Many of us have concluded that our state Capitol is filled with extremist legislators who value craziness instead of intelligence. And now it seems some of our local reporters agree.
This past weekend, Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts published an article requesting help for “an election-year search for a Legislature that actually lines up with the people who live here.” She’s calling it Operation DeKookification.
Ms. Roberts is asking people to write or email her with nominations for legislative “kooks” and an explanation of why they “rise to the level of crackpottery.”
A humorous and brilliant notion that had me wondering, why didn’t I think of that?
Regardless, I will join Ms. Roberts’ cause and start by sending in this list of nominations:
Senator Lori Klein, (R) Anthem: For aiming a loaded gun at a reporter’s chest, reading a letter on the floor of the Senate that advanced racist stereotypes of Latino school kids as gang members and angry illegals, and introducing a bill aimed at censoring teacher language.
Representative Carl Seel, (R) Phoenix: For furthering the birther conspiracy by meeting with Donald Trump to consider “evidence” and sponsoring legislation requiring presidential candidates to show proof of citizenship. Seel is joined by fellow birther conspiracists’ Senator Rick Murphy, (R) Peoria, Senator Steve Smith, (R) Maricopa, and Senator Judy Burges, (R) Sun City. Burges also tried to introduce a bill aimed at quashing sustainability efforts because of the false belief that global warming is a myth.
Senator Al Melvin, (R) Tucson: For inviting Glenn Spencer, the founder of a border militia classified as a hate group, to speak as a border expert to the Senate’s Committee on Border Security, Federalism and States’ Sovereignty. The Anti-Defamation League had previously warned him that Spencer was “an anti-Hispanic, anti-Semitic bigot.” It was reported that Melvin had previously joined fellow Senator Sylvia Allen as a guest at Spencer’s southern Arizona ranch.
Representative Kimberly Yee, (R) Phoenix: For sponsoring legislation redefining conception by moving it two weeks ahead to the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period. For all of my male readers, that means a woman is now considered pregnant before it’s even possible for her to become pregnant. Yee defies logic, and science, in the name of putting additional restrictions on abortions, her number one legislative priority.
Representative Debbie Lesko, (R) Glendale: For introducing legislation that allows employers to opt-out of providing contraceptives for “religious purposes.” She also introduced legislation that would have stripped the Arizona Corporation Commission of its regulatory powers and handed that authority instead to the state legislature. The intent was to harm the state’s renewable energy policies, which would have a negative impact on the state’s solar energy businesses.
Terri Proud, (R) Tucson: For sponsoring legislation to create high-school Bible study courses while refusing to consider courses on other holy texts such as the Quran. Proud is also infamous for her email to a constituent in which she suggests women should be forced to watch an abortion being performed prior to receiving one.
These nine legislators, combined with several who have already left the legislature (such as Sylvia Allen) or have determined they are not coming back (most notably Ron Gould, sponsor of the Guns on Campus bill), make up the kookiest of the kooky, but there are several more who crafted legislation that should put them on the list because their bills, while not “crazy,” are certainly out of touch or even in direct conflict with mainstream voters’ wishes.
Representative Steve Yarbrough, (R) Chandler: Mr. Yarbrough receives the “Blatant Conflict of Interest Award” for introducing legislation that would double the amount individuals could contribute to private school tuition scholarships. Yarbrough operates the second-largest school tuition organization in Arizona, meaning this legislation had the potential of doubling his income, all courtesy of Arizona taxpayers.
Representative Michelle Ugenti, (R) Scottsdale: For sponsoring legislation that requires cities to hold elections in the fall of even-numbered years. This bill was strongly opposed by cities and towns and considered an overreach of state government. It has the potential to drive up costs for local elections and cause “ballot fatigue” by adding county and state races to the ballot, taking the emphasis away from local races and local issues.
Representative John Kavanagh, (R) Fountain Hills: For sponsoring legislation that would create a minimum tuition bill, making higher education even more unaffordable for low income students (in a state already ranked 45th in number of high school students who go on to obtain a college degree) and for exempting athletes but not veterans from this legislation.
Representative Andy Tobin, (R) Paulden and Senator Andy Biggs, (R) Gilbert: For setting out to repeal the voter approved Independent Redistricting Committee and give the power to redraw the districts back to state legislators (the very individuals voters took that power away from). Tobin went so far as to draw up his own set of maps with zero input from the public or fellow legislators.
Senator Don Shooter, (R) Yuma: For taking an ax to the democratic process by refusing to hear public comments on the budget. Shooter “heard it last year” and like many of his cohorts, didn’t want to hear anything that would open his mind to a different point of view.
This is by no means a complete list, and I encourage all of my readers to create their own lists and forward to Ms. Roberts. This is our opportunity to play a role in educating Arizona voters about the legislation introduced and passed by their elected officials. This is our opportunity to help dekookify the Capitol. Let the letter writing begin!