The next time any Arizona lawmakers tell you they favor less government, ask them what they are going to do to stop growing it.
Tuesday, most of the 321 new laws adopted by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Doug Ducey went into effect. That’s close to one new regulation or statute change for every day of the year.
State residents now have a bit more freedom to choose their hair stylist and use their nunchucks, but less freedom to rent their property for nonresidential purposes like events, parties or other activities.
And that’s just the number of bills that the governor signed.
The first session of the 54th gathering of our state Legislature introduced 1,418 initiatives before the bill-filing deadline in early February. Lawmakers acted on 346 of those bills, and Gov. Ducey signed all but 25 of the bills.
It was the third-highest total of new initiatives in the past nine years, being surpassed by the 1,495 bills introduced in 2010 and the 1,544 bills presented in 2012.
Ironically, Republicans argue loudly and often that Democrats favor “big government.” Members of the GOP campaign on the promise of less government and warn that their opponents on the other side of the aisle support higher taxes and more government.
Politicians of every creed seek more influence and are protective of the authority they are entrusted with. Republicans have been the majority party in the Legislature for more than a decade, and throughout that period, our state government has extended its power with more regulation of local governments and more restrictions on our daily lives.
Legislators begin every session with just one primary responsibility: adopting a budget to set the course of how public money will be spent and how revenues will be generated.
That job is consistently saved until the end of the session, with lawmakers burning the midnight oil every May trying to pass a budget before they lose their full daily allowance after the 120-day limit imposed by the state Constitution.
In other words, lawmakers save the job they are elected to accomplish until the end, putting a priority on changing or adding new laws when they gather each January.
Campaign season is just around the corner. When the politicians come calling this time, ignore their promises of “less government.”
The truth is, they will expand the state’s authority at every chance.
Reprinted from Sierra Vista Herald/Review