State legislative briefs - East Valley Tribune: Politics

State legislative briefs

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Posted: Monday, March 1, 2010 7:44 pm | Updated: 3:39 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Term limits

A divided Senate voted Monday to ask voters to repeal the limits on the terms of lawmakers.

SCR1007 seeks to overturn a 1992 constitutional change approved by voters that says no person can serve more than eight years in the same legislative post. Sen. Carolyn Allen, R-Scottsdale, who helped craft the original measure, said the artificial limit has proven to be a mistake.

There is a loophole in the law: A legislator is free to move back and forth between the House and Senate as often as voters will agree. That has enabled Sen. John Huppenthal, R-Chandler, to have served continuously since 1993, first in the Senate, then the House and now back in the Senate, where he can stay until the 2012 vote.

Huppenthal was among the 18 senators voting for the change, with 11 opposed. The measure now goes to the House.

Lieutenant governor

Without dissent, the Senate agreed Monday to rename the post of "secretary of state'' to "lieutenant governor.''

SCR1013 leaves untouched the duties of the office, which range from being the state's chief election officer to registering notaries and publishing the administrative register of changes in rules. But backers said the change will better inform voters that this person becomes governor if the incumbent dies, quits or is forced out of office.

Sen. Chuck Gray, R-Mesa, supported the measure but offered a word of caution. He said if a candidate for this post runs as a ticket with a gubernatorial hopeful, that person could abuse his or her power over running elections to influence the outcome of the governor's race.

The measure requires House approval before going to voters in November.

Cloning

All types of human cloning would be unconstitutional under the terms of a measure approved Monday by the state Senate.

Existing Arizona law already precludes the use of state dollars for any sort of reproductive or therapeutic cloning, the latter being for research purposes. SCR1044 goes further, prohibiting all forms of cloning in the state, no matter the funding source.

Gray said his aim is to kill any form of research that is designed to replicate a human being. Whether that would ban all forms of research on human cells, Gray said, would depend on what the Legislature enacts if voters approve the measure in November.

The 19-9 vote sends the measure to the House.

Waste tires

The House gave preliminary approval Monday to a plan to see if abandoned mines can be filled with waste tires.

HB2290 would let the state mine inspector pick three sites to place tires in the mines to close them up. Rep. Nancy McLain, R-Bullhead City, said the death of a 13-year-old girl several years ago who riding her all-terrain vehicle shows the danger of these unmarked and unprotected holes in the ground.

But Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson, said he fears that the waste from the tires will end up polluting the water. "We don't allow tires in our landfills,'' he said. "I don't think we should allow them in our mines.''

Rep. Russ Jones, R-Yuma, said all the legislation does is set up a test to determine if using tires can be done safely. A final roll-call vote sends the measure to the Senate.

School grading

State senators voted 21-8 Monday to change the system used to grade public schools.

Current law uses standards from excelling through highly performing, performing plus, performing, underperforming and failing. SB1286 would reduce the number of categories and provide grades from A through F.

The legislation also spells out how the Department of Education is supposed to award the grades. The change would take effect before the 2011-2012 school year. The bill now goes to the House.

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