#AZHouse OK’s Remote Voting for Members, #AZLeg Remains Open (video)

On Tuesday, the Arizona House passed Legislation to allow remote voting by House members who are at risk for Coronavirus and want to practice social distancing by working from home. After the House Floor session, I recorded this video, which could be the last one from my office for this session.

Most of this week I have been participating by phone due to the novel Coronavirus. On Tuesday, March 17, I went to the House for a few hours because votes were scheduled, and there was a rumor the Republicans were going to move to change the rules to allow remote voting. Remote voting sounds like a great idea, and I am taking advantage of it. The ulterior motive to remote voting is to keep former Senate President and current Rep. Steve Pierce, who said last Thursday that he wasn’t coming back to the capital, on the GOP budget and the other GOP bills that would die if we ended the session. Heaven forbid that a bipartisan budget and Coronavirus crisis response plan would be heard and passed! Two Senators– Paul Boyer and Heather Carter — said weeks ago that they were staying home due to at-risk family members.

There are a few drawbacks to the Skype voting system. The Speaker said that he wanted to make this option available for people for members who could be in an at-risk group for contracting COVID-19. There are 17 members of the Arizona House who are over 60 years old. There are at least two others who are under 60 but have medical conditions that put them at risk. Two are doctors. The remote voting system accommodates only six people.

The Democrats were trying to push the Republicans into voting on a skinny budget and a Coronavirus Crisis Response Plan to go with the $55 million that we appropriated to the Arizona Department of Health Services last week. Except for just a few bills, like earned release credits, disease prevention, and mental health parity (Jake’s Law), there isn’t much else that the Legislature needs to do beyond pass a budget and pass the Coronavirus Crisis Response Plan, in my opinion. Channeling Grandma Springer by wearing gloves, that is how I explained by vote remote voting. (Basically, my point was that we didn’t need remote voting if we got down to business and did the people’s business– by passing those two items– and shut down. Many other state legislatures have shut down.)

I am over 60, I have asthma, and our family has one baby and another on the way. Since we passed remotely voting and I am at risk, I signed up for it.

Wednesday, March 18 was my first day of remote voting. What did they start with? A memo to Congress about trade with Taiwan. What?!

The calendar included Floor debate on a budget that never went through Appropriations and potentially forced votes on the budget, after midnight tonight. The Democrats made a huge stink over the cluelessness of the House Republicans on the Taiwan trade vote and juxtaposed that choice with their refusal to hear the Democrats’ Coronavirus Crisis Response Plan.

The budget didn’t move forward in the House on Wednesday. We don’t even know why they wanted to push the budget this week when the Senate is nowhere on the budget. People should not have to come to work there. The Arizona Legislature is breaking both last week’s CDC recommendation not to be in groups of 50 or more and Trump’s don’t be in groups of 10 or more recommendation from this week.

Meanwhile, Arizona Republicans are rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. [Posted late on March 17, 2020 on Facebook.]

Look for videos from my apartment in Phoenix and … very soon … videos from my office/writing shack in Tucson.  Also, check out my posts on Instagram and Facebook about social distancing and working at home as an Arizona House member.

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