calls to Impeach Attorney General Brnovich

Adrian Fontes of Arizona

Democratic former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, who is running for Arizona Secretary of State, is calling for the Arizona Legislature to impeach Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich. The former county elections chief said it is due to Brnovich’s “grotesque political self-service, abuse of office, and other bad acts.” 

Fontes declared, “It is well past time for Arizona’s legislative leadership to investigate, for possible impeachment proceedings, the increasing instability of our state’s top prosecutor.”

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Arizonans for Voter ID Act Makes Ballot, and 15 Election Integrity Bills Have Passed the Arizona House

The Arizona Legislature has voted to send the Arizonans for Voter ID Act to the ballot as a proposition this fall, and 15 more election integrity bills have passed the Arizona House. The Arizonans for Voter ID Act was initially launched as a citizens’ initiative by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, which would have required 237,645 valid signatures to get on the ballot. SCR 1012, which passed along party lines, bypasses that time-consuming and often difficult process.

State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Apache Junction), told the Arizona Sun Times, “Today the Senate Republican caucus met to discuss which bills they can support. We were able to get through much of what we have been proposing and received support from nearly all the members with two absent and not weighing in. I’m excited to see good election reform moving forward, ideas that will fortify election security so that voters can feel more secure about their votes. Bills deal with securing technology, ballot paper, chain of custody, removing drop boxes, improving signature verification, cleaning of the voter rolls, and many other items that we are looking to fix.”

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Grassroots ‘America Pack’ Recommends 36 Bills in the Arizona Legislature This Session

America Pack, a grassroots movement “built to empower citizens to hold elected officials accountable, advocate for honest elections, support law enforcement, and fight for freedom and liberty,” has issued a list of its most important bills this session in the Arizona Legislature. The topics primarily address election integrity, education, and COVID-19. They must be scheduled to be heard in a committee by Feb. 18, or they will die.

Election Integrity – House Government and Elections Committee

HB 2023, sponsored by State Representative Mark Finchem (R-Mesa) with several co-sponsors, requires digital images of ballots to be posted publicly online after elections.

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Arizona House Speaker Bowers Uses Technical Maneuver to Ensure Defeat of Sweeping Election Integrity Bill

State Rep. John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction) introduced one of the most sweeping election integrity bills this session, but it appears all but doomed due to a rare procedural maneuver deliberately made to stop it by House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa). Bowers scheduled all 12 House committees to hear HB 2596, basically guaranteeing it will never reach the floor since some of the committees won’t bother to hear it. 

“Canvass Queen” Liz Harris, so named after conducting an 11-month long independent grassroots audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, told The Arizona Sun Times she was extremely disappointed Bowers did this considering she is certain there was massive fraud. “From the canvassing I’ve done, this is what I realized needs to happen,” she said. She explained that other election integrity legislation is composed of single-issue bills which will only fix one area in the elections process, allowing fraud to move to other areas. 

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‘Maricopa County Transit Slush Fund Tax’ Bill Likely to Pass Arizona Legislature

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club is referring to a transportation bill that is sailing through the Arizona Legislature as a “Maricopa County Transit Slush Fund Tax.” HB 2598, with its corresponding Senate version, SB 1356, would send to the ballot a question to voters of whether to extend the Prop. 400 tax increase for transportation for another 25 years. It would increase taxes by $33 billion, allowing localities to direct the money with very few strings attached. 

AFEC said the extension “creates a big slush fund for liberal city mayors to spend on light rail, street trollies, bike paths, trails, complete streets and other undefined ‘regional programs’ and NO REQUIREMENTS that the money be spent on actual freeways or roads to relieve congestion.” 

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State Rep. Fillmore Introduces Sweeping Election Integrity Bill That Would Substantially Change How Elections Are Done in Arizona

Arizona legislators are busy dropping bills to address election fraud this session, due to concerns there was massive fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Rep. John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction) is sponsoring one of the most sweeping bills, HB 2596, which makes substantial changes to elections including giving the Arizona Legislature the final say on approving elections, eliminating most voting by mail, and requiring hand counting of ballots.

