Governor Jan Brewer Seeks Clarity from Arizona Supreme Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 21, 2011
CONTACT: Matthew Benson

Governor, Legislature Seek Explanation for High Court Intervention

PHOENIX – Time is short, and the people of Arizona deserve answers.

Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona State Senate today filed a pair of legal motions formally requesting that the Arizona Supreme Court reconsider last week’s ruling to reinstate Chairwoman Colleen Mathis to the Independent Redistricting Commission. Additionally, the Governor and State Senate have asked the Court to clarify its November 17 order regarding the removal of Chairwoman Mathis, and for the court to stay the order reinstating the IRC Chairwoman until further clarity is provided.

Statement from Governor Brewer 

“It is untenable that the Court has blocked me from executing my Constitutional authority to remove a member of the IRC, but has provided neither explanation for its action nor a timetable for when that guidance will be granted. I maintain that my action was lawful to remove the IRC Chairwoman based on her misconduct and neglect of duty, and ask that the Court reconsider its order of reinstatement. At a minimum, the Chairwoman should be barred from resuming her duties until the Court has provided clarity regarding its cursory order.” 

Statement from Senate President-elect Steve Pierce 

“The Governor and the State Senate have clear constitutional authority to remove an IRC member. When the Court inserts itself into this process, it has an obligation to explain its actions clearly. On Thursday the Court not only disregarded the actions of the Governor, but also more than two-thirds of the State Senate. The Court owes the people of Arizona an explanation on their intervention, and Ms. Mathis must not return to the IRC until we get those answers.” 

Statement from Speaker of the House Andy Tobin 

“I fully support today’s action. Last week’s order from the Court has serious negative repercussions on the constitutional separation of powers. The Arizona Constitution clearly gives the authority to remove a commissioner to the Governor, with a concurring two-thirds vote of the State Senate. The Court has in effect substituted its judgment for that of the Governor and Senate. Therefore, I’ve directed my counsel to seek intervention in the special action for the purpose of joining the Governor and the Senate in seeking reconsideration of the order.”

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Congratulations Senate President Steve Pierce

Today, State Senate Republicans, by secret ballot, elected Senator Steve Pierce as Senate President.

Prior to the election, three names had emerged as possible replacements should Senator Pearce be recalled: Steve Yarbrough, Steve Pierce and Andy Biggs. Biggs was presumed the favorite.

Biggs had also unwaveringly stood by Senator Pearce throughout the recall election.

Earlier during the session, Steve Pierce had voted against five immigration bill Russell Pearce had advocated.

When the vote went down today, the numbers were 11-10 in favor of Senator Steve Pierce. Yarbrough had bowed out of the race leaving it a Pierce vs. Biggs contest.

It’s not hard to see that the State’s newest senator, did not vote for Senator Andy Biggs and speculation abounds that Senator Gould traded his vote for an endorsement for his congressional bid against House Speaker, Andy Tobin, also from Prescott which Pierce represents.

Senator Frank Antenori from southern Arizona, replaced Pierce as Majority Whip – the likely result of another vote for endorsment arrangement. Antenori has already formed an exploratory committee for congress in southern Arizona.

Based on pure speculation, the vote tally probably went along the lines of the following:

Voting for Steve Pierce:
Jerry Lewis
Rich Crandall
Adam Driggs
Frank Antenori
Michele Reagan
John Nelson
John McComish
Nancy Barto
Linda Gray
Ron Gould

Voting for Andy Biggs:
Scott Bundgaard
Sylvia Allen
Lori Klein
Rick Murphy
Steve Yarbrough
Steve Smith
Gail Griffin
Al Melvin
Don Shooter

Congratulations Senator Pierce. You certainly have your work cut out for you.

Arizona Chamber names Senator Pierce ‘Senator of the Year’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 23, 2011
CONTACT: Mike Philipsen

(Phoenix, State Capitol) —-Sen. Steve Pierce, a Republican from Prescott, has been named the 2011 Senator of the Year by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Pierce is Majority Whip and has been a member of the Senate since 2009.

