Democrats And Republicans Spar Over Firearms Restrictions Bill

Democrats And Republicans Spar Over Firearms Restrictions Bill

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona Republicans and Democrats traded insults over the status of a legislative proposal that would increase restrictions on firearms across the state.

Earlier this month, Democrat Attorney General Kris Mayes expressed her outrage over the Legislature’s failure to consider HB 2791, which would have regulated guns in the hands of certain Arizonans. The bill was sponsored by Democrat State Representative Stacey Travers and co-sponsored by a bipartisan duo: Republican Kevin Payne and Democrat Laura Terech.

Mayes said, “I’m disappointed, and I’m angry that even narrowly-tailored gun violence prevention bills like the one we worked to introduce this session don’t stand a chance with our current legislature.”

She added, “Our bill that would’ve given us more tools to address threats of violence at our schools is not moving forward this legislative session. But we’re committed to Arizonans to keep on trying in order to protect public safety.”

The bill laid out the process by which an education protection order is filed, adjudicated, and executed in the state of Arizona. Such an order would “prohibit the defendant from possessing, controlling, using, manufacturing, or receiving a firearm for the duration of the order, [or] order the transfer of any firearm in the defendant’s possession or control, including any license or permit that allows the defendant to possess or acquire a firearm, to the appropriate law enforcement agency for the duration of the order,” or both.

Republicans disagreed with the attorney general’s sentiments about the bill. Senate President Warren Petersen wrote, “I’m extremely proud that we blocked legislation that would make it harder for you to defend yourself from criminals and harm.”

Representative Alexander Kolodin also weighed in, saying, “Let Kris Mayes take your guns away? That would be a hard NO from me!”

Travers, the bill sponsor, took umbrage with Kolodin’s attack on her proposal. She argued that HB 2791 has the “same due process as current orders of protection and constitutional rights. Higher threshold to issue order, and (existing) discretionary firearm restrictions. Includes mental health component. Protects LEO, Schools, Kinds. Not reinventing the wheel. Just saving lives.”

The Democrat State Representative promised to re-introduce the bill in 2025, calling it “a great bill with huge bipartisan and community support.”

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

Hobbs Called On To Protect Water And Wastewater Systems From Cyberattacks

Hobbs Called On To Protect Water And Wastewater Systems From Cyberattacks

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona legislative Republicans are requesting the state’s governor to take action to protect water and wastewater systems from cyberattacks.

On Tuesday, the Arizona State Senate Republican Caucus called on Governor Katie Hobbs “to take swift action to protect Arizona’s critical infrastructure from adversary nations seeking to unleash harm on the United States.”

The demand from the lawmakers follows a letter from the White House to state governors, warning of “the impending threat of cyberattacks.”

In that letter, which was signed by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the White House identified two of those “recent and ongoing” threats. The first was from “threat actors affiliated with the Iranian Government Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.” This threat, according to the letter, has “carried out malicious cyberattacks against United States critical infrastructure entities, including drinking water systems.”

The second threat was from “The People’s Republic of China state-sponsored cyber group known as Volt Typhoon.” This adversary, per the letter, “has compromised information technology of multiple critical infrastructure systems, including drinking water, in the United States and its territories.”

Senate President Warren Petersen issued a statement in conjunction with his Caucus’ call to the governor, saying, “Water is vital to lives and livelihoods. It’s concerning the Governor has yet to share any information with the Legislature, or the public, on this matter. What’s even more concerning is at a recent stakeholder meeting on a completely separate issue, a representative from the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs expressed to our lawmakers no knowledge of this warning from the White House.”

According to the Administration’s communication, these cyberattacks “have the potential to disrupt the critical lifeline of clean and safe drinking water, as well as impose significant costs on affected communities.”

Petersen also shared his thoughts on what the governor should do in order to protect the state from these cyberattacks. He wrote, “I encourage her to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of our citizens by taking steps to protect Arizona’s critical infrastructure from enemy nations who are a known threat to our state and country. This includes signing our legislation crafted specifically to mitigate these threats, such as SB 1403, SB 1340, and SB 1123.”

SB 1403, sponsored by Senator Janae Shamp, would “make it generally unlawful for specified foreign principals to purchase, own, acquire by grant or devise or have any other interest in (hold) real property” – according to the Arizona House overview.

SB 1340, sponsored by Senator Frank Carroll, would “prohibit a publicly managed fund from holding an investment in a foreign adversary, a state-owned enterprise of a foreign adversary, a company domiciled within a foreign adversary, or any other entity owned by or domiciled in a foreign adversary; or investing or depositing public monies in a bank that is domiciled in, or has a principal place of business in, a foreign adversary” – according to the summary from the Arizona House.

