Arizona House GOP Announces Committee Leaders

Arizona House GOP Announces Committee Leaders

By Corinne Murdock |

On Thursday, Arizona House Speaker-elect Ben Toma (R-LD27) announced the committee and chair appointments for the upcoming session.

The House GOP clarified that committee membership is forthcoming.

The appointments are as follows:

Appropriations Committee  —  Chair: Rep. David Livingston (R-LD28), Vice Chair: Rep. Joseph Chaplik (R-LD3)

Appropriations Subcommittee on Education — Chair: Rep. Matt Gress (R-LD04) 

Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Welfare — Chair: Rep. Selina Bliss (R-LD01)

Commerce Committee — Chair: Rep. Justin Wilmeth (R-LD02), Vice Chair: Rep. Michael Carbone (R-LD25)

Education Committee  — Chair: Rep. Beverly Pingerelli (R-LD28), Vice Chair: Rep. David Marshall (R-LD07)

Ethics Committee  — Chair: Rep. Joseph Chaplik (R-LD03), Vice Chair: Rep. Travis Grantham (R-LD14)

Government Committee  — Chair: Rep. Tim Dunn (R-LD25), Vice Chair: Rep. John Gillette (R-LD30)

Health & Human Services Committee  — Chair: Rep. Steve Montenegro (R-LD29), Vice Chair: Rep. Barbara Parker (R-LD10)

Judiciary Committee  — Chair: Rep. Quang Nguyen (R-LD01), Vice Chair: Rep. Selina Bliss (R-LD01)

Land, Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee  — Chair: Rep. Lupe Diaz (R-LD19), Vice Chair: Rep. Michele Pena (R-LD23)

Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee  — Chair: Rep. Jacqueline Parker (R-LD15), Vice Chair: Rep. Alexander Kolodin (R-LD03)

Natural Resources, Energy & Water Committee  — Chair: Rep. Gail Griffin (R-LD19), Vice Chair: Rep. Austin Smith (R-LD29)

Military Affairs & Public Safety Committee  — Chair: Rep. Kevin Payne (R-LD27), Vice Chair: Rep. Rachel Jones (R-LD17)

Regulatory Affairs Committee  — Chair: Rep. Laurin Hendrix (R-LD14), Vice Chair: Rep. Cory McGarr (R-LD17)

Rules Committee  — Chair: Rep. Travis Grantham (R-LD14), Vice Chair: Rep. Gail Griffin (R-LD19)

Transportation & Infrastructure Committee  — Chair: Rep. David Cook (R-LD07), Vice Chair: Rep. Liz Harris (R-LD13)

Ways & Means Committee  — Chair: Rep. Neal Carter (R-LD15), Vice Chair: Rep. Justin Heap (R-LD10)

The Senate announced its committee chairmanships and leadership last month. 

The session opens Jan. 9.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Ducey Veto Of Election Integrity Legislation Stuns Supporters, Draws Rebuke

Ducey Veto Of Election Integrity Legislation Stuns Supporters, Draws Rebuke

By Terri Jo Neff |

In his first veto of the 2022 legislative session, Gov. Doug Ducey unexpectedly shot down an election integrity bill introduced by Rep. Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale) with overwhelming support of the House Republican caucus.

House Bill 2617 dealt with the removal of voters from each county’s voter rolls, focused on non-U.S. citizens and non-Arizona residents. But Ducey announced his veto in a letter to Senate President Karen Fann and House Speaker Rusty Bowers. on Friday.

“Our lawfully registered voters deserve to know that their right to vote will not be disturbed without sufficient due process,” Ducey wrote. “This provision leaves our election system vulnerable to bad actors who could seek to falsely allege a voter is not a qualified elector.”

Chaplik’s HB2617 mandated county recorders to remove voters from their rolls based on a “reason to believe” the voter is not a U.S. citizen or a resident of the county. Such removal could not occur until the end of a detailed process which ensured the voter in question had 90 days to present satisfactory evidence that the person is in fact qualified to vote in their registered county.

The bill also included new reporting requirements for all jury commissioners and  the Arizona Department of Transportation to help identify people who may no longer be eligible to vote in a specific county or were never eligible to vote in Arizona.

However, Ducey’s veto letter pointed to several concerns with the legislation, including the level of proof threshold.

“The subjectivity of this provision, as well as a lack of guardrails against false claims, included in H.B. 2617 leaves voter registration susceptible to being canceled based on fiction rather than fact,” Ducey wrote to Fann and Bowers.

But Ducey’s criticisms did not sit well with supporters who saw Chaplik’s bill as a much needed and long overdue opportunity to establish confidence in the legitimacy of Arizona’s voter rolls.

AZGOP chair Kelli Ward called Ducey’s move “unAmerican” while Rep. Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa) tweeted that the governor “apparently wants dead people to be able to vote again.”

Sam Stone, former Phoenix city staffer and current city council candidate, was “hugely disappointed” in Ducey’s veto and questioned the governor’s motives.

“Cleaning up our voter rolls is essential to secure elections,” Stone tweeted. “There is not one legitimate reason to leave people who have died or moved on our voter rolls, especially with automatic vote-by-mail. 

Stone further suggested “the only reason to leave people who have died or moved on our voter rolls” is to commit voter fraud.

