OK, I’m back in the saddle again. Back in the Arizona House, that is.
To be safe, I am doing Floor sessions on the Floor with my mask and gloves but all other meetings remotely.
Today, we had a very interesting Democratic Caucus meeting in the morning. ASU data modeling scientists presented data and answered many questions about COVID19. Following that, the Grand Canyon Institute￼￼ presented on unemployment insurance and what a mess it was in Arizona, even before COVID19. Both of these presentations were excellent; it was such a breath of fresh air to hear the Grand Canyon Institute speak, instead of the Goldwater Institute! It gave me a glimpse of what the Arizona Legislature could be if the Democrats took control this year. (The meeting will be available in the Capitol TV archived videos.)
At the beginning of the floor session today, Rep. Arlando Teller from the Navajo Nation proposed sine die. This would have ended the 54th session, as the Arizona Senate has already voted to do. The Navajo Nation now has a higher COVID19 infection rate than New York City.￼ Both Teller and his seat mate Rep. Myron Tsosie talked about the friends and family who have been sick with the novel Coronavirus and those who have died. Several Democrats gave speeches about focusing on the pandemic rather than focusing on pet legislation that is not an emergency.￼ Rep. Kelly Townsend accused the Democrats of politicizing the issue. Teller’s motion was vetoed on a party line vote.
What did the House Republicans do next? They put up 15-20 unnecessary, non-emergency bills for debate and a vote.
For example, given the pandemic knocking at our doors, do you think any of these deserved to be heard in front of a fix for Arizona’s dismal response to COVID19 unemployment, rent relief, free testing or free PPE for all essential workers?
SB1041 is model legislation that defines travel insurance. Not an emergency.
SB1091 says that if you let your insurance license lapse, you can get it back without taking the exam again. Not an emergency.
SB1557 says that insurance salespeople who are selling you a financial product should have “your best interest” at heart during the process. Well, I hope so, but apparently, that is not in statute. This bill was heard in the Regulatory Affairs Committee, and I am the ranking member. I voted against this bill in committee and on the Floor. The discussion about 1557 was going well in committee until a constituent stood up and said that “best interest of the client” is not a good enough standard. She said that people selling annuities and other financial products should have a “fiduciary responsibility” to their clients. This means that the salespeople would be held to higher standard of honesty and full disclosure and get no personal benefit at the expense of their clients. Not an emergency, and the statute could be stronger than SB1557.
SB1040 says that insurance companies can send you stuff via email rather than USPS. This saves money for insurance companies, makes policies less transparent, and disenfranchises customers who don’t use email regularly (or well) or whose email has already become overwhelmed by corporate spam mixed with important documents. Not an emergency.
SB1062 says that insurance companies can give employers reimbursement for offering life insurance. In committee, the sponsor added that the insurance companies will even give employers the software to manage the life insurance policies. This is just an incentive for employers to offer a benefit to their employees, upon which the insurance companies will make money. Not an emergency.￼
SB1090 says insurance adjusters who pass a national exam don’t have to pass a state exam. Not an emergency.
SB1236 says people can adopt former step-children who are now adults. Is this a thing? Why would anybody want to adopt adult former step children, and why would the adult children want you to be adopted? Speaking only somewhat sarcastically, as a mother and a grandmother, children are enough trouble when they’re little.￼ Why would you adopt an adult *former* step child? This bill was brought forth by one person to one representative. I can understand a former step-parent wanting to adopt an adult child who is developmentally disabled or somehow incapacitated and needs care, but it seems as if that should already be covered in statute. Every once in a while, House members get in a good zinger during debates. With his “aye” vote for this bill, Speaker Rusty Bowers said he can now finally adopt former Rep. Paul Mosley. Someone in the back yelled out, “Take away his car!” (Mosley had a phone app that showed what other Mormons in the Legislature he was related to and would regularly look people up. He also infamously drove 130+ miles per hour on his way home from Phoenix several years ago and tried to get out of the speeding ticket by using Legislative immunity.) Not an emergency.￼
Should we be passing a raft of Senator David Livingston’s insurance industry bills or should we pass a short list of bipartisan bills that help the people of Arizona, end the session, and focus on COVID19 in special session?
I think fixing the dismal state of Arizona’s unemployment insurance system, helping renters and homeowners keep their homes, expanding testing and contact tracing, and a laundry list of other COVID19 issues are more important than passing a bill that allows insurance companies to send you an email instead of a USPS document.
What’s on the agenda for Wednesday, May 20? More unnecessary, non-emergency Republican bills, including deregulation of drone delivery devices (SB1305).