The day after the national observance of those who took up arms and gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect this country, State Senate Democrats hijacked traditional floor proceedings to push a gun control bill to a vote. The bill, SB1546, originally didn’t advance beyond its introduction in January. On Tuesday, it failed narrowly along party lines.
The legislation contrived by Minority Whip Martín Quezada (D-Glendale) would’ve required all firearms sales and transfers to be conducted by licensed firearms dealers. If neither the seller or buyer were licensed firearms dealers, then they would have to find a licensed firearms dealer in order to complete the transaction. The licensed firearms dealer would have to run a background check on the buyer; if the buyer failed, then the dealer would have to run a background check on the seller. If the seller failed, then the dealer would have to surrender the firearm to law enforcement within 24 hours.
Of all the exemptions carved out, the legislation included a provision allowing a temporary transfer of a firearm to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm — but only to the person receiving the firearm, and only if they’re not prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law.
Anyone who would violate SB1546 would be guilty of a class 5 felony, which carries a range of anywhere from six months in a mitigated sentence to two years and six months in an aggravated sentence.
Democrats excoriated Republicans for not siding with legislation they believed would curb future mass shootings comparable to the tragedy that occurred in Uvalde, Texas last Tuesday.
“We had a chance to enact common sense gun safety reform today and Republicans killed it — again. #EndGunViolenceNow,” wrote the Senate Democrats.
During an interview with “Conservative Circus,” State Senator Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) rebutted Democrats’ claims. He insisted that gun restrictions only take guns out of good actors’ hands, arguing that the better solution would be to arm security and willing teachers.
“The government did not stop the shooter. There were police officers that did nothing. Gun laws did not stop the shooter. He was in a gun-free zone. He walked right through that law. Criminals do not follow gun laws,” said Petersen. “It took a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun.”
Petersen repeated the viral false claim that an off-duty Border Patrol agent, Jacob Albarado, was the individual responsible for shooting and killing the Uvalde school shooter, Salvador Ramos. Law enforcement credited a tactical team for taking out Ramos. Albarado helped evacuate children from outside the school.
Petersen reminded host James Harris that Republicans only have a single vote that secures them as the majority.
Three consumer taxes should be immediately suspended to help Arizonans deal with post-pandemic inflation, and two of those taxes should be abolished altogether, State Sen. Warren Petersen argues.
On Tuesday, Petersen (R-LD12) called for a temporary halt to Arizona’s 19 cents per gallon gasoline tax. He also wants to see the food tax and the residential rental tax not only suspended, but also eventually abolished.
Petersen doubled down on his proposal Wednesday, telling KFYI’s James T. Harris there is “no reason” his proposal cannot be implemented in light of Arizona’s more than $1 billion budget surplus. Especially with a Republican-controlled Legislature and a Republican governor.
“People are absolutely reeling from inflation right now but we have state and local governments that have more cash than they’ve ever had before,” Petersen said, adding that his proposal would bring “immediate relief to some of the people that need it the most.”
Suspending the gas tax until the end of 2022 would help Arizonans at the pump, Peterson explained. He added that the move could bring even further relief for consumers due to high gas prices being integrated into the cost of everything else people buy.
The state’s huge budget surplus is more than enough to supplant the $300-$350 million in gas tax revenues needed to fund transportation projects across the state, Petersen said.
While a gas tax holiday would be temporary, Petersen is calling on his fellow lawmakers to support a permanent end to the food tax in Arizona.
“That just hurts the poor more than anybody, and only some cities charge it,” Petersen told Harris.
As to his third suggestion of the abolishment of residential rental taxes, Petersen questioned why a special consumer tax is charged of those living in a rental unit.
“Nobody should charge this,” he argued. “People don’t pay a tax every single time they pay their mortgage, but yet tenants every single time they pay their rent they pay a tax on their rent.”
Petersen believes the time is right for Gov. Doug Ducey to call a special session so that lawmakers can provide immediate relief through the huge budget surplus.
Governor Doug Ducey may soon sign into law a ban on transgender surgeries for minors; the Arizona House passed a Senate bill to bar surgeries for minors to attempt a gender transition on Thursday. The bill, SB1138, passed along party lines.
Major opponents of the bill among the LGBTQ community include activists from Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national organization focused on pushing LGBTQ ideologies and activism onto children. One such activist also identified herself as a GLSEN lobbyist and community editor for several years, during which time she testified one of her daughters went through puberty and became withdrawn, depressed, and socially isolated. Young said that she encouraged her daughter to transition genders after no amount of therapy, support groups, or psychiatric medications alleviated her poor mental health. Even so, Young says her daughter doesn’t fully identify as male, but rather “male-leaning” on what they both consider the “spectrum” of gender.
Another activist — ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio, a transgender man known for her work defending transgender individuals, such as convicted spy Chelsea Manning — promised to mobilize efforts to convince Ducey to veto the legislation.
The legislation almost didn’t make it through initial consideration stages in the Senate. State Senator Tyler Pace (R-Mesa) wouldn’t back the bill at first during the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, arguing that parents should have the right to make medical decisions for their children. Pace later changed his mind, citing current international standards of care from health care experts on transgenderism. At present, the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) doesn’t support gender transitioning surgeries for minors.
“There’s a certain threshold of irreversibility that can happen during a gender transition. We acknowledge as a state, and so does other very friendly transgender countries like Finland, like I brought up earlier, as well as the international organizations that say: when you get to this degree of irreversibility, it should not be made as a minor,” said Pace after changing his mind.
Just as with the House, the bill passed along party lines in the Senate.
