FY2020 Budget & #AZLeg Session Wrap-Up: What Just Happened? (video)

Arizona House

Drama, rumors, secrecy, backroom deals, coup attempts, flexible rules, and a bit of chaos are commonplace during the waning days of each session of the Arizona Legislature.  This is the atmosphere in which our state’s budget is crafted each year.

The First Session of the 54th Legislature ended in the wee hours of May 28, 2019. The new budget took effect on July 1, 2019. New laws that had “emergency clauses” are already in place. All other laws take effect 90 days after the end of the session, which is August 27, 2019.

Here is a peak behind the curtain during the last days of the session and some high and low points in the legislation that was passed.

The Game Plan

In 2019, secrecy and chaos reigned supreme as the Republicans desperately clung to their standard game plan: hear and pass primarily Republican-sponsored bills; ignore all Democratic ideas, bills and constituents; make enough pork barrel deals with their members to get 100% of them on one budget; and ram the budget through in the middle of the night when voters are asleep and Legislators want to be.

The Chaos

There was more chaos than usual in 2019 because a few Republicans realized that the slim D-R margins in both the Senate and the House gave each R a lot of power. (Rep. Kelly Townsend showed the Republican leadership her power back in March when she starting voting “no” on every bill one day. Here’s the blog post and video.)

The chaos was amplified by totally random floor schedules…

Continue reading FY2020 Budget & #AZLeg Session Wrap-Up: What Just Happened? (video)

Protect Patients: It’s time for Cannabis Testing in AZ (video)

marijuana

Thirty-four states have some form of legal marijuana. Arizona is the only state that has no quality control testing for contaminants (like pesticides) or for make-up (how much THC, CBDs, etc.)

Cannabis testing died at the end of the session in 2018 during a flurry of negotiations regarding several marijuana reform bills. It is back in 2019 as SB1494, which passed the House Health and Human Services Committee last week. This is a clean cannabis testing bill with no other issues attached.

Arizona has 200,000 medical marijuana patients who purchased 61 tons of marijuana and related marijuana products, like edibles and concentrates, in 2018. Ours is the third largest program in the country… and the only one with no quality control testing.

In committee, the governmental liaison for the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) Shannon Whitaker said that they don’t know how to do quality control testing for marijuana and want more specifics on what to do. I asked if anyone at ADHS had looked at the testing standards and programs from the other 33 states, and she said, “No”. Looking at how other health departments are testing samples of marijuana could be very helpful in setting up the Arizona program. Just sayin’.

Before I voted “yes” on SB 1494, I talked with the lobbyists on both sides of the issue, medical marijuana patient and NORML representative Mikel Weisser, and former ADHS Director and current Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association Will Humble.  Humble, who wrote the current medical marijuana rules, said that testing is in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). He had planned to write testing rules back in 2011, but he was pressed for time with a 120 day window to write all of the rules. He added that he “was getting beat up from all sides” during the process. (I confessed that I was blogging about the card costs, which are the highest in the country.) Humble supports SB1494 but adds that ADHS has the authority to write rules on testing, even without SB1494.

ADHS is sitting on $60 million in card fees that can be spent only on the medical marijuana program. It’s time to protect patients. It’s time for Arizona to spend some of those AMMA funds to write the rules and set up testing.

SB1494 was debated at length in the House Health and Human Services Committee last Friday and passed unanimously. Since almost everything we do is on video, you can watch the debate on the AZLeg website. Click on Archived Meetings and scroll down to House Health and Human Services on March 29, 2018. You have time to voice your opinion on Request to Speak.

Look for amendments and a rousing debate on this in the coming weeks.

Speaker Bowers: It’s Time to Hear the People’s Agenda (video)

Arizona Flag

The Arizona House is moving at a snail’s pace this session. In fact, Senator David Bradley has quipped that the Senate should take a one-month vacation so the House can catch up.

According to the Chief Clerk, as of Friday, the end of the fifth week of session, 744 House bills were dropped. Forth-seven percent of the bills (349)– including the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)– have not been first read (the first step in the process). Only 50 bills (7%) have been third read (the final vote). We voted on about half of those 50 on Thursday afternoon. The coming week will be NUTS because it is the final week for the House to hear House bills and for the Senate to hear Senate bills. At this point, there are a lot of bipartisan bills on the cutting room floor in the Speaker’s office.

