Offering Bad Bill For Later Cleanup Bad Legislation



Rep. Brenda Barton is chair of the committee that voted to advance HB 2587 to change Arizona law regarding cruelty to animals. She seems startled at the public uproar over her actions.

Her rebuttal to a previous letter consists in saying that the objections raised against her bill are false because the bill would later be modified to reflect the will of the public. That’s just one straw short of clever.

She denied the factual condemnation of her bill by ASPCA because ASPCA “did not register any position on HB 2587.” This slight of hand fails because it an explicit admission that the condemnation by ASPCA was real and merited.

Responding that “the Arizona Humane Society no longer opposes the bill” confirms the accuracy of AHS’s condemnation of her original bill. She acknowledges that AHS has forced her to repeal the five-day reporting rule and the reduction of animal abuse from being a felony to a misdemeanor.

Her response to criticisms consists in saying that they are not true because they would later be removed from her bill. She is saying that proposing bad law is not consequential because it would later be amended. That’s her idea of being an intelligent legislator?

Remarkably, she now states that professionals from law enforcement and from agriculture should “work together.” Her bill however, stripped thousands of law enforcement officers of their duty to enforce animal cruelty laws. It shifted that role to the Department of Agriculture, which has only 10 certified officers statewide dedicated to conducting animal abuse investigation. See the pattern of her defense? Use nice words, but clearly attempt to defang the law.

Two factors reveal her approach to legislation.

First, she is surprised by AHS’s demand that the five-day reporting requirement be stripped from her bill. To be sure, no citizen who is truly incensed at animal cruelty needs five days to report the matter.

But Barton just does not get it.

The purpose of her five-day rule is to prevent accumulation of evidence for prosecution. Such evidence cannot be produced within five days. Barton knows that, yet she still wants to make it difficult to prosecute animal cruelty.

Then she feigns concern for the suffering of abused animals. This from a legislator who, during her watch, has never once expressed public outrage for the failure of the state to protect thousands of children from abuse and death, despite being regularly updated on such events.

What does it mean when a legislator feels for abused animals but makes no sustained public outcry over the reported abuse of thousands of defenseless children? Is that the kind of representation we want?

Second, she reveals that she was implementing the wishes of the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association. The ACGA is a respectable organization and has a right to lobby. That is not the issue.

The issue is that Barton advocated a proposal from one interest group and pushed it through her committee without allowing public discussion.

The bill was introduced on Feb. 10. Barton’s committee passed it on Feb. 11. Barton cut the public out of the process. Excluding public input is politics at its worst.

No wonder a public uproar ensued. And no wonder we have come to distrust government so much. And no wonder so much radical legislation is produced in Phoenix these days.

Barton’s true colors have again been revealed: bypassing the common good to support special interests shows her disrespect for the Constitution.

Caught in the act, Barton now promises that the changes demanded by the public will be part of the new law.

If so, another victory for democracy. Another rejection of self-serving politicians.

Raymond Spatti


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