When the bill was heard in the Senate Appropriations committee on March 13, chairman Don Shooter had the bill completely rewritten (a strike everything amendment).
Due to be heard in the Senate Rules committee on Monday, HB2071 now makes "passive resistance" a class 1 misdemeanor (the most serious offense short of a felony) and carries a potential imprisonment for up to six months. It's worth noting that the term "passive resistance" is not defined in Arizona Revised Statutes Title 13 (Criminal Code).
There are a couple of ways this could play out. If the Senate passes the bill as it now reads, it would have to go back to the House for a vote on whether that chamber would concur with the changed language. It clearly would NOT be approved unanimously in that event. However, because both chambers have a GOP supermajority, it is possible (not certain) that the rewritten bill could pass and be sent to the governor.
Another possibility is that the amendment was adopted solely for the purpose of thwarting the original purpose which had been approved unanimously by the House. Even if that were the intent, it is completely outrageous for a committee chairman to authorize an amendment to place such a constraint on exercise of civil liberties. Outrageous, but tragically, not surprising.
This from a legislature that in January rewrote rules limiting the exercising of the right of dissent at the Capitol thus:
Activity on the State Capitol Grounds (including protesting, picketing, speechmaking, marching or conducting a vigil, religious service, press conference, luncheon, celebration, entertainment, exhibition, parade, fair, pageant or any other activity that involves the expression or communication of views or ideas engaged in by one or more persons) may be conducted only between the hours of 5 am and 10 pm, and is subject to the following conditions:
1. The activity must be conducted in a manner that minimizes damage to State property and facilities, protects members of the general public and minimizes disruption to government operations. Ten (10) feet of undisturbed space around all buildings must be maintained to allow for ingress and egress. Sound may be amplified only on the House lawn or Senate lawn and only pursuant to an approved Event Application. If the official responsible for the House of Representatives wing, the Senate wing or the Legislative Services wing determines that the volume of sound from any Activity on the State Capitol Grounds is disruptive to the conduct of government business, the volume must be reduced to a reasonable level.
2. A person seeking to reserve space for an Activity or conduct an Activity that requires equipment set-up may do so pursuant to an approved Event Application on a form prescribed by the Executive Director of the Arizona Legislative Council [1700 West Washington Street/ Legislative Services Wing/ Suite 100]. The applicant must complete an Event Application at least ten (10) days in advance of the proposed Activity. The Executive Director may waive the ten (10) requirement if all of the following apply:
(a) The applicant can demonstrate the impracticality of submitting an Event Application at least ten (10) days in advance of the proposed Activity.
(b) An Event Application is submitted before the Activity begins.
(c) The Executive Director determines that all other relevant and appropriate conditions, limitations and requirements contained herein are or will be met.
3. Equipment, props, banners, signs, tents, etc. used in conjunction with an Activity may not be staked into the ground nor affixed or drawn on the trees, vegetation, landscaping, poles, monuments, sidewalks or buildings. The official responsible for the House of Representatives wing, the Senate wing or the Legislative Services wing may at any time remove or cause to be removed any item that would damage State property or inhibit the safe operation thereof, or movement into or away from the State Capitol Grounds and the surrounding buildings.
4. An Activity must be performed in compliance with federal, state and local laws, ordinances, rules and regulations.
5. The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate may jointly approve an exception to these Regulations for an inauguration, funeral or other ceremonial event of statewide significance taking place on the State Capitol Grounds if the Speaker and the President determine that the exception furthers a substantial security or historical purpose.
These new rules were approved in January but are NOT posted on any of the State's websites (to my knowledge). If they were, people could monitor whether or not the frequent lobbyist bribery luncheons, featuring tents are actually staked into the ground or if any other of the rules are routinely ignored. The point is that in order to determine if the rules are only ARBITRARILY enforced, they may NOT be enforceable.
Are you like the frog that's in the water before it gets too hot to tolerate?
UPDATE 3PM MST 3-19-12
An interested citizen who observed the Senate Appropriations hearing at which the bill to make passive resistance a class 1 misdemeanor informed me that the rewrite of HB2071 was undertaken at House Appropriations chair John Kavanagh's behest.
Besides being approps chair, Kavanagh's educational and professional experience is in law enforcement (in New York and New Jersey). Apparently, he testified that LEOs (law enforcement officers) are at risk of harm from Occupy protesters who passively resist.
Nevertheless, observers still wonder if this attack on civil liberties would fly (pass either chamber).
And on the question of arbitrary enforcement of State Capitol Grounds event rules, every year, Salt River Project puts on what many believe is the best luncheon and lobby day. This year, SRPs event is scheduled for Wednesday, March 28, beginning at 11am.
Somebody should take pictures of the tents to determine whether they are staked into the ground.