On Sept. 5, 2017, Attorney General and long-time anti-immigration advocate Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s decision to rescind President Obama’s executive order that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Implemented five years ago, DACA was supposed to be a stop-gap measure to shield children and young adults, who were brought to the US illegally as minors by their parents. The plan was that Congress would move on immigration reform while DACA protected these young people from immediate deportation.
Roughly 800,000 young adults under DACA could face deportation if Congress fails to act within the next six months. The crux of the problem is that DACA was created because Congress shirked its duty on meaningful immigration reform. For 16 years, Congress has failed to pass any immigration reform– let alone comprehensive reform, which is sorely needed. Even the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) — which outlined a path to citizenship for Dreamers– has died a bipartisan death in Congress multiple times, since it was originally proposed in 2001.
Come and join Jim and I at the Powers For The People booth at the Pima Area Labor Federation’s Annual Labor Day Picnic on Monday, September 4 at Reid Park.
The Labor Day Picnic is like homecoming for Jim and me. We have had a booth or attended the Labor Day Picnic nearly every year since we met– first with Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), then with Arizonans for a New Economy, for the past two years as a candidate for Arizona House, and this year as an elected representative. Two years ago, I collected my first signatures and $5 Clean Elections Qualifying Contributions at the Labor Day Picnic.
There are five ways you can support my 2018 re-election campaign at the picnic.
1- Sign my petition
If you live in LD9, I will have nominating petitions for you to sign at my booth. Please help me get on the ballot in 2018.
2- Give Me $5 for Clean Elections
Yes, I am running clean again and looking for $5s. Running clean is part of my value system. I believe that elected officials should answer to the voters– not to big money donors, lobbyists, political action committees, or dark money. Clean candidates have no strings attached because we accept only modest donations from real people. I will have $5 Clean Elections Qualifying Contribution forms at the booth on Monday. To qualify for Clean Elections funds and avoid trap of big money politics, I have to collect at least 200 $5 donations from LD9 voters . Please help me out, and bring a $5 to the picnic.
I am honored to be a speaker at Women’s Equality: Courageous Conversations on August 26, the anniversary of women’s suffrage and the passage of the 19th Amendment. I will be talking about the history of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the struggle to pass it. Only two more states are needed to ratify the ERA. I filed a bill proposing ratification of the ERA in the Arizona House in 2017, and I plan to do it again in 2018. Event information here.
Standing Room Only at July 8 Townhall
Unlike some politicians who hide from their constituents, LD9 Senator Steve Farley, Rep. Randy Friese, and I held a constituent town hall in early July. At the time, Congress was wrangling with health insurance reform and was poised to knock 30 million Americans off of health insurance, while giving tax breaks to the wealthy, to big insurance and to big pharma.
As a result, our LD9 town hall drew a standing room only crowd at the Martha Cooper Library in midtown– despite 109 degree temperatures. My UA intern Antar de Sa did a Facebook live video, and you can watch the whole event here. I also posted my comments on my YouTube channel.
This is the text of the talk that I gave at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson (UUCT) on July 30, 2017. (Watch the video here.)
Our lives are made up of the choices we make. Although they range from the mundane to the profound, all of our choices bundled together determine balance or imbalance in our lives. Taoist philosophers believed that to lead a happy and tranquil life, one must live in balance with the forces of nature—the yin and the yang, the female and male, the good and evil.
In her book, Envisioning a New World, UU Rev. Rosemarie Carnarius applies the concept of balancing yin and yang to public policy. She suggests that we should try to consciously balance social responsibility—the yin—with individual liberty—the yang. It sounds so simple yet so profound. Like the Tao.
Carnarius goes on to point out that with the our country’s Declaration of Independence, “… for the first time in history, an individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was proclaimed as divinely ordained, unassailable, and constitutionally guaranteed.” A huge step for the common man.
Also, lest our new country devolve into the lawlessness of unbridled individualism, the framers of the Constitution balanced “the ascendency of the individual” with a “trust in humanity’s capacity for self-governance.”
Democracy—the voice of the people—would balance the rights of the individual.
On one hand, the news media often tells us that we are a country divided. Social media fuels this idea with countless stories of political and ideological intransigence despite mounting societal needs.
An Associated Press story published today reported that “Americans overwhelmingly want lawmakers of both parties to work out health-care changes, with only 13 percent supporting Republican moves to repeal ‘Obamacare’ absent a replacement.”
“Nearly everyone wants changes to the Obama law, while hardly anyone wants to see it abolished without a substitute in place,” according to the AP. If 80-90% of Americans think Republicans and Democrats should work together on healthcare insurance reform, why not do this? Why the complete disconnect between what the people want, what’s good for the health of the population, and what the Republicans in Congress are doing?
It may be hot on the sidewalks of the Old Pueblo, but that doesn’t stop Tucsonans from getting together for community events. Since the Arizona Legislature ended its session in mid-May, I have attended several community events and have given a number of Legislative Updates to groups. I have two events set up so far for July. (You can see the details below or on my Facebook page.)
