Emergency Tourism Dollars Won’t Overcome #AZ’s Bad Reputation (video)

Arizona House
The Commerce Committee had a rousing debate over HB 2161 this week. It allows municipalities and counties to create multiple quasi-governmental taxing authorities (called marketing authorities) across the state.
The concept behind 2161 is that local governments can designate a specific geographic area to be within the marketing authority with the consent from 67% of the lodging establishments within the boundaries. Hotels and other lodging establishments inside the marketing authority would agree to add a bed tax (or in some cases an additional bed tax) to the per night room rate. Proceeds from the new tax from the multiple marketing authorities across the state would be sent to the Department of Revenue, who would process the new tax funds, and, in turn, return the bed tax money to the local governments who would funnel the money to the Board of Directors for the marketing authority and the local tourism bureau to be used for advertising the area. I am against this bill for multiple reasons:
  1. I don’t think the state should abdicate taxing authority to quasi-governmental authorities because they are not accountable to the taxpayers.
  2. This is a tax on consumers, but consumers will get no direct benefit (unless they want a housekeeping or wait staff job in the future).
  3. This bill creates more bureaucracy locally and at the state level. Proponents say this won’t cost the state any money. I disagree. It will enable creation of an unknown number of new taxing districts with different tax rates which all send funds to DOR for processing. DOR funnels the money back to local governments and to the local tourism bureaus to be used for advertising. That process is not free. It will obviously require significant personal time, new procedures, database augmentation for the new taxes, and more.
During the pandemic, there have been multiple news stories about states (like Arizona) and countries (like Italy and Spain) that have lost significant revenue during the pandemic because they have historically relied upon tourism and fees levied on tourists as primary sources of income. The travel and tourism industry — along with conventions and air travel — have been hard hit by COVID. Conventions, concerts, music festivals and other big events have been canceled. Besides canceled events, people aren’t traveling for multiple reasons: they are sick; a family member or friend is sick or has died of COVID; they’re afraid they or family members will become sick or die; they’re afraid to be in enclosed, non-social-distancing spaces, including airplanes, trains or abuses; they’re afraid to spend the night in a motel room or go in public restroom; they don’t trust the government to keep them safe (obviously a good reason with 400,000+ dead); or they are at high risk for COVID and don’t go anywhere.
Also … let’s not forget the biggest reasons why tourists and conventioneers might choose to go elsewhere. Arizona has a habit of creating negative press for itself. For example:
  1. Arizona has bungled the pandemic. Arizona has been a COVID hot spot for weeks and has been intermittently worst in the nation multiple times in the past year.
  2. Since the Jan. 6 US Capitol Insurrection, Arizona is also known as the home of the infamous organic-food-loving Q Shaman and multiple insurrectionist elected officials.
  3. The Arizona Legislature continues to waste time on inappropriate and radical legislation such as Rep. Walt Blackman’s “homicide by abortion” bill (HB2650) and Rep. Shawnna Bolick’s HB2720 which creates layers of unnecessary bureaucracy, has voter privacy concerns, and hands the presidential election decision to the Arizona Legislature. (What could go wrong?)
  4. Jon Stewart of the Daily Show dubbed Arizona is the “Meth Lab of Democracy”. This references the founding fathers’ idea that the states would be “laboratories for a democracy” and would test new ideas. If enough states adopted those novel ideas, the federal government would adopt them for all states. As the Meth Lab of Democracy, Arizona is known for our racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-science laws.
Not a good look.
All of the slick ads about cowboys, sunsets, warm weather, and the Grand Canyon will not overcome our bad reputation. The goal of the marketing authorities is to bolster the tourism industry and subsequently the state’s economy. Arizona has a lot of self-inflicted marketing wounds that we have to overcome before people are going to come here post Covid.
The tourism industry needs to rethink itself for the post Covid world. Travel, tourism, conventions and air travel will not be the same as they were before. The sooner we realize that and start innovating and planning for it, the better off we will be. We should cast aside the old paradigms.
If you are on RTS, vote “no” on HB2161, HB2650, and HB2720. Let’s focus on helping Arizona’s survive the pandemic physically and financially. That should be our first priority in the legislature.

#AZLeg Should Focus on COVID, Not Tax Breaks

Republicans thanks for the poverty

This is an RTS Alert for HB2244, 2253, and 2252 and HCR2010 …

This is the third week of the Arizona Legislature. It is also the second full week of committees. I am the ranking member on the Commerce Committee and a member of Ways and Means. (I am not on the Health Committee this session.) My updates for the next two years are going to be pretty much about money, incentives, taxes, and tax giveaways.

So far, none of the bills heard in either of my committees help the people of Arizona or local small businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic. The Legislature needs to focus on the pandemic — instead of marching in lock step to pass 100s of bad (or at least unnecessary) bills from 2020 that COVID killed.

A recent poll revealed that Arizonans’ biggest concern is *surviving the pandemic*. Arizonans’ priority is to get through the pandemic alive … with their family members. They also don’t want to be broke and homeless at the end of this. The poll also revealed that their biggest fear was that government would do nothing, and they want to make sure corporations pay their fair share. Arizona had widespread poverty, housing insecurity, food insecurity, and access to care issues long before the pandemic. I suggest my bills to fix systemic problems in Arizona would also help people weather the pandemic storm.

