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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : letters April 30, 2016

3/16/2013 1:01:00 PM
Letter: What are our legislators thinking?


Although not as exciting as aerial drones, gun control, or financial cliffs, judging by the recently reported flurry of bills, a flock of rabid ducks just invaded our state legislature.

I’m sure everyone has their pet peeve, but even if you’re disabled, you won’t be able to take it shopping with you. HB 2401, sponsored by Rep. Heather Carter, will limit “service animals” to dogs and horses -- totally discounting the many other well-trained species upon which some people depend.

This is a textbook example of lazy legislation.

The problem is real. Exotic pets posing as certified service animals could damage shopkeepers, grocers, and restaurateurs. Their patrons could also be at risk.

Some government action is needed because the federal Americans with Disabilities Act precludes the business owners’ obvious solution: Refuse service to people with animals on a case-by-case basis.

However, Rep. Carter’s solution was to adopt the U.S. Department of Justice’s solution, which was to throw a brick at the problem. Ban everything everywhere except the one most commonly used service species and one the USDJ just happens to like.

Never mind that any given canine could be a poseur and service-trained miniature horses are hard to come by. Never mind that pot-bellied pigs are smarter, parrots better for the hearing impaired, ferrets easier to keep in small apartments, etc.

And no one, federal or state, seems to have done any homework.

In Arizona, no one checked this problem’s prevalence. No business testified it had actually suffered major damage or lawsuits. There was no debate on whether the service animal issue should be addressed statewide or more discretely by county ordinance. No one investigated the feasibility of easily verified licenses or tags that wouldn’t violate the owner’s privacy.

No one explored ways Arizona could relax ADA regulations for businesses that face the problem on a regular basis.

Why not? A more responsible approach requires more time and effort, but it would serve all citizens of Arizona better in the long run. Not only that, it would slow our legislators down a bit.

Which would help legislators and citizens alike. While service-animals-in-public-places is a small issue with relatively minor consequences, many of its equally ill-considered fellows are less benign.

For instance:

* Rep. John Kavenagh’s HB 2073 forces presiding judges to bar animal abusers from keeping pets no matter what the circumstances. This sounds good, but is totally divorced from reality. Arbitrary, essentially unenforceable, in many real-life instances, it could exacerbate the pathological behavior it attempts to control.

* Sen. Nancy Barto’s SB 1376 -- requiring IVF clinics to submit extensive reports that duplicate information already available from the Centers for Disease Control -- is pure harassment masquerading as legal action. The CDC provides more reliable data from a broader sampling, without tapping state funds for what should be private research.

* Sen. Kelly Ward’s SB 1437 mandates licensing of music therapists - and opens a whole new area for criminal-misuse-of-music litigation, without much benefit to anyone except music therapists.

* Sen. Kimberly Yee’s SB 1441 requires destruction of confiscated property even when improperly seized, which violates basic constitutional rights and is based on nothing except the legislator’s biases.

These bills are so obviously flawed I feel as if I’m back in California.

At this point in the election cycle, there’s not much voters can do except let our legislators know we’re still tuned in and not buying everything we see.

You can find all state legislation at azleg.gov. Your District 6 AZ House Representatives are Brenda Barton (Room 111, email bbarton@azleg.gov) and Bob Thorpe (Room 331, email bthorpe@azleg.gov). Your District 6 AZ Senator is Chester Crandell (Room 304, email ccrandell@azleg.gov). All at Arizona State Capitol, 1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85007.

T. Hearn


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Article comment by: @ simple answer

They most certainly are.

Every one of these legislators is thinking about their most vocal constituents and no one else.

Posted: Monday, March 18, 2013
Article comment by: T. Hearn

Well, living in a desert, we'll always have water fights, no matter which party is in power. Southern Californians on both sides of the aisle yell "Do something NOW" at whomever happens to be Governor. Northern Californians on both sides of the aisle yowl "Not if you want to stay in office" at whomever happens to be Governor. If I'd wanted to escape water issues, I'd have moved to Michigan.

Ditto jobs. If I wanted Arizona legislators to do everything legislators can do to attract humongous corporations, why would I have bothered leaving L.A.? It has more ridge-to-ridge roof-tops than Phoenix and Tucson put together And again, in my experience, growth-at-all-other-costs is non-partisan. Sam Yority would have warmed the cockles of Dale Gohr's heart. Bill Bradley was the quintessential Democrat. Both would have leaped at a drone testing plant nestled in the dells of Griffith Park. All those high-tech jobs. All those new and happy voters. All that tax revenue pouring in from out of state.

If some gold, silver, and copper silliness helps keep Senator Crandell from paving over the Verde Valley, that's fine with me. If not, at least that bill does no harm.

I'm more concerned with the fact there is no "music therapists" lobby pumping money into Arizona's General Fund. Just a few new-fangled specialists, one of whom has Sen. Kelly Ward�s ear. That's the kind of legislation alert voters can nip without waiting for the next election.

Posted: Monday, March 18, 2013
Article comment by: simple answer... they are not. .

jobs jobs jobs... maybe after we approve precious metals as legal tender!

water water water...maybe after we satisfy the 'music' therapy lobby...

really... but this is what the people wanted... right?

don't forget this boondoggle the next election folks... only you can prevent useless legislation... until the legislature passes a bill making it impossible to recall them..then we are all up creek without a paddle or a meaningful vote.

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