Bill Would More Than Double State Lawmakers’ Pay While Offering More Lobbying Transparency

Bill Would More Than Double State Lawmakers’ Pay While Offering More Lobbying Transparency

By Terri Jo Neff |

A last minute bill which could give voters the chance to significantly increase the pay for Arizona’s 90 lawmakers and double the length of terms for state senators is set to be heard Monday.

The Arizona Legislature is in session at least 100 days each year starting in early January. Under current law, voters have the final say in setting the annual salary for the state’s 30 senators and 60 representatives.

That rate is $24,000 a year which has not changed for nearly 25 years.

However, Sen. David Gowan and Rep. Regina Cobb are supporting legislation under Senate Bill 1180 which would ask voters in November to set legislators’ pay at 60 percent of the governor’s salary. The governor’s annual pay is currently $95,000, meaning lawmakers would be paid $57,000 a year starting in January 2023.  

But it is not only pay that would double for a state senator like Gowan, who represents all of Cochise and Greenlee counties, as well as southern Graham County and a portion of Pima County.

SB1180 includes language asking voters to change the length of Senate terms from two years to four years. And although state representatives would still serve two-year terms, all lawmakers would be allowed to serve up to 12 years in each chamber, for a total of 24 years if a lawmakers runs between the two chambers.  

The current limit is eight years in each chamber, or 16 years total as a lawmaker.

To get the bill heard at this point in the session, Cobb has introduced an amendment to strike all the language of Gowan’s current SB1180, which was a COVID-19 expenditure reporting bill already passed by the Senate. The “strike everything amendment” is 25 pages that if cleared by the Legislature would put the provisions in front of voters in November as Senate Concurrent Resolution 1018.

Among the provisions is an overhaul the reporting system for lobbyists who make campaign contributions or expenditure on behalf of a state lawmaker.  

According to SB1180, the current quarterly reporting of such expenditures would be replaced with a new mandate that those expenditures be reported within five business days. It also significantly increases the type of gifts to a state officer or employee or a member of the officer’s or employee’s householdwhich would have to be publicly reported.

Currently there is a long list of exemptions to the gift rule, allowing some public officials and employees or their families to accept travel, lodging, and speaking engagement fees without the “gift” ever being reported to the public.

The new transparency rules related to lobbyist activity would also require a new web-based digital platform application to allow for real-time entry of information and public accessibility. SB1180 would allocate $10 million to the Arizona Secretary of State to cover that cost.

On Monday, Cobb’s House Appropriations Committee will hear SB1180’s strike everything amendment. If it passes, the new version of the bill would go back to the Senate for approval because the language varies from what the Senate passed last month. 

Gowan has been a strong advocate for ensuring more Arizonans can afford to run for the Legislature, particularly those who live hours away from Phoenix.

In the 2021 legislative session, he spearheaded a bill to change the per diem rates for lawmakers from outside Maricopa County. Those rates -which had equaled $60 a day for housing and food since 1984- were raised to $207 a day for the first 120 days of session.

Future rates will be adjusted based on the federal winter per diem rates set annually by the U.S. General Services Administration. Per diems are separate from pay or travel reimbursement.

The per diem bill became law when Ducey utilized a rare procedural maneuver to allow the legislation to take effect without a governor’s signature.

House Ad Hoc Committee Established To Bolster Arizona’s International Presence

House Ad Hoc Committee Established To Bolster Arizona’s International Presence

By Terri Jo Neff |

Citing the importance of growing Arizona’s international presence, House Speaker Rusty Bowers hopes a new Ad Hoc Committee on International Affairs will enhance trade opportunities while also strengthening border security.

“The world is an ever-changing place, and it’s important that the State of Arizona be proactive to attract more commerce, education and culture to this beautiful state,” Bowers said this week in announcing formation of the ad hoc committee.

The committee co-chaired by Tim Dunn (R-LD13) and Rep. Cesar Chavez (D-LD15) will organize visits and joint events in Arizona with international dignitaries, while identifying and working with outside organizations to strengthen Arizona’s international relationships. Committee members will also conduct hearings related to foreign trade, international affairs, and border security.

“Whether it be trade, border security or tourism, this committee will be a key force in making Arizona safer and more prosperous,” said Dunn, an agri-businessman who chairs the House Committee on Land, Agriculture & Rural Affairs.

According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, Arizona had $1.9 billion in trade exports and $2.38 billion in trade imports in September 2021. Between September 2020 and September 2021, exports increased by $327 million (20.7 percent) while imports increased by $221 million (10.2 percent). 

For Chavez, international relationships are critical for growing the state’s business, trade, and education sectors.

“I’ve always believed that Arizona is the State of Opportunity because of what can be accomplished in a bipartisan manner,” Chavez said. “Through the work of this ad-hoc committee, I’m certain that we’ll give Arizona its well-deserved global presence.”

Dunn and Chavez will be joined on the committee by Reps. Regina Cobb (R-LD5), Diego Espinoza (D-LD19), Alma Hernandez (D-LD3), Steve Kaiser (R-LD15), Lorenzo Sierra (D-LD19), and Justin Wilmeth (R-LD15).