/ Modified apr 22, 2011 8:23 p.m.

Episode 15: A Legislative Wrapup

The Arizona Legislature closed its regular session this week in a rush of bill passages and hijinks

History, histrionics and small doses of hijinks and humor characterized the Arizona legislative session that ended this week.

The Legislature jammed through dozens of bills -- list here from the Arizona Republic -- in the final hours, leaving Gov. Jan Brewer's desk stacked with 168 pieces of legislation on which she must decide: sign, veto or let it become law without her signature. She has until end of day May 2 to do so.

A panel of four journalists analyzed the session's accomplishments, shortcomings and unfinished business for Friday's Arizona Week. Some of their thoughts:

"The governor ... has a whole plan for trying to impose fiscal discipline, and putting a limit on how much revenue the state can raise will put a limit on how much you can spend," said Mary Jo Pitzl, legislative reporter of the Arizona Republic.

"The Republicans who crossed over, if you will, and voted against the immigration bills" may wonder if they will they receive cover from the business community come re-election time, said Christopher Conover, political correspondent for Arizona Public Media.

"I think we've seen some results from it (the economic development package passed in February), just in terms of the tone and the climate," said Mike Sunnucks, senior writer for the Phoenix Business Journal. "It's trying to send a message about Arizona."

"The opposition to the five immigration bills was very fierce, they were very organized this year, more organized than I've ever seen them," said Luige del Puerto, state Senate reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times.

The journalists also passed along their favorite anecdote from the just-ended session:

  • Mary Jo Pitzl: In the session's waning hours, Sen. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, assuming a mock Southern accent to deliver a political doublespeak speech made by a Mississippi politician in 1952 both decrying and supporting the sale of whiskey in his state.

  • Christopher Conover: Legislation approving 10 new license plate styles for Arizona motorists, including a "Don't Tread on Me" plate to fund the Arizona Tea Party Committee, whose board of 13 people is appointed by the governor, the House speaker and the Senate president.

  • Mike Sunnucks: The irony of Gov. Brewer vetoing legislation that would have given the University of Phoenix and other private educational institutions a tax break. As a result, the university's parent company said it would consider relocating at least some of its employees to other states. This after Brewer signed legislation designed to instill high-quality job growth in Arizona.

  • Luige del Puerto: On the "bullhorn brigade," a persistent group of protesters appearing nearly every day of the legislative session outside the Capitol in Phoenix to denounce anti-immigration stances taken by legislators. Several senators complained about the almost constant noise, perhaps a perverse sign of success for the group.

Click to watch Arizona Week host Michael Chihak and the reporter roundtable evaluate this legislative session's successes, failures, and unfinished business.

Michael Chihak talks to a panel of journalists about the legislative session.


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