View from the Left Side

#HB2706 Targets All Girls who Don’t Match Feminine Ideal (video)

Soccer 1970s

As you may have read in the news, the Arizona House passed Rep. Nancy Barto’s anti-trans bill HB2706 late on Tuesday night, after hours of rousing debate.

This is another Cathi Herrod Center for Arizona Policy bill that would require girls to submit to genetic testing and get a letter from a doctor confirming their gender, if someone doesn’t believe they are genetically a girl and challenges them. This is another one of those Republican “anybody can complain” and start an investigation or a lawsuit bills.

HB2706 is supposed to weed out trans girls and forbid them from competing in girls sports in K-12 education and college.

This bill is overly broad. Any girls who don’t fit the traditional feminine stereotype could be targeted with this bill and be forced to submit to unnecessary genetic testing to confirm their gender. This bill will lead to bullying and harassment of girls– trans girls and sis girls who are muscular, strong, and athletic. This is ridiculous.

There are national athletic standards for trans competitors. Why don’t we adopt these standards? Why did we even hear HB2706? Because Barto is challenging her moderate Republican seat mate Senator Heather Carter for the Senate seat in 2020.

One of the lawyers in the Democratic Caucus said that this bill would keep lawyers busy.

COVID-19: Businesses… Please… Encourage Sick Workers to Stay Home (video)

Today’s video is a throwback to 2016. Jim shot this video of me testifying in front of the Tucson Mayor and City Council about the importance of paid sick leave and staying home when you are sick.

Much to my employees’ surprise when I was program director of the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline, I told everyone, “Don’t come to work sick. If you do, I will send you home.” Everybody had paid sick leave. I wanted them to use it to get well. The Helpline was a much healthier place after I gave everyone “permission” to stay home and take care of themselves.

When people come to work sick, they infect customers and co-workers. When people stay home sick, they get better faster and don’t infect everyone else. Just think of how many people a sick fast food worker, cashier, caregiver, bank teller, or customer service person can infect per day. This is how disease spreads throughout the population.

Continue reading COVID-19: Businesses… Please… Encourage Sick Workers to Stay Home (video)

Tax Giveaways, Gentrification, & Housing in Tucson (video)

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

On Sunday, March 1, 2020, I was the keynote speaker at a South Tucson community forum on tax giveaways (specifically the GPLETs), gentrification, housing, and poverty. The following is my speech.

Thank you all for coming, and I especially want to thank Brian Flagg of Casa Maria for organizing this.

You may know me as a Legislator now, but old friends in the audience also know me as a political blogger with Blog for Arizona.

Gentrification, Rio Nuevo, incentivizing development with tax giveaways, corporate welfare… these are topics that I have been researching and writing about for more than 10 years.

During that 10-year time frame, I have also been advocating for public banking as a way to self-fund infrastructure projects, tackle student debt and spur economic development through low-interest loans—not giveaways. Public banking is based upon a public private partnership between a state bank and local community banks and small local businesses—like those represented by Local First.

The major problem with public banking is that you have to trust the government to make the system work for everyone—not just for the corporations and the wealthy, as out current system works. After almost four years in the Legislature, I trust the Arizona government far less than I did before. The belly of the beast is not a pretty site.

So… where does that leave us?

As a blogger, I theorized that layers of tax breaks—beyond Rio Nuevo– were fueling the development in the city core.

Do you remember when Molly McKasson lost the mayoral race to Bob Walkup in 1999? She was successfully painted as an old hippie chick who wasn’t ready to lead. Walkup was the successful Raytheon exec who would run Tucson like a business.

McKasson was quoted in the newspaper as saying, “It’s too bad that Tucson has decided to put all of its eggs in the developers’ basket.”

She was spot on!

Twenty years later, downtown is gleaming with new buildings, and everyone in power points to the new buildings as a sign of success downtown.

But at what cost?

Continue reading Tax Giveaways, Gentrification, & Housing in Tucson (video)

#HB2752 Gives Away Future Revenue Automatically– Bad Idea! (video)

Throughout last week as we debated multiple tax giveaways, I repeatedly asked, “Is $1 billion in new tax giveaways too much?”

