In our history, beginning with President George Washington and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, the US has created four National Infrastructure Banks (NIB). Under Presidents Washington, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt, National Infrastructure Banks built and upgraded infrastructure across the country from roads, damns and bridges to health clinics, schools and the national parks; provided productive work and good pay for thousands if not millions of Americans; increased production and manufacturing capacity nationwide; and created economic vitality.
For more than a month, the Legislature hasn’t done much except pass a few bills and take random days off. The current glacial pace is the result of multiple feuds within the Republican Caucus of the Arizona Legislature.
The budget appears to be going no where. For weeks, the Republican leadership has been stuck between a rock (pleasing their Libertarian wing) and a hard place (negotiating with the Democrats). The Republican austerity budget died on a bipartisan vote in the House Appropriations Committee in late April. (Check out my late April blog post and video on that subject.)
Libertarians don’t want to spend money on anything — even to save lives. This is unrealistic and cruel when our state has $5 billion in the coffers and chronic poverty. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership wants to continue their tradition of not negotiating with the Democrats on the budget. Our ideas are not extreme; we have common sense spending proposals (like funding public education, basic healthcare, affordable housing, and infrastructure).
According to Arizona’s financial advisory committee, the state has more than $1.3 billion in ongoing funds and $3.6 billion in one-time funds to work with as we begin the budget process. We have $5 billion.
Why are Republicans proposing an austerity budget in times of plenty? Their pet projects — like the Flat Tax, Koch Brothers Freedom Schools, results-based funding and fake pregnancy clinics — are included in this first pass at the budget.
What’s not in this budget? Funding for K-12 education (since the Republicans killed Prop 208 in the courts), maternal and child health, Housing Trust Fund, help for the homeless, eviction relief, major infrastructure projects, expansion of cash assistance to the poor (TANF), programs to address chronic poverty, etc.
When there is so much need, why aren’t we investing in the future? (This video was recorded on April 19, 2022. Read the April 26 update and see the video below.)
The Arizona Legislature has a 100 day target for the length of each session. With more than 1000 bills proposed and more than 300 signed into law each year, the Legislature rarely finishes in 100 days.
April 19, 2022 is day 100 for this year. We are lurching slowly toward a budget, with more than 100 bills waiting to be heard and a few large projects — like education funding, the proposed Water Authority, and a potential “repeal and replace” revival of the Flat Tax — hanging in limbo. As I write this note, it is Wednesday, April 13, and the Arizona House is temporarily adjourned until Monday, April 18. This is a repeat of last week, when we gaveled in for business on Monday, April 4 and promptly adjourned until Thursday.
NOBODY wants a repeat of 2021.
The Arizona Legislature has been ignoring our state’s affordable housing crisis for years. When I got to the Legislature in 2017, I was told that “we just need more supply” because demand was so high.
The sole solution present in 2017 was tax credits for developers. To which I asked, “Is making the rich richer the only way to help the poor?”
In 2022, I am answering my own question. No, tax credits and business incentives are not the preferred path to affordable housing. I proposed eight housing bills this year. My bills fall into two primary categories: 1) ending preemption of local ordinances that will allow the cities to innovate and 2) keeping people housed.
Not surprisingly, bills passed over the last 10 years — since the Tea Party takeover — have made Arizona’s housing crisis significantly. When you’re in a hole, stop digging! There are many bad bills that should be repealed. That’s where we should start, rather than focusing on new laws.
Preemption Laws to Repeal
HB 2193 state law; local violations; repeal (Rep. PPH) repeals the worst preemption bill in the US: SB1487 from 2015.
HB2446 local planning; residential housing; repeal (Rep. PPH, sponsor) repeals the preemption of inclusionary zoning. Inclusionary zoning allows municipalities to designate a certain percentage of a new housing project be affordable or low income.
HB2401 rent regulation; state preemption (Rep. Solario, sponsor) repeals the preemption of rent control.
HCR2006 short-term rentals; vacation rentals (Rep. Butler, sponsor) repeals the original deregulation of short-term rentals in Arizona. Arizona municipalities that are tourist designations (like Tucson) are being overrun by corporate-owned short-term rentals. Taking affordable rentals off the market squeezes residents who are renters.
Keeping People Housed
HB2794 landlord; tenant; fee disclosure; waiver (Rep. PPH, sponsor) is my Truth in Renting bill. It brings transparency to leases, protect tenants from unnecessary fees and traps in leases and helps prevent some evictions. It sailed through the House Commerce Committee in 2021 and through the House but was stopped by politics in the Senate. It was never heard in 2022. Helping people stay in their homes and apartments is more cost effective and humane that throwing people on the street, breaking up families and trying to put some of those people and families back together again later.
HB2792 landlords; tenant’s marijuana use (Rep. PPH, sponsor) says that any substance that is legal to use in the state of Arizona is legal to use in apartments in Arizona. Corporate leases exclude cannabis use in the apartments even in states like Arizona where cannabis is legal. This is an entrapment policy with no exclusions. Even medical marijuana patients with cancer can be evicted in Arizona for any cannabis use. That’s not fair.
HB2793 rent increase; limitations; substantial remodel (Rep. PPH, sponsor) says that year to year rent increases cannot exceed 10%. Arizona is a deregulation state. There are no restrictions regarding raising rent. Corporations are churning the apartment rental market in Phoenix by buying and selling giant apartment complexes and raising the rent every time. There are far too many stories of renters being forced to move because of 50-100% rent increases. Corporations make big bucks in fees when they force people to move.
HB2522 property taxes; elderly assistance fund (Rep. PPH, sponsor) helps low-income seniors pay their property taxes and stay in their homes, particularly if the area has been gentrified. (A Republican also sponsored a similar bill this year.)
HB2195 housing trust fund; unclaimed property (Rep. PPH, sponsor) would fully fund the Housing Trust Fund in Arizona. This fund historically was funded at $40 million per year until the dark days of Governor Jan Brewer and Senate President Russell “SB1070” Pearce when those funds were routinely swept to pay for tax cuts and other Tea Party priorities.
The Arizona Legislature created the current housing problems with 10+ years of bad Legislation. Let’s repeal these bad preemption laws, challenge cities and towns to innovate and keep people housed.
Check out my video for the details behind my housing bills and others that I support. This video was originally recorded on February 28, 2022. All of my video updates are available on YouTube and Facebook.
February 10, 2022 was African American Protocol Day in the Arizona Legislature. This is a day when leaders from the African American community statewide come to the Legislature to educate us.