Bret Roberts (R-District 11) just completed his first session as a state representative. He shared some of his experience.
How was your first legislative session? Rep. Bret Roberts
Hometown: Bowling Green, Ohio
Community of residence: Maricopa
Previous occupations: Detention officer, mortgage banker, constable
Committees: Regulatory Affairs (vice-chairman), Appropriations, Commerce, Judiciary
Primary sponsorship: HB 2521, which adds properly trained/certified constables to list of peace officers who may be allowed to carry a firearm; HB 2675, which validates unambiguous contract provisions negotiated by parties represented by attorneys.
Rep. Bret Roberts
I really enjoy being up at the Capitol representing District 11. Being vice chair of one and sitting on three other committees is a lot of work, but it does have its rewards. You get much more exposure to the issues you have come through your committees.
What have you learned that will help you in year two?
There was the obvious learning curve. The first few weeks to a month was a blur. Back-to-back, 30-minute meetings with individuals wanting to meet with you to discuss issues on bills. Learning who all the staff is and how they can help you. If you’re not in committee or on the floor, you’re in a meeting. The more committees you’re on, the more individuals want to meet with you. Which is great, you get to learn about so many issues. Next year, none of the day-to-day will be a surprise. Work can also be done in the interim to get a head start on any bills I may want to run.
How would you see the “Wayfair bill” (House Bill 2702) impacting Maricopa?
HB2702, or Wayfair, has to do with taxes being collected on products that are purchased online out of state. This would bring parity and fairness to any brick-and-mortar business that is currently collecting sales tax on products sold. Any time a product is purchased out of state online by an individual located in Arizona, that out-of-state vendor would have to collect sales tax and send it back to Arizona; just like our businesses are doing for those states. Forty other states have done this already, which means our businesses are currently at a disadvantage, meaning our businesses are collecting taxes for out-of-state vendors and sending taxes back to those states. Once we get this in place, those states will have to do the same for Arizona.
You were emotional during testimony about suicide prevention training for schools during this session. Share your thoughts on why that bill was important?
Yes, this was an emotional bill for many, including myself. This was also a great example of a bill that had tremendous bipartisan support. In my opinion this bill is important for many reasons but what stood out the most in my opinion [is that] today with social media, it’s a very different time than when most likely you or I went to school. Bullying is a much different animal today. Something could happen with a student and in mere moments it could be spread to pretty much the entire student body. This can lead to tremendous pressure on kids. The required training in the bill will help all school staff, not just teachers, to recognize signs that a student may be in distress, whether it be from an issue at school, home or anywhere for that matter and know how to act on that to prevent these tragic losses of life.
This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.