AZ Capitol news: Bungaard removed as majority leader; Republicans unveil budget; Texting while driving ban moves forwardPosted: Updated:
TUCSON, Ariz -- Senate Republicans voted Tuesday to remove Senator Scott Bundgaard from his leadership post as a result of a run-in he and his girlfriend had with the police last month.
She was arrested, he was not, after claiming, "legislative immunity."
Most Senate Republicans felt that Bundgaard's personal problems were simply too distracting and taking the focus away from the real work that has to be done at the capitol, so they voted to oust him from his post. And Bundgaard seemed to not mind.
"No, I'm not upset. I'll have more free time," said Bundgaard.
Republican Senator Scott Bundgaard seemed almost relieved after his colleagues voted to permanently remove him from his post as majority leader.
This after his involvement in a domestic dispute turned into an ever-evolving tabloid tale.
"I was becoming a distraction with my personal problems," said Bundgaard.
During a closed door meeting lasting more than an hour, senate republicans voted 12-9 against Bundgaard.
Senator Ron Gould had called for Bundgaard's resignation from the post last week.
"He can't do his job if he's a distraction," said Gould.
This all comes more than two weeks after Bundgaard's fight with, now ex-girlfriend, Aubry Ballard at the side of the State Route 51 late February 25 after the couple left a charity event.
Police say both parties had marks indicating physical violence, and last week it was revealed a gun was found in the car.
Still, Bundgaard was granted legislative immunity and released, while Ballard spent the night in jail.
Charges against her have been dropped, but prosecutors are still considering charges against Bundgaard.
Tuesday afternoon Senator Andy Biggs of Gilbert was tapped to fill the majority leader position.
"I was not prepared for that," said Biggs.
Biggs, the current chairman of the appropriations committee, says he was one of the 9 caucus members who did not support Bundgaard's permanent dismissal from the leadership position.
But Bundgaard is understanding of the vote against him.
"They don't need this distraction, now its time to get back to the work we need to do," said Bundgaard.
Bundgaard goes before senate ethics committee this Thursday.
Also at the Capitol Tuesday, senate republicans have unveiled their plans to cut government spending and trim Arizona's budget shortfall.
Among the proposed cuts are $172 million from K-12 schools, $65 million from universities, and $67 million from health programs and social services.
The plan will be debated Wednesday in the Senate.
And a bill that would make it illegal to text while driving in Arizona is moving forward at the state legislature.
The measure, sponsored by Tucson State Senator Steve Farely, passed in the upper chamber Tuesday afternoon in an 18 to 12 vote. It now goes to the House.