Legislative update: Guns on campuses

On a 5-3 vote the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed Monday to let certain faculty and students bring loaded weapons onto university and community college campuses.

State law generally makes such campuses off limits to guns. But SB 1467 would create an exception for those who have a state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon.

University of Arizona Police Chief Anthony Daykin told lawmakers the requirements to get such a permit have been sharply diluted in the last few years. He said it now requires little more than an 8-hour class and shooting at a target.

Daykin also worried about what happens when police respond to a report of a shooting on campus.

"Putting more people with gun who can pull them out will confuse the responsive officer,' he said. "They'll have to distinguish between who is the original person who perhaps had a gun for a bad purpose and who are all the other people.'

But Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Glendale, said this kind of situation could as easily occur in a mall or on the street where there are no such limits on who can have weapons.

"We haven't heard about those kinds of things happening,' he said. And Murphy said declaring campuses to be gun-free zones creates "a false sense of security that because guns aren't allowed that there aren't any, and the bad guys don't have them.'

The measure now goes to the full Senate.

State nickname

It's now official: Arizona is the Grand Canyon State.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure into law Monday, the state's 99th birthday.

That ended several years of efforts after Marshall Trimble, the state historian, discovered the slogan, which has been around for years and decorates some state licenses plates, was never officially adopted. Prior efforts have fallen short.

With Brewer's action, the nickname joins with the ridgenose rattlesnake as state's official reptile, the cactus wren as state bird, turquoise as the state gemstone and the bola tie as the official state neckwear.

Presidential ballots

Barack Obama may not need to get his original birth certificate to state officials to be on the presidential ballot in Arizona next year.

On a 5-3 vote Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday defeated SB 1526 which would let Arizona impose its own requirements on what someone needs to prove before being on the ballot in the state.

The measure would have precluded a presidential candidate from appearing on the Arizona ballot unless party officials provided certain information to the Secretary of State's Office. That includes an original "long-form birth certificate' complete with the name of the hospital, attending physician and signatures of witnesses, to a sworn statement that the candidate had two parents who were citizens at the time of the child's birth.

"I think it's inappropriate for the state of Arizona to establish its own criteria for a federal office that goes beyond what the (U.S.) Constitution requires,' said Sen. John McComish, R-Phoenix. And Sen. Adam Driggs, R-Phoenix, said this could create a situation where each of the 50 states would be screening presidential candidates using different standards.

A similar measure is pending in the House.

Supreme Court

Without debate, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday refused to expand the Arizona Supreme Court from five to seven members.

Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch told committee members she did not understand the need for the change. She said the high court is "one of the entities of government that's actually current in our caseload.'

Berch also pegged the cost of two new justices and necessary staff and facilities at $1 million a year.

"Given this economic climate, it's just hard to justify this bill at this time,' she said.

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