Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, March 2, 2012

Redistricting -- Authorize a Special Action?

This afternoon, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met to discuss its financial situation, the need for a supplemental appropriation and vote to authorize legal counsel to file a Special Action to compel the legislature to provide adequate funding.

Commissioners Freeman and Herrera attended in person at the AIRC office at Evans House in Phoenix. Commissioners McNulty, Stertz and Chairwoman Mathis attended by telephone conference call. After roughly one hour of discussion, including briefing by director Ray Bladine and attorneys Mary O'Grady and Joe Kanefield and several questions from each of the commissioners, McNulty moved to authorize filing the lawsuit in Arizona Supreme Court. The motion passed with the expected 3-2 vote, with Republicans Freeman and Stertz voting against it.

Many of the same interpersonal dynamics observed over the last few months of deliberations over the maps were clearly again on display this afternoon. But since it was a brief meeting, nobody seemed overly frustrated.

Stertz expressed concern that the AIRC would be authorizing an obligation (for additional legal expense) that it had no funding to meet. However, Kanefield and O'Grady indicated that if the supplemental appropriation bills proceed as lawmakers have led everyone to believe, they would NOT file the lawsuit.

Freeman asked counsel for insight on whether recent court rulings on the AHCCCS funding cuts are at all relevant to whether the AIRC would likely prevail in the event it becomes necessary to sue. The bottom line is, as Kanefield explained it, much different in this case and the likelihood the commission would prevail is very high.

Therefore, if the legislature drags its feet or refuses to provide the funding, the prudent option would be to file the action. Appropriations committees in both chambers have the relevant bills on agendas for Tuesday (March 6) and Wednesday, (March 7). Since current projections have the AIRC funding running out on or about March 16, if the bills are not acted on next week, counsel would proceed the following week to file suit.

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