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Former Arizona State Lawmaker Joe Hart Dead At 78

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Former Arizona Republican state lawmaker Joe Hart has passed away at 78 years old.

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s office announced that Hart, a businessman who served as Arizona’s elected mine inspector for 15 years before resigning last year, passed away on Sunday.

Hart was a member of the Arizona House of Representatives from 1992 to 2001 and served as speaker pro team. His cause of death has not yet been revealed to the public.

Ducey ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff to honor Hart.

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“Deeply saddened by the loss of Inspector Joe Hart. A pillar of state government, he was a dedicated advocate for the mining industry and played a critical role in overseeing the safety at Arizona’s mines. A lifelong Kingman resident, Inspector Hart proudly served the people of Arizona for decades. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this time,” Ducey tweeted.

Arizona Democrat Rep. Debbie Lesko tweeted: “I am saddened to hear that Joe Hart, the former Arizona State Mine Inspector, has passed away. Please join me in praying for the comfort of his family during this difficult time.”

“I’m deeply saddened to learn that my friend, Joe Hart, passed away. I know how much Joe loved Arizona as we served together in the legislature and later campaigned statewide together. A man with a great sense of humor, loyalty, and deep character. Prayers to his entire family,” former Arizona GOP Gov. Jan Brewer tweeted.

During a speech in 2018 on the campaign trail when he was seeking re-election, Hart noted his efforts to close some old mines that litter the state.

“During my time in office, hundreds of abandoned mines have been permanently sealed and many more have been fenced and posted to advise the public of their danger,” Hart wrote.

Hart resigned in October 2021, telling Ducey in a letter that he was doing so “with a heavy heart.”

“As a fourth-generation Arizona miner, the profession of mining has long been a personal passion. It is an industry so fundamental to the success and progress of Arizona’s past, present, and future,” Hart wrote. “However, the time has come for my wife Rhonda and I to focus our undivided attention on our health and our family.”

Hart closed his resignation letter to Ducey by writing: “For this cowboy, it was one heckava ride.”

Arizona is the only state in the country with an elected mine inspector. Not only is mining a significant industry in Arizona, but the state also leads the nation in copper production.

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Hart’s the second well-known official who passed away recently.

Over the weekend, former Alaska Republican lawmaker Vic Kohring died in a vehicle crash.

“Alaska State Troopers say the 64-year-old Wasilla resident was driving a minivan that collided head-on with a semi-truck after crossing the center line of the Glenn Highway north of Palmer. Kohring served in the state House from 1995 until he resigned in 2007. He was chair of a special oil and gas committee. He favored small government, opposed taxes, and slept in his Juneau office to save money,” Alaska Public reported.

He was driving a Toyota minivan when he crossed the center line for unknown reasons and collided with the truck, Alaska State Troopers said.

“Troopers and first responders immediately responded to the scene. Troopers discovered a Toyota minivan had collided head-on with a semi-truck after crossing the center line for unknown reasons. The driver, and sole occupant, of the Toyota minivan, was declared deceased on the scene. The AST Bureau of Highway Patrol conducted an investigation of the crash scene and assumed case responsibility for the investigation. The decedent’s body was transported to the State Medical Examiner for autopsy. The decedent will be identified after next of kin notifications are complete. The Glenn Highway was closed in both directions for approximately two hours as Troopers documented the scene and cleared the roadway,” the statement read from the Alaska State Troopers.

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In early August, Indiana Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski was killed in a head-on car crash.

“It is with a heavy heart that I am sharing this statement from the Office of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski,” Republican House Minority Leader and California Rep. Kevin McCarthy said on Twitter.

“Jackie was a very good friend. I’m devastated. This is a major loss for our community,” Rep. Jake Teshka said.

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“I’m truly devastated. Jackie loved Hoosiers and devoted her life to fighting for them. I’ll never forget her spirit, her positive attitude, and most importantly her friendship. All of Indiana mourns her passing, along with the tragic deaths of her staff Emma Thomson and Zach Potts. Please join me in praying for their families in this difficult time,” Sen. Todd Young said in a tweet.

“Just seeing the awful news about Rep. Jackie Walorski. Heartbreaking. I’ll be praying for her family after this awful and shocking tragedy. May God surround and comfort them all,” Rep. Lauren Boebert said.

“I am stunned to hear about the death of my friend and colleague, Jackie Walorski. Our offices neighbor each other in DC, and I was honored to call her my friend. Please join Brenda and me in praying for Jackie’s family and for the families of the others who lost their lives,” Tennessee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said.

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