With a 29-31 (D-R) split in the House, Speaker Rusty Bowers has been extremely cautious about what bills get to the floor for debate and a vote. Except for tax conformity, nothing controversial has made it to a “third read” vote. The vast majority of the bills we have voted on thus far passed through committee unanimously and passed the floor unanimously (or with just a few dissenters from one side or the other). We have had lively debates on ideological bills in my committees– Regulatory Affairs, Ways and Means, and Health and Human Services– but those bills haven’t made it to the floor yet. For example, Republicans on the Regulatory Affairs Committee passed a sub-minimum wage for workers under 22 who are also full-time students. Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee passed two different an income tax breaks to the wealthiest Arizonans. Republicans on the Health and Human Services Committee passed a bill labeling pornography as a public health crisis. (What about gun violence as a public health crisis?)

What has been left unheard in committee or on the floor? Plenty.

Continue reading Speaker Bowers: It’s Time to Hear the People’s Agenda (video)

Medical Marijuana Patients Arrested, Jailed Due to Glitch in Criminal Code (video)

Activist county attorneys and judges are jailing medical marijuana patients in rural Arizona. They are using a disconnect between the criminal code and the Medical Marijuana Act to jail patients.

Why isn’t the Arizona House hearing bills that would protect patients who are legally buying cannabis concentrates?

Recently, a stage 4 cancer patient was jailed in Yavapai County for two weeks because he had a cannabis concentrate on his person. He missed his chemotherapy because he possessed a medicine that he purchased legally! The case of Rodney Jones, who was jailed for 2+ years for possession of a vape pen with cannabis concentrate, will be heard by the Arizona Supreme Court.

Overall, across the state of Arizona, marijuana laws are being enforced differently. You’re much more likely to get arrested and charged for possession in certain counties than you are in other counties. That’s not fair. Your rights should not depend on your ZIP Code, but they often do.

Rep. Tony Rivero and I have both proposed bills to fix the language in the criminal code. Neither of these bills has been heard– despite broad public support for fixing the legal disconnect that is causing innocent patients to be jailed.

#ICYMI: Watch the LD9 Clean Elections Debate (video)

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

The Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) organizes and hosts debates for all elections in which at least one Clean Elections candidate is running. In Legislative District 9, three of the five people running for office are Clean candidates: Jim Love, Victoria Steele and me. The other two people who are running for house– Rep. Randy Friese and J.P. Martin– are running traditional.

Since early ballots for the August 28 primary election will be mailed on August 1, the CCEC has been hosting many debates in the past month. On July 19, the LD9 candidates had their debate.  (The LD9 video link is here and the embedded video is below. To watch other CCEC debates go here.)

CCEC debates include some questions that are asked of all candidates and other questions that are asked of specific people. I have annotated the debate with time stamps– in case you want to focus on particular topics. Since there were several audience questions about guns in schools, the environment and prison reform, I have grouped those questions and answers.

Continue reading #ICYMI: Watch the LD9 Clean Elections Debate (video)

Marijuana to Bump Stocks to Tax Giveaways: How Did Your #AZHouse Rep Vote?

Arizona House, 2018

In the middle of each Legislative Session, there is a frenetic time period called “crossover week”. It is characterized by a flurry of debates and votes in a compressed timeframe. The purpose is to pass on as many wacky bills as possible in each chamber of the Legislature before successful bills are passed to the other chamber. (Hence, the name “crossover week”).

In the last two weeks, the Arizona House has voted on more than 100 bills. I think the House is up to ~250 bills that we have sent to the Senate. Of course, this list includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Below the fold are a few of the recent votes on gun violence, tax giveaways, mandatory sentencing, and drugs. All of these bills are still alive and have been sent to the Arizona Senate. If you don’t like these bills, tell your Senators and Representatives. (On the voting below, green = yes, red = no, purple = excused absence, yellow = absent.)

Continue reading Marijuana to Bump Stocks to Tax Giveaways: How Did Your #AZHouse Rep Vote?

Smoke ’em If You Got ’em: #AZLeg Considers 15 Marijuana Bills

Senator David Farnsworth and Rep. Vince Leach want more regulation of small businesses in the cannabis industry and increased law enforcement against citizens who use a plant that never killed anyone. (The specter of the Nanny State rises again in the text of these regulation bills.)

Reps. Mark Cadenas and Pamela Powers Hannley (me) want decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana and want to make medical marijuana cards more affordable.

Senator Sonny Borrelli is bringing back industrial hemp bill, which passed with flying colors in 2017, only to be vetoed by Governor Ducey.

Two of Leach’s bills will be heard in committee this week– HB2064 in Commerce and HB2067 in Health. Details on all 15 below.

Anti-Cannabis Bills

Leach

HB2064: medical marijuana; packaging;labeling. HB2064 goes after the evil THC gummy bears. Republicans are afraid that irresponsible parents will leave THC gummy bears on the kitchen table where children can get them. I think the gun on the kitchen table is more dangerous than the cannabis. Parents should keep all harmful drugs and objects out of their children’s reach. This is another Nanny State law.)