“Senator Pierce’s hard work in 2011 stood out. He has a strong pro-business record and this year he was focused on shepherding job-creation legislation to passage. We applaud his support of the economic competitiveness package and for his leadership within his caucus,” says Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Sen. Pierce knows that doing the right thing isn’t always the popular thing. We commend him for his work to advance to the ballot a measure to eliminate public funding for political campaigns. It’s a stance that might not earn him the title of Mr. Popular among his colleagues, but we believe his leadership on this and other important issues helps make Arizona a better place to work and live,” says Hamer.

Sen. Pierce is a third-generation Arizonan, a graduate of Prescott High School and the University of Arizona. He operates the ranch outside Prescott that his father acquired fifty years ago.

The 2011 Chamber Awards Luncheon honoring Sen. Pierce and others is being held June 24 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort.

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Senator Steve Pierce: Boosting Arizona’s Economy

By Arizona State Senator Steve Pierce

How “Racinos” Could Save our State

This past session was one that had many interesting turns. We created the Arizona Commerce Authority, which makes the state more competitive in bringing new businesses to the state and expanding existing ones. We passed a package of tax cuts, phasing down the corporate income tax, eliminating payroll and property taxes for Arizona companies selling products out-of-state, and cutting property taxes for Arizonans. We passed the first balanced budget in five years, saved the state’s retirement system, saw demonstrations with the now infamous bullhorn, and made cuts, cuts, and more cuts.

For the third year, these cuts were significant. The Legislature’s primary mission is to pass a balanced budget, and we finally did it with no gimmicks, no new rollovers, and no new borrowing. We did what we expect everyone to do: live within our means. In the past, we have burdened the state with a great amount of debt that will take years to pay off, simply to avoid having to make these difficult but necessary cuts. This session there was no alternative–we did what needed to be done, and my caucus is content with these decisions. There is definitely still room for improvement in select areas, such as DES, and we can find these reforms with the help of the new director, Clarence Carter.

I believe we have to continue to make reforms that make the state leaner and more efficient, and this session has given us a great start. Now, we need to start looking for additional revenues.

Because the Republican caucuses in both the Senate and the House believe that raising taxes is not an option, we have to look toward new sources. So, what might those be?

First, tobacco is taxed at an enormous two dollars per pack. If voters can be swayed into passing legislation to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, why not find a tax that is fitting for this? If we taxed marijuana at the same rate as tobacco, we could raise as much as $4.8 million This is one place where I believe we can find some of the revenues we need to help pull Arizona out of its economic slump.

Another source of revenue we could look at is the concept of racinos, an idea that has been brought up and discussed heavily within our Legislature in the past. Never before did we want to consider the expansion of gaming in the state. However, times have changed and drastic situations call upon us to reconsider this issue. Our economy is in shambles and the state debt is catastrophic. We owe $1.1 billion on a mortgage of the Capitol, another $1 billion in education rollovers, and yet another $1 billion in the state’s deficit. How will we ever be able to rebuild our infrastructure, our parks, fund education, and keep AHCCCS alive without looking for other sources of revenue? We have to find more funding for Arizona without damaging our frail economy, and we should consider gaming as a means to do this. Recent studies show that with the implementation of racinos, we could make close to $300 million for the state’s General Fund in the first year alone, and could grow to $1 billion/year in the next few years.

Some naysayers claim that we should not permit gambling in Arizona. Clearly, they are not aware that we already allow it. For example, you can buy lottery tickets in the DES cafeteria right now. Take a drive down just about any major freeway and eventually you will see the enormous casinos on which the Indian tribes now have a monopoly. If you recall the passage of Prop 301, we limited the transparency of what we gain from casino gambling in the state, and we will not know exactly what percentage we actually receive for many years. It has been good for the tribes and will continue to be, but what many people do not realize is how good it could be for Arizona as a whole. Granting our state the right to have limited gaming would help agencies statewide, and therefore it is an option we should ponder closely.

These are extraordinary times that require extraordinary solutions. We have to look at every possible option, and racinos should be at the top of our list of considerations. They would bring innumerable jobs to the state, serving as a significant boost for Arizona’s economy. We should not dismiss the idea until we have carefully studied it first; it is a simple solution to a difficult problem.

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