Monday, January 13, 2020, was opening day at the Arizona Legislature.
Opening day is always fun and full of political drama because there are protests, press conferences with multiple Progressive groups (labor unions, Planned Parenthood, teachers, and others), the House and Senate Democratic Caucus Press Conference, and a big party with great food hosted by House Dems on the 3rd floor.
Southern Arizona unionists filled two buses to come to the Capitol on Monday. Striking ASARCO miners were out in force. Recently, I have been seeing these guys on the strike line down at the ASARCO Mission Unit, when I am wearing a T-shirt, boots and jeans. One of them did a double take when he saw me in a dress, stockings, short high heels, and my power pearls at the Legislature.
Many Democrats had striking miners as guests. Unfortunately, outspoken people like me were not allowed to￼￼ introduce our guests during the opening ceremonies of the House. Was it because in 2018 I said, “The Progressives are on the floor of the House, instead of protesting out on the lawn,” when I introduced my guests?￼
For the second year in a row, Speaker Rusty Bowers tapped one of his brothers to be the keynote speaker on Opening Day. His rambling address went on for ~45 minutes resulting in half of us not being able to introduce our guests… again.
This year Bowers didn’t leave anything up to chance with the guest introductions; he chose who was allowed to introduce their guests. Again, for the second year in a row, about half the House was not among the chosen few who were allowed to introduce their guests. (This is disrespectful to the guests who traveled hours to get to Phoenix.)
Governor Doug Ducey’s state of the state address was a string of red meat applause lines that focused on deregulation, tax cuts, elimination of boards and commissions (and related transparency through open meeting laws), and small guvmint.
Ducey’s 2020 speech was in stark contrast to his 2019 speech which was extremely bipartisan, a recognition that the Legislature is nearly 50/50 Ds and Rs after the 2018 election. Democrats defeated many Republicans in Legislative, statewide and Congressional races in 2018, and all of the Progressives who were elected in 2016 were handily re-elected in 2018.
Although there are still 29 Democrats and 31 Republicans in the House, his 2020 speech disregarded the shifting electorate and appealed to the extreme right. I wonder if this has anything to do with Ducey’s new role in the Trump reelection campaign?￼
Personally, I thought it was disrespectful of Ducey to talk about a Legislative ballot initiative banning Sanctuary Cities in front of newly elected, first Latina Tucson Mayor Regina Romero. (Although she and the rest of the City Council were against Prop 205, Romero is the daughter of a farm worker and a supporter of Tucson’s Immigrant Welcoming City policy.) Besides, an anti-sanctuary ballot initiative is just a thinly veiled attempt to boost voter turnout in Arizona for Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.
Ducey didn’t stop there. He also publicly dinged newly elected Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego regarding Uber and Lyft at Sky Harbor. In addition, he criticized the actions State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman for enforcing Arizona law and telling Arizona parents that they can’t use taxpayer funds to finance their children’s private school education in New Mexico. (Of course, Ducey’s speech didn’t include the pesky details about Arizona education funds going to a private school in NM.)
Besides Ducey disrespecting these three newly elected Arizona Democratic women– who were all seated in the front with the Democratic Leadership– Reps. Mitzi Epstein, Kelli Butler, Gerae Peten, Jennifer Jermaine, and I, along with LGBTQ Reps. Andres Cano and Cesar Chavez￼ were not among Bowers’ chosen few who were given permission to introduce Opening Day guests on the Floor of the House. (Is there a pattern here?)
The games begin early on Tuesday with Senator Sylvia Allen’s anti-LGBT bill on the Education Committee agenda. You should be able to comment on this bill on RTS. (Check out my separate video introducing my 2020 guests.)
Arizona has record revenue again this year. The Republicans already have stated that they want to give it away in multimillion dollar tax cuts. Ducey talked about not “going on a spending spree”.
The targeted timeline for a Legislative session is 100 days. The Legislature hasn’t been done in 100 days in a long time. The Republicans this year have stated that they want to be done in 85 days. Our work is very rushed as it is. Pushing these decisions into the wee hours of the morning or forcing people to vote on things when there is no time to ask questions or appropriately study the issues is not a good￼￼ way to run the government. In opening day, when Bowers alluded to ending the session in two and a half months, the Republicans applauded, and the Democrats laughed out loud. We should make reasoned decisions fir the good of the people, not rushed decisions in order to get on the campaign trail faster. Stay tuned.￼
[NOTE: During session, I post video updates on Facebook every day from my Legislative office. Later, from my apartment, I cross-post them here on my blog, so people who are not on Facebook can read the updates. To get these updates and other policy-related blog posts delivered to your email, click on the blue bar that says “follow Powers for the People￼￼”. The follow link is on every page of my website, if you read my blog on a computer. If you are reading this on a smart phone, you might have to hunt around for it, depending upon your phone model. ￼I am a Clean Elections candidate and promise not to spam you with daily fundraising pleas.]