Guns, Water & Education: April 2018 Constituent Update from #AZLeg

#RedForEd

March was packed with events– most notably multiple Red For Ed protests at the Capitol and the March for Our Lives. There are more scheduled for April.

In the News

We have had many lively debates on the Floor of the House this year. In March and April, we debated water, tax cuts, the deregulation sandbox, marijuana, and much more. Archived video of all Floor, Caucus, and Committee meetings are online here. March was a big news month. To keep everyone up-to-date with the issues, I have been recording daily videos from my office in the Capitol and posting them on social media. There is a collection on my Facebook page here.

I added several news stories to my In the News tab on this website recently. The Capitol Times did a cover story highlighting the feisty freshman women in the Legislature: Dem House Freshmen Break Tradition, Turn Up the Volume.  Many of you have heard me talk about how the women changed the game in the Arizona House.; that story finally made the news. Paulina Pineda did a great job of capturing our spirit and our resolve.

Arizona House women
I am so proud to serve with these women: Reps. Wenona Benally, Mitze Epstein, Geraldine Peten, Athena Salman, Kelli Butler, me, Isela Blanc, and Kirsten Engel in the front. We don’t always wear red; the above two photos were taken on Red for Ed days. The House Democratic Caucus rocks. (Capitol Times photo.)

April Canvassing & Events

While the Legislature is still in session, we will be canvassing on Saturday mornings. I have scheduled canvasses for April 14 and April 21 from 9:30 – 12:30, meeting on the Beyond Bread patio. Details are on the events tab of my Facebook page. Between now and the August primary, expect weekly group canvassing opportunities. Please volunteer. I am still collecting signatures and seed money. You can sign my petition here online and donate seed money here.

Both the Nucleus Club and the Tanque Verde Democrats will be having meet-the-candidate events in April. The Nucleus Club will be having an all-candidate forum for Southern Arizona House candidates on Thursday, April 12 at the Viscount  It’s on my calendar, and I hope the incumbents can attend. We may be sitting in our chairs on the floor of the House at 5:30 p.m., but let’s hope not. The Legislature is still in session, and we have many big decisions yet to make– like the gun violence prevention legislation and the budget (which obviously includes the teacher pay discussion). Facebook event here.

The Tanque Verde Dems are hosting a wine tasting fundraiser and meet-the-candidates event on Saturday, April 14 at the Wine Collective. (You can canvass with me in the morning and relax later at the wine tasting.) The wine tasting replaces the TV Dems’ regular Saturday breakfast meeting. Facebook event here.

Photo Gallery of March Events

Gun Violence Prevention 

House Dems
Following the Parkland, Florida school shooting, student protests at the Capitol, and the masses Marches for Our Lives, Governor Doug Ducey released his NRA-approved school safety plan. Ducey’s plan doesn’t go far enough. For example, it doesn’t include universal background checks or banning bump stocks or any type of weaponry.  The House Democrats held a press conference to encourage the governor to go bold. The Dems stood in silence for 17 minutes on the Floor of the House– one minute for each Parkland victim. The Republicans recessed and left the room.  Read about the press conference here, the minutes of silence here and about the Tucson March for Our Lives here.
March for Our Lives Tucson
Thousands marched to end gun violence in Tucson March for Our Lives. I was on the state with gun violence survivors and elected officials at the rally on the UA Mall. Here, former Congressman Ron Barber and Roxanna Green, both survivors of the Tucson mass shooting at the Safeway, embrace as he addresses the crowd.

Continue reading Guns, Water & Education: April 2018 Constituent Update from #AZLeg

Balancing Responsibility & Liberty: The Yin & Yang of Public Policy

This is the text of the talk that I gave at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson (UUCT) on July 30, 2017. (Watch the video here.)

Rep. Pamela Powers HannleyOur lives are made up of the choices we make. Although they range from the mundane to the profound, all of our choices bundled together determine balance or imbalance in our lives. Taoist philosophers believed that to lead a happy and tranquil life, one must live in balance with the forces of nature—the yin and the yang, the female and male, the good and evil.

In her book, Envisioning a New World, UU Rev. Rosemarie Carnarius applies the concept of balancing yin and yang to public policy. She suggests that we should try to consciously balance social responsibility—the yin—with individual liberty—the yang. It sounds so simple yet so profound. Like the Tao.

Carnarius goes on to point out that with the our country’s Declaration of Independence, “… for the first time in history, an individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was proclaimed as divinely ordained, unassailable, and constitutionally guaranteed.” A huge step for the common man.

