SB1062: Are Arizona lawmakers out of touch with voters?

PHOENIX - Arizona’s controversial “Religious Freedom” bill may have been vetoed, but SB1062 and the firestorm around it is still very much alive in conversations.

“It kind of alarmed me more than the previous bill (SB1070) did. This is one where there was not an incident I felt that set it off,” said Alexis Merrill.

The whole issue perplexed Merrill as a voter and even more so as a citizen.

“You're going to see many things in life that contradict your religion or contradict your politics, but the key is to still have kindness,” Merrill said about the bill many said would allow people to discriminate in the name of religion.

Political researcher and analyst Mike O’Neil believes this past week’s uproar over a bill passed in both the House and Senate says a lot about lawmakers.

“It says there's a huge disconnect between the legislatures and the rest of the world. We're still living the legacy of Martin Luther King, 1070 and now this,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil then went on to list the many bills voters passed over what he says was over the dead body of “legislatures,” including Arizona’s medical marijuana law, increased educational funding and expanded healthcare for the poor.

“This radical conservatism is not reflective of public attitudes in the state,” O’Neil said emphatically.

But O’Neil doesn’t believe the fallout will be long lived; he sees lawmakers shrugging their shoulders and continuing on their way, but believes the economy will take a hit.

“It’s a black eye for Arizona,” he said. 
And voters agree.

“It would be nice if I could believe that our politicians really had the best interest of all our constituents at heart and what's best for our communities and country, but unfortunately a lot of them have what's best for them,” said Lawana Daniel, an Arizona voter.

But will SB1062 be enough of an eye opener to change the disconnect between lawmakers and voters?

O’Neil doesn’t believe so and he bases his opinion on the strong ties between party lines and district lines.

He points out that in the last election 17 Republicans were elected and 14 of them had no opposition.

“There were only three who… faced any opposition whatsoever,” O’Neil stressed.

O’Neil believes change will need come with changes to the election system, but voters believe if more people get out to vote, they can make a change.

“It's hard to bring about change when you are unhappy with a politician or anything if you don't make your voice heard,” said voter Lawana Daniel.

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