Progress, pitfalls at the Capitol
Arizona Republic
Arizona State Capitol: The Year in Review

One big step forward, followed by an equally big step backward. That seemed to be the story of Arizona politics in 2005.

The year began with big hopes for Proposition 200, the anti-illegal immigration initiative approved by Arizona voters in November 2004. By midyear, it appeared the measure was having little effect other than making it more difficult for longtime Arizonans to register to vote.

Former Gov. Fife Symington made headlines by acknowledging he was considering a political comeback by running for governor in 2006. A few months later, he reconsidered. Several other top Republicans appeared ready to challenge Gov. Janet Napolitano in 2006, only to think better of it.

Many of the most notable bills passed by lawmakers in 2005 met their demise when Napolitano vetoed them, angering Republicans while inspiring gratitude among Democrats, and contributing to continuing frosty relations between the governor and legislative leaders.

Jan. 10: Napolitano reached out in her State of the State address to create a common ground with a more conservative Republican Legislature, calling for business tax breaks and talking tough on illegal immigration. By the end of the 2005 legislative session, however, the governor and legislative leaders once again were at odds after the governor vetoed a record number of bills.

Jan. 10: State workers protest for higher salaries during the first day of the legislative session.

Jan. 13: Supporters of a same-sex marriage amendment for Arizona said they would skip the Legislature and launch a drive to put the measure on the Nov. 7, 2006, ballot.

Feb. 3: Former Gov. Fife Symington rattled Arizona's political world by saying he would consider a run for governor in 2006. Symington later withdrew his name as a possible contender

Feb. 9: Proposals for improvements in education, economic development, health care, justice and other issues are discussed at the Arizona African-American Legislative Days Conference at the Capitol.

March 21: Napolitano vetoed Republicans' initial budget proposal, saying it offered a "host of false choices" that would hurt children and economic development. Republicans responded that the $8.2 billion budget was fiscally sound and geared toward education, public safety and economic development.

April 13: Napolitano vetoed a bill that would have given pharmacists the right to refuse services related to abortion and emergency contraception based on religious or moral grounds. The action drew disappointment from supporters, including three Catholic bishops who described it as civil rights legislation for health care professionals and institutions.

April 25: Napolitano said no to mixing guns and alcohol in Arizona nightspots. She vetoed a bill that would have allowed patrons to carry loaded guns into bars, nightclubs and restaurants as long as the patrons didn't imbibe.

May 4: The 2005 legislative session neared an end without the passage of significant legislation to protect the state's long-term water resources. Most of the 10 conservation and planning bills that were proposed were either scuttled or diluted because of opposition from rural lawmakers and small-government advocates.

May 5: Napolitano reached a historic agreement with legislative leaders on an $8.2 billion budget for fiscal 2006 that would expand public all-day kindergarten programs while providing corporate tuition tax credits for private and parochial school scholarships. Although most of the agreement survived, Napolitano vetoed the tuition tax credits afterward. Irate Republican leaders accused her of reneging on the agreement.

May 9: Napolitano vetoed a bill to make English Arizona's official language. The measure could have required state and local government workers to carry out their official duties in English.

May 19: A group of grass-roots Latino organizations in Phoenix, led by activist Salvador Reza, rallied to build support for a planned national boycott of Arizona in response to Proposition 200 and several proposed laws designed to crack down on undocumented immigrants. Napolitano vetoed several of the bills, and a substantial national boycott never materialized.

June 14: Napolitano picked a longtime legal and political ally for the Arizona Supreme Court. She chose Scott Bales, who had worked with her in the Arizona Attorney General's Office and on her 2002 gubernatorial campaign.

Aug. 11: The state has been spending more than $150,000 to put Napolitano's face on billboards that promote tourism and buckling up for safety in Phoenix and Tucson. GOP critics say the timing looked like political advertising. Napolitano said there was nothing political about the billboards or any other public-service announcements she has done.

Aug. 17: Already coping with low pay, low morale and high turnover, more than 43,000 rank-and-file state employees got a surprise when the 1.7 percent "pay raise" approved by the Legislature took effect. Their take-home pay actually dropped by a few dollars. The raise hadn't been considered enough to put more money in employees' pockets, but it hadn't been anticipated that the workers would lose money.

Aug. 31: A ballot initiative would ban Arizonans from smoking in public places throughout the state. A coalition of health organizations formally launched a campaign to put the statewide ban on the Nov. 7, 2006, ballot.

Sept. 19: Napolitano toured the deteriorating USS Arizona Memorial in Oahu, Hawaii, pledging Arizona's support in helping to raise the $34 million needed to build a new visitors center.

Nov. 3: Former state Transportation Director Mary Peters, the Republicans' latest, best hope to run for governor in 2006, took her name out of the race. Her surprise exodus left the GOP without any established top-tier candidate to challenge Napolitano as 2006 drew near.

Nov. 17: With the state facing a potential $750 million surplus in 2006, a new high-powered business group began pushing for an unprecedented $400 million in tax cuts. The proposal includes a $100 million tax cut for corporations and a $300 million income-tax cut for Arizona residents. Soon afterward, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce said it opposed the cuts and would prefer that the budget surplus be used for other purposes.

Dec. 7: In what is believed to be a national first, a judge ordered an Arizona lawmaker to leave office for breaking the state's campaign-finance law. The ruling by Judge Mark Aceto of Maricopa County Superior Court upheld the state Clean Elections Act, which calls for the removal of legislators who overspend public campaign-financing limits. The judge determined that Rep. David Burnell Smith, R-Carefree, is holding office illegally because he overspent to win his 2004 Republican primary. Smith appealed, and a hearing on his move to overturn the decision is set for this month.

Dec. 8: Advocates for early-childhood education launched a statewide initiative that would add an 80-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes to generate millions annually to help children get ready for kindergarten. The plan, backed by a group of business, educational and community leaders, would go on the Nov. 7 ballot if supporters get enough signatures.

Dec. 16: A federal judge gave Arizona an ultimatum: Improve instruction of non-English-speaking schoolchildren now, or it's going to cost you. U.S. District Court Judge Raner Collins ordered lawmakers and Napolitano to come up with a financial plan by late this month to help students struggling to learn English or be fined $500,000 a day. The penalty could rise to $2 million a day if they fail to act.