Our View: Rusty Bowers is killing repeal of legislative immunity

February 18, 2019

Voters were rightfully outraged when they were reminded not quite a year ago that the people who make Arizona’s laws aren’t always subject to them. Last summer, when State Rep. Paul Mosley was pulled over driving more than 40 miles over the speed limit near Parker, he claimed an obscure constitutional provision allowed him to avoid prosecution. The issue of legislative immunity is enshrined in the Arizona Constitution, and despite their claims to the contrary, it’s clear that state legislators aren’t serious about getting rid of it. The law is intended to keep lawmakers from being detained as they rush to the Capitol to do the public’s business, but some lawmakers view the protection as a “get out of jail free” card.

In his now-infamous video, Mosley bragged to the sheriff’s deputy about regularly speeding on his way to and from the state capitol, sometimes driving as fast as 140 mph. Other lawmakers have also abused the legislative immunity provision, with little, if any, pushback from their legislative colleagues.

It’s time for reform.

Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that a measure targeting legislative immunity reform will make its way to the governor’s desk thanks to the House Republican leadership.

It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that House Speaker Rusty Bowers apparently has no intention of allowing a bill to get rid of legislative immunity to advance past the House. With little explanation, Bowers’ spokesman said the speaker has no intention of giving House Concurrent Resolution 2008 a committee assignment by the Feb. 22 deadline, essentially killing the attempt for reform. Bowers apparently believes lawmakers like Mosley and himself ought to be held to different standards. He’s part of the problem.

Arizona’s legislators need to face the same consequences for breaking laws as the people they represent.

— Today’s News-Herald