HB2067 dictates felony charges for certification clinics that certify someone for a medical marijuana card who is not eligible. This bill is particularly bad because it says if a MMJ certification doctor breaks any law while certifying someone form medical marijuana, the doctor would be charged with a felony. If this is interpreted in include federal law (under which marijuana use is illegal), this could shut down the whole medical marijuana program.

HB2063 makes any active or inactive cannabis metabolites grounds for a DUI conviction. Cannabis metabolites can stay in your body for days; the presence of metatolites in the blood stream doesn’t constitute impairment. Inactive metatolites are inactive.

HB2068 revokes a patient’s medical marijuana card if they get a DUI.

HB2066 spends the millions of dollars in excess medical marijuana card fees on law enforcement. This doesn’t comply with the Citizens’ Initiative that created the MMJ card.

HB2284 blocks citizens’ initiatives that challenge legislation and requires monthly campaign finance reports. This sounds like unnecessary paperwork; it would burden everyone who wants to do a Citizen’s Initiative.

Continue reading Smoke ’em If You Got ’em: #AZLeg Considers 15 Marijuana Bills

Bills! The Good, the Bad, the Ugly & Mine

Moms

After the first three weeks of the 53rd Legislature, things are starting to heat up. Hundreds of bills have been filed, and as usual, they run the gamut from boring to hopeful to dangerous.

I want to personally thank Speaker J.D. Mesnard for assigning some Democratic Party bills and some more moderate Republican bills to committee. (In recent Legislatures, bills from these sponsors were never assigned to committee. Of course, it’s up to the committee chair to put the bills on their agendas, but getting assigned to a committee is a welcome first step, in my book.)

Assignment to committee and very orderly and cordial floor meetings are positive notes in what has been a fast-paced time. Last week we shift from third gear to fifth gear and floor debates start on Tuesday, January 31. If you like reality TV, you should watch your Legislature in action. (The Arizona Capitol Television link on the Arizona Legislature’s website will take you to live proceedings and archives.)

All action and inaction on the floor of the House and Senate is televised– as are the Democratic and Republican Caucus Meetings (10 a.m. on Tuesdays, where we discuss the bills with staff, audience members, and paid lobbyists) and all committee meetings. Representatives have TVs on our desks, so we can keep up with the action while doing email, etc. Rep. Randy Friese’s motorcycle bill (HB2046) crashed and burned in the Transportation Committee but not without over an hour of testimony pro and con (bikers vs doctors). It was TV worth watching– as was the lengthy preemption discussion about local IDs and “illegals”.

When a variety of bills are heard, more constituent voices are heard. Here are a variety of bills that are coming down the pike this week (or in the near future). This is by no means an exhaustive list. Every committee meets every week, and agendas can include any number of bills. (Translation: there’s a lot happening.)

My Bills

HCR2012 (Powers Hannley) ratifies the Equal Rights Amendment in Arizona. (Assigned to Judiciary Committee in the House, headed by Rep. Eddie Farnsworth.) We only need three states to ratify the ERA to meet the requirement for a new amendment to the US Constitution. The ERA deserves to be debated in committee and on the Floor of the House and the Senate. Senator Martin Quezada has sponsored SCR1003— a mirror bill in the Senate (assigned to Government, headed by Senator John Kavanagh). Farnsworth and Kavanagh are blocking the ERA in the Legislature. If you think women’s rights should be debated and voted on in the Arizona Legislature, contact those two and your representatives and senators this week to get it on an agenda.

HB2172 (Powers Hannley) offers medical treatment instead of arrest in overdose situations. (Assigned to Judiciary, Farnsworth, again.) Thanks to the Arizona Republic‘s EJ Montini for giving a shoutout to this bill every time it has been proposed. Yes, this will save lives. Unfortunately, Farnsworth told me that he “doesn’t want to offer immunity to criminals” and refuses to hear this. If you think drugs addicts deserve a second chance at life, contact his office and encourage him to allow public testimony on this. There are several Moms lobbying Legislators to hear this bill– including the two pictured with this blog post.

HB2336 (Powers Hannley) allows terminally ill patients to make the decision to take their own lives with the help of their physician and medical team. (Assigned to Health Committee.)

HB2401 (Powers Hannley) requires medical providers to reveal the services they will not provide due to their religious beliefs. This is a major issue for women, particularly pregnant women. If you’re in a pregnancy-related emergency, you don’t want to end up in a hospital with services restricted by religious beliefs. Also – we should know which pharmacies dispense medications based upon the religion of the pharmacist and not based upon what is best for the patient. (Assigned to Health Committee.)