Fillmore explained the need for the significant reform during a committee hearing. “I don’t care what the press says,” he said. “I don’t trust ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox or anybody out there. Everybody’s lying to me and I feel like I have a couple hundred ex-wives hanging around me. This is not a President Biden thing. This is not a the other red-headed guy thing. We should have voting in my opinion in person, one day, on paper, with no electronic means and hand counting that day. We need to get back to 1958-style voting.”

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Arizona Senate Government Committee Advances Seven Election Integrity Bills

One of the biggest priorities in the Arizona Legislature this year is election integrity, due to concerns about fraud in the 2020 Arizona presidential election. Legislators have dropped many bills to combat voter fraud, with seven passing out of the Senate Government Committee on Monday.

Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward, who has been one of the strongest proponents of cleaning up election fraud, including helping get an audit launched into the Maricopa County 2020 election, told The Arizona Sun Times, “It is encouraging to see our state legislators taking action and focusing on election integrity. The objective information from the Arizona Audit — America’s Audit — is showing us the way to make voting more secure. These bills are yet another reason why the full forensic audit was justified.”

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State Rep. Wilmeth Sponsors Bill to Block Public Entities in Arizona from Contracting with Companies That Used Forced Labor from Uyghurs

State Rep. Justin Wilmeth (R-Phoenix) is sponsoring legislation to block state and other public entities in Arizona from contracting for services or products from companies that use forced labor from the ethnic Uyghurs in China. Under HB 2488, companies that do business with the state will be required to certify in writing that they do not use that labor.

“As a student of history, I know what happens when good people remain silent,” said Wilmeth. “The Chinese Communist Party keeping millions of people locked in internment camps, which harkens back to the darkest chapters of the 20th century. HB 2488 sends a strong message that the State of Arizona won’t do business with anyone that turns a blind eye to this horrible human rights abuse.”

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Arizona State Sen. Carter Introduces Bill to Make it Illegal to Discriminate Based on Vaccine Status

The Arizona Legislature began its 2022 session on Jan. 10, and legislators are dropping lots of bills related to COVID-19, in part due to a Maricopa County Superior Court judge striking down much of that legislation last year. Recently appointed State Rep. Neil Carter (R-Casa Grande) introduced HB 2452, which would make it illegal to discriminate against any person based on their vaccination status in employment, housing, or public accommodations. 

“At this time when our nation is facing a critical hiring and employee shortage, it doesn’t make sense to further restrict the labor market through imposition of mandatory medical procedures as a condition of employment,” he said in a statement. “Moreover, the idea that a mandatory medical procedure should be a requirement of continued employment is offensive to freedom of conscience, economic security, and medical integrity. No person should be forced to choose between putting food on the table and the integrity of his or her body.” 

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State Rep. Quang Nguyen Introduces Bill to Protect Religious Arizonans from Liability If an Employer Requires the COVID-19 Vaccine

Religious employees in Arizona who suffer an injury due to being required to get the COVID-19 vaccine by their employer will have a remedy if a proposed bill makes it into law. State Rep. Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott), along with several co-sponsors, introduced HB 2043 that makes employers liable for a “significant injury” to an employee resulting from the vaccine if the employer denies them a religious exemption. 

“This is one of the most important bills I’m introducing this coming session,” Nguyen said in a statement. “The reality is COVID-19 is going to be with us for a long time. Public and private health mandates are not a good solution and could instead cause harm in some cases. If businesses and employers are intent on mandating vaccinations as a condition of employment, they should be held accountable if their employees face serious harm or illness.”

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Donald Trump Jr. and Election Integrity Panel with Arizona Lawmakers Headline Second Day of Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021

Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 conference kicked off the second day with a 9 a.m. speech by Donald Trump Jr. Other notable speakers on Sunday included Sarah Palin, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-14-Ga.), and Rep. Burgess Owens (R-04-Utah). The day wrapped up with breakout panels, including one on election integrity featuring Arizona lawmakers. 

