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Arizona lawmaker upset after free gift ban stalls

PHOENIX — Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs held a bill Wednesday that would have prevented state lawmakers from accepting free tickets to sports games and other events.

The bill passed the Senate Elections Committee, but Biggs claims he held it from coming to a full Senate vote because it had technical problems. The bill’s sponsor, Republican State Sen. Michelle Reagan, believes that, in reality, Biggs got too many complaints from other state lawmakers.

“My colleagues who are interested in receiving (free gifts), did not want this bill to be voted on,” Reagan said. “Had it been voted on, they would have had to have voted yes.”

It’s been four years since a scandal revealed revealed 28 Arizona lawmakers received free football tickets and trips from the Fiesta Bowl Committee.

Reagan said nothing has changed in the Legislature since that scandal.

“Not only have laws not changed, behaviors haven’t changed,” she said. “People are still going to sporting events and concerts that the public has to pay for and they’re going for free.”

She cited one case where the Arizona Diamondbacks placed two free tickets to their Opening Day game on the desk of every state senator. The tickets were attached to a box of peanuts, and a note reading, “Thank you for the time, energy, and sacrifices you make to serve the citizens of our great state.”

Reagan said the Diamondbacks didn’t do anything wrong by leaving the tickets.

“They’re doing a nice thing,” she said. “They’re offering extra tickets for people to come and enjoy their beautiful facility. What’s wrong is the legislators who think it’s OK to accept the tickets, when there are thousands of people who were in that stadium who had to pay for tickets.”

Reagan does not know how many legislators used the tickets. She believed the tickets were “around $12” and that lawmakers would have easily been able to afford to pay for them. Reagan did not accept the tickets.

Reagan won’t have the chance to reintroduce the bill. She is running for secretary of state, and this is her final year in the Senate.