SB 1123, sponsored by Senator Wendy Rogers, would “prohibit a business or governmental entity in Arizona from entering into an agreement involving critical infrastructure if certain criteria apply.”

The letter from the Biden Administration officials requested the help of state governors “to ensure that all water systems in your state comprehensively assess their current cybersecurity practices to identify any significant vulnerabilities, deploy practices and controls to reduce cybersecurity risks where needed, and exercise plans to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a cyber incident.”

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

Arizona Senate Republicans Provide Update On Current Legal Battles

Arizona Senate Republicans Provide Update On Current Legal Battles

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona legislative Republicans are racking up a lengthy list of legal cases on behalf of the state.

Earlier this month, the Arizona Senate Republicans Caucus’ “X” account posted an update on the lawsuits that President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma have engaged in due, in large part, to the absence of the state’s Democrat attorney general. The collective voice for the Senate Republicans wrote, “Your Arizona Republican state lawmakers don’t shy away from joining legal battles when your freedoms, safety, and our democracy are on the line! We’ve joined a number of impactful cases and are now paving the way for other state legislatures to do the same.”

Per the Senate Republicans, the issues covered by the legal challenges include the following: election integrity, religious freedom, First Amendment rights, Second Amendment rights, the homeless crisis, keeping men out of women’s safe spaces, government overreach, and medical freedom.

There were several updates on cases that the Arizona Senate Republicans have weighed in on behalf of state residents. In AZ Senate v. Hobbs – a case involving a dispute over the governors’ retraction of agency director nominations – “oral arguments on cross motions for summary judgment is set for April 26, 2024.” Late last year, legislative Republicans sued Governor Katie Hobbs over this issue.

In Johnson v. City of Grants Pass – a case involving a challenge to a local government’s policy against a homeless encampment – “the U.S. Supreme Court accepted review of the case and set oral argument for April 22, 2024.” Legislative Republicans wrote an amicus brief to the nation’s high court in support of the City of Grants Pass’ position.

In a challenge over the constitutionality of Arizona’s Save Women’s Sports Act, “the Ninth Circuit [had] set oral argument in [the] appeal of the trial court’s preliminary injunction ruling for March 14, 2024.” Legislative Republicans had intervened in the case to help defend the law that was passed to protect the integrity of women’s sports.

In Murthy v. Missouri, “oral argument [was] scheduled at the U.S. Supreme Court on March 18, 2024.” The Legislature had joined with over a dozen states on an amicus brief in support of Missouri’s fight against the federal government over online censorship.

Not only have Arizona Republican legislators been active in intervening on cases that impact laws or interests of their state, but they have increasingly shown an appetite for joining briefs and letters that have been led by Republican state attorneys general around the country. While not unprecedented, those actions have been extremely rare in the past – until recently, when the Arizona Legislature, led by Petersen and Toma, have signed onto multiple actions in federal court. More of these efforts are expected as the year continues.

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

Arizona Senate President And Speaker Of The House Sue EPA For New Air Quality Rule

Arizona Senate President And Speaker Of The House Sue EPA For New Air Quality Rule

By Elizabeth Troutman |

Arizona State Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma filed a lawsuit to stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from enacting a new air quality rule.

“The Biden administration should be rewarding American businesses for being the most environmentally friendly  in the world,” Petersen said. “Instead, they are doubling down on their left-wing agenda. This rule is bad for Arizona, its citizens  and our small businesses.” 

Petersen and Toma filed the suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Monday. 

The EPA rule, titled Reconsideration of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter,”  creates “unattainable” environmental goals for Maricopa, Pinal, and Santa Cruz counties, according to the news release. 

The rule imposes strict regulations on fine particles within the air, also known as PM 2.5. Sources of PM 2.5 include smoke,  vehicle exhaust, emissions from industrial facilities and energy sources, such as power plants. 

Less than 20% of all coarse and fine particles combined come from power generation or other industrial activities. Wildfires are the largest source, accounting for 43% of all particulate matter in the air. 

Petersen said the EPA should be focusing on mitigating wildfires, instead of imposing measures which economically harm Arizonans. 

“This rule will create unnecessary hardships for job creators and hardworking Arizonans,” Petersen said. “It will detrimentally impact our power grid and create even more red tape for both small and large businesses. We have no choice but to ask the courts to provide relief from this tyrannical, arbitrary, and illegal move by the EPA.” 

The United States already has some of the strictest air quality standards in the world, even more than the  European Union. The Obama Administration first adopted them, and the Trump administration retained them. 