Ducey’s veto brought forth a more detailed rebuke from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC).

“Contrary to what is stated in the veto letter, #HB2617 provides ample safeguards to ensure eligible voters do not have their registrations improperly cancelled,” AFEC tweeted after the veto was announced. “In fact, the bill stipulates that counties must confirm that the voter is ineligible, then requires the county to send a notice to the voter.”

It is only after the registered voter fails to respond to the notice within 90 days that the registration would be cancelled, AFEC pointed out.

“A broad coalition of local and national election integrity leaders signed onto a letter urging Governor Ducey to sign HB2617, and explained in great detail the need for the enhanced voter roll maintenance requirements and the safeguards contained in the measure,” AFEC further tweeted.

The letter referred to by in the tweet was signed by AFEC President Scot Mussi along with representatives of Heritage Action for America, America First Policy Institute, Election Transparency Initiative, Honest Elections Project Action, FreedomWorks, Amax ACTION, and the Foundation for Government Accountability.

Ducey noted he would consider signing a new voter roll bill with revised language if Chaplik and the rest of the Legislature wants to consider his feedback.

FreedomWorks activist Merissa Hamilton is among those hopeful Chaplik will consider the governor’s criticisms and reintroduce a new version of HB2617 this session. She said a path to clean voter rolls is “needed to secure our Arizona elections.”

Voter Registration Cancellation For Non-Citizens, Non-Arizonans Passes Senate

Voter Registration Cancellation For Non-Citizens, Non-Arizonans Passes Senate

By Corinne Murdock |

On Monday, the Arizona Senate passed HB2617 to require county recorders to cancel voter registrations for individuals who are proven to not be qualified electors, such as those who aren’t U.S. citizens and those who have a driver’s license or other non-operating license in another state. The bill passed along party lines, 16-13. Since HB2617 was amended in the Senate, it will be reviewed by the House before it’s passed on to Governor Doug Ducey.

In further detail, HB2617 will require the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) every month to submit information regarding who’s been issued a driver’s license or non-operating license in another state to the secretary of state. Then within 10 days, the secretary of state will also be required to furnish county recorders with a list of registered voters for their county that were issued a driver’s license or a non-operating ID license in another state.

Additionally, HB2617 requires the county recorder to compare their voter registration database to the Social Security Administration database on a monthly basis. In the event an individual doesn’t provide satisfactory proof of citizenship, county recorders must compare their file to the Electronic Verification of Vital Events System. 

Furthermore, the secretary of state will be required to report the number of deaths and number of voter registration cancellation notices issued to county recorders to the state legislature on a quarterly basis. Jury commissioners and managers must also forward information about individuals who indicate they’re not a U.S. citizen or reside outside of the county to the secretary of state and county recorder.

Prior to canceling the voter registration of the person in question, county recorders must submit notice to the individual and give them 90 days to provide evidence that they’re qualified to vote in Arizona. If the person doesn’t respond with satisfactory evidence within 90 days, each individual case may be referred to the county attorney or attorney general for further investigation.

Progress Arizona, a progressive activist nonprofit, argued that the legislation would “harm vulnerable communities,” calling it an “unnecessary barrier to vote.” 

House Republicans insisted that the legislation, sponsored by State Representative Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale) would ensure that those who didn’t belong on the voter rolls would be purged.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Parents, Not Bureaucrats, Now Have Final Say In Masking Of Children

Parents, Not Bureaucrats, Now Have Final Say In Masking Of Children

By Terri Jo Neff |

A new state law resolves one of the most controversial aspects of the pandemic – who gets to decide whether a child must wear a mask or face covering.

On Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2616 which puts the mask or no mask decision squarely in the hands of parents instead of school officials or any other bureaucrat.

“Parents should make decisions for their children, not the government,” said Rep. Joseph Chaplik, who sponsored HB2616 to require the express consent of the parent or guardian of anyone under age 18 before a government official can require a child to wear a mask.  

“Arizona law already requires parents to be consulted before instituting medical requirements for children,” noted Chaplik (R-LD23). “This commonsense bill extends the law to include masks, joining other freedom states in protecting the right of parents to make decisions for their child.”

The prohibition on mask mandates of children applies to the State of Arizona, its political subdivisions, any governmental entity, school districts, and charter schools. The entire Republican caucus of the House and the Senate voted in support of HB2616, which was sent to the governor’s desk last week. 

Senate Committee to Consider Bill Requiring Parental Consent for Minor Mask

Senate Committee to Consider Bill Requiring Parental Consent for Minor Mask

By Corinne Murdock |

The Senate Government Committee is scheduled on Monday to consider HB2616, a bill requiring governments to receive parental consent in order to require a minor to wear a mask. That applies to political subdivisions and entities like public and charter school districts as well. 

The masking choice bill passed the House last month along party lines, 31-28. 

House Democrats insisted that the bill worked against science. State Representative Marcelino Quiñonez (D-Phoenix) cast Republicans as those inviting discrimination by not normalizing mask-wearing. 

“There seems to be a hesitancy to accept the science and go with the science. Instead of doing that, we continue to create barriers to ensure that people feel othered by wearing a mask, instead of following the science,” said Quiñonez. “The legislation to create another barrier, another bureaucracy, is overdue. And so with that, I encourage my colleagues to follow the science and vote ‘no.’”

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to