Guns, Water & Education: April 2018 Constituent Update from #AZLeg


March was packed with events– most notably multiple Red For Ed protests at the Capitol and the March for Our Lives. There are more scheduled for April.

In the News

We have had many lively debates on the Floor of the House this year. In March and April, we debated water, tax cuts, the deregulation sandbox, marijuana, and much more. Archived video of all Floor, Caucus, and Committee meetings are online here. March was a big news month. To keep everyone up-to-date with the issues, I have been recording daily videos from my office in the Capitol and posting them on social media. There is a collection on my Facebook page here.

I added several news stories to my In the News tab on this website recently. The Capitol Times did a cover story highlighting the feisty freshman women in the Legislature: Dem House Freshmen Break Tradition, Turn Up the Volume.  Many of you have heard me talk about how the women changed the game in the Arizona House.; that story finally made the news. Paulina Pineda did a great job of capturing our spirit and our resolve.

Arizona House women
I am so proud to serve with these women: Reps. Wenona Benally, Mitze Epstein, Geraldine Peten, Athena Salman, Kelli Butler, me, Isela Blanc, and Kirsten Engel in the front. We don’t always wear red; the above two photos were taken on Red for Ed days. The House Democratic Caucus rocks. (Capitol Times photo.)

April Canvassing & Events

While the Legislature is still in session, we will be canvassing on Saturday mornings. I have scheduled canvasses for April 14 and April 21 from 9:30 – 12:30, meeting on the Beyond Bread patio. Details are on the events tab of my Facebook page. Between now and the August primary, expect weekly group canvassing opportunities. Please volunteer. I am still collecting signatures and seed money. You can sign my petition here online and donate seed money here.

Both the Nucleus Club and the Tanque Verde Democrats will be having meet-the-candidate events in April. The Nucleus Club will be having an all-candidate forum for Southern Arizona House candidates on Thursday, April 12 at the Viscount  It’s on my calendar, and I hope the incumbents can attend. We may be sitting in our chairs on the floor of the House at 5:30 p.m., but let’s hope not. The Legislature is still in session, and we have many big decisions yet to make– like the gun violence prevention legislation and the budget (which obviously includes the teacher pay discussion). Facebook event here.

The Tanque Verde Dems are hosting a wine tasting fundraiser and meet-the-candidates event on Saturday, April 14 at the Wine Collective. (You can canvass with me in the morning and relax later at the wine tasting.) The wine tasting replaces the TV Dems’ regular Saturday breakfast meeting. Facebook event here.

Photo Gallery of March Events

Gun Violence Prevention 

House Dems
Following the Parkland, Florida school shooting, student protests at the Capitol, and the masses Marches for Our Lives, Governor Doug Ducey released his NRA-approved school safety plan. Ducey’s plan doesn’t go far enough. For example, it doesn’t include universal background checks or banning bump stocks or any type of weaponry.  The House Democrats held a press conference to encourage the governor to go bold. The Dems stood in silence for 17 minutes on the Floor of the House– one minute for each Parkland victim. The Republicans recessed and left the room.  Read about the press conference here, the minutes of silence here and about the Tucson March for Our Lives here.
March for Our Lives Tucson
Thousands marched to end gun violence in Tucson March for Our Lives. I was on the state with gun violence survivors and elected officials at the rally on the UA Mall. Here, former Congressman Ron Barber and Roxanna Green, both survivors of the Tucson mass shooting at the Safeway, embrace as he addresses the crowd.

#REDforEd Protests

Teacher protests in Arizona
Each week the Red for Ed protests at the state Capitol get larger. Teachers and public education advocates are protesting for increased public education funding, as Republicans negotiate the budget behind closed doors. Arizona teachers are the lowest paid in the country. They are asking for a 20% raise, which would raise Arizona pay to a level comparable with neighboring states. Now, Arizona teachers can make $20,000 per year more by crossing the state line to work. A 20% teacher raise would be approximately $700 million. An estimated $1 billion could move Arizona from #48 overall in education to #40 (a modest goal). One billion would cover the 20% raise and give us $300 million to spend on buildings and other staff needs. Where can we get that much cash? Arizona gives away more than $13 billion in tax exemptions and other giveaways. In the first few months of this session, hundreds of millions of dollars in tax giveaways passed the Arizona House.  We have to start funding public education and the related infrastructure/repairs; that is economic development. Giving taxes away is just a revenue drain. (The top two photos of House members were taken on Red For Ed days in March.)

Water Wars

Water wars in Arizona House
There is a tug of war going on in the Arizona Legislature with conservationists and environmentalists on one side and developers and deregulation aficionados on the other. There are multiple bad water bills being debated. The House had rousing debates on SB1493 and SB1494. Both of these bills would re-invent the wheel and waste taxpayer money by creating state agencies to duplicate what the Environmental Protection Agency is currently doing. Why go around the EPA? So developers can get around some or all environmental reviews. The water story is still unfolding. You can watch the debates online here. For background, check out this story on AZCentral here. In the above photo, Rep. Rusty Bowers (left) debates Senator Lisa Otondo (right) at one of the weekly Water Wise lunches sponsored by the Senator. Reps. Rebecca Rios and Randy Friese and the luncheon speaker take in the action.

An Evening with John Nichols

John Nichols and Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA Tucson) and the Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF) hosted an evening with author and historian John Nichols in early March. I was honored to provide the warm-up act and introduction. Nichols, who writes for The Nation and often appears on MSNBC and Democracy Now, comes to the Tucson Festival of Books each year and makes a stop at the IBEW Hall on Saturday night to talk with Tucson Progressives.

NOW Statewide Conference

NOW conference
I was honored to be on a panel of elected women at the NOW statewide conference in Tucson in March. Here I am with Rep. Charlene Fernandez, former Tucson City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, school board member and justice of the peace candidate Channel Powe.

Social Workers’ Elected Official of the Year

National Association of Social Workers
The Arizona Chapter (Branch 2) of the National Association Social Workers honored me with their elected official of the year award. My background in public health dovetails with their values regarding poverty and access to care.

Union Day at the Capitol

Union Day at the Capitol
Union members from around the state came to the Capitol in early March. Here I am with Paul Stapleton-Smith of PALF and Joe Murphy and Jenise Porter, co-chairs of the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party.

If you live in my district, don’t forget to sign my nominating petition online here. I’m also still accepting seed money via PayPal and check here.