Trump Jr. spoke about some of the most contentious issues facing patriots currently. “There are women who work their a**** off … they spent their lives trying to reach the pinnacle of success in a sport only to be beaten by 38 seconds in the 500 freestyle,” he declared, referring to a transgender who recently won a women’s swimming competition at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Arizona Lawmakers Demand Gov. Ducey Call a Special Session so They Can Stop COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for City of Phoenix Employees

The City of Phoenix instituted a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees, and numerous Republican lawmakers want to stop it. Several legislators sent a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey demanding that he call a special session of the Arizona Legislature so they can pass legislation halting that mandate and any others in Arizona. 

Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix), Rep. Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), and Rep. Justin Wilmeth (R-Phoenix) wrote, “We urge you to immediately call us into a special session to pass legislation prohibiting any government entity from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine. Since the Arizona Supreme Court struck down policy provisions added to the budget passed earlier this year as a violation of our state Constitution’s single subject clause, it is imperative we address medical freedom issues taking place in our K-12 public schools, public colleges and universities, and any city, county or town from imposing a vaccine passport or mandate on any person or business.” 

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Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer Creates PAC to Back GOP Fraud-Deniers

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican who has been very public with his opinion that there was no voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, has formed a PAC to support Republican candidates who also believe there was no voter fraud. Called Pro-Democracy Republicans of Arizona, the only interview he appears to have given about it is to the far left Arizona Mirror. 

The Arizona Sun Times asked him why he was so opposed to investigating the 2020 election for voter fraud, and he responded, “I was consistently opposed to conspiracy theorist partisans with no election experience doing a review.” He referred The Times to a letter he wrote in August.

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Arizona State Rep. Teresa Martinez Calls For Katie Hobbs to Drop Out of the Governor’s Race After $2.75 Million Jury Verdict Found Race Discrimination

Arizona State Rep. Teresa Martinez (R-Maricopa) is calling for Democratic Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs to drop out of the governor’s race due to firing a staffer while at the Arizona Legislature. Talonya Adams won a multimillion dollar jury verdict against the legislature for racial discrimination by Hobbs, her former boss, last week, the second lawsuit she’s won in the case. A jury found that Adams was fired in 2015 because she complained that her relatively lower pay was the result of racial and sex discrimination.

Martinez told The Arizona Sun Times, “I think it’s horrible that we have an elected state official who would have such behavior toward any race. I think anyone running for statewide office should look at people based on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. For this woman to win two lawsuits where two courts found her showing racism — she should not be considered for any post in the state of Arizona, including the one she has now.”

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Republican Arizona Legislators Plan to Introduce Bills on Election Integrity, Vaccine Mandates, and Other Issues This Upcoming Session

Fresh on the heels of the big GOP win in Virginia, Arizona’s Republican legislators are eager to stop dropping bills for the 2022 legislative session. They begin filling them on November 15. Here are a handful of bills some of them will be sponsoring.

Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) told The Arizona Sun Times he has over a dozen election integrity bills he plans to introduce. In addition to those, he will be dropping three other bills. “Heading into the 2022 legislative session, election integrity continues to be not only the civil rights issue of our day but also the most important legislative issue facing our nation,” he said. “In Arizona you can expect to see dozens of smart, common sense reforms that will ensure voter confidence for generations to come and greatly improve the overall security of Arizona elections.”

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Meet the Two New Arizona Republican Legislators, Teresa Martinez and Neal Carter

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors has appointed Neal Carter as Representative for District 8 to serve the remaining term left by Frank Pratt's passing, and Teresa Martinez as Representative for District 11 to serve the remaining term left by Bret Roberts' resignation.

With the passing away of Rep. Frank Pratt (R-Casa Grande) and the resignation of Rep. Bret Roberts (R-Maricopa), the Pinal County Supervisors have chosen two new legislators to replace them. The five-member board chose them at a meeting on October 27.

Teresa Martinez will replace Roberts representing LD 11, which is located between Phoenix and Tucson. She described herself to The Arizona Sun Times as “A pro-life, pro-gun, back the blue, protect our border, love America, protect our elections through election integrity conservative.” She said, “I am not going to trample on your freedom, but I don’t want you to trample on mine or anyone else’s.” 

