A proposed law that would devastate public unions in Arizona appears to be stalled in the state Senate after Republicans said they failed to come up with enough votes to pass it.
The measure, which would strip collective bargaining rights from government workers throughout the state, sailed through two Senate committees earlier this month and seemed likely to become law because Republicans control two-thirds of both houses of the legislature. Unions scrambled to find a way to defeat it but none expressed much hope of success.
On Tuesday, however, two Republican leaders in the Senate told the Arizona Guardian (sub. req.) they don’t have enough votes to keep the bill alive.
“Senate President Steve Pierce and Senate Whip Frank Antenori expressed serious doubt that there were enough Republicans in the upper chamber willing to pass a bill ending collective bargaining,” the Guardian reported. Antenori described the bill’s chances as “questionable.”
Still, it’s probably too early for unions in Arizona to declare victory. At least two other bills designed to restrict their impact in the state are likely to pass, the senators told the political news website.
One of the measures would ban any city, county or state government from paying employees to do any work for the union, a practice known as “release time.” The other would bar government employees from having union dues automatically deducted from their paychecks.
As of Wednesday afternoon, none of the measures were scheduled for a full vote of the Senate. Messages TPM left with a spokesman for the two senators was not returned.
It’s unclear what put the brakes on the bills, but it follows Gov. Jan Brewer’s lukewarm response to them about two weeks ago.
Rather than throwing her full support behind them, as many on the left assumed she would, the Republican governor said she was never consulted on them and had other priorities.
Instead, Brewer wanted the Arizona legislature to take up her own proposal that would make it easier for the state government to fire employees. Her spokesman said the governor had warned state legislators not to put the union bills on her desk ahead of her pet issue.
Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him: nick [at] talkingpointsmemo.com