But this new rule would be even more severe, causing new infrastructure construction that would improve safety and travel times for Arizonans to be halted and permits for new manufacturing facilities, especially in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima Counties, to be blocked. 

Additionally, small businesses would be required to pay for expensive new equipment, and investments in new facilities will be sent to foreign countries with less stringent regulations, forcing jobs overseas and creating a greater reliance on adversary nations. 

Up to eight additional counties within Arizona could be out of compliance, which could further threaten the state’s economic growth and prosperity. 

Elizabeth Troutman is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send her news tips using this link.

Hobbs Sparks Bipartisan Outrage With Veto Of Housing Bill

Hobbs Sparks Bipartisan Outrage With Veto Of Housing Bill

By Daniel Stefanski |

A bipartisan housing bill from the Arizona State Legislature has met its demise.

On Monday, Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed HB 2570, which would have “create[ed] municipal prohibitions relating to home designs and single-family home lot sizes” – according to the overview provided by the state House.

In a letter explaining her veto to House Speaker Ben Toma, Hobbs said, “I was elected on a promise to bring thoughtful leadership to the Governor’s Office and always do the right thing for the people of this state, even when it’s hard. Unfortunately, this expansive bill is a step too far and I know we can strike a better balance. This is unprecedented legislation that would put Arizonans at the center of a housing reform experiment with unclear outcomes. It lacks the nuance necessary for statewide reform, and I do not believe it is in the best interest of the people in this state.”

Senate President Warren Petersen blasted the governor’s decision on the bill, writing, “Our kids can’t afford a home. Today, the Governor sided with bureaucrats, instead of our kids. Thanks to her, affordable starter homes remain illegal in Arizona. But it’s not just our kids. Every day, we hear from active-duty military, veterans, young families, young professionals, firefighters, teachers, police officers, service workers, and seniors on fixed incomes that they are either facing the grim reality of becoming homeless or are being prevented from participating in the American dream of homeownership because of outrageous prices, partly due to reckless big government regulations imposed by cities and towns.”

The Senate Republican Caucus’ press release highlighted that Hobbs became the “first Governor in the nation to block a bill removing zoning restrictions to bring housing prices down for hardworking citizens.” The release asserted that “the status quo currently limits options, which can tack on tens of thousands of dollars to the sale price of a home.”

Hobbs pointed to push back from the Department of Defense and Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona over the bill, which she claimed to take under advisement in the lead-up to her veto. She added, “The bill has unexplored, unintended consequences that are of great concern. For instance, the Department of Defense contacted my office while this bill was on my desk to state their opposition. They expressed very serious concerns that the increased density near military installations would put military operations and homeowners at risk, putting dense development within Accident Potential Zones. Firefighters shared significant public safety concerns highlighting that increased density without corresponding improvements to roads and public infrastructure could lead to traffic congestion during evacuations or delays in emergency response times. These are the examples that demonstrate the potential risks that come with the kind of sweeping reforms in this proposal.”

Petersen countered these concerns from Hobbs as part of his statement in response to the veto. He said, “The Governor has a track record of pushing red herrings to justify her vetoes against commonsense legislation, and her statement today is no different. No, this bill does not harm military operations, nor create safety issues for cities. Instead of listening to the citizens, she’s listening to the people who created the problem. This legislation had strong bipartisan support, and this veto will certainly go down as one of her biggest failures.”

Other legislative Democrats expressed their disappointment over the veto. Representative Analise Ortiz stated, “I am deeply saddened and disappointed in the Governor’s decision to veto the Arizona Starter Homes Act. HB 2570 was a historic bipartisan solution to our state’s housing crisis and it would have created a pathway to the American dream of homeownership. While other states are proactively addressing housing in an urgent, deliberate manner, AZ continues to kick the can down the road. Status quo is clearly not working and believing that things will change without policies like the Starter Homes Act is, at best, wishful thinking. I hope Governor Hobbs will support future plans to expand the state’s inventory of modest, starter homes and homes on small lots – homes that our parents & grandparents purchased years ago that allowed them to build wealth, lay roots in communities, and break cycles of poverty.”

Democrat State Senator Anna Hernandez also weighed in about the governor’s veto. She said, “I hope the Governor takes this moment to reaffirm her commitment to solving the housing crisis rather than stand as another obstacle in the way of solutions. My hope is that Governor Hobbs and her staff, learn from their mistake today, and ensure that decisions on policy are made for the betterment of all Arizonans. We must prioritize the people over the politics. The work we have begun will continue – I promise.”

HB 2570 is likely completely dead for the legislative session, with no hope for a veto override, as only 33 State Representatives and 16 State Senators supported its passage in their chambers.

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