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?

#AZLeg​ Vote Protects Fetuses, Criminalizes Doctors & Patients (video)

fetal personhood

Republicans have spent weeks and employed multiple levels of parliamentary procedures to ram Senator Cathi Herrod’s … er … Senator Nancy Barto’s fetal personhood bill through both houses … twice. SB1457 died in the Senate earlier in April, but the Republicans brought the zombie bill back to life for a do-over.

SB1457 inserts BIG government into private medical decisions. It criminalizes doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, and patients.

Government has the right and the duty to make and implement public health policy to keep us all safe and healthy — like mask mandates, vaccinations, inspections, etc. Government does not have the right to insert itself into personal medical decisions and impose felony charges against medical personnel and patients to enforce the Legislature’s will. SB1457 criminalizes the doctor/patient relationship if they discuss, recommend, refer or perform an abortion on a woman and they all know she is carrying a child with a disability or a child that is so medically fragile that it won’t live long after birth. It also makes ordering abortion-inducing drugs by mail illegal.

Besides the fact that government should not be meddling in this personally tragic decision, the woman and her partner have to thing long-term about raising a child with a severe disability or carrying a fetus to term that may not live 24 hours. This is a tough decision — emotionally, physically and financially.

Continue reading #AZLeg​ Vote Protects Fetuses, Criminalizes Doctors & Patients (video)

Barto’s Anti-Abortion Bill Criminalizes Doctors & Victimizes Women (video)

medical freedom

Every terrible idea the Republican Party has ever had has at least one bill in the Arizona Legislature this year. Their signature bad ideas — attacks on reproductive rights, voter suppression, and tax cuts for the corporations and the rich — have multiple bills each.

The House debated SB1457, a bill that criminalizes doctors, for two hours recently. This is a fetal personhood bill, which values the life of the fetus over the life of the mother and criminalizes doctors for providing abortion counseling or performing abortions when the fetus is determined to be generically abnormal or not viable beyond birth.

Ironically, House Republicans used the rallying cry of “medical freedom” as an excuse to not wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID19, but  they  don’t  see the  disconnect between their demands for medical freedom during a public health crisis and their insistence on controlling women’s private medical decisions. Continue reading Barto’s Anti-Abortion Bill Criminalizes Doctors & Victimizes Women (video)

Putting More People in Prison Won’t Help Child Abuse Victims (video)

adverse childhood experiences

We have not had a lot of action in the Legislature this week, as Republican plot behind closed doors. We had a few proclamations and a few votes today, including the final vote on HB2889, the mandatory sentencing bill for multiple levels of child abuse. This passed the House a few weeks ago, but was amended in the Senate. It is a bit less harsh than the original bill but still mandatory sentencing related to an issue that Arizona has been ignoring for a long time.

Rep. Walt Blackman had a proclamation about Child Abuse Prevention Month and called upon members to “keep in mind the next generation and keep them safe.” I think that’s a great idea. In fact, I have been talking about building a stronger Arizona for a future generations for the last five years. It would be helpful if Blackman would join me in legislation to tackle poverty and Adverse Childhood Experiences if he wants to protect future generations and help them thrive. In his criminal justice committee, Blackman has been passing progressive legislation to tackle Arizona’s overcrowded prison population and discriminatory practices, but today he walked backwards and voted with everybody else to increase mandatory sentencing.

Arizona is WORST in the nation for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), such as food insecurity, housing insecurity, sexual violence, physical neglect, emotional neglect, domestic violence, addiction, mental illness, or loss of a parent.

Continue reading Putting More People in Prison Won’t Help Child Abuse Victims (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)

#COVID19 Pandemic Is Both a Problem & an Opportunity

Phoenix with no traffic

Inhabitants of Earth are nearly six months into the most disruptive year of our lives, thanks to the novel Coronavirus. The United States was slow to react to the pandemic that had already spread across Asia and Europe and killed thousands. Early denial by leaders in multiple countries– like the US, Brazil, Russia, India, and the UK– has proven deadly for the general population.

As of today, June 14, 2020, there  have been 7,767,336 cases and 429,555 deaths worldwide. Although the US has 4.25% of the world’s population, we have close to 30% of the cases (2,074,526) and 30% of the deaths (115,436).

Those of us who are not essential workers, sheltered in place for roughly two months as states declared public health emergencies to flatten the curve and contain the spread of the virus. We stopped driving and flying. Traffic disappeared — even in Phoenix. Air pollution cleared. We could hear the birds sing. We started walking our dogs regularly. We rediscovered or learned new skills like cooking and sewing and took on home projects that had waited for months or years due to lack of time in our previously harried schedules. Gardeners sprouted all over Tucson, as evidenced by the almost continuous activity on the Tucson Backyard Gardeners Facebook Group. We started making COVID19 masks and giving them away to friends and strangers, alike.  We went to more online meetings than we had ever imagined… and even went to church online… and in most cases it worked just fine. With a dearth of COVID19 information from the government and loads of misinformation on the Internet, we turned to moderated groups like Fear > Facts Tucson Coronavirus Facebook Group for trusted updates. We were separate, but we built community in different ways to stay connected. Did we really need all of the meetings … the events … the driving … the flying … the stress … the missed evenings with family?

Continue reading #COVID19 Pandemic Is Both a Problem & an Opportunity