HB2839: The Bill that Set a New Precedent for Arizona’s Politicians

I believe that politicians are meant to function as servants of the people.

There are many reasons as to why I think this. The first reason is the simplest one: because everyday Americans vote for the individuals they choose to represent them in public office, the least they should expect from them is to serve with their best interests in mind. If they do not do this, then their validity as a member of public office should be heavily questioned by the populous.

Secondly, the salary that our politicians receive quite literally comes out of our pockets. Without the hefty tax dollars that they receive from us, they wouldn’t get a paycheck. If you owned a business, and your employee failed to do their job, then why would you want them to work for you in the first place? The same logic should apply to our government.

The third and final reason is due to how our founding fathers foresaw the role of the politician, and more specifically, the representative. When our country was founded along with its government functions, being a politician was not meant to be the main priority. Instead, it was meant to be a sort of ‘second job’ for the individual, while their first job would be a normal one like you and I have. With this being said, shouldn’t our politicians, who are meant to be normal workers like you and I, serve in office with the same perspective as you and I?

I do not find this to be too much to ask for. All of these things considered, it is incredibly important that our politicians go into office and act within our best interests. They must serve with a willingness to protect our rights, make logical decisions, and, above all, represent us in a way that we would want them to. If they do not do this, then why should they be our representative in the first place?

This is the question that I am presenting to you all in this article. As a result of a bill passed in by the Arizona State Legislature known as HB2839, I worry that our politicians are not even doing their jobs anymore. This is not a threat that is specific to one party, but rather of bipartisan importance that must be considered.

HB2839 was introduced to the Arizona State House on the morning of March 3rd, 2022. Co-sponsored by Arizona House Leader Rep. Russell Bowers, it outlines various requirements for how many signatures are necessary in order to apply for public office. For example, if someone wishes to run for a mayoral position, then they must obtain at least five percent of their party’s votes within the city. This issue takes up the high majority of the bill. However, once you reach Section Four of the bill, which is at the near tail-end of it, the topic of it changes drastically.

This section of the bill declares that an individual who wishes to become a precinct committeeman can no longer do so by typical electoral means. This goes against the process that precinct committeemen have been using to apply for decades now. Instead, in order to become a precinct committeeman, they must be hand-picked by the board of supervisors of that individual’s county.

Allow me to explain the biggest problem with this option. Let’s say that a county tends to be very left-leaning, with a board of supervisors that fall mostly under the Democratic Party. When they’re choosing which precinct committeemen to appoint, they could appoint ones that specifically tend to have more moderate opinions on the issues. This would give Democrats an advantage and Republicans a disadvantage, as the supervisors were biased in their choices. Now, imagine this on a widescale level. This could be the future of how precinct committeemen are appointed by the board of supervisors, with their biases completely normalized by the law.

With all of this explained on the bill, HB2839 was passed through the House and Senate and signed by Governor Doug Ducey in less than a day. Every single legislator who voted on this bill voted YES, with five legislators not voting on it to begin with.

Thankfully, grassroots organizations and individuals all across the valley immediately took action to put an end to this bill. By the next day, on Friday, March 4th, 2022, legislators’ phones were reportedly “blown up,” according to State Senator Sonny Borelli, with these individuals demanding that they take action to repeal it. Republican legislators who voted YES suddenly came out in opposition to the section; for example, Rep. Jake Hoffman claimed that it was “snuck into the bill.” By the following Monday, citizens and activists were able to make public comments on HB2839 in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In a considerably short amount of time, those who voted YES on the bill went from showing general support for it to opposing it entirely.

This sudden switch raises great questions about the validity of the legislators’ vote. One of two things must’ve happened for them to do have done so: They either supported the bill and changed their tone once the population went against it, or genuinely did not understand the context of it. Both of these options have great consequences; they’re either lying to us, or they didn’t read the bill at all. How are we supposed to trust our representatives, including the ones who we politically agree with, if one of these things is true?

This is especially the case for the latter point. How are we supposed to trust our representatives, who are meant to function as public servants, to vote on the right bills if they don’t even read them? How can we expect our rights and electoral processes to be protected if they cannot even read what they’re voting on? It’s important to note that this bill is only eight pages in length- an incredibly small bill in comparison to ones that are hundreds of pages long- which only makes this entire ordeal even more questionable. I managed to read HB2839 in a measly fifteen minutes; if I can do that, and I’m not even being paid for it, then why can’t a legislator with a full salary do the same?

The passing of this bill additionally serves to set a terrible precedent for our politicians, especially those within the Republican Party. Republicans' trust in their own representatives has been wearing thin over the last couple of years, only getting worse and worse through each election season. Now, following the passing of this bill, even the most respectable of conservative legislators voted to allow it through. How many Republicans no longer trust the people who are meant to serve them because of this bill? How many are not going to show up to the voting booths on November 8th because they refuse to help the politicians who only hurt them?

I find that Republican legislators are underestimating what this bill could mean for their political futures. The people, bluntly speaking, are angry. Nobody is happy right now, and that anger is going to manifest itself on November 8th of this year.

Thankfully, on March 22nd, 2022, Section Four of HB2839 was declared unconstitutional, forbidding it from continuing as an existing law. However, I find that these questions must still be raised.

Politicians are meant to be servants of the people. We elected them to serve, and we pay them to serve. Our founding fathers made the positions they took on so that they can serve. The least we should expect from them is to have a basic understanding of the bills that they vote on, especially when they are a mere eight pages long. The fact that the legislature managed to undo their actions doesn’t take away from the fact that it was passed in the first place.

Arizona voters should not forget that this occurred in their state. As previously stated, this is an issue that does not abide by party lines. The fact that anyone in the legislature is willing to pass a bill without reading it should be concerning to everyone. It is a matter of questioning whether or not our politicians are even doing the jobs they are being paid to do. When the election season comes around in November, their actions should not be forgotten, but rather frequently referenced as an example of how we must always question them.