PHOENIX -- Arizona's legislative Republicans, who currently control and mismanage the agenda at the legislature, have formed several 'ad hoc committees' during the off season at the Capitol. These West Washington Street dwellers don't seem to spend much time in their districts talking with people about problems, or hold other jobs outside the legislature like real citizen lawmakers.
Most, if not all, of these ad hoc 'committees' are stacked with less experienced politicians, industry insiders and bureaucrats looking to drive a particular hostile agenda they couldn't move in the regular legislative session, and collect more money in mileage and per diem.
One of the worst is the so-called 'energy and water development' ad hoc committee, chaired by Sen. Al Melvin (R-LD26) and Rep. Dave Gowan (R-LD30). No disrespect intended to anyone, but neither of these Republicans has energy or water policy expertise or serves on relevant real legislative water and energy committees, nor does anyone hand picked by GOP leaders for this ad hoc committee. Lawmakers with energy and water expertise are not invited or consulted. Instead of dealing with pressing energy issues, Melvin's group has mostly discussed how taxpayers should further subsidize the hugely expensive and risky nuclear industry.
The Republican-run ad hoc 'mining regulations' committee, chaired by Sen. Sylvia '6000 year old earth' Allen (R-LD5), seems focused on trying to shovel more taxpayer subsidies and loopholes to big mining corporations, many of them foreign-owned, and won't even mention the well established broad public concerns about the history of pollution, ripoffs and conflicts with mining in Arizona.
Fair and balanced, these ad hoc committees are not.
The truth is the legislature is very divided, with Representatives and Senators for millions of Arizonans trying to do the right thing for the common good. The problem is an arrogant and badly out-of-touch GOP majority that only listens to itself and empowers its more extreme members, shutting out everyone else and the broad public interest.
The good people of Arizona are best served when both sides of the legislature try to work together, and I the Democrats have been trying, but closed-minded Republicans are not listening and our great state is suffering because of it.
Let's hope nothing real emerges from these bad one-sided ad hoc committees of 2009.