HB2400 (Powers Hannley) lengthens the renewal period for medical marijuana cards from every year to every five years. We have heard multiple bills to make other newals easier and less cumbersome, why not make the medical MJ card easier to renew? If you have arthritis, it’s not going away in a year– so why do patients have to renew every year and get a new ID card every year. Seems like too much bureaucracy to me. (Not assigned to committee.)

HB2439 (Powers Hannley) requires home health aides to have the same training, regardless who pays for the care. Currently, in Arizona, home health aides whose care is paid for my Medicare or Medicaid have to meet certain basic training requirements, but there are no standard training requirements for home health aides who are otherwise funded. (For example, an individual could pay for home health themselves.) There has been a rise in elder abuse cases, and I think better training could help that situation. This is a topic that the Health Committee has tried to fix in the past but didn’t have the votes for change. (Not assigned to committee.)to committee.)

HB2531 (Powers Hannley) expands the Clean Elections system to county and local, unpaid boards. There was a backlash against big money politics in the 2016. The original “chosen candidates” with the most money– Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush– lost. Multiple Clean Elections candidates beat traditionally funded candidates in Legislative races. I think candidates running for county and unpaid boards (like school boards, water boards, etc.) should have a Clean Elections option. (Not assigned to committee.)

HB2532 (Powers Hannley) establishes a feasibility study to create a state public bank. The Arizona Legislature is hearing multiple economic development bills that theoretically boost our economy by giving away more taxpayer funds. The basic premise behind all of them is giving a tax break to someone who will develop land. Is development our only economic development tool? When will we jump off this merry-go-round? At every level– city, county and state– politicians say we don’t have the money we need to have the schools and roads we want. Then… why do we continue to give away tax money? Setting up a public bank would give us an alternative, sustainable economic development tool. We could offer low-interest loans to local, small businesses and college students, while strengthening our community bank system. The return on our low-interest loans who go back to the state to pay for public education and/or transportation infrastructure. (With our current economic development system based upon giveaways, there is not direct return on investment of taxpayer funds… only promises of jobs and prosperity in the future.) I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the trickle down.

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Here are some other bills you may be interested in.

Continue reading Bills! The Good, the Bad, the Ugly & Mine

I Won! (video)

Jo Holt, Pamela Powers Hannley, Dustin Williams
LD9 primary results
This graphic shows the Wednesday morning results. The final count was: Friese 14,994 (42%), Powers Hannley 11,630 (33%) and Kopec 8979 (25%).

Tuesday night– primary night– was thrilling.

Jim and I attended the Pima Democratic Party Unity Party at Brother John’s Beer, Burbon & BBQ. Once Jim entered the place and smelled BBQ, he decided he had to try some. We were in the dining room off to the side of the big party, when one of my stalwart supporters came into the dining room and said, “You’re WINNING! You need to get in there.”

I went into the party room to see that I was 2000 votes ahead of Matt Kopec as soon as the early ballots were reported, and my lead increased to roughly 2200 as the night went on. (The final updated figures show that I beat Kopec by 2651 votes, and Friese beat me by 3364.)

Tuesday night, I won the second slot on the LD9 Democratic Party ticket with 33% of the vote in LD9. Rep. Randy Friese and I will advance to the general election on November 8, 2016.

My race is the only Southern Arizona race in which a challenger took down an incumbent. Although this is the third time that a Pima County Supervisors’ appointee has been defeated by a challenger, many in the news media and the party establishment are scratching their heads in amazement at my win. One local writer said that “maybe voters knew and loved Pamela Powers Hannley” but suggested that the likely reason that I won is that “Women have an edge in ‘low-information’ races”.  So– more 11,630 people voted for me just because they didn’t know any better? If people were doing eenie meenie miney moe in the voting booth, the vote would have been closer.

This was a win not only for me. It was a win for women’s equality, a win for progressive economic and social ideas, a win for Clean Elections, and a win for Arizona families.

I’m not buying the idea that the LD9 race was a “low information” race. My website stats show that people were researching my ideas and my background throughout the month of August and particularly on August 30. Also, LD9 voters many opportunities to hear us answer the same questions in the same venue. We had one Clean Elections debate, one candidate forum, radio interviews by Bill Buckmaster, television interviews by Jim Nintzel, and a sets of interviews by the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Weekly– plus all of the social media and events.  This would have been a low information race if there had not been a primary challenge. In fact, the very last person I called on August 30 in a GOTV effort was a woman who had not voted yet. She complained that too many down-ballot candidates didn’t have any (or enough) information on the Internet, and she wasn’t voting for anyone she couldn’t learn more about. (Of course, I referred her to this website.)

