By Terri Jo Neff |
Who has authority to settle election related lawsuits involving the State of Arizona, its various agencies, and political subdivisions such as counties is the subject of proposed legislation slated for consideration by the House Committee of the Whole on Monday.
House Bill 2621 introduced by Rep. Jacqueline Parker as a strike everything on an earlier bill seeks to ensure the proper elected officials are aware of and involved in lawsuits in which “the constitutionality, legality or application” of Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 16 Elections and Electors, is questioned.
Parker’s bill creates a new law, ARS 16-194, prohibiting any party representing the State, an agency of the state, or a political subdivision of Arizona from agreeing to or signing a settlement agreement or a consent decree in any civil proceeding involving the state’s election laws, with the exception of disputes arising from the Citizens Clean Elections Act.
HB2621 leaves intact current state law requiring the Arizona Attorney General, the Speaker of the House, and the Senate President be served with legal filings involving a constitutional challenge to any state statute. Those three state officers also have the right under current state law to make their positions known to any court presiding over such a lawsuit.
The bill would likely prevent a repeat of the confusion leading up to the 2020 General Election when Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs retained her own legal counsel to respond to a lawsuit filed in federal court to change the application of the state’s voter registration deadline.
The federal court issued an order extending the state’s statutory registration deadline despite the fact Hobbs had not consulted with all 15 of the state’s county recorders who actually conduct voter registration. Hobbs also did not immediately appeal the federal court order until Gov. Doug Ducey, House Speaker Rusty Bowers, and Senate President Karen Fann challenged the deadline extension.