In debate on Thursday, Rep. Mitzi Epstein and I showcased the 18 Republican bills that give away potentially $1 billion and revealed how little the bill sponsors actually know about the revenue losses that their proposals will create. (I say “potentially” because seven tax giveaway bills have an unknown cost. We shouldn’t be passing bills when we don’t know the economic impact!)

On Thursday, we were debating Rep. Bret Roberts’ HB2752, which was projected to be a $64 million hit to the general fund in FY21, $71 million in FY22, and $110 million in FY23. There was a floor amendment that said it change the calculations for the tax break. Roberts refused to answer a my question regarding how the calculations had changed and whether the cost was going to go up or down from the projected figures. It doesn’t necessarily work out well for the Republicans when they refuse to answer questions. Since he refused, I asked Epstein about this. The upshot is that the amendment made Roberts’ bill even worse and pushed it into the unknown cost column, bringing that total to eight tax breaks with an unknown cost.

Continue reading #HB2752 Gives Away Future Revenue Automatically– Bad Idea! (video)

Is $1 Billion in New Tax Giveaways Too Much? (video)

AZ Tax Breaks

Crossover week– when hundreds of bad bills are pushed through both houses– is always difficult. In addition to four 12-hour days this past week, Democrats had the extra pressure of trying to stop the tax giveaway parade before it dances off the cliff with our state’s future.

I used to call these tax giveaways fiscally irresponsible, but with 18 tax breaks poised to pass the Arizona House and more coming our way from the Senate, we have crossed the line into insanity. Of the 18 tax giveaways, 11 have some cost estimate. Those 11 total close to $500,000 annually in new tax breaks starting next fiscal year; there are another 7 tax breaks with unknown costs. They’re not free; the Joint Legislative Budget Commission (JLBC) doesn’t know how to estimate their cost. You can read more detail about these bills these three articles herehere, and here. With so many unknowns, if they all pass, Arizona could be looking at $1 billion in new tax giveaways (AKA lost revenue) in next fiscal year or in the near future, since several of them automatically increase over time, and it takes a two-thirds majority to repeal any of them.

Continue reading Is $1 Billion in New Tax Giveaways Too Much? (video)

#AZHouse #Republican Bills Create Unnecessary Bureaucracy & Regulation (video)

voting

It was another late night on Wednesday, but I snuck away to my office for a couple of minutes to do a video in the daylight.

It’s about this time in the session when the Democrats start to get ornery because one bad bill after another is passed on a party line vote. If something fails, one of the good old boys or good old girls brings it back up for reconsideration, and all of the Republicans march in a line and revive the Zombie Bill, as directed. Occasionally, bills die a second time like the rodeo license plate that would have benefited the Spirit of the West Museum in Scottsdale. That died for the second time yesterday– thanks to Reps. Shawnna Bolick and Michelle Udall joining the ranks of representatives who are fed up with license plates. (I did a previous update on this topic.)

Governor Doug Ducey and Republican Legislators often pontificate about reducing bureaucracy and regulation. They then turn around and create more bureaucracy and regulations surrounding issues and services that they don’t like–for example, women’s reproductive rights, Clean Elections, voter rights, independent redistricting, the Citizens Initiative, marijuana… you get the idea. Today’s video is about three Republican bills that create new, unnecessary and redundant bureaucracy, regulations, and structure in the government.

Continue reading #AZHouse #Republican Bills Create Unnecessary Bureaucracy & Regulation (video)

Gloves & Hankies: Lessons from the 1918 Flu Pandemic (video)

Just when we humans think the world is at our command, the hand of destiny shows us that it isn’t.

The new coronavirus from China is rocking the world’s largest economy, messing with the supply chain of globalization, and showing us that suppression of vital public health information in order to save face is bad policy.

COVID-19 has spread to different cities in China, Iran, South Korea, other countries in south east Asia, and up into Europe. They are expecting the new flu to come to the US. Public health officials had dire warnings earlier this week. They told Congress that we should expect to have “our lives disrupted” and to practice “staying apart from each other”!

