#COVID19: ‘Vote-by-Mail’ Is Safe Way to Vote during a Pandemic

Sign up for vote-by-mail

Tens of thousands of Arizona voters– regardless of party affiliation– have signed up for the state’s vote-by-mail system by adding their names to the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL).

Vote-by-mail is safe and convenient. The current anti-mail-in ballot rhetoric from the Republican Party is meant to suppress the vote by stonewalling against mandates for national or statewide all-mail-in elections, given the COVID19 pandemic.

In-person voting during the COVID19 is risky for voters and poll workers. Wisconsin allowed people to vote at the polls in April, and one month later there were 71 COVID19 infections tracked to voters or poll workers.

Democratic Party Legislators have been pushing for all-mail-in ballots for the 2020 primary and general elections, but the Republicans are dead set against expanding vote-by-mail.

Sign Up for Vote-By-Mail

You can voluntarily add yourself to the PEVL list by going to ServiceArizona.com.

Continue reading #COVID19: ‘Vote-by-Mail’ Is Safe Way to Vote during a Pandemic

Arizona’s 54th Legislative Session Ends: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Rep. Pam Powers Hannley

Usually, sine die is an orderly but sometimes drama-filled end to the Legislative session. Historically, the Arizona House and the Senate vote to sine die (end the session) on the same night and often under the cloak of darkness.

The second session of the 54th Legislature was… different… even before the novel Coronavirus hit the world. Although Democrats made up 48 percent of the House members in the 54th Legislature, the Republican leadership refused to work with Democrats and refused to put any bills up for a vote unless all 31 of their members were in their chairs and ready to vote in lock step with their party. The Republican leadership’s attempts to tightly control the action resulted in chaotic schedules (when all Republicans were present), several closed-door Republican caucus meetings, and long stretches of inaction because one or more R votes were missing. This is no way to run a government.

The Ugly
The Arizona House of Representatives was adjourned from March 23, 2020 to May 19, 2020, due to the COVID19 pandemic. Some of us wanted to sine die on March 23 and go back into for special session(s) focused on COVID19 public health and economic issues, later when we know the economics of our situation better. Others– mostly Republicans– wanted to stay in session and pause the action by adjourning because they had hopes that their bills would still pass during this session.

Continue reading Arizona’s 54th Legislative Session Ends: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

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?

#AZHouse HHS Committee to Hear Experts on Opening Economy on May 14 (video)

COVID19 computer models

Amid the nationwide controversy regarding when it is safe for states to open up their economies during a pandemic, the Arizona House Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee will meet to hear presentations from open up experts. What about hearing from the public health experts, too?

The HHS meeting will be Thursday, May 14 at 1 p.m. The meeting was a total surprise to the Democrats on HHS. Why is this a surprise? Because the House has been in adjournment, with committee hearings paused, since March 23.

The agenda just popped into our inboxes on Tuesday and in the past 24 hours additional speakers have been added. The meeting is a collection of presentations by out-of-state experts who support opening up Arizona’s economy: Aaron Ginn, who is the co-founder of the Lincoln Network; Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford Health Policy), who has developed an antibody test, conducted research on the spread of COVID19 in the community and death rates, and whose research methods have been critized; Dr. Neeraj Sood (USC Sol Price School of Public Policy), who also did research on COVID19 community spread and death rates and whose results were released prematurely and without his knowledgeLanhee J. Chen (Hoover Institute and Stanford University School of Public Policy), a FOX commentator and former Romney advisor, who has been critical of WHO and supports bring college students back to campus; Avik Roy, who is the President of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and who advocates for young people going back to work because mostly old people will die from COVID19; Dr. Joel W. Hay (USC Shaeffer Center), whose Twitter feed rails against state economic lock downs and cites Sweden (who has a higher death toll than neighboring countries) and sparsely populated South Dakota as success stories because they didn’t lock down their economies to stop the spread.

