If anyone who is anyone who organizes these things is paying attention: As I’ve belabored on this here blog innumerable times, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry went “neutral” on SB1070 in the early months of 2010, once language that would have made it easier to go after illegal employers was stripped from the bill. I’ll quote again from the April 23, 2010 AZ Capitol Times piece that came out the day Governor Brewer signed SB1070.
In fact, an early amendment to the bill erased a section that would have given county attorneys the power to subpoena the records of businesses suspected of employing illegal immigrants. In exchange, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry agreed to stand aside, rather than oppose the multi-faceted immigration measure.
As the largest business association in the state, the Arizona Chamber has considerable lobbying power. Even though Pearce was unable to gain the group’s support, he neutralized an influential opponent that otherwise would have used its lobbying efforts to convince lawmakers to vote against the bill.
Although it’s unclear whether business interests, acting alone, could have killed S1070, the Arizona Chamber is closely aligned with a handful of state senators who could have shattered the fragile Republican majority in that chamber. All 12 Democrats in the Senate had lined up against the bill, which meant that three opposition votes from Republicans would have kept the bill from advancing.
Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber, said the smart move this year was to seek changes to the bill rather than oppose it. By removing the provisions that would have caused the most problems for businesses, Hamer averted another confrontation with Pearce that would have further damaged relationships within the Republican Party.
All the Chamber had to do was get 3 Republicans to vote against it. There were a number of Republican Senators facing no primary challenge, and in a few cases no general election challenge in that year, who would be easy pickings for some gentle pressure by the Chamber. But it appears the prospect of Republicans sweeping the state on the strength of SB1070 was too sweet for the business community, once they were held harmless by the law, to pass up. They’ve been rewarded handsomely for that calculation. Here’s AZ Chamber head Glenn Hamer gushing over it recently:
The governor and the 50th Legislature have whipped up a powerful job creation cocktail over these past two years.
This year’s good work combined with last year’s phased-in 30-percent corporate income tax reduction, improved business property tax picture.
It just seems to me that maybe a bunch of people congregating at 3200 N. Central Avenue calling attention to the way Arizona business leaders hung vulnerable immigrant workers out to dry so that businesses could get tax cuts and avoid prosecution for illegal hiring might be effective in a way that constantly protesting at the State Capitol and Arpaio’s office isn’t.