This is my first Legislative Update of 2022. usually, on opening day of the legislature, I introduced my guests. Today, my only guest was my husband Jim. I had planned to bring my oldest grandchild to the legislature today but decided it was too risky for his health. He missed Opening Day at the Legislature today because the Republicans decided to host a Super Spreader event.
This is the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple times Governor Doug Ducey’s decisions have resulted in Arizona being worst in the world or worst in the country for COVID-19 deaths and/or infections. Today, Arizona saw 14,000 new COVID cases. Today, Governor Ducey, Speaker Bowers, President Fann, all republican legislators and their guests and some Democratic legislators and their guests were maskless and chummy on the floor of the Arizona House which apparently no longer has HEPA filters.
Thanks so much to Greer Warren, Merrill Eisenberg, and everyone who has been volunteering for weeks to make 1000s of cloth face masks to give away.
You may have heard that the Arizona Legislature has been called back to work on May1 (next Friday). On Thursday, the word on the street was that the Senate Democrats and Republicans wanted to come in on May 1, sine die (end the session), and come back in the future for a special session on the coronavirus and related budget issues.
Many House Dems and an unknown number of House Republicans agreed with that plan. I agree with that plan; I also am open to passing a limited number of consensus bills that are related to COVID19, help the people, and have support of at least 3/4 of House members.
The drama among Republican Legislators last week was the rift between House Republicans who wanted to do a week’s worth of committee hearings (without public testimony) and a week of floor debate to pass some more of their bills– and the vast majority of the rest if us who want to end the session and go into a special COVID19 response session later when public health and budgetary needs are clearer. (For the record, the Legislature appropriate $55 million from the skinny budget and $50 million from the Rainy Day fund for COVID19, and the feds have given Arizona billions to fight the virus. The problem is that the decisions are being made by an ice cream salesman– and not by the state’s disaster response chief, who resigned a few weeks ago.)
Between the three of us, Merrill, Greer and I volunteered to make 30 masks for House Democrats and staff if we have to be there on May 1. Phoenix volunteers are also making some masks.
I don’t think it’s going to be safe in the Arizona House without a mask, gloves and social distancing. They have guaranteed that there will be social distancing on the floor. Some members will be voting remotely from home or from their offices. My plan is to be on the floor, wearing mask and gloves. Hopefully, people won’t try to drag this out with partisan vanity bills– like voter suppression, racing, license plates or tax giveaways.
We should be focused on the tasks at hand and the safety of the people of Arizona– not on passing vanity bills and corporate carveouts.