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20 Arizona Republican Legislators Denounce ASU Video of White Students Kicked Out of Multicultural Center, Considers Defunding

Arizona State Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) and 19 other legislators issued a statement following a video that went viral of three black students kicking two white students out of Arizona State University’s multicultural center. They demanded accountability and threatened to withhold funding from the university.

They announced, “It has come to light following the racially-motivated harassment of two students and their subsequent removal from one of the campus’ study facilities that ASU has allowed a culture of institutionalized racism and neo-segregation to take hold on its campus. The racially-charged removal of these students from the multicultural center begs the question of why Arizonans are being forced to spend tens, potentially hundreds, of millions of their hard-earned tax dollars on a building at a public university that some of our citizens are not allowed to use?”

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Arizonans for Voter ID Act Making Progress Getting on Ballot

People voting

A coalition of Arizona legislators and about 10 conservative groups launched an effort last month to get an initiative on the ballot that would combat voter fraud, the Arizonans for Voter ID Act. They began collecting signatures last week. Spearheaded by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, the four-pronged plan would end the practice of voting without an ID — even for mail-in or dropped-off ballots. By requiring ID, ballot harvesting would become impossible. 

Scot Musser, president and executive director of The Arizona Free Enterprise Club, told The Arizona Sun Times that the response from people interested in helping has been tremendous. “At the Constitution Celebration event in Queen Creek this past weekend, there were long lines of people waiting to sign the petition or seeking to become petition circulators.” He said many politicians and others have reached out eager to join the effort.

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Two Arizona Lawmakers Resign in Single Day

Two state lawmakers in Arizona, one from each political party, resigned Wednesday.

“To my constituents & colleagues, I’m writing to inform you of my resignation, effective September 30th, from my House seat in Legislative District 11. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve with you, the Republican caucus, and the entire House,” Rep. Bret Roberts (D-AZ-11) announced on Twitter. 

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City of Tucson Joins Two Lawsuits Against Arizona Legislature over Masks, Vaccines, CRT, Police Review Boards, and a Ballot Audit Committee

Tucson City Hall

The City of Tucson is joining two lawsuits against the Arizona Legislature with amicus curiae briefs. The first is a lawsuit filed on August 12 by the Arizona School Boards Association, the Arizona Education Association and other education organizations and activists over HB 2898, SB 1824, and SB 1825, which prohibit mask and vaccine mandates, ban Critical Race Theory, and establish a legislative committee to review the findings of the state Senate review of the November 2020 election results in Maricopa County.

The second is a lawsuit filed by the City of Phoenix over HB 2893, which sets the qualifications for members of civilian review boards including requiring training. It also allows a legislator to submit a request to the Arizona Attorney General for an investigation of “any written policy, written rule or written regulation adopted by any agency, department or other entity of the county, city or town.”

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Arizona Democratic Legislator Responds to Defamation Lawsuit Filed by Gosar, Finchem and Kern over January 6 Remarks

Rep. Charlene Fernandez (D-Yuma) responded to a defamation lawsuit filed against her by three Arizona Republican leaders by asking the court to dismiss it. U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04), Rep. Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley) and former Rep. Anthony Kern (R-Phoenix) filed the lawsuit against her due to a letter she sent on February 12 to the FBI and Department of Justice along with the rest of the Democrats in the Arizona Legislature asking the agencies to investigate the men about their role on January 6 at the U.S. Capitol protest. The three were at the Capitol that day but did not participate in the unauthorized entry of the building or aggressive behavior. 

Finchem told National File that “it’s been horrible” dealing with the accusations. “They’ve destroyed my character in the public eye. They’ve destroyed my reputation, and all of it is a big lie.”

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Pima County Republican Chair Calls for Arrest of Officials Mandating Vaccine or Masks

Shelley Kais

The chairman of the Pima County Republican Party is calling for the arrest of local officials who mandate the COVID-19 vaccine or masks. In that lower part of the state, the City of Tucson requires vaccinations and the Marana School District requires masks. 

Shelley Kais told the Arizona Daily Independent, “On September 29, any school board member, city councilman, or supervisor who requires masks or vaccines mandates and passports should be arrested ” She went on, “The power grab by our elected officials to play this ‘game of chicken’ is nothing more than political and follows neither science nor good public policy. We will continue to fight for our first responders, our teachers, and the children in Pima County.” 

