Arizona Republicans change legislative rules on preserving emails, texts

Jan 27, 2023, 1:00 PM

(Arizona Capitol Museum Photo)...

(Arizona Capitol Museum Photo)

(Arizona Capitol Museum Photo)

PHOENIX (AP) — Republicans in Arizona’s Legislature have voted along party lines to approve new rules that will allow state lawmakers to destroy emails after 90 days and delete text messages as quickly as they arrive.

Democrats have criticized the change, along with a new limit of 30 minutes per bill for debate time among lawmakers on the House floor. The new rules, which were passed Tuesday, say each lawmaker has up to three minutes to explain their vote.

Changing a rule bypasses the need to approve legislation that could be vetoed by new Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs.

The new rules will allow emails in a House or Senate member’s legislative account to be destroyed 90 days after they are sent or received, reported The Arizona Republic, which fought to obtain access to emails and text messages of legislators involved in a review of the 2020 election in Maricopa County. Calendars, text messages and “communications on online platforms” can be destroyed whenever a lawmaker decides they are no longer needed.

A public records watchdog criticized the rule change, saying the public has a right to know the content of elected lawmakers’ electronic communications.

“The House and the Senate are creating their own rules of operation,” said Gregg P. Leslie, executive director of the First Amendment Clinic at Arizona State University’s law school, “They are treating this as a done deal. It looks final for now.”

Leslie said it is unclear what kind of legal action could be taken against the move.

Republican House Speaker Ben Toma, who represents the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, told The Republic that the House and Senate have worked for months on new records rules that balance disclosure and privacy.

But Democratic Leader Andres Cano, representing Tucson, said the new rules ignore existing public records law.

Former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich in 2017 wrote an opinion saying that public officials’ text messages and social media posts are public records.

Arizona’s Public Records Law states that records must be preserved by “all officers and public bodies” and include all that are “reasonably necessary or appropriate to maintain an accurate knowledge of their official activities and of any of their activities that are supported by monies from this state or any political subdivision of this state.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Facebook Photo)...

Associated Press

Pilot killed in small plane crash near Eloy Municipal Airport

A pilot has been killed in a small plane crash in a vacant lot near Eloy Municipal Airport, about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, police said.

5 hours ago

Firebird Motorsports Park....

Chandler racing complex renamed Firebird Motorsports Park

Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler has a new name -- Firebird Motorsports Park.

7 hours ago

Pamela Andrews...

Silver Alert canceled after 68-year-old woman located

The Mesa Police Department canceled a Silver Alert on Saturday after locating Pamela Andrew, the Arizona Department of Safety says.

7 hours ago

Silver Alert...

Silver Alert canceled after 81-year-old found dead

John Saler, an 81-year-old who went missing in Tonopah on Wednesday, was found deceased, authorities said Saturday.

9 hours ago

Southwest Human Development...

New Head Start early education center set to open in Phoenix

Southwest Human Development will host an open house for a new Head Start campus in Phoenix next week.

11 hours ago

caution tape...

Woman charged with murdering her husband in west Valley home

A woman is behind bars for allegedly murdering her husband in their west Valley home, according to police.

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Desert Institute for Spine Care (DISC) wants to help Valley residents address back, neck issues through awake spine surgery

As the weather begins to change, those with back issues can no longer rely on the dry heat to aid their backs. That's where DISC comes in.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.

Arizona Republicans change legislative rules on preserving emails, texts