For example, HB2244 would fully fund the housing trust fund which has not been adequately funded for ~10 years; HB2253 would increase Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) to the full five years allowed by the federal government; HB2252 would increase Arizona’s TANF from 36% of the 1992 poverty level to 40% of the 2020 poverty level; and HCR2010 would ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (giving women equal pay for equal work). I also have multiple bills to increase the healthcare workforce and increase access to care particularly in maternal and child health.

I have attended multiple financial forecasting and review meetings in the past year. Thanks to all of that online purchasing, Arizona is raking in the sales tax. Some people at the state level are giddy with the amount of sales tax revenue we have brought in during the pandemic. They are also very excited about the generosity from the federal government. Unfortunately, the governor and others in the Republican Party are using these unexpected funds as an excuse to cut taxes. Why don’t we use these funds to build financial stability, increase access to care and help the people of Arizona stay safe and healthy during the pandemic — instead of giving our tax dollars away to corporations and Arizona’s 1%?

Please be vigilant. There are many people up here who are determined to keep the inequities of our system.

Please give HB2253, HB2252, HB2244, and HCR2010 a thumbs up on RTS. Also, give tax breaks (HB2108 and HB2113) and additional, unnecessary governmental bureaucracy and fees (HB2161) a thumbs down.

Inauguration Day 2021: Face Masks & Chain Link (video)

Arizona Legislature

Inauguration Day for the Arizona Legislature was January 11, 2021 — five days after the insurrection at the US Capitol.

Since the occupation of the nation’s Capitol, the Arizona Capitol has been surrounded by chain link fencing to protect us from armed threats from the outside. Unfortunately, inside, the threat of COVID19 is not being taken seriously, in my opinion. Although the Arizona House has a policy that says members, guests and staff must wear face masks, it was not enforced at all for Opening Day.

Continue reading Inauguration Day 2021: Face Masks & Chain Link (video)

Thank You, LD9! I’m Proud to Serve You for Another Term (video)

LD9 election results for 2020

Thank you so much, LD9 voters, for making me the top vote getter in the 2020 Primary Election and the 2020 General Election. I particularly want to thank my grassroots volunteers who worked tirelessly to help me win re-election. 

It was an extremely difficult year for humankind, but you persevered to help many Democrats win– including the LD9 team of Senator Victoria Steele, Rep. Randy Friese and me. Oh, yes, and Joe Biden!

You are my Power Team.

LD9 volunteers
Rep. Randy Friese and Pam Powers Hannley with volunteers in 2020.

We traveled 2020’s rough and bumpy roads together. We not only faced the pandemic together, we faced a Republican opponent with more than three times as much money and all of the wealthy donors, television commercials, robocalls, slick mailers, and giant signs that accompany big-money politics.

I was his target, and you helped me beat him. The final count is PPH 64,781, Rep. Randy Friese 64,772 and Brendan Lyons 48,026.  OK, I beat Friese by only nine votes, but I beat Lyons by 17,755 votes.

Continue reading Thank You, LD9! I’m Proud to Serve You for Another Term (video)

Big Money Politics Targets the ‘Tucson Progressive’ in 2020 Election (video)

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

Corporate America, was it something I said?

Are you putting tens of thousands of dollars in big money donations behind my pro Trump, pro deregulation, pro tax giveaway, pro privatized insurance, pro Open Up Arizona (and masks are a personal choice) Republican opponent because I told the people of Arizona the truth about tax giveaways? That we were poised to giveaway $1 billion in taxes to corporations, special interest groups and wealthy Arizonans in 2020, after giving them $400 million in 2019?

Or was it because I said (repeatedly) that we should fund the People’s To-Do List — Education, Infrastructure, Healthcare and Safety and Security — instead of the Corporate Wish List?

Or maybe you didn’t like my video on raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for public education, instead of continuing to raise sales taxes on the poor to fund the state government?

Or maybe you didn’t like it when I exposed the GPLET tax shell game or the $13 billion in state tax giveaways?

Or was it my speeches against voter suppression and against attacks on Clean Elections, the Citizen’s Initiative, Independent Redistricting and Medical Marijuana?

Or was it because I opposed the sub-minimum wage of $7.25/hour, fake pregnancy clinics, dangerous deregulation, and Reefer Madness anti-marijuana legalization efforts?

Or was it when I said that Arizona chose a short-term economic boost over common sense, opened up the economy too soon, and gave our state the worst COVID19 record in the world ?

Continue reading Big Money Politics Targets the ‘Tucson Progressive’ in 2020 Election (video)

Defund the Police? Balancing ‘Social Control’ & ‘Social Investment’ (video)

Robert Reich

What does “defund the police” mean to you?

Following the tragic and unnecessary deaths of George Floyd, Dion Johnson, Rayshard Brooks, Carlos Ingram Lopez and others at the hands of law enforcement officers, there have been calls to “defund the police.”

Often the same people who say “defund the police” also add “that doesn’t mean take away all of the funding.” When I ask what it does mean, the explanations often get mushy. Recently, I read “What Defund Police Really Means: Replacing Social Control with Investment” by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

In this Guardian article, Reich talks about increased spending in social investment beginning in the mid 1960s through President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Beginning in 1964, the War on Poverty efforts rolled out Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, Food Stamps, cash assistance to the poor, equal opportunity programs, the voting rights act and more. By the early 1970s, these programs were working to reduce poverty, particularly among African Americans.

In 1971, future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell wrote the now infamous “Powell Memo,” which author and historian Bill Moyers labels a “Call to Arms for Corporations, “ excerpted …

Continue reading Defund the Police? Balancing ‘Social Control’ & ‘Social Investment’ (video)