It’s hard to take our eyes off the political train-wreck that’s happening at the state Capitol this week.
Tuesday, a Republican-sponsored bill to change the Permanent Early Voting List (PVEL) failed when a single GOP Senator did the unthinkable: He voted with the Democrats.
Republicans hold a 16-14 majority in the Senate and the decision by one member of the party resulted in a tie vote and killed the bill.
That prompted an immediate action by another Republican Senator to “claw back” a previously approved initiative, which was sponsored by the “traitor.”
The antics provide a clear illustration of the importance of party politics in our state Legislature. Politicians who don’t toe the line are punished by fellow members, regardless of whether the legislation being proposed serves the best interests of the constituents being served.
Sen. Paul Boyer (R-Maricopa) is pariah this week among fellow Republicans for his decision to stand in the way of Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita’s initiative to change the early voting list. Her bill proposed removing the word “permanent” from the list title, and automatically removing voters who fail to participate in four consecutive elections.
On a side note, we support Ugenti-Rita’s bill and recognize the value of maintaining an accurate and current voter roll.
But our opinion doesn’t matter as much as Boyer’s, who voted against the bill after his effort to discuss the legislation was ignored. He planned on questioning whether the bill adequately provides for military voters and others who are occasionally unable to vote.
Boyer first challenged his party’s leadership in 2019 when he teamed with another senator in refusing to adopt the Republican-crafted state budget until his bill to extend the time for victims of sexual abuse to file a complaint was enacted.
With Republicans holding such a narrow majority in the Senate, there is no patience for independent thought.
When Boyer sided with Democrats on Tuesday, it prompted Ugenti-Rita to call for a reconsideration of his bill to expand the voucher program, which senators had already approved and sent to the House for its approval.
Her reconsideration call threatens an initiative that has been a priority for Republicans for several years. GOP members have consistently supported efforts to privatize education in Arizona, which Boyer’s bill, SB 1452, would accomplish by dramatically increasing the number of students eligible for vouchers.
Ugenti-Rita’s immediate response after her bill died, with the support of several Republicans and Democrats who previously opposed Boyer’s initiative, illustrates the punishment any single GOP member faces if they cross the party line.
Boyer is now the “wild card,” who has the ability to kill the Republican majority and everything fellow senators have promised to the special interests groups they work with to accomplish legislation.
His independence is viewed as a threat to the party, but it should be considered a victory for his constituents.