In his 10th and final year serving in the Arizona State Legislature Sen. John McComish said he’ll be keeping an eye on the big issues like the budget and education, but personally he’ll be encouraging some legislation reform which he believes will make the job of being a legislator more possible for more people.
Two issues McComish said he’ll be focusing on are creating a set “end date” for the Legislature and creating a structured interim.
“I found out three or four years ago that other states have these things so I looked into it and did some research,” he said. “I decided we can do that. It’s not our culture, it’s not how we do things but we could do it.”
As Majority Leader McComish said he tries not to sponsor many bills, as his role is really to help others get their bills passed, but this is an issue he’s been keeping an eye on for years.
“The goal would be legislative efficiency and making the legislative job, the job of being a legislator, more possible for more people,” McComish said. “I think with the restrictions on the responsibilities we have now it shrinks the pool. It’s very hard to have a job and be a legislator.”
One reason it’s difficult to have a 9 to 5 job and be a legislator, McComish said, is no legislator can tell an employer exactly when the legislative session will end and they’ll be able to return to their job.
Currently, the legislative session is 100 days but the Legislature can extend that if needed. In his experience, McComish said the session could end in March but it could also go through June.
To help keep the session to a set end date McComish would also like to set up a structured interim. Committees are expected to meet during the interim but there’s no set time legislators are expected to be at the Arizona Capitol. McComish said if there was one week or two when all legislators were expected to be at the Capitol, committees could meet with ease and less ad hoc committees would be needed to complete the work.
“It’s easy for me, I live close, so I can go to the Capitol any time, but the legislator from Yuma or Flagstaff comes into the Capitol a couple times a month at random as it suits them,” McComish said. “If they knew in advance they have to be here for one week in September or October or whenever for committee meetings, they could arrange their schedules in advance and tell an employer when they will be gone.”
Besides those bills McComish said he expects the Legislature to be consumed by the budget. The governor’s plan to separate Child Protective Services from the Department of Economic Security will have an unknown price tag as will certain court cases dealing with inflation funding and education.
“The budget is always a huge issue, but particularly now when we’re coming out of the recession and we have a lot of needs but we don’t have a lot of money,” McComish said. “The economy is getting better, our revenues are getting better, but it’s slow. There’s a lot of pent up demand and we won’t be able to respond to all of that demand.”
Anything going on at the Legislature can be viewed online at azleg.gov. There the public can view bills, see when they’ll be heard by committees and even live stream sessions. For more information, visit azleg.gov.
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