One of the big stories of the 2017 session of the 53rd Legislature was #PrayerGate. On April 18, 2017, Rep. Athena Salman, who is an atheist, read a secular meditation on the Floor of the Arizona House. This is against the rules. According to the Majority Party (who makes the rules), the daily prayer on the Floor of the House must include seeking guidance from a higher power.
After Salman read her inspirational statement, Rep. Mark Finchem jumped out of his seat to protest her “prayer” as “inappropriate” because it didn’t mention God or Jesus. Finchem was allowed to offer a replacement prayer with God in it. A debate about “appropriate” prayer ensued, with atheists, Native Americans and others defending traditions that have been deemed “inappropriate” by the Republicans who control the Legislature. This is not the first time that Godless prayer in the Arizona Legislature has made international news.
A few days after #PrayerGate, the Secular Coalition of Arizona held a press conference in support of religious freedom– even for the nonreligious. I was glad to stand with Salman, the Native Americans, the Secular Coalition, other Unitarian Universalists, and those who practice Christian or non-Christian religions or no religion.
At the press conference we jointly read the secular meditation that Athena read on the floor of the House.
I stand with the Secular Coalition on this issue because I believe in the separation of church and state and because I am a Unitarian Universalist. We’re the “It’s Complicated” religion because we accept refugees and outcasts from many other religions, and we accept nonbelievers. We are guided by our seven principles which include honoring the inherent self-worth of others, the interconnectedness of life, democracy and fairness, the search for truth (even if it means believing in science!), and more.
I have been back in Tucson for two weeks now, and it’s been a fun whirlwind of visits, phone calls, and events with Tucson friends and family, LD9 constituents, fellow Unitarian Universalist church members, labor union members, and Progressives.
Saturday, May 20 was my first campaign event of the 2018 season– the Arizona Democratic Party’s State Committee Meeting in Tucson. In addition to tabling, I gave Legislative updates to the Arizona Democratic Women’s Federation and to the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus. Scott Prior and I co-chaired the Progressive Caucus for three years. This was the first full meeting with the new co-chairs Jenise Porter (Pima County) and Joe Murphy (Maricopa County).
Here is my speech to the Progressive Caucus.
Everyone says that this session of the Arizona Legislature was “different”. There are several reasons why it was different. For one, Speaker J.D. Mesnard assigned Democratic bills to committees and allowed floor votes on many of them. According to people on both sides of the aisle, he also ran the House much more efficiently than the previous speaker. In my opinion, the real reason that this session was different is that the House Freshman Class is the largest in recent history (or ever). Many House incumbents lost, termed out, retired, or tried to move to the Senate. For House Democrats, this meant a demographic shift with our caucus now being majority Latino, half women, and surprisingly progressive on many policy issues.
I’m here to tell you that Progressives– particularly the women– made a difference in the Arizona House this session.
If you want to get big money out of politics and you like Arizona’s Clean Elections system, it’s time to speak up to save it. Irregularities in the 2016 election prompted proposed rule changes by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission. (There are three versions of R2-20-702 and a new rule R2-20-703.01 – here. You can send your comments to email@example.com or go to this link and submit comments by June 19, before the commission votes at its next meeting on June 22, 2017.)
Below is the back story and a detailed explanation of the proposed rule changes.
After collecting the requisite number of petition signatures and $5 qualifying donations from people who can vote for them, Clean Elections candidates (like me) receive lump sums of $16,000 for the primary and $24,000 for the general election– in exchange for vowing not to take big money donations. With seed money and family money, the total for a Clean Elections candidate is roughly $45,000 for a Legislative campaign. All unspent CE funds must be returned to the CE commission, and all unspent seed money or seed money overage must be returned to the individual donors.
During the 2016 election, two Democratic Party Clean Elections candidates turned over all or most of their CE funds in a lump sum to the Arizona Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (ADLCC) of the Arizona Democratic Party (ADP) to run their campaigns, provide paid staff, and purchase/design/mail their printed materials. ADLCC provides these services to many traditionally funded candidates and offered them to CE candidates as well in 2016. A problem arose with at least two CE candidates because the party didn’t provide individual invoices for specific services rendered.
The much-anticipated FY2018 Arizona state budget was dropped this week. On Tuesday, just before 5 p.m. both the Republican and Democratic Appropriations Committees heard the JLBC review of the Republican budget. Thus begins the mysterious whirlwind of the Arizona budget finalization process, which is scheduled to end in the wee hours of Friday morning.
As a citizen, I always scratched my head as to why the Arizona budget is always passed in the middle of the night. Obviously, the suspicion is that there is something the majority party wants to pass, and it doesn’t want you to know or to be there when it happens. There’s an element of that, for sure, because we have seen some scary stuff passed in the middle of the night by Republicans– like the voter suppression omnibus bill and blowing the doors off of campaign finance by dramatically boosting campaign limits. The majority party schedules the third day of the budget process just after midnight because they don’t want their members to go home between the debates in the Committee of the Whole (COW) and the 3rd Reading vote. If members go home, someone could say, “What are you thinking?” and change votes.
Check out the budgetary known knowns, known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns below.