2003 Legislative Report Card

Posted on September 29, 2003 | Type: Policy Report | Author: Satya Thallam
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Arizona's Forty-Sixth Legislature, First Regular Session

Senator Barry Goldwater best articulated his legislative mission when he said, "If I should be attacked for neglecting my constituents 'interests,' I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty."

All too often, liberty and prosperity are jeopardized as government takes wealth and opportunities from individuals and awards privileges to special interests and favored groups. As the governmental body explicitly charged with lawmaking authority, the legislature is frequently the greatest offender.

However, citizens' ability to vote legislators into and out of office makes the legislature especially accountable to voters, and gives the legislature great potential to serve the interests of the governed. With such power to directly affect the lives of citizens, it behooves voters to keep a careful watch on the activities of the legislature.

This report analyzes how well Arizona's Forty-Sixth Legislature adhered to the principles of liberty. Based on an analysis of 191 votes across four categories of legislation, this report finds that Arizona's legislators demonstrated a weak commitment to liberty. With fewer than 50 percent of the votes going in favor of the principles of liberty, Arizonans would have been better served had legislators simply flipped coins on every vote.

Despite a legislative session that increased the state's budget, failed to pass a spending limit or expand school choice, and slapped dozens of unnecessary and harmful regulations on Arizona businesses and citizens, there were several legislative wins for liberty. Legislators managed to relax certification requirements for school personnel, limit municipalities' ability to abuse eminent domain, and refer to the ballot a referendum requiring voter spending initiatives to identify revenue sources sufficient to cover costs.

Though in the minority, several legislators voted fairly consistently in favor of liberty in the areas of education, constitutional government, regulation, and fiscal policy. Sens. Thayer Verschoor (R-22), Jack Harper (R-4), Dean Martin (R-6), and Marilyn Jarrett (R-19); and Reps. Eddie Farnsworth (R-22), Russell Pearce (R-18), and Karen Johnson (R-18) proved to be the strongest allies in the constant struggle against government encroachment on liberty.

Read the 2003 Legislative Report Card here

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