House lacks quorum to debate budget as Dems boycott, 4 Republicans aren’t in chambers

The Arizona House chamber is seen Jan. 11, 2021. With four Republicans voting remotely, Democrats boycott Arizona House budget proceedings, denying the needed quorum on Monday. Work is postponed until Thursday./Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

By Mary Jo Pitzl & Andrew Oxford | Arizona Republic

Hopes to pass a state budget on Tuesday melted in midmorning when the House of Representatives failed to muster a quorum because of the physical absence of four Republicans and all but one Democrat.

House Speaker Rusty Bowers lamented the Democrats’ no-show, which left the House without the needed 31 members physically present to do business. Four Republicans were attending via Zoom, but their virtual presence doesn’t apply to the quorum count.

“This is an absolutely new experience for me,” said Bowers, who has years of experience at the Legislature. He said the House will resume budget work on Thursday morning, when the four Republicans who planned to vote remotely will be in House chambers.

House Majority Leader Ben Toma, R-Peoria, said Democratic lawmakers were in the House earlier Tuesday, but left, denying the chamber its 31-member quorum.

Democratic leader Rep. Reginald Bolding of Phoenix made no apologies for the absence of his 29 members, saying they had been hit with a “slew” of budget amendments that contained significant policy changes and needed time to review them.

He noted the House has done little work over the past month while GOP leaders were working to corral all of their members to back the budget and tax plan. Now that the votes appear to be there, Bolding said, Republicans have added more policy changes that need review.

The Senate proceeded with budget work on Tuesday but cannot act alone.

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