Bill number ‘1070’ remains off-limits in the Senate

SB1070 protest 2010
Demonstrators protest Arizona's new immigration law outside the Arizona Capitol building on April 23, 2010. Protesters said the law will lead to racial profiling and civil rights abuses against the Hispanic community. Photo by John Moore | Getty Images

For the ninth consecutive year, the ability to sponsor Senate Bill 1070 is off-limits to all but one lawmaker — the Senate president. 

It’s an unofficial practice that began in 2011, when then-Senate President Russell Pearce used the power of his office to ensure that he was the sponsor of the 70th bill introduced in the session, and that the bill number made famous by his controversial immigration enforcement legislation from the prior year wouldn’t be claimed by anyone else.

Pearce’s SB1070 that year was what’s known as a “technical correction,” or legislation that makes an insignificant change to the law. Such bills often are used as vehicles for legislation months after being introduced, but Pearce’s goal was to effectively “retire” the bill number. 

In the years since, the Senate president has set aside 1070 for themselves for technical correction bills that go nowhere.

That practice continues this year. Senate President Karen Fann’s SB1070 changes one sentence in an eminent domain statute by replacing “prior to” with “before” and adding a missing “of.” 

“It’s just a bill number that we don’t use anymore,” Fann said when asked about the tradition among Senate presidents. When pressed on why she sticks to that practice, Fann didn’t elaborate. 

“We just don’t use that number anymore,” she repeated.

But it is a number that Sen. Martín Quezada, D-Glendale, would like to use for his repeal of the infamous SB1070 – known formally as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act – which the Supreme Court mostly struck down.  

Bill numbers are usually assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis. That’s true for every number, except for 1070, Quezada explained. 

That 1070 is reserved for the Senate president is unfair, he said. 

“They’ve memorialized that number to honor Senate Bill 1070. It’s a pretty sick thing to do,” Quezada said. “It’s kind of like how a sports team retires a jersey number so nobody could ever wear it again. They retired that bill number so no other bill will ever get to have it again.”

This session, Quezada said he tried to lock down 1070 for his repeal bill (which he has proposed for five years) as a way to “redefine what 1070 meant to the state of Arizona by repealing a really bad anti-immigrant law.”

When senators were introducing bill and the count was on 62, Quezada said he grabbed a stack of his proposals and dropped them in an order that’d ensure his repeal idea would get 1070. 

It didn’t. 

“Sixty-three through 69 are mine, 70 is hers, 71 is mine,” Quezada said, referring to Fann. 

His repeal of the immigration enforcement law is Senate Bill 1071.

“(Fann) could certainly make us forget about 1070 by making us vote on 1071,” Quezada said.

Laura Gómez
Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She worked for The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona for four years, covering city government, economic development, immigration, politics and trade. In 2017, Laura traveled the length of the U.S.-Mexico border for “The Wall,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning project produced by The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network. She was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for Spanish-language news and feature reporting. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lived in Puerto Rico and Boston before moving to Phoenix in 2014. Catch her researching travel deals, feasting on mariscos or playing soccer.