#COVID19 Pandemic Is Both a Problem & an Opportunity

Phoenix with no traffic

Inhabitants of Earth are nearly six months into the most disruptive year of our lives, thanks to the novel Coronavirus. The United States was slow to react to the pandemic that had already spread across Asia and Europe and killed thousands. Early denial by leaders in multiple countries– like the US, Brazil, Russia, India, and the UK– has proven deadly for the general population.

As of today, June 14, 2020, there  have been 7,767,336 cases and 429,555 deaths worldwide. Although the US has 4.25% of the world’s population, we have close to 30% of the cases (2,074,526) and 30% of the deaths (115,436).

Those of us who are not essential workers, sheltered in place for roughly two months as states declared public health emergencies to flatten the curve and contain the spread of the virus. We stopped driving and flying. Traffic disappeared — even in Phoenix. Air pollution cleared. We could hear the birds sing. We started walking our dogs regularly. We rediscovered or learned new skills like cooking and sewing and took on home projects that had waited for months or years due to lack of time in our previously harried schedules. Gardeners sprouted all over Tucson, as evidenced by the almost continuous activity on the Tucson Backyard Gardeners Facebook Group. We started making COVID19 masks and giving them away to friends and strangers, alike.  We went to more online meetings than we had ever imagined… and even went to church online… and in most cases it worked just fine. With a dearth of COVID19 information from the government and loads of misinformation on the Internet, we turned to moderated groups like Fear > Facts Tucson Coronavirus Facebook Group for trusted updates. We were separate, but we built community in different ways to stay connected. Did we really need all of the meetings … the events … the driving … the flying … the stress … the missed evenings with family?

Continue reading #COVID19 Pandemic Is Both a Problem & an Opportunity

Arizona House Resumes 54th Session on May 19. Now What?

Arizona House

The Arizona House of Representatives has been adjourned since March 23, 2020, due to the COVID19 pandemic. Some of us wanted to vote to sine die (end the session) on March 23 and come back later for special session(s) focused on COVID19 public health and economic issues. Others– mostly Republicans– wanted to stay in session and adjourn because they had hopes that their bills would still pass during this session. I say “mostly Republicans” because even though the Democrats make up 48 percent of the Arizona Legislature, the majority party refuses to move more than a handful of Dem bills each session.

Truth in Renting? No way. Expansion of maternal and child health?  No way. Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment? No way. Fully funding P-20 education? No way.

The majority party refuses to hear these types of bills that would help the people of Arizona because these bills are not backed by special interest groups, big money donations, individual corporations, the Chamber of Commerce, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), the Goldwater Institute, Americans for Prosperity or the “Institute for Justice” (quote marks added to emphasize the irony of their name).

Continue reading Arizona House Resumes 54th Session on May 19. Now What?

Build Your Own Border Wall Bill Dead for Now in #AZLeg (video)

US-Mexico Border Wall in Nogales

Majority Leader Rep. Warren Petersen’s (R-Gilbert) build your own border wall bill (HB2084) moved quickly through the process in the Arizona House. It was assigned to the Federal Relations and Rules Committees on the first day of the 2020 session. It passed out of Rep. Mark Finchem’s (R- Oro Valley) federalism committee last week, out of House Rules on Monday, heard in Caucus on Tuesday, and debated and voted on on January 30, 2020. This highly ideological bill was the second bill we voted on this session. [This story has been updated from the previous story regarding HB2084.]

In an unexpected point of high drama on the House Floor, Rep. Tony Rivero voted “no” on HB2084 with all 29 Democrats. Bills need 31 votes to pass. If one Republican has the nerve to buck their party and stand with the Democrats, a bill doesn’t pass. HB2084 got 30. Unfortunately, minutes after the 30-30 vote was called, Petersen was at Rivero’s desk asking him to read the reconsideration within two weeks language. (This is how bad bills rise again as zombie bills.)

HB2084 waives building permits and other regulations to allow landowners on the border to build sections of the Border Wall to help President Trump fulfill his campaign promise. There are no standards in the bill. People can build whatever they want. Is it irony, poetic justice, Mother Nature, or the “Hand of God” that knocked down a section of Trump’s border wall during the same week that Petersen’s no permits bill? Let’s see, didn’t Jesus say something about welcoming the stranger?

Continue reading Build Your Own Border Wall Bill Dead for Now in #AZLeg (video)

Build Your Own Border Wall… Seriously? (video)

Border Wall in Nogales

Rep. Warren Petersen’s (R-Gilbert) build your own border wall bill (HB2084) is moving quickly through the process in the Arizona House. It was assigned to the Federal Relations and Rules Committees on the first day of the 2020 session. It passed out of Rep. Mark Finchem’s (R- Oro Valley) federalism committee last week, out of House Rules on Monday, and heard in Caucus on Tuesday. This highly ideological bill is headed to the House floor.

