By Corinne Murdock |
The Arizona Senate kicked off their Monday with a show of bipartisanship. Four Senate Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in voting against a bill to prohibit local governments from using lobbyists: State Senators Paul Boyer (R-Glendale), Tyler Pace (R-Mesa), T.J. Shope (R-Phoenix), and Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott). The bill from State Senator Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert), SB1198, failed 12-17.
The four senators didn’t explain their “no” vote; neither did the Democrats. The bill would’ve prevented counties, cities, towns, school districts, and any other political subdivisions from contracting with or spending money on lobbying services, with exemptions for employees of that local government entity, cities or towns with less than 75,000 citizens, or counties with less than 250,000 citizens.
Peterson explained during the Senate Government Committee that the end of lobbying at the state level several years ago allowed for a “greater balance” between citizens and the state government.
A spokesman for Apache County, Greenlee County, Scottsdale, and Prescott said that the bill was a good idea philosophically but would result in higher costs for the cities and counties. He said that the local governments would have to hire full-time employees to fulfill duties normally filled by lobbyists contracted at lower costs.
The League of Arizona Cities and Towns also opposed the bill. Their spokesman explained that their lobbyists alleviated the burdens of keeping up with the legislature for elected officials.
The Goldwater Institute National Litigation Director Jon Riches said the bill prevented taxpayer dollars from being spent on services that further government interests while ignoring the taxpayer.
“Tax dollars should not go to support status quo special interests at the expense of taxpayers, small businesses, and citizens who might not be able to afford a team of well-funded lobbyists, including lobbyists who often advocate against those taxpayers’ interests,” said Riches.
Arizona Free Enterprise Club Vice President Aimee Yentes concurred with Riches’ statement, insisting that it’s elected officials’ duty to take on the responsibilities that they pass on to lobbyists. Yentes is also a member of the Gilbert Town Council.