Wednesday, April 12, 2023

STATUTE OF THE DAY: Filling a Vacant Legislative Seat, Explained (A.R.S. §41-1202)

The Arizona House of Representatives today expelled Liz Harris (R-LD13).

This raises the question of how and when the seat will be filled - especially in light of the expulsions and reappointments of lawmakers in Tennessee in the news.

Arizona's law is slightly different, and is explained in A.R.S. §41-1202 (below).

Yes, Harris could get reappointed to the seat. However, that will take the district's Republican precinct committeepeople selecting her as one of three possibilities AND the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors selecting her from among those three. The first seems probable, but the second seems less likely.

(Also, it is worth noting that Harris won her seat in a mandated recount, and that the Republican she defeated - Julie Willoughby - has already filed her Statement of Interest to run in 2024.)

Back to the process, according to the statute:

Step 1: The House notifies  Secretary of State Adrian Fontes of the vacancy. 

Step 2: The Secretary of State notifies AZ GOP Chair Jeff DeWit of the vacancy. ("Immediately")

Step 3: DeWit has 3 business days to give written notice to the *elected* LD13 precinct committeepeople of a meeting to nominate a replacement.

Step 4: Because this vacancy is occurring in the middle of the legislative session, the meeting must be held within FIVE DAYS of Step 2.

Step 5: The PCs select THREE qualified candidates to nominate. Rules for proxies are set forth, and the qualifications. (LD13 is wholly inside Maricopa County, and there are more than 30 GOP PCs.)

Step 6: The AZGOP Chair "immediately" forwards the 3 nominees to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Step 7: The Board chooses the appointee to finish out the term - no special election. The statute does NOT give the Board a deadline, and does not even use the term "immediately". However, the MCBOS is Republican controlled and will want to send an extra Republican vote back to the House.

In the unlikely event that the LD13 GOP PCs fail to nominate three persons in the five days, the MCBOS would have to put together a citizens panel to come up with a list of three.

"AZ Law" includes articles, commentaries and updates about opinions from the Arizona Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, as well as trial and appellate courts, etc. AZ Law is founded by Phoenix attorney Paul Weich, and joins Arizona's Politics on the internet. 

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