By Recker McDowell —
The Arizona Legislature is back in session. That means the annual ritual of media coverage of conservative bills cast as detrimental to Arizona’s image.
You probably have already seen stories on bills from Republican lawmakers related to limiting sex education curriculums, guns and the posting police officers at polling places on election days.
These types of stories frustrate conservatives who see an adversarial media as well as tourism promoters and economic developers who worry about their impact on Arizona’s image.
Don’t get us wrong, Arizona has seen bills, proposals and actions on immigration and religious freedom (including Senate Bills 1070 and 1062) that have impacted our image. The battle over the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday in the 1980s and 1990s and then Gov. Evan Mecham’s opposition cost the region a Super Bowl and still lingers over Arizona’s image.
There sits a warning that lawmakers must consider.
But the landscape under current Gov. Doug Ducey is different than his predecessors. Ducey has been very disciplined in protecting Arizona’s image and avoiding controversies and threats of boycotts. Former Gov. Jan Brewer backed SB 1070 as part of her political fortunes. Ducey has avoided such controversies as part of his.
There is also a challenge for the media. They should serve as a watchdog and communicate what it is going on at the Arizona Legislature. But the media also needs to have perspective on these stories especially whether the bills have a chance to progress at the Legislature let alone pass. Otherwise, the coverage can look like a more liberal media chastising conservatives. The end result then can be either side of the political equation retreating to their respective corners.