HB2084 waives building permits and other regulations to allow landowners on the border to build sections of the Border Wall to help President Trump fulfill his campaign promise. There are no standards in the bill. People can build whatever they want. Finchem added an amendment to say that the wall sections have to built “according to the plan”.

What plan? People can build whatever they want. If this actually happened, besides being an environmental disaster, it would be a hodge podge lodge of bad design with gaps.

Continue reading Build Your Own Border Wall… Seriously? (video)

‘Religious Liberty’ vs Patient Rights: Healthcare Providers Should Disclose Religious Restrictions to Care

Should science or religion determine treatment?

Should healthcare providers and institutions be allowed to deny services to patients based upon the provider’s “sincerely held religious beliefs”? I don’t think so. Discrimination is not OK.

This is the fourth year in a row that I have proposed a Patient’s Right to Know bill which requires healthcare providers and institutions to disclose upfront if they have any religious restrictions that would preclude them from providing all legal drugs and services within their scope of practice.

This is the first year that my bill made a splash in the news. Tucson residents may have seen the story about by bill HB2068 in the New Year’s Eve edition of the Arizona Daily Star, but it was also on the State of Reform website, in the Yellow Sheet (inserted below), and on KFYI radio. Providing or not providing services due to one’s “sincerely held religious beliefs” has been a hot topic since the infamous Hobby Lobby case in 2014.

HB2068’s popularity is likely due to the controversial nature of religious liberty legislation and to recent, high-profile court cases that harken back to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was proposed by Senator Ted Kennedy and then Congressman Chuck Schumer and signed into law by President Bill Clinton and in 1993. Although RFRA was declared unconstitutional21 states including Arizona have state RFRA laws, and the US Congress has passed 25 “conscience” bills related to healthcare.

When I was interviewed by one of the reporters he asked, “This is just about choice, right?” When I initially proposed this bill in 2017, it was about reproductive choice for me, but in 2019, when he asked me that question, I said, “No.” There are obviously other people who are being discriminated against for purportedly religious reasons.

Continue reading ‘Religious Liberty’ vs Patient Rights: Healthcare Providers Should Disclose Religious Restrictions to Care

#PowersForThePeople Summer Events: You’re Invited!

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

Who said Tucson rolls up the sidewalks in the summer? This town is hopping with political events this summer. I hope you can make it to some of my events. Stay tuned for updates as August events are added. You can watch the Events tabs on my website or on my Facebook page or subscribe to my blog to stay up-to-date with my campaign and other community events.

July 9: Moms Demand Action Candidate Forum, 6 p.m., St. Mark’s Church, 3809 E. 3rd St.  (Facebook event here.)

July 12: Midtown Legislative Meet & Greet with Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, hosted by Merrill Eisenberg, Barbara Warren and Jenise Porter, 5-7 p.m., RSVP on Eventbrite here for home address.

July 19: LD9 Clean Elections Debate, 6 p.m., Pima Community College NW, 7600 N. Shannon Rd. (Facebook event here.)

July 20: Arizona List event for Victoria Steele (LD9 Senate), Leila Counta (TUSD Board) and Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley (LD9 House), hosted by Kim Khoury. RSVP to Claire Knipe at Arizona List (Claire@ArizonaList.org). (Facebook event here.)

July 22: Northwest Tucson Legislative Meet & Greet with Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, hosted by Nathan Davis and Taylor Cleland, 1-3 p.m., RSVP on Eventbrite here for home address.

July 30: Last day to register to vote in the August 28 primary. (Register or change your registration here.)

July 31: Stop Thief! Let’s Restore Fair Taxes. Hosted by Progressive Democrats of America Tucson Chapter (PDA Tucson) and the Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF). 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the IBEW Hall, 750 South Tucson Blvd. Reps. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley will be speaking. (Facebook event here.)

August 28: Primary Election Day. Please vote for Dr. Randy Friese and me on or before August 28.

Volunteer Opportunities

Every Saturday morning from now to August 25, 2018, the Powers For The People team will be canvassing around LD9. Walkers and drivers are always welcome. Just bring your hat, water, sunscreen, walking shoes and your MiniVan password. If you want to use the VAN list on paper, I will have a couple of paper turfs available. We will be carrying literature for both LD9 incumbents– Dr. Randy Friese and Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley. (Facebook event here.)