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A series of Arizona bills have sparked controversy among students, administrators and legislators alike.

Such legislation includes Arizona Senate Bill 1474, a bill that would allow guns on university campuses, and Arizona House Bill 2675, a bill that would have required students to pay a minimum of $2000 for their tuition.

SB 1474 is moving through the Senate and HB 2675 was withdrawn March 1.

The Arizona Board of Regents said it opposed both bills during its meeting in February.

ABOR Regent LuAnn Leonard said the legislature has good intent but does not fully understand faculty and student concerns regarding SB 1474.

"During our last board meeting at ASU, we had the three security chiefs for the Arizona universities give us a full picture of how they are working to make the universities secure," Leonard said. "We found that (the officers) are accomplishing a lot of things that perhaps the legislature is not aware of."

She said the legislature would better understand university issues if it invested more time into seeing bills regarding higher education from the perspective of students, faculty members and administrators.

"I'm hopeful (the legislature is) open to meeting with (students) and listening to their concerns as well as to our own lobbyists from each university," Leonard said. "But we would really like them to visit us more and learn more about the good things that are happening on our campuses."

Sen. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, said he opposed SB 1474 because it failed to account for university concerns.

"To take on an initiative like that, we should be listening to the people that would be impacted the most by that legislation," Lujan said. "It will only cost universities more money that would be better invested in students' higher education rather than allowing guns on campus."

He said the legislature pays too much attention to lobbying groups such as American Legislative Exchange Council and the Goldwater Institute  rather than the groups affected by the legislation.

HB 2675 sponsor Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said he killed his minimum tuition requirement bill because it had become too controversial in the legislature.

He said he loves higher education, has multiple degrees and is a college professor.

Kavanagh said the bill's original intent was to get students to invest in their education and allow students who are not ready for university curriculum to attend community colleges instead.

"By making it free at the university level, some of these students went to universities prematurely rather than staying a year or two at a community college," Kavanagh said.

Candidate for the 9th Congressional District and graduate teaching assistant Kyrsten Sinema said Kavanagh's status as a community college professor comments on the integrity of his bill.

"His bill, of course, doesn't include community college students," Sinema said. "It's a full attack on higher education. It makes no sense."

She said Arizona's higher education system has reached an all-time low in funding.

"That directly relates to the massive increase in tuition that the students have been seeing at the three universities," Sinema said. "My students struggle with this every single day. It's really frustrating."

She said the legislature has been addressing higher education in the wrong manner and ought to approach it more supportively.

"I want (the legislature) to drop all the silly bills and instead focus on how to help make our universities be the best universities in the country," Sinema said. "Here we are trying to compete in the global marketplace and we just aren't going to be able to keep up."



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