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City of Phoenix Sues Arizona over New Laws on Police Review Boards and Broadening Attorney General’s Investigative Powers

The City of Phoenix filed a lawsuit against the State of Arizona on Tuesday, contending that new legislation regulating police review boards and expanding the Attorney General’s powers of investigation violates the state constitution. HB 2893 requires that the members of police misconduct boards be partially composed of police officers, but the City set up its own review board a month before the legislation was passed which says police officers or former police officers shall not sit on its police review board. 

Similarly, the City objects to the qualifications laid out in the law for civilian review boards; the City merely wants non-City employees serving on it, but the legislation requires that board members have some training. And finally, the City objects to a provision which states that when requested by a legislator, the Attorney General may investigate laws or rules passed by lower levels of government that appear to violate state law, and withhold state funding if a violation is found. 

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Arizona Republican State Legislators Ask Governor to Take Action Regarding School Districts Violating Law on Mask Mandates

Doug Ducey and Jake Hoffman

Twenty-six Republican members of the Arizona Legislature signed onto a letter drafted by Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) asking Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to take four steps of action in regards to several school districts that appear to be violating state law by imposing mask mandates in schools. A high school biology teacher recently filed a lawsuit over the mandate implemented by Phoenix Union High School District. The school districts contend that the law, A.R.S. 15-342.05, doesn’t apply yet since bills do not go into effect until 90 days after the end of the legislative session, but the bill contains a retroactive clause. 

“It borders on anarchy and destabilizes the very foundation of our society to have local governments effectively refusing to comply with the law. It must not be allowed to stand,” the legislators said. “Any local government that willfully and intentionally flaunts state law must be held accountable.”

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Arizona Ranks First in Nation for Small Business Growth

A new report from the payroll company PayChex ranked the states in order of small business job growth and Arizona came out No. 1, with nearly 6% growth over the past year. Phoenix ranked third among the country’s 20 most populated cities. The Arizona Legislature released a report shortly before that showing Arizona is in great condition, breaking records. The state passed historic tax cuts this year, preventing a 77% increase on small business taxes, reducing small business property taxes by 10%, and capping the maximum tax rate on businesses at 4.5%.

Frank Fiorelle, vice president of risk, compliance and data analytics at Paychex, explained that a lot of the job growth is due to the pandemic ending. “A lot of those restaurants are coming back online, opening the doors and turning on the lights, he said. He added that states which reopened their economies earlier have higher job creation rates.

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Arizona Legislative Report Reveals ‘Extraordinary’ Fiscal Growth in State

A new report from the Arizona Legislature’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee shows Arizona is in great economic condition, breaking records. Revenues from taxes are high or better than projected, with significant gains expected in the future, and personal income is growing at the fastest pace since 1985. It comes after Arizona passed historic tax cuts, reducing the personal income tax to the lowest flat tax in the country at 2.5%. However, some of the rosy picture is due to COVID-19 relief.

Governor Doug Ducey issued a statement about the report, “It paints a picture of a state economy that has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic not only in great shape, but poised to achieve even greater accomplishments in the years ahead. The ‘extraordinary growth’ Arizona saw in Fiscal Year 2021 is positive news for every Arizonan. We are leading the way in the nation’s economic recovery.”

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Warren Petersen, Shawnna Bolick Top Republican Liberty Caucus of Arizona’s 2021 Scorecard

Warren Petersen and Shawnna Bolick

The Republican Liberty Caucus of Arizona released its 2021 scorecard rating Arizona legislators this session, with just two legislators receiving perfect scores — and one of them actually scored 102 due to bonus points. Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) received an extra two points for his efforts on SCR 1001, a Senate Concurrent Resolution to terminate Governor Doug Ducey’s declaration of emergency on COVID-19. The resolution was highly critical of Ducey, observing that “Governor Ducey has subjected individual citizens to criminal sanctions for noncompliance with the stay-at-home orders.” It did not make it through the legislature.

