Before each Legislative session, out-of-town legislators, like myself, have to find living quarters in Phoenix for roughly six months.
Shopping for apartments and combing through corporate websites to look for affordable housing with no hidden fees is a laborious process. No matter how careful I am, the corporate landlords seem to always stick me with me with something.
A few years ago, I made the mistake of renting a “smart” apartment. I saw on the website that the smart apartment option was available. I didn’t realize until I showed up with the movers and a truck full of furniture that I couldn’t get out of that option. A smart apartment is one that tracks your every entry and exit with your smart phone, tracks your utility usage, and tracks who knows what else. My smart apartment had sensors hung here and there throughout the apartment, including closets and cupboards. The sensors were easy to see – and a bit creepy. What wasn’t easy to see was the smart apartment section of the lease which said by signing the lease I was giving an unnamed subcontractor permission to collect, store and use my personal data. I couldn’t get out of the $40 per month fee for a smart apartment, but I chose not to download and activate the app.
The smart apartment now seems like a quaint, old fashioned attempt at surveillance mostly because the tracking was so obvious, and by accepting a bit of inconvenience, I was able to get around most of the surveillance.
Today, with social media plus 5G, smart phones, smart watches, and all sorts of wi-fi or bluetooth enabled devices from refrigerators to car radios, we are surrounded by devices and software programs that are tracking us, collecting data, building profiles and using what they have learned about us to influence our behavior.
Continue reading Podcast: Cybersecurity, Corporate Surveillance & Crypto. How Safe Are We? (video)
Today was the last Ways and Means Committee Meeting of 2021, and it was a doozie. More interruptions. More suppression of speech. More putdowns.
There were several controversial bills on the agenda, particularly three that take money from public education or lead to more privatization.
SB1273 would allow Student Tuition Organizations (STOs) to give students money for expenses other than tuition. we know that STO’s are not transparent. We know how many scholarships they deliver but not how many students are being served. We also know that some parents get as much is $20,000 a year per child for those children to attend private or religious schools. That’s blatantly unfair and in equitable. SB1273 would just allow them to give away more tax￼￼ with no accountability.
SB1280 is about the privatization of school transportation. There is a previous video on this bill, but things came out in committee that make men more against it. One of my big concerns about strike-everything bill SB1280 is child safety. This bill allows charter schools and districts schools to use some of their current transportation funding in order to give grants to parents. As you may know, charter schools get money for transportation, but they don’t have to use it on transportation. I’m sure you’ve seen the long lines of parents who are picking up or dropping off their kids at charter schools. Public school kids have the opportunity to ride the school bus or perhaps even walk to their neighborhood school. This bill would allow parents to apply for grants to get an unknown amount of money to come up with “innovative ways” to get their kids to school, including paying parents gas mileage or funding neighborhood carpools, city bus passes, or ride sharing services (like Uber or Lyft).
Continue reading Republicans Attack Invest In Ed & Ignore Voters (video)
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)
We heard two bills in Commerce about renting your stuff: SB1379 (renting all of part of your house) and SB1720 (renting your car).
SB1379 is an attempt to regulate the short-term rental industry. AirBnB started as a way for people to make extra cash by renting a room or a guest house on your property, but it has become big business. Tourist towns, in particular, have been overrun with party houses, short-term rentals that accommodate 20+ people for large, noisy get-togethers. The original version of 1379 included occupancy levels. Those were taken out to get it out of the Senate. Occupancy levels seem to be one of the biggest complaints from the neighbors. As it is, 1379 adds some regulation to a completely unregulated industry in the state. In my opinion, it does not go far enough in its current form.￼
SB1720 is a consensus bill on peer-to-peer car sharing. This is not you renting your car to your buddy for some cash. This is you listing your car on a electronic platform for rent by people you don’t know. This bill has been proposed in the past, and I had concerns about insurance, particularly if the car is totaled and there is a loan on it.￼ There is a lot in 1720 about insurance, but my concerns about people losing their cars in accidents or losing their cars￼ and still owing money on them have not been assuaged. In my opinion, 1720 has huge red flags for anyone who is considering listing their car and renting it.
Continue reading Rent Your Stuff for $$$: What Could Go Wrong? (video)
Business incentives, also known as tax giveaways, are common up here in the Arizona Legislature. Today’s video is about three different economic development￼ bills. I voted “no” on two of them and “yes” on one.
HB2834 is the ultimate in picking winners and losers. It would allow municipalities to determine projects that would be eligible for lower property taxes in order to reduce their expenses while the project is being developed. (This is similar to GPLET but different.) The upshot is that you could have one building that is getting a dramatically reduced property tax rate right next to another building whose owner is paying their fair share of property taxes.￼ ATRA spoke against this bill and said it could be subject to gift clause legal challenges. This was billed as legislation that would help rural Arizona, but it was a statewide plan to allow municipalities to pick winners and losers.￼ It died in committee with four Republicans and me voting “no,” and three Dems and two Republicans voting “yes”.
HB2282 is a small business assistance grant using federal dollars. It would distribute $5000 grants to truly small business to help them keep afloat or help them re-invent themselves for the post-COVID era. It has limited time frame, it will help Local First businesses, and it uses federal dollars we have. It easily passed on a bipartisan vote. This was also a state wide economic development plan, but the bill sponsor, Rep. Aaron Lieberman, had metrics built into it to make sure that rural Arizona gets their fair share.
HB2649 is the 10-year continuation of tax incentives for data centers. When you store your data and information on the cloud, it’s actually being stored in a giant facility in Phoenix. The Lobbyist said that this 10 year program have been really successful because now Arizona has 25 data centers that qualify for this tax giveaway. I asked where the data centers are located and how many jobs were created. The Lobbyist presentations were very thin considering this is a 10 year multi million dollar program. When I had my public relations business, one of my services was writing and designing annual reports. There should be a 10 year recap on what’s been accomplished by this program, how much it costs and how many jobs were created where — not just nebulous factoids and random data points.
Continue reading Economic Development Across Arizona (video)
This is the last week for House committees to hear House bills and for Senate committees to hear Senate bills. Consequently, the agendas are very long on almost all committees. There is a lot of opportunity on Request to Speak (RTS). The groups like Civic Engagement Beyond Voting, Sierra Club and others do an *amazing* job of telling you what’s going on, and we sincerely appreciate all of your comments and votes on RTS and their hard work.
Unfortunately, because of the sheer volume of BS bills proposed in the Legislature, volunteer groups can’t keep up with everything.￼ ￼
I have many constituents in Midtown Tucson who are upset with the preemption Bill regarding four and 5G towers that was passed by the legislature in 2017. There are two more telecom industry preemption/tax break bills in the House now.￼ These bills are not on any of the popular distribution lists.
Continue reading More 5G Preemption & Tax Break Bills in #AZHouse (video)