Following approval by the Arizona House on Thursday, the legislature as a whole passed SB1165, a bill preventing transgender athletes from competing against those of the opposite gender. If the governor signs the legislation into law, it will impact transgender girls and women; males have biological differences to females that give them advantages in sports, and there are many more boys and men competing in girls and women’s sports. However, the legislation doesn’t address women who take testosterone as part of their hormone therapies, which may give them an advantage over their non-doping peers — a concern posed in the case of transgender wrestler Mack Beggs.
State Representative John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) pushed back against arguments against the bill, namely those that claimed individuals would be banned from competing in any sports entirely, or that sports aren’t really about competition but inclusion. Kavanagh cited the recent incident in which the NCAA awarded William Thomas, who goes by the name Lia Thomas and claims to be a woman, the gold medal in one race within their national D1 collegiate swim competition. The state representative argued that the years of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication committed by the women were for naught in the face of Thomas’ robbery.
“This bill allows everybody to participate in sports. It simply says that you have to go on the team that aligns with your biological gender because quite frankly, puberty conveys significant physical advantages on males. And I think it’s very unfair to make biological female athletes compete at that disadvantage. And it recently came to light in the NCAA swimming area. I think that those biological females have been cheated and robbed of a lifetime of effort,” said Kavanagh. “Clearly, there are many good things that come out of school sports besides competition. It’s fun, there’s physical fitness, there’s health. But competition is one of the major things about school sports, and anybody that doubts that might ask themselves, ‘Why are they keeping score?’ if that’s not the case.”
Democrats insisted that males competing in female sports isn’t and won’t be an issue.
State Representative Melody Hernandez (D-Tempe) claimed that transgender women aren’t dominating women’s sports.
“We talked about whether or not this is actually a problem. Trans youth are not coming in and just dominating women’s sports and switching genders because they want to go dominate sports,” said Hernandez.
State Representative Sarah Liguori (D-Phoenix) claimed that Republicans were merely scared of change and due to their ignorance. Liguori cited Harvey Milk, the historic gay rights activist accused of pedophilia and rape.
“We do not need to be afraid. We do not need to be afraid of transgender people, we do not need to be afraid of children,” said Liguori.
Certain Democrats even challenged the idea that males have any physical advantages over females. State Representative Mitzi Epstein (D-Chandler) argued that the males who dominate are merely exceptions to a rule, and that they succeed because of their hard work and discipline — not their biological advantages.
“When we hear of one trans athlete making great success, it is due to the hard work and discipline she applied to her sport,” wrote Epstein. “One example does not mean all trans people are better at sports than cis people.”
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill to require proof of citizenship for those registering to vote, 5-3 along party lines. HB2492, which would require county recorders to search databases for a registrant’s citizenship proof, passed the House at the end of February.
Activists present were outspoken, interrupting the meeting multiple times to the point that Chairman Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) had to remove an individual from the room and call a five minute recess.
During public comment on HB2492 in committee, there was contention as to whether HB2492 violated the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) 2013 ruling in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. That ruling struck down Arizona’s law requiring voter registration applicants to be turned down if the registrant didn’t provide proof of citizenship, declaring that the federal voting laws established through the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993.
Arizona Association of Counties (AACo) Executive Director Jen Marson, quoted from SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the 2013 ruling to argue that the ruling nullified HB2492. Marson insisted that passage of the law would effectively require counties to violate federal law.
“‘We hold that [NVRA] precludes Arizona from requiring a Federal Form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself. Arizona may, however, request anew that the [Election Assistance Commission] EAC include such a requirement among the Federal Form’s state-specific instructions, and may seek judicial review of the EAC’s decision under the Administrative Procedure Act,’” read Marson.
Those in favor of the bill argued that it complied with the SCOTUS ruling because voter registration would only be denied for those found to not be citizens, not those who merely lack citizenship proof.
Arizona Free Enterprise Club Deputy Director Greg Blackie rebutted that the bill wouldn’t violate the 2013 ruling because Scalia also said that the “NVRA doesn’t preclude states from denying registration based on information in their possession establishing the applicant’s ineligibility” — meaning, that those found to not be citizens could be rejected and those without any information confirming or denying their citizenship could be registered as federal-only voters.
“This bill carefully stays within the framework established by Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council,” insisted Blackie.
In addition to the nuance of compliance with SCOTUS, legislators emphasized that determining citizenship was a must-have for elections. Majority Whip Sonny Borrelli (R-Lake Havasu City) said that the bill had nothing to do with voter suppression.
“I don’t want somebody coming in here from a foreign country — particularly, you know, Italy for that matter — and just coming in and registering on a president-only vote, ballot, and they’re not even a US citizen. Because what that does, it nullifies the legal resident,” said Borrelli. “I don’t see the big burden here; I mean we want to make sure that a legal citizen has a right to vote and an illegal vote does not negate a legal vote. And that’s what it is, that’s about voter protection. It’s not about undermining the vote.”
Outspoken Democrats on the bill were rebuked by Petersen for going off the subject and impugning Republicans’ motives. Minority Whip Martin Quezada (D-Glendale) implied that Republicans were purposefully targeting individuals like the activists in attendance at the committee meeting because they feared them.
“What do those people look like? And why are those people being targeted if this bill passes? They’re afraid of you all right now. And this bill is targeting you all right now —” said Quezada.
“That’s absolutely ridiculous,” interjected Petersen. “Mr. Quezada, you’re impugning the motives of the sponsor of this bill and the members of the committee.”
Petersen stated that there are 36,000 people in Arizona registered to vote that haven’t proven citizenship status, noting that just recently an individual complained that the bill jeopardized their ability to vote in Arizona because they’re an illegal immigrant.
“I even saw a tweet from someone who said, ‘This bill is a risk to me! I’m a DACA person,’” stated Petersen. “We want everyone to vote, but we want citizens to vote. And it’s our job to make sure that happens.”