Not only did I beat Kopec, I beat him with Clean Elections funding. Kopec raised ~$31,000 and spent ~$28,000 of it. With my seed money + family money + Clean Elections money, I had ~$20,000, and I spent ~$19,000. I was outspent– but not by a lot.  For the general election, I will receive another installment from Clean Elections.

Friese and I will face Republican Ana Henderson in the general election. Henderson is a political newcomer, a right wing activist, and a Clean Elections candidate.

The primary differences between Henderson and me are that she is anti-choice (when it comes to women’s bodies) but pro-choice (when it comes to schools and vouchers). She’s also so against marijuana legalization that it borders on Reefer Madness. (I posted this story about Spice in reaction to Henderson’s Facebook post mixing up Spice and marijuana.) In addition, she also speaks out against the Affordable Care Act and wants “greater competition in the insurance marketplace so that you have more options and better prices.” (This is right-wing dog whistle lingo for dumping the the Affordable Care Act and going back to the good old days of denial of care based upon pre-existing conditions, increased medical bankruptcy, and cheap insurance that doesn’t actually pay for anything.)

I don’t know about you, but I think there are already too many anti-choice, pro-privatization, Reefer Maddness Republicans in the Arizona Legislature.

I am indebted to my supporters who signed my petition, gave me $5 for Clean Elections, hosted or helped with events, canvassed, phone banked, mailed postcards… and voted for me. Thank you all so much.

We can do this! Onward to victory in November.

UPDATE, SEPT 7: The Final figures from the Secretary of State’s office show: Friese 14,994 (42%); Powers Hannley 11,630 (33%); and Kopec 8979 (25%). Looking at the precinct data, I beat Kopec in all be four precincts (mostly located in the same general area of the Foothills. I beat Friese in seven precincts (three in poorer areas and four in the Foothills). Friese and I were within a few votes of each other in many precincts. I won 2651 more votes than Kopec, and Friese got 3364 more votes than me. (For the record, Ana Henderson got 15,640 votes, running unchallenged in the primary.)

 

#LD9 Vote: Got Your Ballot But Can’t Decide? Read This! (video)

Pamela Powers Hannley

Once the Secretary of State has decided who has enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, candidates are flooded with endorsement questionnaires from Political Action Committees (PACs) and informational questionnaires from media outlets and the Clean Elections Commission. For the most part, the goal of the PAC questionnaires was to determine which candidates would vote to allow that PAC to keep whatever tax breaks or favors it is currently receiving; to obtain new financial favors; to renew them; to secure votes on specific issues; and/or to determine who will receive PAC money. (When you see a long list of endorsement, rest assured there are promises behind each endorsement.)

I am proud to announce that I have received endorsements from five groups. These groups are aligned with my values of promoting public health and equality for women and other groups that are often discriminated against. Since I am a Clean Elections candidate, I have received their support but no PAC checks.

  •  Arizona Nurses Association
  • National Association of Social Workers, Arizona Chapter
  • Arizona Women’s Political Caucus
  • National Organization for Women, Arizona Chapter
  • Arizona List (on the list)

But this blog post isn’t about endorsements. It’s about candidate questionnaires. This week, AZCentral (AKA the Arizona Republic) has released its Voter Guide which contains candidate answers to their very lengthy and comprehensive list of questions. The guide is broken down by race, and it allows side by side comparisons of candidate answers which range from education funding to gun control to marijuana legalization to your favorite book or movie.

The LD9 race has three Democrats (who are running in the August primary): Randy Friese, Matt Kopec and me (Pamela Powers Hannley) and one Republican: Ana Henderson (who two of use will face in November). Unfortunately, many candidates– including most incumbents– didn’t take the time to answer AZ Central’s questions. Friese and Henderson are among the no-shows. Kopec and I did answer the questions, and there is a stark difference in how we answered and what we said.  If you are undecided in the LD9 race, I encourage you to read our answers.

Here is a link to the LD9 match-up with our answers:

Powers Hannley vs Kopec Answers

If you are in a different LD– for example LD10 or LD2 where there are also contested primaries– check out those candidate answers by scrolling through this list of all of the races:

Voter Guide: All Races

LD9 voters have had many opportunities to learn about the three Democratic Party candidates. There have been two debates/forums (Clean Elections and Nucleus Club), one TV interview, one radio interview, an interview in the Arizona Daily Star, public candidate questionnaires posted by the Capitol Times and AZ Central., and, of course, the printed voter guide that was mailed to everyone by the Clean Elections Commission.

Please take a few minutes to learn about us and please vote in August and in November! Thanks for your support.