Dems Fight Back as Republicans Attack Your Rights (video)

Arizona: Meth Lab of Democracy

Republicans are attacking your rights at multiple levels — voting rights, reproductive rights, the right to protest, the right to sue a business, the right to citizens initiative, and the right to unionize.

On Tuesday, the first bill up for debate was SB1268, the anti-union ALEC bill. In committee, we were led to believe that one “concerned citizen” was the source of this bill idea. During COW we found out that, of course, Senator Warren Petersen got this bill idea from the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC) not the “concerned citizen” who has testified in committee two years in a row. Besides being harmful to unions, this bill is unnecessary.

In a nutshell, SB1268 is based upon the lie that union members are kept in the dark about their healthcare benefits. This bill forces additional, duplicative and costly reporting by the unions, allows union members to buy insurance outside of the contract, and sets the state up for future court cases.

Continue reading Dems Fight Back as Republicans Attack Your Rights (video)

What Did #AZLeg Do in the First 100 Days?

Phoenix

For many years, the Arizona Legislature has had a 100 day target for the length of each session. April 20, 2021 was day 100 for this session. When more than 1000 bills are proposed every year and more than 300 are usually signed into law in non-pandemic years, the Legislature doesn’t generally finish in 100 days.

So, what did we do in the first 100 days? Here are a few examples of bills that have been signed by the governor. Below is the complete list of 33 video updates that I have created in 2021 … so far.

The Legislature passed two massive corporate tax giveaways that will primarily help Maricopa County — the qualified facilities tax credit (HB2321) and the data center tax incentive (HB2649).  Fun Fact: according to the Financial Advisory Committee, 90 percent of the job creation touted by Governor Doug Ducey has been in the Phoenix metro area. Bills like HB2321 and HB2649 perpetuate the inequitable system that exists in our state.

We passed a passed another Ducey priority, the  massive expansion of gambling (HB2772/SB1797), which legalizes sports betting, fantasy sports betting, and app-based Keno. In exchange for additional casinos and a portion of the app-based gambling action, the tribes backed and heavily lobbied for expanding off-reservation gambling. Since most of the new tribal casinos and all of the major league sports teams are in Maricopa County, the millions generated from gambling will disproportionately benefit Maricopa County. I have serious concerns about the negative public health and privacy aspects of this dramatic expansion. Gambling will be everywhere, and gambling apps will be hounding people on social media — thanks to HB2772. Every click, every bet, every win, every loss, and every betting location on every app-based gambler will be collected, stored, and used to advertise more gambling.

Ducey surprisingly vetoed Cathi Herrod’s bad bill which put ideological guardrails on what can be taught in sex education (SB1456). A second Center for Arizona Policy bill which criminalizes doctors and patients for even talking about abortion (SB1457) is awaiting the governors signature (or veto) at the time of this writing.

Many bills are stuck in the process somewhere, which is a good thing. Arizona would be in terrible condition if all of the tax giveaways, voter suppression schemes, and education privatization bills passed. In my opinion, Democrats should push for a speedy end to this horrible session, so the Legislature doesn’t do any more damage to our state or take away more of our rights.

There are many other examples. Check out the good, the bad and the ugly. Below is a list of my video updates for 2021 … so far.

Continue reading What Did #AZLeg Do in the First 100 Days?

Unions: A Perennial Target in #AZLeg (video)

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

It wouldn’t be the Arizona Legislature without at least one attack on unions. This year’s union-busting bill is SB1268, from Senator Warren Petersen. (Not surprising.)

SB1268 is similar but worst than Petersen’s union-busting bill from 2020, which died due to the pandemic. It requires lots of unnecessary bureaucracy and redundant paperwork. Republicans are against bureaucracy — except when they can use it against people and groups they don’t like. SB1268 allows union members to go outside the contract and choose their own health insurance. This would be destabilizing on the union health plans because they are negotiated on behalf of large numbers of employees and can get better prices because of the volume.

Continue reading Unions: A Perennial Target in #AZLeg (video)

Striker #HB2321​ Is Massive Corporate Welfare Bill (video)

Arizona Legislators & Duecy at Intel

It feels like deja vu all over again. This week a vanilla bill (HB2321) was used as a striker and was turned into a huge tax credit for big corporations. Corporations who have $2 billion or more to invest in building “qualified facilities” and hiring workers at a certain level are eligible for a total of $125 million in refundable tax credits per year.

What is wrong with that?

Continue reading Striker #HB2321​ Is Massive Corporate Welfare Bill (video)

#AZLeg​ Should Fund #PublicEd​, Not Pricey Private Schools (video)

Red for Ed

This is an RTS alert for SB1041 and SB1118, two student tuition organization (STO) bills that are in Ways and Means on March 10.

There are many different tax credits in support of STOs. SB1041 refers to tax credits for STO scholarships for displaced and disabled children. (Displaced children have been removed from their home and could be in foster care.) This STO is capped at $5 million in tax credits per year, and all of the tax credits are claimed each year. SB1041 would raise that cap by $5 million a year annually. Businesses can buy tax credits from an STO, which turns that cash into scholarships for designated types of students to attend private schools.

Continue reading #AZLeg​ Should Fund #PublicEd​, Not Pricey Private Schools (video)

What Have Republicans Got Against Engineers? (video)

Construction in downtown Tucson

I have been in the legislature now for five years, and every year we have some bills that dumb down professions by reducing educational and experience requirements and/or eliminating licensure and oversight. What could go wrong?

Today in the Commerce Committee, we heard Senator J.D. Mesnard’s SB1062 on engineering definitions. I don’t know what the Republicans have got against engineers, but engineering is a perpetual target for deregulation.

SB1062 bifurcates (Legislators’ favorite word) the engineering statute and makes two levels of engineers. The current definition of engineer includes knowledge of math and the physical sciences along with education and experience in engineering practices (plus other specifics). That definition has been moved to a section called “professional engineer.” Under SB1062, “professional engineers” have advanced engineering education, experience and an engineering license but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree. Mesnard said that projects that impact public health and safety — like building roads, bridges, and structures including homes would require a professional engineer. SB1062 creates a lower level profession called “engineer.” This is a person who “identifies as an engineer” but has no license. The qualifications refer vaguely to education and experience, but nothing is defined. An unlicensed “engineer” can provide services that fall under the domain of “engineering practice” (also defined in the bill). Continue reading What Have Republicans Got Against Engineers? (video)