Date: Jun 01, 2014
Magazine:
June 2014 - Jay Leno to Headline WG Annual Meeting

As the Arizona Legislature adjourned last month, so went some of the bad ideas that did not become law.  It was definitely a successful session for Western Growers and its members.  We were able to keep bills requiring additional labor mandates and GMO labeling from making their way through the process.  However, the dynamic emerging within the Legislature could impact the agriculture industry in the future.

The population in Arizona has become increasingly urbanized.  The Phoenix Metropolitan area now accounts for more than 60 percent of the total population in the state.  The facts are even more evident in the Legislature where nearly two-thirds of the representative and senators represent a portion of Maricopa County.  As the voting base becomes less connected with agriculture, so do the people representing them.

On issues of pesticides, GMO’s and environmental regulations, it is becoming more difficult to sway our urban Republican allies to support agriculture.  While the GMO-labeling bill in the Legislature died, there is a citizen’s initiative under way to put a similar measure on the ballot in November.  Early polling indicates that urban voters of both parties tend to support GMO labeling; however, they are very uneducated on the issue.  While the anti-GMO movement may not be a huge priority for produce growers, the concern that this method of thought without regard to scientific evidence could infiltrate into policy discussions on pesticides, land use and water is of concern as we look to the future.

One major factor in how this dynamic plays out involves elections.  Elections have consequences and with legislators back home in their districts, campaign season is in full swing.  Statewide offices are up for grabs and there is no shortage of candidates vying to lead the state for the next four years.  Term limits and aspirations of higher office have left several openings in legislative leadership for both parties.  The general election in November is typically the focus.  However, with legislative redistricting and an influx of primary challenges in the Republican Party, the primary election in September could be the deciding factor for many key leadership posts.

In the race for governor, there are several Republicans.  While there are at least seven candidates in the primary, the top four contenders are current Treasurer Doug Ducey, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, former Mayor of Mesa Scott Smith, and Christine Jones, former general counsel for Go Daddy.  The Democrats have managed to keep their slate clean and the Republican nominee will face off against Fred Duval in November.  On the Republican side, it’s anyone’s game at this point.  With so many candidates in the mix, a winner could emerge with less than one fourth of the vote.

In the Legislature, next year will bring significant change in the leadership of the State House.  Current Speaker Andy Tobin is running for Congress and there are several members looking to replace him.  Two of them, Eddie Farnsworth and JD Mesnard, represent east Phoenix cities, while the the third candidate, David Gowan, hails from southern Arizona.  None of them have much of a connection to agriculture.  On the Senate side, President Biggs will likely return to the Senate.  While there is always a chance that he could face a challenger for the presidency, the dynamics are unlikely with the impending loss of a few moderate Republicans from the Caucus.

Western Growers will continue to stay involved in the process to ensure that our members have a voice in Arizona politics.  We continually work to protect your interests through our WG Political Action Committees at both the state and federal levels.

WG Staff Contact

AnnaMarie Knorr
Manager, Arizona Government Affairs
602-451-0658

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Western Growers members care deeply for the food they grow, the land they sustain, the people they employ, and the community in which they live. 

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