Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Bill proposed by So. Ariz. Republican could take away Arizona voters' rights

Lawmaker seeks to change senate nomination process
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

A freshman southern Arizona lawmaker is leading the effort to strip Arizona voters of the right to nominate U.S. senators.

The proposal by Rep. David Stevens, R-Sierra Vista, would give that right to the elected legislators from each party. Only after that process is complete would voters get a say, in the general election, who they actually want to send to Washington.

Stevens said his measure, if approved by Arizona voters in November, would be a partial return to the way things were before the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted.

Until then, each state legislature actually got to choose its U.S. senators, with voters allowed to pick only the folks going to the House of Representatives. The 1913 amendment requires direct election of all members of Congress.

Stevens said that amendment was a mistake. He said the old system ensured that senators were responsive to the desires of state lawmakers.

“The state is supreme over the federal government,” he said. “And when they weren’t doing what we thought they should be doing, we could recall them at any time.”

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