Republicans require majority support to even hear a Democrat bill. That's insane
When I first ran for office, I said I was committed to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to solve problems.
I still am.
I believed then that good ideas can come from anyone and that the legislative process works best through collaboration with colleagues in both parties.
I believe that now.
The Senate Democrats have a proven record of bipartisanship, evident by the more than five dozen Republican bills that we have voted for and supported.
If we think it’s a good bill – meaning enacting good policy, no matter who the sponsor is – we will vote for it.
Requiring majority support serves no one
Meanwhile, many of my Senate Republican colleagues have had few opportunities to show any bipartisanship because so few of our bills have gone up on the board.
As of Monday, only 14 Democratic bills have received a vote, while 309 Republican bills have.
Remember that the chamber is almost evenly split: There are 16 Republicans and 14 Democrats.
Many of the Republican bills that have taken up our time and passed without any Democratic support are controversial, implement significant changes to law, and will likely be vetoed by the governor.
This is not a productive use of our time.
With such a closely divided Legislature, it would be so much better for Arizonans if senators and representatives focused on bipartisan bills that will improve lives and likely will be signed into law.
16 'yes' votes in Senate should be enough
In one of the committees I serve on, there have been just three Democratic bills included on agendas for a hearing, while 58 Republican bills were presented and discussed.
In addition, we were recently informed that no Democratic bills will have a hearing in the House if they don’t receive a majority of the majority – the support of nine of the 16 Republican members – in the Senate.
This is an artificial rule. The reality is that 16 “yes” votes from the 30 senators should be enough.
We are already seeing evidence that Republicans are intentionally ensuring that Democratic bills do not make that artificial threshold.
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Can I prove it?
Maybe not, but some of us in competitive districts have been told by Republican colleagues that none of our bills will make it to the finish line because they don’t want to give Democrats a “win” in those districts.
Democrats have sponsored multiple bills this session that would implement positive change for our state. When Democratic bills make it through their assigned committees, these bills deserve a debate on the floor of both chambers, and they deserve that final, recorded vote “on the board.”
Only bipartisanship can solve these problems
I have sponsored 24 bills this session, but just one of my bills has been transmitted to the House. Senate Bill 1159 is a potentially life-saving change in law that would allow us to keep up with the evolution of deadly, illicit drugs by making testing and analyzing equipment and devices legal.
The legislation passed the full Senate on a 20-9 vote (with one senator absent), yet with nine of the 16 Republicans voting “no,” it is now apparently “dead” and won’t be heard in the House.
I am frustrated by what we are seeing this session. Voters should be, too.
We are facing life-altering issues in our state:
We don’t have enough teachers for our classrooms;
Our water future is dire;
Too many people are living on the streets because we lack sufficient affordable housing; and yes,
Drug overdoses continue to take lives.
None of these issues will ever be solved by one party or the other. Bipartisanship is essential.
I would like the opportunity to fight for my bill that is now assigned to the House. Other Democrats would like that same opportunity.
For that to happen, however, my Republican colleagues will need to show that they, too, believe in good policy no matter who sponsors a particular bill.
Sen. Christine Marsh represents east and northeast Phoenix and Paradise Valley in District 4. Reach her at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Republicans are killing Democrat bills for the worst reasons