austin smith
Rep. Smith Issues Ominous Warning About Risk Of Legislature Control Change

January 9, 2024

By Daniel Stefanski |

An Arizona Republican lawmaker is warning his state about what it could experience if Democrats were to control the legislature.

Last week, freshman State Representative Austin Smith highlighted a handful of bills that had been pre-filed by his Democrat colleagues, referring to those proposals as “DEMOCRAT EXTREMISM 2024.”

Smith summarized four Democrat bills, which included the following:

  • Allow changing genders on birth certificates after undergoing surgical, hormonal, psychological treatments.
  • Banning unmarked police vehicles.
  • Repealing no duty to retreat law.
  • Repealing drug possession paraphernalia laws.

The Republican legislator from the Southwest Valley sounded the alarm that these bills could become reality for Arizona “in one year under the rule of an extremist Democrat controlled legislature.”

Representative Joseph Chaplik, one of Smith’s fellow Republicans in the chamber, echoed the sentiments, writing, “We are in the front row seats seeing these ideas. Most voters have no idea how radical the democrats are with trying to destroy our society.”

The warning from Smith comes at the start of a pivotal election year for the Grand Canyon State, with both the Arizona House and Senate hanging in the balance for 2025. Republicans have razor-thin majorities in both chambers, giving them very little leeway in conducting business. In addition, Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs occupies the Ninth Floor of the State Executive Tower, which means that many conservative policies are vetoed. As Smith alluded to, should Democrats take over the legislature, they would be able to enact many leftist reforms into law with the support of Hobbs.

Many Republicans have also warned about greater restrictions to the state’s school choice opportunities (like the Empowerment Scholarship Account program) or to Arizonans’ Second Amendment freedoms if legislative Democrats have free rein in the House and Senate.

Arizona may undergo another significant makeover before Democrats even could have an opportunity to pass unfettered legislation. Special interest groups are attempting to refer several issues to the November ballot, including an abortion access amendment and a change to the state’s elections systems. Voters’ passage of those initiatives would save political capital for Democrats in 2025 and beyond, while accomplishing the work they might attempt anyway if they simultaneously controlled the legislature and the Governor’s Office.

With Republicans now in control of the Arizona Legislature, though, the Democrats’ transformative policies are likely dead on arrival. Republican leaders and Hobbs will have to negotiate compromises on select items, such as the state’s budget.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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