Reflections on 2017 at year end…

Arizona House Dems

To say that 2017 was a challenging year is a gross understatement. Buffeted by angry Tweets, backward-thinking executive orders, political grandstanding, militarism, and attacks on our healthcare, our finances, and our freedom, the American people have been on an emotional roller coaster since November 8, 2016. At the dawn of 2018, we have nowhere to go but up.

Inequality in the Trump Era
The summer 2017 news cycle was filled with stories about Congressional Republican plans to end the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and throw millions of Americans off of health insurance. Problem is: Most people didn’t want to lose their health insurance. Vigilant activists and 1000s of phone calls, emails, and protests stopped multiple ACA repeal and replace attempts. Tucsonans at the 200 Stories Healthcare Forum overwhelming said they wanted health insurance to be affordable and universal— not more expensive and less accessible, as the Republicans had planned. We must stay vigilant because Republicans plan to continue their attacks on our health and well being in 2018.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, the fall 2017 news cycle flip flopped between stories on militaristic Tweet tantrums and details of Congressional Republican plans to dramatically reduce taxes for big corporations and 0.01% of the richest Americans. Who will pay for massive tax cuts for the rich? The rest of us, of course. Tax Cut and Jobs Act is blatantly unfair to millions of Americans. As far as I’m concerned if the federal government is giving away billions in tax cuts, the State of Arizona can roll back our tax cuts. After all, we need the money to fund education and other items on the People’s To-Do List. For more thoughts on this, check out the text and video of my DGT speech on solving economic inequality: Economic Inequality, Access to Care & Workforce Development: A Progressive Roadmap.

#MeToo Movement Shake-up
A year that began with amazing women’s marches nationwide, ended with months of sexual harassment and sexual assault charges against powerful men in entertainment and politics. Several Congressmen, State Legislators, and entertainment icons like Matt Lauer, Henry Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey and others have lost their jobs and fallen from power.

In the #MeToo Era, is it finally time to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)? I think so. I proposed the ERA in 2017, and I have opened a 2018 bill folder for it. You can read my blog post on this topic here. Watch for ERA activists at the Together We Rise Rally on Opening Day of the Legislature, January 8, 2018. Check out the ERA in AZ Facebook Group here and my blog here for news and updates.

Happy New Year! Take care of yourself. In a few days, I will be heading back to the Arizona House.

Below the fold, check event updates from December 2017 Constituent Newsletter. (BTW, the feature photo depicts Arizona House Democrats at their December retreat on the Gila River Indian Reservation.)

Continue reading Reflections on 2017 at year end…

With Massive Tax Cuts from Feds, Big Corps Don’t Need AZ Tax Giveaways (video)

Mama Grizzly

Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin called herself a “Mama Grizzly” because she said she would fight like a Mama Grizzly to protect her children.

Although “Mama Grizzly” was a catchy marketing slogan for the folksy rural mayor from Alaska, the Republican Party has never embraced the idea of protecting children after birth or helping families. Unfortunately, this week Congressional Republicans took their disregard for middle class families one step further by voting for billions of dollars in tax cuts for big corporations and for the richest Americans– while saddling our children and grandchildren with massive debt to pay the bills in the future.

Hmmm… let’s see… what to do… pass legislation that would actually help millions of Americans– like equitably funding public education across the country or fixing the Affordable Care Act (to make it affordable) — OR cut taxes for your rich donors? Cut taxes, of course! With party-line votes to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congressional Republicans have shown that they are far more interested in enriching the billionaire class than in improving the lives of everyday Americans. Universal healthcare? Food Security? World-class public education? Safe roads and bridges? Financial stability for the middle class? Meh. Congressional Republicans don’t care about pursuing the People’s To-Do List.

Although the majority of Americans see the tax cut bill as unfair, Republicans are on course to deliver the biggest Christmas present… ever… to the 0.01%.

In my opinion, the passage of this massive wealth transfer bill underscores the need for a few new progressive action items…

Continue reading With Massive Tax Cuts from Feds, Big Corps Don’t Need AZ Tax Giveaways (video)

Inequality, Access to Care & Workforce Development: Legislative Update at DGT, Dec 4

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

Economic Inequality, Access to Care & Workforce Development will be the focus of my Legislative update at the Democrats of Greater Tucson Meeting on Monday, December 4.

Come on down and hear how Arizona could lessen economic inequality and improve access to care while developing new career paths. Also, hear about new legislation being proposed in these areas in 2018.

Mingling starts after 11:30 a.m., and the program starts at noon on the dot. For $10, you can enjoy the Chinese buffet at the Dragon View Restaurant, 400 N. Bonita Ave.

If you live in LD9 and have not donated $5 to support my Clean Elections campaign, please bring an extra $5 to the luncheon. Can’t make it on Monday? You can donate $5 online here and watch my blog for more on this topic.

Nov 2017 Constituent Update: News & Events

UA College of Medicine

My November 2017 update featured an essay related to the findings from the October healthcare forum, as well as several event updates. You can read 200 Stories: Healthcare Forum Attendees Reject Repeal of ACA here. Below are photos from events and field trips that I have taken recently. You can receive my monthly updates in your email inbox by signing up here.

