"I'm just a bill" is a pretty humble thing for a powerful opinion-shaper to say. gif

“I’m just a bill” is a pretty humble thing for a powerful opinion-shaper to say.

A few days ago, I mentioned an association leader’s written response to breaking legal events. Today, I share my own takeaways to the same events, as I wrote in my April editor’s column.

Like Whitney Cunningham, I did not directly address the Arizona bill titled SB1062. Instead, I marveled at the community engagement—on both sides of the issue—that the proposed law brought to life.

SB 1062 open for business sign_opt

Always open for dialogue and discussion

I titled my column “The Civics Brain Stirs,” which opened:

“The notion that we are a nation(state) of laws may never have been more apparent than in February, as Arizona was held in the grip of a controversial bill sent from the Legislature to the Governor. As she wrestled with her decision of what to do with SB 1062 (which she ultimately vetoed), we in the state got a front-row seat to civics and remarkable political drama.”

“In an age dominated by sound bites and Xbox, it is amazing how often people will set down the joystick to engage with each other on difficult elements of law and public policy. Here are four things that occurred to me as events unfolded.”

To read those four things—and the entire column—go here.

And for a more pointed commentary on events, read Grant Woods’ column on our back-page “Last Word.”

I'm just a bill veto

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SB 1062 open for business sign_optIn March, I had the opportunity to present at the American Bar Association on the topic of association presidents’ messages—typically magazine or newsletter columns penned by the attorney who helms the bar association for a year.

Since then, however, I’ve come across a message that I wish I could have shared in Chicago. It was drafted by Whitney Cunningham, the State Bar of Arizona President.

Whitney Cunnigham is an attorney at Aspey, Watkins & Diesel in Flagstaff, and I had the privilege of writing a profile of him last summer.

So here was Whitney’s challenge in the April issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine: how to explore a delicate topic made even more controversial by a high-profile and breaking piece of state legislation, without crossing any lines into inappropriate legislative advocacy.

State Bar of Arizona President Whitney Cunningham (photo by John Hall)

State Bar of Arizona President Whitney Cunningham (photo by John Hall)

The topic was a bill called SB1062. I’ll let Wikipedia tell you more about the law here.

Of course, the State Bar of Arizona is a member organization. Among members, there may be many views of this and other laws. And if you cross a line, they let you know.

So how can a Bar President convey the mission and values of the organization, but do so without taking an overt stand on a pending law?

The answer was: Quite well, thank you.

Top to bottom, Whitney never discusses the bill itself, but instead focuses on the value of diversity that runs through the Bar association. He wisely titled his column “Getting Rich,” and then delineates the scores of ways diversity aids the association and the State of Arizona. And then he ends, “As a bar, we are rich and getting richer.”

Read Whitney’s entire column here. And let me know what you think by writing to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.