Also, lest our new country devolve into the lawlessness of unbridled individualism, the framers of the Constitution balanced “the ascendency of the individual” with a “trust in humanity’s capacity for self-governance.”

Democracy—the voice of the people—would balance the rights of the individual.

Continue reading Balancing Responsibility & Liberty: The Yin & Yang of Public Policy

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

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 2: ADEQ Gas Tank Removal in Phoenix

ADEQ gas tank removal
ADEQ gas tank removal
Long view of gas tank removal: one tank is on the truck, while the other is still in the ground.

Did you ever wonder what happens to the storage tanks when a gas station closes? In Arizona, taxpayers often fund removal of the tanks– not the companies that installed them.

When I was  professional photographer, one of my favorite subjects to photograph was industry, because of the sheer scale of the machinery and striking angles of industrial settings. Consequently, I jumped at the chance to watch two massive gas storage tanks being removed from an old, out-of-business gas station. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has a gas tank storage removal program, bankrolled by a special fund set up by the Arizona Legislature.

I think that is great to remove hazardous waste– like old gas storage tanks– and I would support more funding for ADEQ so they could step up the pace on the clean-up. According to ADEQ staff, there are hundreds of defunct gas stations and other industry-related environmental clean-up projects around Arizona that ADEQ is responsible for. Shouldn’t corporations take more responsibility for cleaning up their own environmental messes? Many “Mom-and-Pop” convenience stores/gas stations probably don’t have the funds for gas tank removal and clean-up after they close their doors, but corporate-owned gas stations should be cleaned up by the corporate people who own them, in my humble opinion.

As a Mom, I can’t remember how many times I have said: “You made that mess. You clean it up.”

ADEQ gas tank removal
Legislative Reps. Kirsten Engel, Pamela Powers Hannley (far left) and Kelli Townsend (right) with ADEQ staff (center) and Senator Andrea Dalessandro– watching gas tank removal on a chilly December morning.

This is the second blog post in a five-part series on my first few weeks as a representative-elect:

Legislative Whirlwind Begins: Tours & Meetings, Oh, My! (Part 1)

Legislative Whirlwind Part 2: ADEQ Gas Tank Removal in Phoenix

Legislative Whirlwind Part 3: 92,000 Cows

Legislative Whirlwind Part 4: Lettuce & Birds

Legislative Whirlwind Part 5: Migrant Workers

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Know Your Candidates before You Vote

Pamela Powers Hannley

Residents of Legislative District 9 have a clear choice for Arizona House. Two Democrats Rep. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley are running against Tea Party candidate Ana Henderson.

The Clean Elections debate revealed major differences between Henderson’s extreme Tea Party positions and the two Democrats’ views.

To simplify your voting decision, I revised my ven diagram (below) comparing where I stand on the issues and where Henderson stands.

Continue reading Know Your Candidates before You Vote

Time for Planting: Lack of Dust Control on I-10 Is Hazardous (video)

Every time I drive to Phoenix on a windy day, I get a little bit nervous.

It’s a familiar scenario: Trees are swaying, tumbleweeds are bouncing around the barren land, dust devils swirl in the distance, and flashing lights on the government signs tell us it’s windy.

So far– the lighted warning signs are the Arizona government’s only official response to years of dangerous interstate driving, major dust storms, and multiple crashes.

We have all seen the pictures and heard the stories about massive dust storms on I-10 and the tragic fatalities. Regular road closures east of Tucson due to dangerous blowing dust from one property owner have resulted in low-tech mitigation– AKA, “watering” the lose dirt with “gorilla snot”, a mixture that keeps the dirt from blowing. Really? Gorilla snot and flashing lights? Is this the best we can do to control this widespread public health hazard?

Not only do dust storms bring hazardous driving conditions, they also cause breathing problems and serious health conditions. Just a few years ago– not long after Wall Street crashed Arizona’s economy–we were driving through San Tan on an extremely windy day. Large swaths of desert in and around San Tan had been scraped clean, presumably to build housing. The air was brown and thick blowing dirt. Visibility was maybe 50 feet, yet people were walking around, going about their business as breathing dust was perfectly normal.

What about plants?

Five years ago, when I first wrote about dangerous dust storms on I-10, I called for replanting desert vegetation along I-10.

Continue reading Time for Planting: Lack of Dust Control on I-10 Is Hazardous (video)