Touring the UA College of Medicine & Mirror Lab

UA College of Medicine
Along with other Legislators, I toured new laboratory spaces at the University of Arizona College of Medicine (COM) and heard a research update from Dean Chuck Cairns, MD (left). I also reconnected with COM Deputy Dean for Research Dr. Anne Cress (right), whom I knew when I was in public relations at the Arizona Cancer Center. The people of Arizona are blessed to have these two competent and caring folks working for us in medical research. The researcher in the lab photo above is working on non-addictive pain treatments that could replace highly-addictive opioids on the market today. I also toured the amazing UA Mirror Lab (below) recently. I believe that the state should return to the practice of offering seed grants to young scientists in the university system. Preliminary data gathered with seed grant funds can be used to apply for larger national grants. Scientific research to benefit humanity + clean, good-paying jobs in the peace economy: this is what economic development looks like. (BTW, this is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the COM.)
UA Mirror Lab
Scientists build giant telescope mirrors in the UA Mirror Lab.

Continue reading Nov 2017 Constituent Update: News & Events

200 Stories: Healthcare Forum Attendees Reject Repeal of ACA

200 Stories Healthcare Forum

For months, the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have been trying every trick in the book to eliminate the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”). Multiple repeal and replace bills died during the summer of 2017, thanks to public outcry against kicking millions of Americans off of health insurance while giving tax breaks and sweetheart deals to insurance companies and others. Overwhelmingly, Americans said: We want a health insurance system that is fair, affordable, and wide-ranging in its coverage.

Fast forward to November 2017, and the Republicans are at in again. Rather than hiding tax cuts for the rich in health insurance bills (as they tried last summer), they are hiding an ACA poison pill in the middle of a tax cut bill for the uber-rich.

Do the American people want to go back to market-driven health insurance with high costs and limited access to care and drugs? Do they want millions of adults to lose their insurance altogether– with the fight to rollback Medicaid expansion? Do they want poor children to lose their insurance– with the pending sunset of KidsCare? No! Citizen backlash on social media and in the streets has been strong and swift. In Southern Arizona, protesters have dogged CD2 Congresswomen Martha McSally, who voted for Republican plans to eliminate the ACA, kick millions of Americans off of health insurance, cut taxes for big corporations and the uber-rich, and raise taxes on the rest of us. Do Tucsonans agree with McSally and the Republican Party?

Continue reading 200 Stories: Healthcare Forum Attendees Reject Repeal of ACA

I Want to Hear Your Healthcare Stories

Banner University Medical Center

For the past 30 years, my career has focused on health promotion, disease prevention, behavioral research, and communications. I have seen, photographed, and written about the good, the bad and the ugly parts of our country’s healthcare “system”.

I saw the rise of HMOs (health maintenance organizations) in the 1980s. I cheered the Clintons for at least trying to fix the overly complicated mess in the early 1990s. I saw costs going up every year and service going down. I saw a health insurance system that was creaking under the weight of its own complexity, while big insurance and big pharma collected huge profits. As managing editor of the American Journal of Medicine, I stood proudly by the Editor-in-Chief when he and the Editorial Board called for Medicare for All on multiple occasions.

Along the way, I have heard stories about huge medical bills, uncompensated hospital care, outrageously expensive drugs, limited or delayed access to medical care, premature death and disease, medical bankruptcy, and the medical consequences of poverty.

Now, as a member of the Arizona House and the ranking Democrat on the Health Committee, I want to hear your stories.

Do you have concerns about the future of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid and Kids Care? Is the cost of medical care or prescription drugs a worry for your family? How would dramatic cuts to these programs impact you? Come to the 200 Stories: Tucson Healthcare Forum on Oct. 29.

Continue reading I Want to Hear Your Healthcare Stories

200 Stories: Tucson Healthcare Forum, Oct 29

200 Stories: Tucson Healthcare Forum

Do you have concerns about the Affordable Care Act and repeal attempts; about the future of Medicare and Medicaid; or about access to care or the cost of drugs?

Whether you are a patient or a provider, we want to hear your medical and health insurance stories. The LD9 and LD10 Legislators are holding an open mic forum in which we listen, you talk, and we all learn.

This is a free educational community event for residents of Pima County. It’s about listening and learning from each other. Senators David Bradley and Steve Farley and Representatives Kirsten Engel, Randy Friese, and Pamela Powers Hannley have confirmed their attendance. (Rep. Todd Clodfelter was invited but has a scheduling conflict.)

In the news, we hear what politicians and big corporations think should be done with our country’s overly complicated and extremely expensive health care system. At this event, the people of Southern Arizona will have an opportunity to tell us their stories and help shape future policy.

Mark your calendars for October 29, 2017. The event will be held 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, 4831 E. 22nd St.

Please take a few minutes to register with EventBrite by clicking here. We want to make sure we have enough seats.

Watch Facebook and other social media for updates.

August 2017 LD9 Constituent Update: News & Upcoming Events (video)

Jim and Pam Hannley

Community Event Update

ERA in ArizonaWomen’s Equality Day: Aug 26

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.

Continue reading August 2017 LD9 Constituent Update: News & Upcoming Events (video)

Balancing Responsibility & Liberty: The Yin & Yang of Public Policy

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.)

Rep. Pamela Powers HannleyOur 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.

Continue reading Balancing Responsibility & Liberty: The Yin & Yang of Public Policy

The Yin & Yang of Public Policy: Can We Achieve Balance?

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.

On the other hand, the news media also often tells us how much the general population agrees on certain topics. For example, although Congressional Republicans have been working for seven years to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) and return to the glory days of market-driven health insurance, polls show an increasing majority of Americans “believe the federal government has a responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage.”

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.”

Affordable Care Act
An old meme from 2014 refers to the movie Elysium, where Matt Damon and others are doomed to live on Earth with no workplace safety, no health insurance and squalid conditions, while the rich live on a floating space station (Elysium) with luxuries including a machine that heals disease.

“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?

Continue reading The Yin & Yang of Public Policy: Can We Achieve Balance?