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Updated Apr 9, 2014 - 3:39 pm

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.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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