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News for Southeastern Arizona, provided by the University of Arizona School of Journalism

Legislative Roundup: Trucks, pervy old men, porn & prostitution resolution

Erik Kolsrud/Arizona Sonora News

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey unveiled a new economic development plan on Tuesday, following up on the lightning quick passage of his Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act last week. On the same day, the long-awaited sexual harassment report arising out of last year’s allegations was made public.

It’s been a busy week.

 

Pervy Old Men and Their Right Hands

The sexual harassment report that has so far loomed over the Legislature was finally published, detailing each allegation of harassment between Rep. Don Shooter (R-Yuma) and Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale) first reported last year. The 82-page report compiled by the law firm of Sherman & Howard L.L.C. , which was retained by the House to independently investigate the allegations made by each legislator. House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) found that while many of the allegations were baseless, there was enough there to remove Shooter from his committee position and censure him on the floor of the House. Ugenti-Rita wasn’t reprimanded for her comments, which included calling Shooter a “pervy old man” and made references to a legislator going on a date “with his right hand.”

Rep. Don Shooter (R-Yuma) was expelled from the House of Representatives following a sexual harassment scandal. (photo by: Erik Kolsrud/Arizona Sonora News)

“This investigation has cast a dark cloud over this House and Senate,” Mesnard said. “If any other bad behavior occurs, I will move for expulsion.”

Which is exactly what he did Thursday morning, right before the House convened to vote on the censure. Shooter had released a letter that morning apologizing for his actions and casting doubt on the investigation for what he claimed was a failure to investigate the allegations of an unnamed staffer.

This is the first time in decades that a legislator was expelled in the House. The final vote was 3 against, 1 not voting, 56 in favor of expelling Shooter from the Legislature. Many legislators spoke to explain their votes to their colleagues and a packed gallery. There were tears from many, but none were as dramatic as Shooter when he defended his “no” vote and then stormed out of the House — the last time he will be in.

 

Rep_ShooterRep_Ugenti-Rita

 

The Truck Starts Here

Gov. Ducey held a press conference at the Arizona Science Center where he announced a $1 billion investment by Nikola Motor Company for a factory and future headquarters in Buckeye. The motors in question? Hydrogen-powered hybrid semi trucks, which will allegedly create 2,000 high-tech jobs at the factory, with 20,000 ancillary jobs related to logistics, according to Nikola CEO Travis Milton.

Nikola Motor Co. plans to manufacture trucks such as their Nikola One model in Buckeye.

The Nikola factory will be the jewel in the crown of Douglas Ranch, a planned community in north Buckeye that will be built around the future I-11 freeway, running from Canada to Mexico and crossing right through Maricopa County. El Dorado Holdings, Inc., the real estate developer building the community, claims on its website that Douglas Ranch “will be a model of bold design, environmental stewardship and extraordinary lifestyle built on a robust economic foundation.” El Dorado is the developer that environmentalists say could  drain the San Pedro River with a housing development in Benson.

 

Aside from all that, the Legislature kept busy with a handful of interesting bills:

 

Cattle Prods on Campus

The House Education Committee passed Rep. Travis Grantham’s (R-Gilbert) HB 2172 8-3, which would prevent public universities and community colleges that take state funding from prohibiting students from carrying non-lethal weapons on campus. Private schools would be exempt for the same reason that private restaurant owners can prohibit weapons in their businesses — according to Grantham, a person’s right to be armed doesn’t trump another’s private property.

“Not a knife, not a huge sword, nothing obnoxious,” Grantham said. “With the definition of a lethal weapon in Arizona law, it’s pretty clear what’s lethal and what’s nonlethal.”

The bill doesn’t offer any examples of the types of weapons that would be allowed, only explaining non-lethal as “a weapon that is explicitly designed and developed to incapacitate or repel a person with a low probability of fatality or permanent injury or to disable equipment with minimal undesired damage or impact on the environment.

Keeping Kids Out of Tanning Beds

HB 2084, introduced by Rep. Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek), would impose a minimum age of 18 to use indoor tanning beds in the state of Arizona.

Under a new House Bill, the under-18 crowd will be banned from tanning beds and operators must log customers.

That’s not 18 or with parental consent, just a flat 18 and up only requirement. Customers would have to show ID and the operator of the tanning beds would be required to keep a log of who has used the bed, their age, the date of the appointment and for how long the bed was used.

That doesn’t apply to private use, however — so children with a bed at home can bake as they please.

Taking a Stand on Things that are Already Illegal

Prostitution and sex-trafficking are joined by children watching porn as the focus of a Resolution urging for better enforcement.

Reps. Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff), Barton (R-Payson), Campbell (R-Prescott), Clodfelter (R-Tucson), Cobb (R-Kingman), Finchem (R-Tucson), John (R-Safford), Lawrence (R-Scottsdale), Mosley (R-Lake Havasu City), Nutt (R-Clifton), Payne (R-Glendale), and Stringer (R-Prescott) were joined by Sen. Fann (R-Prescott) in introducing a resolution that urges the state government and local agencies “curtail access by minors to obscenity and pornography” as well as “protect minors against human trafficking, sex trafficking, and prostitution.

All well and good — though all of the above is already on the books. 

 

Erik Kolsrud is the Don Bolles Fellow covering the Legislature for Arizona Sonora News, a service provided by the school of journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach him at ekolsrud@email.arizona.edu.

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