Arizona Legislative Republicans are furious over President Joe Biden’s announcement about the Grand Canyon.
During his visit to Arizona on Tuesday, President Joe Biden established the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument. In his signed proclamation, Biden stated, “Protecting the areas to the northeast, northwest, and south of the Grand Canyon will preserve an important spiritual, cultural, prehistoric, and historic legacy; maintain a diverse array of natural and scientific resources; and help ensure that the prehistoric, historic, and scientific value of the areas ensures for the benefit of all Americans.”
Arizona Republicans were quick to oppose the president’s action in their state. Senator Frank Carroll said, “Halting uranium mining in this region will only promote our country’s dependence on communist China for the minerals needed every day to support our energy supply. Even the FBI has sounded the alarm that China is the greatest long-term threat to our nation’s ideas, economic security and national security, yet President Biden is welcoming a greater reliance on this government with this action.”
Senator David Gowan also issued a statement: “There was entirely inefficient notice from the Biden Administration to the residents, business owners and elected officials of Mohave County. This is not how government should conduct itself within Arizona or within the United States. We don’t need the federal government coming in and dictating to Arizonans how to protect Arizona. We’ve been doing a fine job of conserving our precious resources and will continue to do so. This federal overreach is unacceptable and unconstitutional.”
Last week, Arizona House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci and Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borreilli requested that an emergency, joint committee hearing be convened in Kingman in order to “hear testimony on President Biden’s radical proposal to circumvent Congress and unilaterally declare a new 1.1 million acre ‘national monument’ near the Grand Canyon in Mohave and Coconino Counties.”
The plea was directed to the Chairs of the House and Senate Committees on Natural Resources, Energy and Water (Rep. Gail Griffin and Sen. Sine Kerr) and the Chair of the House Committee on Land, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Rep. Lupe Diaz).
The call for the emergency meeting was adhered to by the Chairs of the legislative committees, where Republicans met Monday night in Kingman and “voted to formally oppose the move that promises to adversely impact the state’s economy and our national security by devastating critical industries like mining and cattle ranching.”
Republican Representative John Gillette also chimed in, posting, “Arizona Democrats refuse to show up for public input on the Biden Land Grab. As Biden is planning to designate 1.1 million acres of AZ people land to build wind and solar via executive order 14008. Democrats call public comments a sham. We must vote them out!”
Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope was at the hearing and shared his support for his fellow Republicans’ efforts to highlight this issue, writing, “Excited to be in Kingman today to discuss my strong opposition to the over 1 Million Acre land-grab in Northern Arizona that President Biden is expected to announce in the coming hours.”
After Biden’s establishment of the National Monument, Shope issued another statement, saying, “The Biden Administration is determined to halt mining across our country and here in Arizona, crippling our ability to meet demands. We must immediately open up mining in Arizona and address other national security risks here locally that are associated with China’s influence. Shame on President Biden for putting our citizens, our resources and our economy at risk.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.
An Arizona legislator informed his constituents that he wouldn’t be caving to their demands for supporting gun control legislation. The call to action has mainly come from left-leaning groups and activists in the wake of the Covenant School shooting in Nashville, Tennessee that left three young children and three adults dead.
State Rep. John Gillette (R-LD30) announced his intent in a letter issued Thursday. Gillette advised his constituents, at length, for his rationale for not supporting greater gun control: criminals can work around gun control measures to obtain weapons, citing the Nashville shooter lied on her background check to obtain guns; FBI data shows no correlation between gun control and crime reduction; and that crime generally correlates with law enforcement procedures and economic factors.
“Controlling a physical object has zero effect on human behavior,” said Gillette. “Laws are followed by law-abiding citizens, not criminals and not people who suffer from mental illness.”
Gillette further noted that no National Rifle Association (NRA) member, licensed firearms dealer, or “right-wing” activist had committed a mass shooting.
“These murders were committed by mentally unstable left-leaning adults that were known to law enforcement or mental health professionals or both,” said Gillette.
Gillette disclosed that he would be open to legislation imposing the death penalty on those who commit a mass shooting, as well as legislation imposing civil penalties on any agency or licensee that failed to report or act on a credible threat.
