Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
Now what? As the Three Sonorans wrote this morning, we will have no one but the Republicans to blame now for the course of our state. The Party of No will have to come up with some ideas.
I know one thing we are in store — a continuation of Arizona’s meth lab of democracy and the continuation of frivolous, money-wasting lawsuits.
The bottomline is: the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature doesn’t know how the US government works. In a nutshell, the states have authority over some tasks, and the feds have authority over other tasks. Also, the state is not supposed to pass laws that blatantly favor or discriminate against certain groups.
Not knowing these simple facts has mired our state in multiple lawsuits.
Thanks to the Legislature’s hubris, Arizona finds itself in several, money-wasting, high-profile lawsuits. Three, possibly four of these lawsuits have either landed with the Supreme Court or are on their way there.
The most infamous of these cases is SB1070, the state’s stab at dictating immigration enforcement (which falls under the purview of the federal government), but there are several others. Here is a recap from the Arizona Daily Star.
Two hearings are scheduled for next month, one involving a spat between the Tohono O’odham Nation and the U.S. government, the other to decide the legality of state tax credits to help children attend private and parochial schools. 
In December, the justices will review a three-year-old law that lets state judges decide if Arizona firms have knowingly hired undocumented workers and, if so, to suspend their licenses or put them out of business. 
And the court has all but decided to review the matching-funds provision of the state’s law on public financing of elections. Justices already have indicated they have a problem with a federal appeals court ruling declaring the funding legal: The justices let stand a ban on matching funds for the current election, changing the rules in the middle of the campaign. 
SB1070 is winding its way through lower courts now and will most likely go to the Supreme Court in their next session. 
But wait, there’s more!
The passage of Prop 106, the so-called Healthcare Freedom Act, will likely land Arizona in court also, since it is an attempt by the state to preempt federal law– something state’s aren’t allowed to do. I, for one, like several measures included in healthcare reform (ie, elimination of denial of coverage based upon preexisting conditions, coverage of college students on parents’ plans, the ability to get better insurance rates by buying into pools, provision of screening and basic care). Arizona voters said yesterday that they don’t want any of this. I guess all of you who voted fro Prop 106 are independently wealthy– or more likely duped by the advertising. 
And, Russell Pearce has vowed to make repeal of the 14th Amendment one of his top priorities at the beginning of the 2011 session. (Of course, eliminating a Constitutional Amendment is also not within the states’ purview, but that hasn’t stopped Pearce before.) 
Arizona law requires the state government to balance its budget– something Brewer and the Republicans failed to do in the last session. (Oh, yeah, Jan lied in her ads. Surprise. Surprise.) Since they are masters in short-sighted reasoning, they were counting on stealing funds from the state land trust and the First Things First early childhood development fund– but the voters rejected Props 301 and 302 yesterday.
So, Arizona is millions of dollars in the hole– due to decades of Republican control– plus the state is fighting several expensive legal battles– because the Legislature doesn’t know how government is structured in the US.
Now what? How can a know-nothing Legislature + a one-issue governor solve these major problems, while wasting our money on lawsuits that could have been avoided?
One thing for sure, the Republicans will cling to the failed policies of trickle down economics and continue to attempt balancing the state’s budget on the backs of workers (with more job cuts) and children (with more cuts to education). We are in for some dark days, people.