Democrats are almost half of the Arizona Legislature. Why do so few of their bills ever get a vote?

By Ray Stern || The Arizona Republic

Flavio Bravo, a first time Democratic state lawmaker from Phoenix, felt like he was making progress this year when one of his ideas won backing from more than a dozen Republicans at the Legislature.

The proposed law, House Bill 2634, would make it easier for real estate buyers and sellers to donate to a state fund that helps subsidize affordable housing.

Unlike most bills introduced by Democrats, Bravo’s proposal got a hearing. Most Republicans in the House Commerce Committee even voted for it. But he hit a roadblock when House leadership told Bravo he needed to show more GOP support for the bill to take the next step.

Bravo’s bill never got a vote from the full House, apparently stymied by a new, unwritten policy from Republicans that largely blocks Democrats from making any changes in state law. The rule — which isn’t always enforced, and which Republicans say isn’t really new — requires Democratic bills to have support of 16 Republicans in House, and nine Republicans in Senate (a majority of the ruling party in both chambers).

“Homelessness … is an issue we should all unite on. This has been disappointing.”

Rep. Flavio Barto (D)

Bravo’s experience shows the sometimes-harsh reality of even close election results: Republicans have held just a one-seat majority in both the House and Senate since 2020, but maintain total control over every bill that is proposed.

Since the Legislature started work in January, Republican lawmakers have sponsored 1,012 bills and Democrats have sponsored 619. Of those backed by Democrats, just 24 have received a vote by either the full House or Senate as of early April, while more than 300 Republican-sponsored bills got one.

The Democrat-backed bills that have seen life include HB 2670 by Rep. Stacy Travers, D-Phoenix, which would acknowledge military service on applications for state agencies, boards and commissions. HB 2558 by Rep. Alma Hernandez, D-Tucson, would give licensed dietitian nutritionists more leeway in treating patients.

Others include Senate Bill 1544 by Sen. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix, which would provide $600 per month to family members who care for a child removed their biological parent’s home; SB 1322 by Theresa Hatathlie, D-Tuba City, to ban liquor licenses on parts of tribal reservations; and HB 2171 by Rep. Jennifer Longdon, D-Phoenix, to create a memorial for murdered journalist Don Bolles in Wesley Bolin Plaza.

Democrats want more from divided government

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