Gillette also pointed out that FBI data hasn’t been updated for the last eight quarters — since 2021.
Following the shooting, Democratic legislators and activists called for stricter gun control.
State Sen. Anna Hernandez (D-LD24) claimed that the shooting occurred because guns have more rights than individuals.
“Instead of finding solutions to end gun violence we continue to see legislation across the nation that grants more rights and protections to guns rather than legislation to mitigate the loss of human life to mass shootings and other gun violence,” said Hernandez.
State Rep. Laura Terech (D-LD04) used the tragedy to promote her legislation barring school blueprints and floor plans from being publicly available.
“The senseless act of violence in Nashville further shows the need for sensible policy to keep our children safe from gun violence,” tweeted Terech. “My bill #HB2075 will keep school blueprints and floorplans [sic] from public view.”
State Rep. Nancy Gutierrez (D-LD18) also promoted Terech’s bill, and said that the deaths were proof that guns were the cause of the school shooting. It has been widely reported that the shooter — a 28-year-old woman that struggled with gender identity issues — had a manifesto which outlines the reason for her killing spree. The manifesto remains unpublished.
“The shooting in Nashville is another failure of the US to stop our gun problem,” stated Gutierrez.
State Rep. Leezah Sun (D-LD22) blamed those opposing stricter gun control for the deaths.
“We cannot keep letting our children die while we fail to pass gun control on the basis of ‘political differences,’” said Sun.
District and charter schools have been under much more scrutiny from parents since COVID-19, and one bill from an Arizona Representative this session seeks to increase awareness and understanding on what is being taught in children’s classrooms.
The legislation, HB 2533, which was introduced by Representative John Gillette, deals with posting requirements for classroom instruction. According to the overview provided by the State House of Representatives, this bill “directs a school district or charter school, for each school, to post a free electronic copy of specified classroom instruction materials on its website.” These materials include “each educational course of study offered, a list of all learning materials being used (including the source of any supplemental educational materials, and each lesson plan being used or implemented.”
Representative Gillette’s piece of legislation has 13 co-sponsors both in the House (Representatives Biasiucci, Grantham, Gress, Harris, Jones, Kolodin, Marshall, B. Parker, Peña, and Smith) and Senate (Senators Borrelli, Rogers, and Shamp).
HB 2533 passed out of the Education Committee on Tuesday, February 14, with a party-line 6-3 vote – with one member absent. Republican Representatives David Cook, Liz Harris, Lupe Diaz, Michele Peña, David Marshall, Sr (Vice Chairman), and Beverly Pingerelli (Chairman) voted in favor; while Democrat Representatives Jennifer Pawlik, Laura Terech, and Nancy Gutierrez voted against passage. Democrat Representative Judy Schwiebert was absent from committee action Tuesday and did not cast a vote.
After introducing his bill on January 24, Representative Gillette tweeted a picture of the bill and co-sponsor list, writing, “You demanded school transparency during the campaign…This will require public schools to put the curriculum, program of instruction and vendor on-line free of charge.”
In an exclusive interview with AZ Free News on why he supports this legislation, Representative Austin Smith (and bill co-sponsor) said, “Curriculum transparency is paramount for parents to have total autonomy over what their children learn in school. This is a great step in the right direction for parents.”
Senator Sonny Borrelli, also a co-sponsor of HB 2533, told AZ Free News that he supported this bill because “transparency to empower parental authority is a good thing.” Responding to a question from AZ Free News on this bill, House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci stated, “This bill will allow parents to know exactly what is being taught to their children.”
This bill generated a great deal of interest – both in support and opposition – in the lead-up to the committee hearing and vote. The Arizona Association of County School Superintendents, Stand for Children, the Arizona School Administrators Association, the Arizona Education Association, Save Our Schools Arizona, the American Civil Liberties Union of AZ, and the Arizona Charter Schools Association were recorded among the hundreds opposing HB 2533 in the Arizona Legislature’s system.
The Center for Arizona Policy listed HB 2533 as one of its “Other Bills of Interest.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.