What is the Trump administration doing to get a head of the flu? They put some money into it (perhaps too little too late), but Trump is following the same path as authoritarians in China and Iran and trying to gloss over the effects of the flu as it begins to hit our shores.

This should be a worldwide wake up call, not a time when we put our heads in the sand.

Continue reading Gloves & Hankies: Lessons from the 1918 Flu Pandemic (video)

Is 5G ‘Risky Business’? (video)

technology

Today’s video starts with a walk down memory lane to HB 2365. This was a very complicated, major telecom bill that passed the Legislature in 2017. I was the only person in the Legislature who voted “no” on the final read. I believe I was the last person to vote. Rep. Isela Blanc turned to me and said “You’re voting ‘no’? You should explain your vote.”

I didn’t explain my vote because my stance was part hunch.

I originally voted “yes” on HB2365. (I remember being skeptical, but it was sold as no big deal.) I voted “no” when it came back from the Senate with amendments for two reasons. 1) The bill included a lot of accelerated depreciation, which I interpreted as a tax break for the telecom corporations. I remember asking questions of the staff regarding the cost, and there wasn’t really any clear answer about cost. 2) The bill was very complicated. I remember the explanation alone being pages long, and we had to make a decision very quickly. I voted “no” because I thought we really didn’t know what we were voting on.

Continue reading Is 5G ‘Risky Business’? (video)

Cannabis Reform & Tax Cuts: Highs & Lows in #AZLeg (video)

Reefer Madness poster

Feb. 20 was another very long Thursday with the House Health and Human Services Committee starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 6:30 p.m., with no lunch and a few hours in between for floor action and introductions. Thank goodness I had time to eat a yogurt cup and apple slices that were in my refrigerator. I had other food, but I never had time to sit down and eat it. (Thank goodness I ate a hearty breakfast.)

Thursday’s low point was in the afternoon when the Republicans passed more than $300 million in tax giveaways in two bills. There are more than a dozen additional tax breaks in the House queue, alone. What the Republicans are doing with these tax giveaways is so incredibly irresponsible… but I digress.

Anyway, today’s video is about the high point of the day (no pun intended) when four marijuana bills passed the health committee, including my bill HB 2840, giving medical marijuana patients the choice between electronic medical marijuana cards and physical cards.

Continue reading Cannabis Reform & Tax Cuts: Highs & Lows in #AZLeg (video)

What Is the Cost? 18 Tax Giveaways Pass #AZ House Ways & Means (video)

Arizona's fiscal cliff

The sheer volume of tax credits, tax cuts, tax shifts, and miscellaneous tax giveaways in this Legislative session is mind boggling. Will the Arizona House pass one billion dollars in tax giveaways in 2020? It could happen. To say that this behavior is fiscally irresponsible is a gross understatement.

The House Ways and Means Committee has passed 18 tax giveaways in 2020, and those bills are now hitting the House floor for debate and votes. Six of the 18 already have passed the House: HB2355, HB2356, HB2293, HB2732, HB2778, and HB2779. (See descriptions below.) These six will eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue from the General Fund, and there are 12 more tax giveaways to be voted on. As noted in previous blog posts, these tax giveaways primarily benefit large corporations– like Microsoft, APS, TEP, SRP, SW Gas– specific business groups or industries, and wealthy Arizonans.

It is often said that a budget is a moral document. In our state budget, the Legislature supports corporations and wealthy Arizonans with never-ending, multi-year tax giveaways, that often have inflation adjusters. Arizona wouldn’t have an affordable housing problem, crumbling infrastructure, and grossly underfunded education system if the Legislature had long-term plans and multi-year, inflation-adjusted budgets to address those problems. Instead, programs and services that benefit the people of Arizona are lucky to get one-time funding and beg for more each year (or pass citizens initiatives).  We don’t have a budget surplus; we have chronically underfunded programs.

Continue reading What Is the Cost? 18 Tax Giveaways Pass #AZ House Ways & Means (video)