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Dozens of 'strike everything' bills passed at state Capitol

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

There's something going on at the Arizona state Capitol that not everybody knows about.

Dozens of bills have been rejected, then replaced with something that has nothing to do with the original proposal.

"Strike everything" bills keep piling up at the state Capitol.

Some critics call the striker bills "political magic." Lawmakers show the public one thing, then when no one is really paying attention, they show them something else.

When a bill is going nowhere, a lawmaker can propose an amendment that strikes out all the existing language and replaces it with something completely different.

SB 1062 went from a boating law to a proposal on behavioral health. SB 1003 went from agricultural regulations to restrictions on early ballots, and HB 2269 went from a liquor supplier law to a study on the use of drones.

Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix, said the striker bills are a way to avoid public hearings while raising serious questions about transparency at the state Capitol.

"It does raise questions when you tell somebody all of a sudden that bill you were following isn't the bill anymore. Now you have to track another bill," Davis said.

CBS 5 News uncovered more than 75 striker bills approved so far with hundreds more expected to pop up in the next few weeks.

Rep. John Kavanaugh, R-Fountain Hills, sponsored a bill to put up security barriers around the state Capitol. The bill is now about banning live animal prizes at local fairs.

"Strikers are simply a tool that can be used for good or bad. I can take a knife, I can cut a steak, or I can take a knife and stab somebody with it," Kavanaugh said.

CBS 5 News asked political insider and former state lawmaker Stan Barnes his take on striker bills.

He insists they are not that secretive and are actually a useful tool to speed up the legislative process.

"They're not nefarious, not sneaky, not used for bad purposes," Barnes said.

"They are no more than vehicles which to cause votes to happen on certain issues, and there's nothing wrong with that," Barnes said.

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