Rep. Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), who is running for Arizona Secretary of State, was the only representative to receive a perfect 100. Rep. Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa) received the Rookie of the Year award as the highest scoring freshman legislator, with 94. Petersen, Bolick and Parker were among seven legislators to receive perfect scores earlier this month from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club for their voting. 

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Seven State Legislators Score 100 Percent in Arizona Free Enterprise Club Rankings

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club gathered in a conference room

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club completed its rankings of how Arizona legislators performed during the 2021 legislative session, and one Senator and six House members scored a perfect 100%. AFEC ranked them based on election integrity, income tax policy, “regulatory relief and ongoing government overreach from the covid-19 pandemic, banning critical race theory in our taxpayer-funded institutions and school choice.”

The seven legislators with a perfect score are Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) and Reps. Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa), Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction), Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), and Travis Grantham (R-Gilbert). 

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In a Reversal, Gov. Ducey Tells Two School Districts Their Quarantine Policy for Unvaccinated Students is Illegal

An advisor for Governor Doug Ducey sent letters Wednesday to two Arizona school superintendents letting them know their policies of requiring unvaccinated students exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine is illegal. Education policy advisor Kairlin Harrier told the superintendents of Peoria Unified School District and Catalina Foothills School District their policies violate a new law, HB 2898, which states, “A school district or charter school may not require a student or teacher to receive a vaccine for covid-19 or to wear a face covering to participate in in-person instruction.” 

Harrier went on, “The policy must be rescinded immediately.” She pointed out that children under age 12 haven’t even received approval from the federal government to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Children ages 12-15 only received approval for the vaccine in May.

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Hobbs’ Campaign Manager Calls Vietnamese-American State Legislator a ‘White Nationalist’ for Opposing CRT

Arizona State Rep. Martin Quezada (D-Maryvale), who is also the campaign manager for Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, tweeted on July 9 that fellow legislator, Vietnamese-American Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott), is a “white nationalist” for tweeting Governor Doug Ducey’s announcement of Arizona’s new law banning critical race theory. Nguyen, who is Vietnamese, fled Vietnam with his brother during the Vietnam War as a refugee, living in refugee camps until they were reunited with their parents four months later. 

Nguyen tweeted a news release from the governor’s website, “Governor Ducey, Legislature Take Strong Action to Stop Critical Race Theory” with a link. Quezada copied the tweet and wrote, “This is what #WhiteNationalism looks like,” with an arrow pointing at Nguyen’s tweet. 

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Five Voting-Related Ballot Proposals Seek to Make Arizona 2022 Ballot

Five ballot proposals addressing voting may be on this fall’s ballot if their sponsors collect enough signatures. Three of them, known as referendums, seek to stop legislation from becoming law, requiring 118,823 signatures each. The other ballot initiatives need 237,645 signatures each. Even if all the signatures are collected, a successful legal challenge could keep them off the ballot.

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Court Issues Mixed Opinion on Former State Rep Shooter’s Defamation Suit: Mesnard Immunity Does Not Cover the Press Release

Don Shooter

The Arizona Supreme Court issued an opinion Wednesday dismissing part of a defamation lawsuit by expelled Arizona legislator Don Shooter against Sen. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) on Wednesday, while allowing the remaining part of the case to proceed.

Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale) complained in 2017 when she was in the state House that Shooter, a Republican from Litchfield Park, sexually harassed her, resulting in the legislature removing him in 2018. He sued then-House speaker Mesnard, who introduced a bill to remove Shooter, over a press release and 82-page investigative report Mesnard issued about the expulsion. Shooter accused him of defamation and materially altering the investigative report.

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Arizona Legislature Wraps up Session for the Year

The Arizona Legislature wrapped up this year on Wednesday with a nearly record-long session, reaching 171 days. Lawmakers came to an agreement on most of the budget last Friday that contained historic tax cuts. Governor Doug Ducey signed that bill, HB 2900, also on Wednesday.

During the last few hours, the legislature approved the education budget bill, HB 2898, which included an expansion of the school voucher program. It reduces the length of time children must attend a public school before they are eligible for vouchers to use at a private school. Low-income children who live near poorly-rated schools will be eligible immediately, and others will only have to spend 45 days in the school, down from 100 days.

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