Members of the Arizona House Republican Caucus met Tuesday to elect new leadership positions for the coming legislative session, ultimately choosing State Representative Ben Toma (R-Peoria) to serve as the next Speaker of the House.
“It is a profound privilege to lead the House of Representatives and our Republican majority caucus,” said Toma in response to his election. “Together, I know that the House will rise to meet the state’s immense challenges and we will continue to unlock freedom and opportunity for every Arizonan.”
— Arizona House Republicans (@AZHouseGOP) November 15, 2022
Toma immigrated to America at the age of 9 to escape from communist-ruled Romania with his family. He began his service in the state House in 2017 and served as majority leader in the previous session. As the speaker, Toma will oversee House sessions to direct the legislative process and ensure the representatives follow the rules.
One of Toma’s most significant achievements from the previous session may be the universal Empowerment Scholarship Account law. Not only did he introduce this bill, HB 2853, but he openly fought for it to go into law when Save our Schools Arizona tried but failed, to refer the bill to the 2024 ballot instead.
Moreover, the caucus also elected State Representative Leo Biasiucci (R-Lake Havasu) to serve as the majority leader. As the leader, Biasiucci will be in charge of overseeing the daily operations of House Republicans and help direct the party’s legislative agendas. By his side will be State Rep. Teresa Martinez (R-Casa Grande) as majority whip to help during the voting process of legislative sessions.
The Arizona Sun Times reached out to the House Republican Caucus for additional comments but did not hear back before publishing.
Biasiucci has served Legislative District 5 since 2019. One of his highlight bills introduced during the last session was House Bill (HB) 2696, which Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed into law in April. The bill targets human smugglers and those who prey on children by removing their eligibility for suspension of sentence, probation, or pardon, ensuring they face justice. Biasiucci was also part of a group of Republican legislators who pushed for Ducey to declare an emergency at the southern border in 2021.
“We are a land of law and order. But when the federal government fails at their duty to protect our border, it is up to us to uphold our oath to the constitution and do whatever it takes to help stop this invasion,” Biasiucci told The Sun Times.
As for Martinez, she joined the House in October of 2021 following the resignation of State Rep. Bret Roberts (R-Maricopa). She openly criticized Arizona’s Democrat governor-elect, Katie Hobbs, following a jury verdict that found her guilty of racial and sex discrimination.
Furthermore, the Democrat side of the House has also announced their leaders, with State Rep. Andrés Cano (D-Tucson) set to serve as the party leader. Beside him will be State Representatives Melody Hernandez (D-Maricopa) and Marcelino Quiñonez (D-Maricopa), both serving as minority whips.
Both parties of the Arizona State Senate have already decided on their leaders for the upcoming session. The next legislative session is set to begin on January 9, 2023.
Current results in the 2022 general election show that Republicans are set to take the majority in both the state House and Senate. However, with Katie Hobbs appearing to take the governor’s seat, it is uncertain how this will affect the state legislature. Although, the Senate Republican Caucus said they would do whatever they could to continue bettering the state of Arizona for its residents.
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