PHOENIX – A wild few weeks for news across the country didn’t disappoint here in Arizona: with inaugurations, late nights, and dozens of bills, legislators, interns and lobbyists are flooding into the Capitol coffee shop in gaggles.
This past weekend was the third weekend in a row that the capitol was flooded with protestors. Two weekends ago, Arizonans marched to stand in solidarity against the newly elected president and his regime in Phoenix’s sister march to the national Women’s March on Washington. On Saturday the 28th, demonstrators gathered at the capitol to protest against the advancement of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline. And this past weekend, hundreds of protestors gathered on the capitol and at Sky Harbor International Airport to protest the president’s immigration ban.
Lighting up the age restrictions
A bill to raise the legal smoking age to 21 passed the Committee on Health by a 7-2 vote on Thursday.
Rep. Paul Boyer, R-Dist 20, introduced HB2335, which includes electronic cigarettes and vaporizers, to decrease the number of smokers in Arizona. Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Dist 23, and Rep. Tony Navarrete, D-Dist 30, were among those opposed in Thursdays vote.
The bill is also assigned to the Committee on Commerce and Public Safety and the Committee on Rules, which have both yet to hear it.
420 Blaze It
Have you ever gotten high by smoking hemp? Neither has Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, who wants to make growing, selling and possession of hemp legal.
Senate Bill 1045 would amend existing law to remove hemp from a list of drugs illegal in Arizona, including marijuana. His reasoning is, simply put, that hemp isn’t really a drug at all. Borrelli hopes this could be an economic boost for Arizona farmers.
In Arizona, you can already sell hemp clothing, canvases and other materials. To Borrelli’s point, smoking an entire hemp shirt wouldn’t get you high: it would just make your lungs hurt.
SB1045 was assigned to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety and the Committee on Rules. The Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety held the bill, and the Committee on Rules has yet to hear it.
Honey Badger Don’t Care
As long as your pellets are 1.3 millimeters or less in diameter and loaded into a rim fire cartridge with a .22 caliber, you could soon fire it within city limits, thanks to a bill introduced by Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale. The House Judiciary and Public Safety Committee approved House Bill 2022 with a 6-3 vote, which would allow people to shoot rat or snake shots within city limits.
Opposition to the bill includes residents and activists who worry it will encourage residents to shoot snakes and rodents on their property instead of calling professionals.
Those in favor, including the committee chairman Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Maricopa, vehemently deny that the bill had anything to do with snakes or rodents.
HB2022 was also assigned to the Rules Committee, which voted to pass the bill 9-0. On a party-line vote, the House approved the bill. Now on to the Senate.
In 2014, just 17 percent of 18- to 24-year olds voted, and a new bill could potentially decrease it even further. Rep. Bob Thorpe introduced a bill this week that could make it more difficult for college students to vote in their school’s state.
HB2260 would make it illegal to use any temporary college or university address, like a dormitory or apartment, to register to vote. Instead, students who want to vote will have to register and vote in their home state. The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Government and the Committee on Rules.
Is that a gun in your pocket or did they not pass Senate Bill 1243?
The more than 300,000 Arizona residents who have concealed carry permits might be able to waltz into more buildings with their weapons. Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, is trying once again to pass a bill to allow concealed carry permit holders to bring their guns into more public buildings.
SB1243 would require operators of public buildings to employ security guards and introduce metal detectors at their entrances, or they’ll be required to allow permit-holders to carry their firearms in the building.
The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Government and the Committee on Rules. The Committee on Government passed the bill on a 4-3 vote and the Committee on Rules has yet to hear it.
That Was Quick
Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, introduced a bill intended to stop people from soliciting at crosswalks. Specifically, it prohibits solicitors from approaching within 10 feet of a person in a vehicle that is stopped at a stoplight.
On Thursday, the bill failed the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety with a 7 to 0 vote. While the bill can still be resurrected during the session, it isn’t moving forward any time soon.
Christianna Silva 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 her at firstname.lastname@example.org.