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Arizona Senate Democrats file ethics complaint as abortion debate continues

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(The Center Square) – Arizona Senate Democrats are filing an ethics complaint against Senate President Warren Petersen and President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope for allegedly violating “parliamentary procedures” on Wednesday, specifically referring to Mason’s Rules and the chamber’s own guidelines.

The Democrats say that their attempts to motion were not properly recognized, including a motion that Sen. Anna Hernandez, D-Phoenix, tried to make for a late introduction of bills that would allow a process to kick off for a bill that would repeal the 1864 abortion law.

Democratic leadership said that the end goal of the complaint is to make sure to does not happen again in the future, not necessarily a censure or expulsion.

“The Senate President Pro Tem broke the rules under the direction of the Senate President, as he always should be. And we want to acknowledge that. It’s a simple matter,” Minority Leader Mitzi Epstein said at a news conference on Monday morning.

A Senate Republican spokesperson told The Center Square on Friday that it had to do with the motion on the floor at the time.

“The Democrats were not recognized because the motion before the body was the motion to adjourn. A substitution motion would have been procedurally improper,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement.

On Monday afternoon, Shope released a statement condemning the complaint.

“Shame on Arizona Senate Democrats for stooping so low in their desperate attempt to weaponize the Legislature’s policies on ethics investigations,” Shope stated. “Neither I, nor President Petersen, who wasn’t even present in his chair at the time of the alleged offense, engaged in any sort of ethical violation by any stretch of the imagination.”

“These sick and twisted actions have led to nothing more than a spectacle at the Legislature on the taxpayers’ dime, and only the citizens of Arizona stand to

lose,” he added.

The 4-2 Arizona Supreme Court ruling last week will allow a near total abortion ban to take effect soon, overtaking the current 15-week abortion law on the books from 2022. There was a similar effort in the House to get a bill repealing the 1864 law up for a floor vote, but the chamber ended up adjourning as well, The Center Square reported.

Meanwhile, there is a petition to get a proposed constitutional amendment onto the ballot in November that would allow abortion up to “fetal viability,” but opponents worry that it could potentially open the door to late-term abortions. The overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022 left abortion laws almost entirely up to the states.

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