Until the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors makes its choice on April 3 to replace disgraced Rep. David Stringer, House Republicans are down to just 30 members, meaning they don’t have the votes to pass any bill that’s unanimously opposed by their Democratic colleagues.
As a result, the House of Representatives is likely to have a light workload until the supervisors select Stringer’s replacement. House Speaker Rusty Bowers cancelled most of Thursday’s votes, leaving only an uncontroversial, nonbinding resolution supporting the United States’ trade relationship with Taiwan. The House had initially been scheduled to debate eight bills on the floor and hold roll-call votes on another twelve pieces of legislation.
Bowers, R-Mesa, said he may schedule some bills for floor debate next week. But he said he’s unlikely to schedule any bills for formal votes, noting that none of the Republican sponsors want the chamber to vote on their bills until the GOP gets its critical 31st member back.
“We’ll just look at them on a case-by-case basis and see if we can work our way through,” Bowers said regarding scheduling bills for votes in committee of the whole. “We’ll fill the time. We’ve got budget talks to do. We’ve got some other protocol things with the members. So, it will give us a little breather, especially to do small group meetings for some budget work.”
Several controversial election-related bills that are opposed by legislative Democrats had originally been scheduled for debate on Thursday. Those agendas included Senate Bill 1090, which tightens restrictions on emergency voting in the days before an election, and Senate Bill 1451, which adds new requirements on people who circulate petitions for citizen initiatives.
Though lawmakers usually only cast voice votes during floor debate, there is a procedure that can be used to force a roll-call vote, both on the bill itself and on any amendments that were proposed. Doing so would allow Democrats to halt any bill they unanimously opposed until Stringer’s replacement takes his or her seat.