Viewpoint: Holding up vote on state park license fee an abuse of power

[Source: Arizona Daily Sun editorial, 3-10-2010] — Now we know at the state level what the exercise of personal privilege in the U.S. Senate feels like.  State Rep. John Kavanagh is Arizona’s equivalent of Jim Bunning, the North Carolina senator who held up the recent jobs bill for several days by refusing to join in “unanimous consent” to let the bill proceed to a vote without a filibuster.  Kavanagh, a Fountain Hills Republican, doesn’t like a bill that proposes to fund state parks with a vehicle license surcharge.  The $12-per-plate fee would raise tens of millions of dollars a year, and in return any vehicle with an Arizona license plate gains free entrance to a state park.  Also, the extra money would be used to help ADOT reopen some of the highway rest areas closed for lack of funds.

“It’s a tax increase, which isn’t consistent with the Republican program,” Kavanagh told Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services.  That’s a debatable point — fees that pay for a specific user benefit are usually not considered taxes.  But even if Kavanagh were correct, he is still making his point in a profoundly anti-democratic way.  He is refusing as the appointed chair of the House Appropriations Committee to hold a hearing on the bill.  And without a hearing and a vote in committee, the bill can’t move forward to the floor.  [Note: To read the full editorial, click here.]