By Sarah Ruf | Casa Grande Dispatch
(Edited for length)
Monday is the official start of the 2014 Arizona legislative ses sion, and in many ways, the year is bound to seem like a hangover from 2013.
Do Republicans want to mend fences after the epic Medicaid blowout when Gov. Jan Brewer surprised her Grand Old Party- mates by siding with Democrats to finance an expansion of the social program? What bills are set to take the state Capitol by force?
The Maricopa Monitor spoke with Pinal County representatives from Districts 8 and 11 about their plans for the session. Many cited a solution to the Child Protective Services scandal and balancing the budget as top priorities.
Although he prefers to repeal laws, rather than make new ones, District 11 Rep. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, is considering crafting bills to help out “half a dozen” groups ranging from architects to parents pursuing custody rights.
Mending fences within the GOP shouldn’t be that difficult, he said.
“A lot of those people (who voted for it) are friends, of course,” said Smith, who
voted against Medicaid expansion. “I said, hey, that’s its own battle and now it’s in the court system … I don’t harbor any ill will or bad feeling and I don’t think they do, either.”
Budget issues are also on the mind of District 8 Rep. Frank Pratt, R-Casa Grande. His concerns match Smith’s almost identically — CPS, balancing the budget and highway user funds. Pratt also wants to see money flow back into the parks system.
Pratt wants to champion the quest by cities and counties for restored highway user funds.
“They need to get back on their restoration on their roads and things and that’s really important for them and I think a lot of members are ready to support them,” he said.
District 8 Rep. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, is another highway user fund advocate.
“I’ve staked my claim on HURF,” Shope said. “I think in this county and other rural counties, transportation issues are important. It’s not just a public safety issue, but a development issue here.”
Both Shope and Pratt have filed to run for re-election in District 8. While no Demo- crats have yet filed in those districts, Republican Jim Montano of Oracle has indicated he will run.
Attempts to reach state District 8 Sen. Barbara McGuire, D-Kearny, for this news story were unsuccessful.
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