By Craig McDermott, cross-posted from Random Musings
...and the fun part is: he wants the voters to pay $8 million for the privilege of subverting their own will...
Rep. Andy Tobin (R-Paulden), the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, has introduced HB2710, HCR2051, HCR2052, HCR2053, and HR2005. If passed, they would mandate a special election in May where the voters would be "asked" to amend the independent redistricting provisions in the Arizona constitution.
HB2710 would call the special election.
If passed by the voters, HCR2051 would take the "independent" out of "independent redistricting commission". It would take the current 5-member Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC), where no political hacks are allowed (meaning no party precinct committeemen, or PCs. Full disclosure: I'm a Democratic PC, so I can call PCs "hacks." :) ) and turn it into a cesspool of hackery, with 12 politically-appointed members. It would also remove the requirement under current law that there be an Independent member of the AIRC. In addition, it would remove the requirement that the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments screen the applicants.
[start sarcasm] Obviously, as the judicial branch of government in Arizona is the only branch the receives, or is even worthy of, respect for its professionalism, so it shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the redistricting process. [end sarcasm]
If passed by the voters, HCR2052 and HCR2053 would scrap the the legislative and Congressional maps, respectively, in favor of maps drawn by Tobin.
HR2005 is a resolution where the legislature (or to be realistic, the Republicans in the legislature) pledge to base their maps on the scribblings and the electoral alchemy of the Republicans' own Andy Tobin.
It's "alchemy" because Tobin is trying to turn the iron clauses of the Arizona constitution into a golden opportunity for job security for the Capitol's elected Republicans.
Even more infuriating than Tobin et. al.'s open contempt for the will of the voters (we are the ones who created the independent redistricting process specifically to take it away from legislators interested only in serving their own self interests above all else) or even the best interests of the people of Arizona (we are served best by public officials who have to answer to the entire electorate in their districts, not just a few partisan extremists) is his plan to have the voters pay (subscription required) more than $8 million for the special election/Hail Mary pass. On top of that, Tobin has defended (subscription required) the secrecy that shrouded his drawing of the maps that he wants to implement, and the use of a taxpayer-funded employee of the legislature, John Mills, to aid him in his quest to overthrow the voters' independent redistricting process.
An interesting two-step for someone who has criticized the AIRC for spending too much money (expenses incurred in part to deal with the litigation stemming from previous attempts to subvert the process by elected Republicans) and has complained that the AIRC's dozens of meetings and hearings with hundreds of hours of testimony isn't transparent enough.
Note: in this context, "interesting" is a synonym for "hypocritical." In case you couldn't figure that out on your own. :)
Of course, Tobin's scheme pre-supposes that...
a) the other Republicans in the lege go along with Tobin's scheme (IMO, highly likely);
b) the voters go along with Tobin's scheme (IMO, less likely, but given that a special election would be a low-turnout affair dominated by partisan GOTV efforts, definitely possible); and
c) the US DOJ goes along with Tobin's scheme (IMO, highly unlikely given the secrecy and deliberate exclusion of minority groups specifically and the public in general from the crafting of his maps).
On the other hand, Tobin's proposals are so sloppily written that it makes me wonder if this is more about posturing for his caucus or for the inevitable redistricting-related lawsuits than anything else.
As written, HCRs 2052 and 2053 appear to be mutually exclusive. They each propose to amend the same part of the Arizona constitution by inserting identically labelled clauses.
Now, I'm just a layman with no advanced (or even beginning-level) legal education or experience, but it seems any credible attempt to amend the Arizona constitution would at least be correctly written, especially as it comes from putative subject matter experts such as Tobin and his "associate" Mills.
However, given that Tobin's maps guarantee him a safe district, credibility may not have been a consideration in Tobin's scheming, just ensuring his continued seat on the West Washington Gravy Train.
As near as I can tell, the measures haven't been agendized for committee consideration as yet, probably because they haven't been assigned to any as yet while they await for the Speaker to "first read" the bills and assign them to committee. The timing of that and the specific committee that they are assigned to is completely within the Speaker's discretion and is often subject to the vagaries of the relationship between the introducing sponsor and the Speaker.
In this case, I expect the measures to be formally introduced, First Read, and assigned to committee on Monday.
Something tells me that Rep. Andy Tobin is on good terms with Speaker Andy Tobin. :)
Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services has coverage here, via the East Valley Tribune.
AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona has his take here.
Steve at Arizona Eagletarian offers his take here.
The Democratic caucus of the Arizona House of Representatives has a statement from Rep. Chad Campbell, House Minority Leader, here.