How an Arizona bill becomes a law, formally and informally
We made another zine! It's all the legislative procedures and political gamesmanship in one place.
The Arizona Senate once abducted a 15-year-old named Arizona Bill — the beloved cartoon of an Arizona-shaped piece of legislation in a cowboy hat and boots.
Arizona Bill is the hero of Rob Richards’ classic “Arizona Bill to Law” pamphlet, which is available online and as a printout for Arizona Capitol tourists.
Richards, an Arizona artist, drew the 1977 publication shortly after high school. His mother Jane was the chief clerk at the Arizona House of Representatives at the time and she wrote the text. It offers a simple flowchart explaining the legislative steps on “Arizona Bill’s” quest to become a law.
The pamphlet, which he sold to the Arizona House for $1,000, is steeped in history, including the time the Arizona Senate tried to steal it. A 1992 article by the Phoenix Gazette’s Randy Kull details the “cartoon caper” in which the Senate attempted to use Bill in a touch-screen video program in the Senate lobby that explained the legislative process.
Accusations and legal threats were flying until the Senate ponied up an extra $1,000 to pay Richards for his work.
But the pamphlet leaves a lot out. We wanted to refresh that venerable cartoon to offer a more detailed, behind-the-scenes look at how the legislative process really works.
Our Bill to Law zinefills in the gaps, explaining the shenanigans behind each step of the legislative process, and how lobbyists, lawmakers and others can game the system to reach a desired outcome.
We made this zine with Richards’ blessing, and because no Arizona bill to law zine would be complete without Arizona Bill, he graciously allowed us to use the image.
This is the second zine we’ve produced. If you missed our first one, all about public records in Arizona, you can find it here. And in the spirit of zine-making, our zines are all free — you can print and fold them yourself and share them with anyone free of charge.
To see the Bill to Law zine as a PDF in page order, click here.
To download a copy that you can print and fold yourself, click here.
We also included the images of each page in this newsletter, for good measure.
Please share this resource with anyone who wants to keep an eye on their state government.
And to support more work like this, consider becoming a paid subscriber. We can’t continue our journalism into a second year without financial support from readers. We’re a tiny team of two people who wrote this zine (with some help from Capitol sources who know the ins and outs), and Rachel’s husband designed it.
We’ve had some readers ask what exactly a zine is. It’s basically a self-published print magazine, and you pronounce it as “zeen.” You can learn more about what zines are and their history here — we’re longtime zine readers.