Tucson wish list for state lawmakers

When the new state legislature, the 51st, is seated next month, things will change a bit.

The state senate will still be a GOP majority, but with a 17-13 split instead of 21-9.

The house will be 36-24 instead of 40-20.

What that means is, Republican lawmakers will no longer have a super majority, meaning they cannot suspend rules or overturn a governor's veto, even though they did not in the two years they ruled.

But they did advance conservative legislation on women's rights, abortion, free speech and separation of church and state.

Now, they were go back to being what they have been for most of the past half century, a simple majority.

That means Democrats may become relevant again.

"We only need two members in the Senate," says Jeff Rogers, who chairs the Democratic party in Tucson. By that he means, 16 members of the legislature must approve a bill for it to pass. A tie, means it fails.

But there's hope at least state lawmakers in Phoenix begin to listen to Tucson office holders.

"For a while, I don't think there was any discussion at all," says Paul Cunningham, Ward II Tucson city council member. "I think we're moving past that."

But he also adds "it's too soon to tell."

Republican Steve Kozachik, who has had a line to the state lawmakers since he is of the same party, al thought he found plenty to disagree with is hopeful.

When asked if he had a wish list he said "number one is to stop putting a bull's eye on the city of Tucson."

He says the state has been meddling in Tucson affairs and hopes it will stop.

He's not too confident about Rio Nuevo's future because there may be some revenge at the state level. He feels the state has let it be known, although discretely, that the future of the Tucson development plan may be limited.

He's asking state lawmakers to "back off" the recent legislation which has been "designed to specifically hurt us economically, telling us who to hire, how to do procurement, how to run our elections."

Meanwhile Rogers believes the #1 priority should be restoring the HURF funds.

The state has swept the gas tax fund for at least the past six years to help balance the budget rather than pass it on to the city and  county for road maintenance, as required by law.

Tucson passed a $100 million bond issue to try to deal with the missing funds and Pima County is taking money from the general fund to fix roads.

"We're entitled to the funds to maintain our streets and roadways," he says.