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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Rural regents bill dies; House gives it new life

    PHOENIX – The House killed and then resurrected a bill that would have established two permanent seats on the Arizona Board of Regents for rural Arizonans in less than 24 hours.

    The House failed to get the necessary votes to pass SB 1058 on Wednesday, essentially killing the bill with a 29-24 vote.

    But a move by Rep. John McComish, R-Ahwatukee, has given the bill a second chance. Yesterday McComish successfully made a motion to have the bill heard Tuesday for final approval.

    The legislation has already been approved by the Senate.

    The bill would have required that two members of the board of regents whose terms are scheduled to end in 2008 be replaced with new gubernatorial appointees from rural counties.

    The bill, written by Sen. Jake Flake, R-Snowflake, was written after a constituent requested the rural representation on the board.

    Flake said it made sense for rural Arizona to have representatives on the board of regents, as all of the regents are currently from either Maricopa or Pima County.

    But Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said the bill was “”silly”” since the appointments to the board are made by the governor, and the governor can choose to appoint a regent from anywhere in Arizona.

    “”The governor can already do this, she can appoint anyone she wants,”” Pearce said.

    A co-sponsor of the bill, Sen. Robert Blendu, R-Litchfield Park, said the current representation does not equally represent all Arizonans.

    He gave Flagstaff, home of Northern Arizona University, as an example of a community that should be represented on the board.

    Blendu said the legislation was “”long overdue”” and was a step toward equality on the board for rural Arizona.

    With two regents on the board, Blendu said he thought rural issues could be represented in future board of regents meetings.

    SB 1058 would have required one of the new members be from Apache, Coconino, Gila, Mohave, Navajo or Yavapai county and that the other member be from Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Pinal, Santa Cruz or Yuma County. The bill will make the two rural seats permanent.

    Rep. Ted Downing, D-Tucson, also criticized the bill, saying that requiring the appointment come from certain geographic regions “”opens a Pandora box.””

    “”Today it is north and south, although I cannot figure it out why it wasn’t east and west,”” said Downing of the geographical regions selected under the failed legislation.

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