Sen. Barry Goldwater best articulated his legislative mission when he said, "if I should be attacked for neglecting my constituents 'interests,' I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty"
All too often, liberty and its attendant prosperity are jeopardized as government takes wealth and opportunities from individuals to privilege special interests and favored groups. As the segment of government explicitly charged with lawmaking authority, the legislature is frequently the greatest offender.
However, citizens' ability to vote legislators into and out of office makes the legislature especially accountable to voters, and gives the legislature great potential to serve the interests of the governed. Thus, it behooves voters to keep a careful watch on the activities of the legislature.
This report analyzes how well Arizona's forty-sixth legislature adhered to the principles of liberty during its second regular session. Based on an analysis of 277 votes across four categories of legislation, this report finds that Arizona's legislators demonstrated a marginal, but improving, commitment to liberty. With just over 50 percent of the votes going in favor of the principles of liberty, Arizona made minor progress against the encroachment of government on liberty.
Despite a legislative session that once again increased the state's budget, failed to pass a spending limit or expand school choice, and instituted or continued dozens of counterproductive regulations on Arizona businesses and residents, legislators successfully recognized the problem with the federal gas tax, curbed potential end-runs around eminent domain, and introduced the rule of law to sales tax changes.
In comparison to last year's grades, this year's legislature produced average grades that were a few points higher and more compressed, with top and bottom scores lower and higher, respectively. Though the top scores decreased, there were still several legislators who voted fairly consistently in favor of liberty. Sens. Jack Harper (R-4) and Thayer Verschoor (R-22); and Reps. Russell Pearce (R-18), Karen Johnson (R-18), Colette Rosati (R-8), Andy Biggs (R-22), Eddie Farnsworth (R-22), and Doug Quelland (R-10) proved to be the strongest allies in the constant struggle against government encroachment on liberty.