3 Arizona Senate Republicans join with Democrats to adjourn regular session
Three Republican Arizona state senators defected from their caucus to join with Democrats in voting to adjourn the 2020 regular session, killing 28 pieces of House legislation that were up for consideration.
Casting the sine die votes on the Republican side were Senators Kate Brophy McGee, Heather Carter, and Paul Boyer. The three Republican votes were enough to tip the balance in the Democrats’ favor, delivering a narrow 16-14 vote to adjourn.
After the 2020 regular session was put on hold in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the House returned last week in the hopes of passing more legislation for the upper chamber to consider.
The House’s return to session came after the Senate had already voted to adjourn on May 8. The regular session did not end, however, because the House Speaker did not bring a sine die vote to the floor. With the Senate in recess, the House continued on.
Two weeks ago I voted to sine die. I came back today and reaffirmed that vote. Our total focus must be on a special session related to the COVID19 crisis. I continue to work, helping the families and businesses in my district,” wrote Senator Brophy McGee on Twitter.
Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to call legislators back for a special session in the near future. Adjourning the regular session paves the way for a special session with a narrower scope aimed specifically at addressing issues related to COVID-19.
We have much bigger fish to fry in terms of … a special session and issues related to the COVID virus and economic recovery and that’s what I’m focused on,” Brophy McGee told the Associated Press.
Gov. Ducey will set the terms for the special session and lawmakers do not have the leeway to deviate from those terms. In a statement released after the vote, he applauded bipartisanship in the Legislature and urged for more joint efforts in the future.
When the session began in January, none of us could have anticipated what was ahead. But Arizona once again demonstrated what’s possible when we put partisan differences and personal agendas aside. Republicans and Democrats were able to join together in March to approve a budget and provide emergency dollars to properly manage the public health needs of our state. I look forward to continuing to work together in this spirit to address Arizona’s economic and budgetary needs, while protecting public health and all of our state’s citizens,” said Ducey.
Among the now defunct House bills was a proposal to shield businesses from liability if their customers or employees get infected with COVID-19. The bill, introduced by Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, would have also eliminated criminal penalties for violating the governor’s public health directives.
Farnsworth criticized the vote after it happened, according to the AP’s reporting.
What we’ve done is we’ve left those businesses hanging at a time where we have a tremendous economic downturn,” Farnsworth said. “So for us to abdicate our responsibilities and walk away from this job is in my opinion unconscionable.”
Democratic senators did not agree with standards set out by the bill.
Another COVID related piece among the 28 House bills was legislation directing the use of $88 million in federal funds for childcare centers.
The focus for legislators will now shift to a special session convened at the governor’s orders, a shift welcomed by Democrats.
Thank you, Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, and thank you, Madam President Fann. Now let’s get to work on recovery and helping Arizonans get through this pandemic,” tweeted Democratic Assistant House Leader, Randy Friese.