Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SB1062: Governor Brewer's Veto Of 2013 Exercise of Religion Bill Had Nothing To Do With Merits; Damage Done Already

As Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is gathering information on the latest grenade that the Legislature has tossed onto her desk and deciding whether to sign or veto (noone really thinks she will just pocket sign it, allowing SB 1062 to become law without her signature), a few quickie points:

1)  Arizona's Politics has noticed several opponents and articles noting that Brewer is likely to veto the bill that would permit Arizona businesses who do not wish to do business with people/businesses that offend their sincerely held religious beliefs.  As support for their belief, they - accurately - note that Brewer vetoed the same bill last year.  Brewer senior adviser (former campaign manager and current political consultant) Chuck Coughlin was the highest profile person to use that example.

However, as Arizona's Politics pointed out last year, that veto letter studiously AVOIDED expressing any opinion on the content of the bill.  (The veto letter is reproduced below.)  The SOLE reason for vetoing the "exercise of religion" bill - along with the other bills that she likely would have signed - was that she had declared a moratorium on all bills until the Legislature sent her a budget and a Medicaid expansion plan.  She had vowed to veto all other bills until then - and, she did.
(Brewer could sign SB1062 into law,
or she could sign a(nother) veto letter)

The 2013 veto of the identical bill (SB 1178) gives no clue to the decision the Governor is currently considering.

2)  While we are discussing last year's identical bill, we should look at how the votes went then.  There were not many changes between 2013 and 2014 votes.  In 2013, the House approved it 32-24, and the Senate passed it 16-12.

The three GOP Senators who voted yes last week, and have now renounced their votes - Bob Worsley, Adam Driggs and Steve Pierce - also voted for it last year.  When they say that part of their flip-flop is because they were surprised by the national reaction the past several days, the lack of a similar response to their votes and Legislature's approval last year does support their surprise.  Of course, the lack of a reaction last year is partly explained because everyone expected Brewer to stick to her (unrelated-to-content) veto threat.

Additionally, Sens. Pierce and Worsley are quoted as saying that part of the problem is that the bill moved along too quickly this session.  However, the fact that they and their colleagues considered and voted on the same bill last year makes that a less-than-convincing argument.

3)  Most of the news coverage that Arizona's Politics has read/heard/watched - and, the people that we have spoken with - talk about the economic and reputational damage to Arizona if the Governor signs it.

What is NOT being discussed (much) is that a significant amount of reputational and economic damage has been done to the state within the past several days - a Brewer veto will not magically undo the publicity (negative or positive) of this week.  (Arizona's Politics is reaching out to an economist that estimates the dollar amount of such publicity, and will update as needed.)

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

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