View from the Left Side

Nevada Becomes 36th State to Ratify ERA. Is Arizona Next? (video)

Equal Rights Amendment

Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was proposed in eight states in 2017: Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Missouri, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina and Illinois. On March 22, 2017– the 45th anniversary of Congress starting the ratification process in 1972– Nevada became the 36th state in the US to ratify the ERA.

To make the ERA the next amendment to the US Constitution, we need two more states to ratify it and the Congress to extend the deadline, which they have done before.

On the Floor of the Arizona House on Wednesday, when I announced the ERA’s success in Nevada, I said, “Arizona, I’m looking at you.”

Arizona women deserve equality and equal pay for equal work. We won’t get that until we pass the Equal Rights Amendment because the ERA puts teeth in the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

The ERA has been proposed at least five times in the Arizona Legislature– first in 1972 by then Arizona Senate President Chief Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; three times (two ratification proposals, one deadline extension) by Rep. Victoria Steele; and this year jointly in the Senate and the House by Senator Martin Quezada and me.

In Arizona and Utah, the 2017 bills were never heard. My bill HCR2012 was assigned to the Judiciary Committee but never put on an agenda. Quezada’ ERA mirror bill was assigned to the Government Committee but never heard by the chair.

Along with other state legislators across the country, I will propose ratification of the ERA every year until it becomes law. I hope Arizona remembers its Progressive roots and helps add to finally add the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution.

AZ House: Left & Right Converge on Funding Issues (Sometimes) (video)

HB2492

Everyone keeps telling me “things are different this year” in the Arizona House of Representatives.

From my perspective, there are many possible reasons why things are different, but the three most obvious are: 1) Speaker of the House J.D. Mesnard has chosen to run the House efficiently and fairly; 2) 23 House members (including 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans) were elected for the first time in 2016; and 3) the Democratic Caucus is highly diverse, with half of the members being women, more than half Latino, and several Progressive.

The result has been some interesting votes on funding issues. On several spending votes, fiscally conservatives (who don’t like to spend money) and fiscally conservative Progressives (who don’t want to spend money on non-essentials until the schools are made whole) are voting together for different reasons. (This phenomenon is being reported at the Congressional level also— with both far-right Republicans and Progressive Democrats voicing extreme dislike for TrumpCare.)

As the Arizona House moves from hearing bills in committee and voting on the floor to debating and voting on the budget, it will be interesting to watch the Conservative/Progressive budget hawks.  A hint of things to come can be found in a recent article from the Capitol Times: Ducey determined to pass university bond plan lawmakers dislike.

As outlined in his address to the Arizona Legislature on Inauguration Day, Governor Doug Ducey wants to increase funding for building construction and repairs at the three universities by giving them back the tax they paid on the purchases they made. (The proposal is to refund their Transaction Privilege Tax or TPT– essentially sales tax.)

The universities would split the roughly $30 million per year proportionally and use those funds to pay interest on roughly $1 billion in bonds.

There are multiple reasons I don’t like this idea…

Continue reading AZ House: Left & Right Converge on Funding Issues (Sometimes) (video)

Arizona Legislature: Tax Cuts R Us

Pamela Powers Hannley

Last week in the Arizona Legislature was crossover week, which means bills passed by one house started to be heard by the other. The House began hearing Senate bills on Monday and vice versa. In advance of crossover week come two weeks of cramming as many bills into the pipeline as possible.

By mid-February, the House had passed the 200-bills-passed threshold and had two late nights during the week of February 20– 7 p.m. on Tuesday and 11:30 p.m. on Thursday (the deadline to hear House bills). If you want to hear some late-night speechifying, check out the debate on the Citizens Initiative— which the Republicans and the Chamber of Commerce want to kill and the Democrats defended. (When you go to the video, the agenda of the debate appears below, so you can scroll in to the sections you want to view.)

There have definitely been some themes so far in this session. Besides the push for fingerprinting citizens, the jabs at environmental protection, and the elimination of oversight and transparency by cutting all citizen review boards, the big theme has been giving away tax revenue (AKA, tax cuts, tax credits, tax subtraction, tuition waivers, economic development or trickle down economics).

Ironically, on many of these giveaway bills fiscally conservative Republicans (who don’t like spending money) and the fiscally conservative Progressives (who don’t want to give away tax revenue as long as the schools are underfunded) voted together. In the past two weeks, there have been maybe as many as 10 bills where some combination of Progressives and Conservatives voted against spending money that we don’t have.

Continue reading Arizona Legislature: Tax Cuts R Us

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.)

HB?? (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.)

HB?? (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

Speaking Truth to Power in the #AZLeg (video)

Pamela Powers Hannley

Last week was action-packed in the Arizona Legislature. We returned to work on Monday– just a few days after immigration restrictions and the Muslim travel ban and related protests unfolded at airports (including Sky Harbor).

This week I was proud of the Democrats in the Legislature. I am particularly proud of my Sisters who are also first-time Legislators: Representatives Athena Salman, Isela Blanc, Kelli Butler, Winona Benally, Mitzi Epstein, and Kirsten Engel.

