The Arizona Legislature has voted to send the Arizonans for Voter ID Act to the ballot as a proposition this fall, and 15 more election integrity bills have passed the Arizona House. The Arizonans for Voter ID Act was initially launched as a citizens’ initiative by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, which would have required 237,645 valid signatures to get on the ballot. SCR 1012, which passed along party lines, bypasses that time-consuming and often difficult process.
State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Apache Junction), told the Arizona Sun Times, “Today the Senate Republican caucus met to discuss which bills they can support. We were able to get through much of what we have been proposing and received support from nearly all the members with two absent and not weighing in. I’m excited to see good election reform moving forward, ideas that will fortify election security so that voters can feel more secure about their votes. Bills deal with securing technology, ballot paper, chain of custody, removing drop boxes, improving signature verification, cleaning of the voter rolls, and many other items that we are looking to fix.”
The Arizona House of Representatives passed a sentencing reform bill on Monday, but due to a Senate committee chair failing to bring a similar bill up for a vote in the Senate earlier this year, SB 1064, it’s not clear whether it will make it through the Senate. SB 1064 would relax sentencing laws, which are some of the strictest in the nation. According to Arizona Prison & Sentencing Reform, the state has the fourth highest incarceration rate. Inmates are currently required to serve 85% of their sentences, but the bill would reduce that to as little as one third of their sentences. Inmates who complete self-improvement programs such as substance abuse treatment and maintain good behavior while in prison can receive time off their sentences.
The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, with legislators voting 50-8 in favor. The previous version of the bill, HB 2173, didn’t get very far in the Senate, since Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) declined to hear the legislation in his committee. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Walt Blackman (R-Snowfake), decided to get around Petersen with the new legislation by using a strike-everything amendment. He amended a bill that had already passed out of the Senate, so it can go straight to the Senate floor for a vote. However, it is up to Sen. President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) to bring it up for a vote. There is little time left, since the legislative session will likely end this week, according to the AZ Mirror.