Cinco de Mayo in #AZLeg: House Passes Bills Attacking Free Speech (video)

Freedom of Speech

The 55th Legislative First Session has been filled with crazy, right-wing ideological bills attacking voting rights, reproductive rights, patients, doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, teachers, engineers, professionals, unions, public education, the Permanent Early Voting List, the Citizens Initiative, Clean Elections, and transparency in campaign finance. Adding insult to injury, these bad bills are passing on party line votes — often with little or no debates and no public input. This is tyranny of the minority. Yes, Republicans are in the majority with 31 members in the House compared to the Democrats 29, but these extremist views are not held by the majority of Arizonans.

Wednesday was Cinco de Mayo and the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Given the importance of this day to other cultures, it is appalling that we would spend most of the day debating bills that would limit speech regarding racism, sexism and other “controversial issues” in schools (SB1532) and in government, including community colleges (SB1074). The floor debates for these two bills lasted at least five hours. The Democrats offered many eloquent speeches, while the Republicans insisted they aren’t racist. In addition to limiting speech, SB1532 also bans critical race theory and would make it difficult — if not impossible — for schools to use programs like the 1619 Project.

Continue reading Cinco de Mayo in #AZLeg: House Passes Bills Attacking Free Speech (video)

Watch the LD9 Clean Elections Debate (video)

LD9 debate

Sept. 15 was the date for the Legislative District 9 candidate debate hosted by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) and moderated by Hank Stephensen, LD9 resident and editor of the Captiol Times Yellow Sheet.

Due to the pandemic, the 2020 CCEC debates are being held online and not in person, as is the tradition. While we were waiting in the “green room” for the event to start, CCEC Executive Director Tom Collins said that the online debates have had much larger viewership than the in-person events, which is great news.

All three House candidates participated: incumbent Democratic Reps. Randy Friese and Pam Powers Hannley and Republican challenger Brendan Lyons. Unfortunately, Lyons’ schedule dictated a “hard stop” at 7 p.m., so our debate was truncated to one hour. Many audience questions were left unasked.

Below are the video time stamps for different questions, if you are interested in specific topics. Stephensen allows for more candidate interaction; check out the robust debates on unemployment insurance and how to pay for education.

Continue reading Watch the LD9 Clean Elections Debate (video)

2020 Citizens Initiatives Explained at LD9 Town Hall (video)

LD9 town hall

The LD9 Town Hall on August 19 featured presentations by David Lujan of the Center for Economic Progress and Marilyn Rodriguez of Creosote Partners on the four Citizens Initiatives that have been battling in court to get on the November 2020 ballot.

All four initiatives — Invest in Ed (public education funding), Smart and Safe (legalization of adult use marijuana), Second Chances (prison and sentencing reform) and Healthcare Rising (stop surprise billing) — were challenged in court by those who profit from the current broken systems and want to protect those systems.

In the four videos, Lujan and Rodriguez do a great job of outlining the layers of legal challenges that each of the four Citizens Initiatives faced at the hands of Republican Legislators, the Chamber of Commerce, two retiring Pima County Democrats, and others who want to maintain the status quo in education funding, marijuana policing, prison sentences and time served, and privatized, for-profit healthcare.

It’s interesting to hear about the behind-the-scenes political maneuver by Republican Legislators and Ducey’s judges in an all-out attempt to keep all four of these initiatives off the ballot. As of this writing, Invest in Ed (Prop 208) and Smart and Safe (Prop 207) will be on the ballot. Second Chances was knocked off the ballot by separate legal challenges from retiring Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and retiring Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez. (Why?!)

Continue reading 2020 Citizens Initiatives Explained at LD9 Town Hall (video)

#HCR2045 Limits #Marijuana Research, Adds #MMJ Sales Tax & Spends #MMJ Funds (video)

Marijuana plant

On the Floor of the House on Tuesday, Speaker Rusty Bowers, and Reps. Warren Petersen, Kelli Butler, Isela Blanc and I had a rousing debate over Bowers’ HCR2045.

You may remember that I mentioned this bill a few weeks ago in a blog post about Reefer Madness. HCR2045 has been amended. The worst part of it is gone, but it’s still bad.

HCR2045 is the bill in which Bowers wanted to artificially lower the amount of THC in products sold in Arizona to 2%. This is a politically motivated, artificial limit on a chemical compound found in a plant that has been used as an herbal remedy for CENTURIES and has never killed anyone. HCR2045 would destroy successful small businesses by eliminating their products from the market, hurt patients, cripple the medical marijuana program, and revive the black market.

Continue reading #HCR2045 Limits #Marijuana Research, Adds #MMJ Sales Tax & Spends #MMJ Funds (video)

Cannabis Reform & Tax Cuts: Highs & Lows in #AZLeg (video)

Reefer Madness poster

Feb. 20 was another very long Thursday with the House Health and Human Services Committee starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 6:30 p.m., with no lunch and a few hours in between for floor action and introductions. Thank goodness I had time to eat a yogurt cup and apple slices that were in my refrigerator. I had other food, but I never had time to sit down and eat it. (Thank goodness I ate a hearty breakfast.)

Thursday’s low point was in the afternoon when the Republicans passed more than $300 million in tax giveaways in two bills. There are more than a dozen additional tax breaks in the House queue, alone. What the Republicans are doing with these tax giveaways is so incredibly irresponsible… but I digress.

Anyway, today’s video is about the high point of the day (no pun intended) when four marijuana bills passed the health committee, including my bill HB 2840, giving medical marijuana patients the choice between electronic medical marijuana cards and physical cards.

Continue reading Cannabis Reform & Tax Cuts: Highs & Lows in #AZLeg (video)

#HB2840: Medical Marijuana Patient Choice Bill on Feb 20 HHS Agenda (video)

marijuana

There are four medical marijuana bills (not all good) on the House Health and Human Services Committee agenda for tomorrow, Thursday, February 20.

One of them is my bill, HB 2840. This and my other 2020 medical marijuana bill HB2838 are patient choice legislation. If you have been following my healthcare bills this year, you know that I have proposed several patient choice bills. I believe in patient choice across the healthcare spectrum from reproductive choice to death with dignity and everything in between. 

Beginning in December 2019, the Arizona Department of Health Services switched all medical marijuana patients from a plastic identification card to an electronic ID. In my opinion, the patients were not adequately notified, and furthermore, they were not given a choice regarding plastic or electronic. Thousands of medical marijuana patients are over 80 years old. Thousands are over 60. Thousands more live in rural areas with limited Internet access.

HB2840 simply says that patients should be able to choose between a physical medical marijuana card and an electronic card.

Continue reading #HB2840: Medical Marijuana Patient Choice Bill on Feb 20 HHS Agenda (video)