Yes, we’re the minority, but we’re a fiery bunch with a lot to say. Thirteen of the 25 Dems in the House are new, and several of the newbies are unabashedly Progressive (like me) or Progressive-leaning, depending upon the issue.

Often, the people who spoke truth to power this week included some or all of the women listed above. But don’t take my word for it. Watch the videos.

Jan 30: Democrats made statements about the Muslin travel ban.

Jan 31: Democrats spoke out against snake shot and rat shot in the city. (The vote broke along party lines.)

snake shot
The vote on using snake shot and rat shot within city limits broke along party lines.

Feb 1: A lively debate ensues regarding states rights and Donald Tump’s executive orders. Unnecessary fingerprinting which could disproportionately affect the poor also debated.

Feb 2: We had our second gun rights debate– this time we discussed “smart guns”. Feb 2 was such a big day that there are eight videos. (Helpful hint: if you click on one here and look below the video feed, it will say which bills are debated in that clip.)

More action this week with a full calendar of votes. It’s TV worth watching; all of the meetings are live-streamed, videotaped, and archived. Archives are here. Live streaming link here.

Floor action begins daily at 1:30 p.m. Committee meetings are at 9 a.m. or 2 p.m. (or after Floor). Republican and Democratic Caucuses meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays. All of these meetings are Monday – Thursday, so out of town Legislators can be home on the weekends with family and constituents.

Heads Up! The Con-Con Is Coming

US Constitution

For years Tea Partiers have been pushing for a Constitutional Convention (AKA Con-Con) for a balanced budget and more.

The Con-Con has passed the Arizona House of Representatives several times, but stalled in the Senate. This year there are four Con-Con bills on the agenda for the Federalism, Property Rights and Public Policy Committee on Tuesday, January 31.

HCR2010 (Townsend) declares that the Arizona Legislature wants a Constitutional Convention. (Concurrent resolution with the Senate.)

HCR2006 (Thorpe) includes a wish list of changes to the Constitution. (Concurrent resolution with the Senate.)

HCR2013 (Mesnard) calls for a Constitutional Convention for a federal balanced budget. (Concurrent resolution with the Senate.)

HB2226 (Mesnard) also calls for a Constitutional Convention for a federal balanced budget and includes details of the balanced budget. (House only bill.)

In previous years, the Con-Con bills were stopped at the door of the Senate by former Senate President Andy Biggs, who resigned the Legislature to run for Congress. Biggs is so opposed to the Con-Con that he wrote a book about it– The Con of the Con-Con.

Continue reading Heads Up! The Con-Con Is Coming

15,000 Join Women’s March in Tucson

Women's March, Tucson
Women's March, Tucson
Women’s March, Tucson

One day after Donald Trump became president of the United States the world saw the largest mass protest ever.

On January 21, 2017, the Women’s March on Washington drew more participants than Trump’s inauguration the day before, and “sister marches” were held in 600 locations around the world. If you are a long-time follower of my blogging, you know that I have attended and videotaped many protests, marches and rallies. This was by far the largest protest march I have seen in my 35 years in Tucson. It was impressive.

The Tucson marchers were a diverse group. Although the event was dubbed the Women’s March, everyone was invited, and everyone came. From children to seniors, all ages were represented. There was an impressive number of men who marched, and the LGBTQ, Latino,  and African American communities were also well-represented. There were people in strollers and people who use wheelchairs. For more photos, go to my Facebook page.  (Video after the jump.)

Continue reading 15,000 Join Women’s March in Tucson

Women’s Rights in Arizona: March & #ERA (video)

Women's March 2017

Today, January 20, 2016, President Barack Obama became our former president.

Today, Donald Trump entered the office of president with the worst approval rating ever– 40%.

For many months, different groups have been planning post-inauguration protests, teach-ins, marches, and other activism to greet the new president. (After all, many groups were alienated by him during his campaign, and we’re motivated.)

On Saturday, January 21– here in Tucson and nationwide–women (and others) will be marching in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. (Background below.) The Tucson event will start at 10 a.m. at Armory Park, and attendees will march to the main library downtown for booths, speeches and festivities. (Details here.)

The theme of the nationwide march is: “Become the soul of the nation.” This is taken from a quote by Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” – Coretta Scott King

We can’t continue to be depressed and bitter about the election. It’s time to push against the forces that want to keep us down. What better way to start the new year and the newest phase of the struggle than to march in solidarity, build community, and fight for equal rights?

Pamela Powers Hannley & ERA
Me submitting my first two bills as an Arizona Representative– the ERA (HCR2012) and medical care during opiate overdose (HB 2172).

To that end, I submitted a bill to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) on January 12. HCR2012 is the House bill, and Senator Martin Quezada submitted the same bill in the Arizona Senate (SCR1003).

The ERA needs only three states to ratify it before it can become the next amendment to the US Constitution, and Arizona is one of the 15 states that never passed it. Former Supreme Court Justice and former Arizona Legislator Sandra Day O’Connor was the first person to propose passage of the ERA in Arizona back in the 1970s. It’s time to finish the job. The ERA was originally proposed in 1923, and women need Constitutional protection now more than ever.

