#AZLeg Week 3 Ends, as Pandemic Rages in Arizona (video)

Arizona House

We ended the third week of the Legislature today and finally voted on some bills on the floor of the House. Since everyone was not there, we didn’t vote on anything controversial. Consequently, there were only a handful of vote explanations.

Although I didn’t say much, I ended up saying more than many people today. I introduced the LD9 doctor of the day.

I took a tip from our Coms guy and explained my vote on HB2109 with one word … “Bingo!”

Some of the new members were wondering about my “no” on HB2122, so I explained my vote on that also. HB2122 allows municipalities to move financial advising fees for bond issues out of the bond budget and allows those fees to be paid from another unspecified source. In my opinion, this is a transparency issue. I know many constituents who are looking at budgets and data on governmental websites in order to determine how local, county, state and federal governments are spending our tax dollars. If they look at the budget for a multi year bond issues, they expect to see the total cost. They shouldn’t have to dig around in layers of PDFs on a governmental website to find out the total cost. The cost of government should be transparent and readily available to the people.

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#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.

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Capitol Times & Clean Elections Hold Online Legislative Forums (video)

candidate forum

Each election year the Capitol Times hosts a Meet the Candidates event in July for all Legislative candidates and incumbents at a fancy downtown Phoenix hotel.

This year, the Cap Times event — sponsored by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission — is virtual and spread out over five evenings, from 6-8 p.m. each night. The schedule is below. All of the forums are broadcast live on YouTube and posted on YouTube immediate afterward.

Pima County LDs 2 and 3 were on July 13, and Pima County LDs 9,10, and 11 were on July 14. The videos for those two events are posted below.

There are a ton of contested primaries in the Legislature on both sides of the aisle. Our forum on Tuesday was very interesting; our Republican challenger was one of the men who were no-shows. The format is that each Legislative District is up, one at a time. Each candidate for each district gets a minute or two to introduce themselves, but the majority of the time is fielding questions from the audience.

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#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?

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#AZLeg in ‘Hurry Up & Wait’ Mode as Ducey Flip-Flops on COVID Safety

Rep. Pam Powers Hannley

As a long-time office worker, I am all too familiar with the “hurry up and wait” game. You rush around to complete a project… just to wait hours, days, or months for the next step in the process to take place.

The Arizona House is stuck in the “hurry up and wait” game. For two weeks in a row, Senate President Karen Fann and Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers called senators and representatives back to the capital to work and/or to vote on ending the second session of the 54th Legislature (AKA sine die).

A few Open Arizona rallies have been held in Phoenix, including three days of rallies May 1-3. With pressure from astro-turf Open AZ movement and some Libertarian Legislators, Fann and Bowers canceled the May 1 floor sessions.

Governor Doug Ducey’s moderate Open Arizona stance from April 29 (which was mentioned in LD9 town hall) went from Arizona will open slowly and watch the data to a broader opening of the economy and the firing of the university scientists who are doing the Arizona COVID19 modeling on May 4. Firing the scientists made national news, including the Rachel Maddow Show, so Ducey re-hired them a few days later. See what I mean about shifting sands?

Perhaps, you remember that back in March, Democratic Legislators were pushing for a comprehensive response to the COVID19 pandemic, and we suggested several components. We wanted to give the governor and the Arizona Department of Health Services guidance  in how to spend the money the Legislature allocated. Republicans voted to just hand the money to Ducey with no strings attached. Two months later, it’s obvious that guidance was needed.

Arizona House Resumes 54th Session on May 19. Now What?

Arizona House

The Arizona House of Representatives has been adjourned since March 23, 2020, due to the COVID19 pandemic. Some of us wanted to vote to sine die (end the session) on March 23 and come back later for special session(s) focused on COVID19 public health and economic issues. Others– mostly Republicans– wanted to stay in session and adjourn because they had hopes that their bills would still pass during this session. I say “mostly Republicans” because even though the Democrats make up 48 percent of the Arizona Legislature, the majority party refuses to move more than a handful of Dem bills each session.

Truth in Renting? No way. Expansion of maternal and child health?  No way. Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment? No way. Fully funding P-20 education? No way.

The majority party refuses to hear these types of bills that would help the people of Arizona because these bills are not backed by special interest groups, big money donations, individual corporations, the Chamber of Commerce, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), the Goldwater Institute, Americans for Prosperity or the “Institute for Justice” (quote marks added to emphasize the irony of their name).

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