HHS Dems sent a letter to HHS Chair Nancy Barto asking to hear from some Arizona experts, rather than just listen to people from California tell us what we should be doing. (What happened to “don’t California my Arizona?”) For example, the HHS Democrats also would like to hear from these Arizona experts and get their thoughts on what the others have to say: Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS); Will Humble, former ADHS director and current executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association; Dr. Dan Derksen, from the Rural Health Office; and Dr. Tim Lant, from Arizona’s university-based COVID19 modeling team.

Continue reading #AZHouse HHS Committee to Hear Experts on Opening Economy on May 14 (video)

#COVID19 Shows #AZ that Over Reliance on Sales Tax Is Bad Policy (video)

Republicans thanks for the poverty

Since it’s Wednesday, I am wearing red, and today’s video about public education funding.

Yesterday, I was filling out an endorsement questionnaire, and one of the questions was: do you support raising sales taxes to pay for public education?

This question is so January 2020. When we were in session, there was much discussion about extending Prop 301 (Governor Jan Brewer’s “temporary sales tax to save public education”) and raising it to one cent.

This is April 29, 2020. The novel Coronavirus is running rampant throughout the United States and throughout the state of Arizona. We are seeing firsthand what a bad idea it is to balance the state budget on the backs of consumers. Arizona has high sales taxes and low corporate taxes compared to other states. With the shelter in place order and high unemployment, sales and sales taxes are down across the board. Consequently, state and local revenues are down across the board.

Arizona has one of the most volatile state budgets in the country because if it’s over reliance on sales tax– coupled with low corporate income taxes, billions of dollars in corporate tax giveaways, and lack of a state property tax. When regular folks don’t have cash to spend, the whole state suffers because the government is relying on YOU to buy stuff and pay tax on those sales. Corporate Arizona… not so much… besides low corporate income taxes, they regularly ask for and get TPT (sales tax) breaks from the Arizona Legislature. Remember this story from the beginning of session: Microsoft Wants a Sales Tax Break Because ‘Electricity Is Too Expensive in Arizona’ (video).

Continue reading #COVID19 Shows #AZ that Over Reliance on Sales Tax Is Bad Policy (video)

Computer Models Predict Dire #COVID19 Conditions for #AZ Residents & Prisoners (video)

COVID19 computer models

For the politicians and businesses who are in a hurry to open up Arizona’s economy… SOON… the data, the computer models, and the small-government Arizona Way are not on your side.

Arizonans are suffering through a perfect storm of economic, ideological and medical circumstances that are working against us as our state government limply responds to the Coronavirus outbreak. First and most glaring, Arizona’s small-government Republican governors and legislators have been cutting taxes for corporations and the rich and balancing the budget on the backs of the people for decades. This has resulted in:

  • One of the most volatile state budgets in the country
  • An over-reliance on high sales taxes at state and local levels
  • Extremely low corporate taxes
  • Annual budgets riddled with corporate carveouts and tax giveaways
  • Economic vulnerability when there are interruptions in retail sales
  • Wages that are 85% of the national average
  • Far too many residents holding multiple gig economy jobs
  • Stingy social safety net programs (TANF, childcare subsidies, pre- and post- natal care, housing assistance)
  • High poverty
  • Underfunded public health, public education, and higher education systems
  • Statewide healthcare provider shortages
  • Counties declared as healthcare deserts
  • The worst rate of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in the US
  • The least transparent state Legislature.

So… even before the novel Coronavirus hit the planet, many Arizonans were living on the edge economically, thanks to the Republican Party’s fixation with small, stingy government, privatization, deregulation, and tax giveaways. Add the state’s slow response to the COVID19 pandemic to the ideological economic mess we were already in, thanks to years of austerity, and it’s obvious why Arizona’s COVID19 cases are still increasing and getting “back to business” isn’t happening soon.

Continue reading Computer Models Predict Dire #COVID19 Conditions for #AZ Residents & Prisoners (video)