Unfortunately, the House version of the ERA is currently wallowing on Speaker J.D. Mesnard’s desk and has not been assigned to a committee. (Bills are killed by not being assigned to a committee, by being voted down in committee or by being voted down on the House or Senate floor. The Senate bill has been assigned to government and rules. You can use the Request to Speak system if it gets on the agenda or comment any time via email and telephone.)

The ERA deserves to be heard in committee and debated on the floor of the Arizona House and the Arizona Senate. If you agree, please call or email your representatives and senators and urge them to support ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Women will not have equal pay or full equal rights in the US without passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Even at the highest income levels, women make less than men. Overall, Latinas and African American women make far less. This is a societal economic issue; it’s not a “women’s issue.” When 51% of the population makes less than the prevailing wage, that suppresses the economy statewide and nationwide. When people have money in their pockets, the economy thrives. When people are scraping by due to low wages and high debt, the economy lags. It’s time to turn this ship around and give women equality and Constitutional protection.

Continue reading Women’s Rights in Arizona: March & #ERA (video)

Legislative Whirlwind Part 4: Lettuce & Birds (video)

Romaine lettuce, Yuma, Arizona
Yuma lettuce
Here we can see miles of fields of Romaine lettuce with crews of migrant workers in the distance. In the foreground are 1000s of discarded outer Romaine lettuce leaves. Workers severely trim lettuce heads down, so they can be sold as “Romaine hearts”. The leaves will be plowed back into the ground for nutrients, but still, the waste was surprise to someone like me who heard “waste not want not” many times while growing up.

During our Yuma Legislative Tour in December, we saw miles and miles of lettuce, cotton, broccoli, seed crops, and more. We got muddy and trudged around the Romaine lettuce fields with migrant workers, and we also toured a cotton gin. (More photos are here on my Facebook page.)

After our first day of touring Yuma’s agricultural areas, we heard multiple presentations at a hosted dinner paid for by different growing/ranching industry groups and served up by 4H and JTED youth. The presentation by Paul Brierley, director of the University of Arizona Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture, stuck out in my mind. He talked about using engineering technology to help growers in the Yuma area. According to the UA website, “The [Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture], based in Yuma, is a public-private partnership (PPP) between the college and the Arizona and California desert agriculture industry, dedicated to addressing ‘on-the-ground’ industry needs through collaboration and research.” The website continues on to say: “More than two dozen industry partners from Yuma and Salinas, California, have invested in the center, together committing more than $1.1 million over the next three years.”

Brierley is an affable engineer who grew up on a large farm. According to Bierley, the primary problem that industry partners wanted the PPP center to tackle was “productivity”*. He talked about different ways to boost productivity by using technology. For example, Brierley said that the date palms needed help with pollination. He showed a photo of a migrant worker pollinating date trees using a machine that looked like a leaf blower strapped on his back. This human-assisted pollination worked, but to improve productivity, the UA and Yuma growers began experimenting with drones. They found that drones to be more efficient pollinators than people. Technology to the rescue: mechanical birds. (For some jobs, this is the future: people being replaced by machines.)

Another problem area that had been identified as a hindrance to productivity was birds. Birds– and four-legged creatures like dogs and coyotes– poo in the lettuce fields and create unsanitary conditions. Remember the e. coli outbreaks related to fresh spinach? Several growers and lobbyists expressed grave concern over any future e. coli outbreaks due to contaminated fresh produce. Now the UA folks and the growers boast that there are no footprints in the Yuma fields– not a bird track or a canine track anywhere.

Continue reading Legislative Whirlwind Part 4: Lettuce & Birds (video)

Legislative Whirlwind Part 3: 92,000 Cows

92,000 cows in Yuma
cows in Yuma
This is what 92,000 cows looks like, and this is what agri-business looks like.

The Yuma border tour in mid-December was amazing on multiple levels.

Outside of Yuma, Arizona Legislators toured a feed lot had been owned by a local Yuma family for generations. The sign for McElhaney Cattle Company can still be seen at the entrance and on some of the equipment. In recent years, it was sold to a Brazillian corporation, which has invested millions and greatly expanded it, according to our tour guides.

Down from a normal population of 100,000 cows, we saw 92,000 cows standing and lying around in pens– with nary a cowboy in sight. We were told that the cowboys check all of the cows every night because of the heat. Although the temperature was pleasant on the December day that we visited, there were no feed lot workers anywhere– except for the couple on the bus giving the tour. The guides said these cows are tracked by computer. Is Hal tending the herd?

There were also surprisingly few birds and bugs around these cows. I’ve photographed many state and county fairs, ranches, and the Wilcox Livestock Auction pens and auction house, and where there’s livestock, there’s generally birds and bugs. (More on birds in part 4 of this series: “Lettuce & Birds.”

Miles of cows and only four birds.
This photo shows miles of cows, only four birds, and zero workers to care for the livestock.
cows in Yuma
This is what they feed the cows, who are brought to this giant holding pen when they are three months old. The tour guide called it “corn flakes”.

Continue reading Legislative Whirlwind Part 3: 92,000 Cows