As the Arizona Legislature approaches the 100-day target for the end of session, Republican Legislators have shifted their focus to passage of their party’s most extreme bills.
In Season 2, Episode 7, Rep. Pam Powers Hannley’s Legislative updates focus on the Culture War raging in the Legislature — from the 15 week abortion ban and school voucher expansion to homeless encampments and inequitable ambulance services.
Ironically, Arizona Republicans routinely pontificate about “parental choice” when it comes to schools and school curricula BUT parental input falls by the wayside when it comes to statewide voucher expansion OR the ultimate parental choice — whether or not to have a baby and when.
Creeping authoritarianism in the Republican Party — fueled by fake news and misinformation in social media — is troubling.
There is a link to this podcast below. You can also subscribe to A View from the Left Side on multiple podcasting services such as iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher Radio, I Heart Radio and others. The original Legislative update videos on these topics can be found on my YouTube Channel.
The Arizona Legislature has been ignoring our state’s affordable housing crisis for years. When I got to the Legislature in 2017, I was told that “we just need more supply” because demand was so high.
The sole solution present in 2017 was tax credits for developers. To which I asked, “Is making the rich richer the only way to help the poor?”
In 2022, I am answering my own question. No, tax credits and business incentives are not the preferred path to affordable housing. I proposed eight housing bills this year. My bills fall into two primary categories: 1) ending preemption of local ordinances that will allow the cities to innovate and 2) keeping people housed.
Not surprisingly, bills passed over the last 10 years — since the Tea Party takeover — have made Arizona’s housing crisis significantly. When you’re in a hole, stop digging! There are many bad bills that should be repealed. That’s where we should start, rather than focusing on new laws.
Preemption Laws to Repeal
HB 2193 state law; local violations; repeal (Rep. PPH) repeals the worst preemption bill in the US: SB1487 from 2015.
HB2446 local planning; residential housing; repeal (Rep. PPH, sponsor) repeals the preemption of inclusionary zoning. Inclusionary zoning allows municipalities to designate a certain percentage of a new housing project be affordable or low income.
HB2401 rent regulation; state preemption (Rep. Solario, sponsor) repeals the preemption of rent control.
HCR2006 short-term rentals; vacation rentals (Rep. Butler, sponsor) repeals the original deregulation of short-term rentals in Arizona. Arizona municipalities that are tourist designations (like Tucson) are being overrun by corporate-owned short-term rentals. Taking affordable rentals off the market squeezes residents who are renters.
Keeping People Housed
HB2794 landlord; tenant; fee disclosure; waiver (Rep. PPH, sponsor) is my Truth in Renting bill. It brings transparency to leases, protect tenants from unnecessary fees and traps in leasesand helps prevent some evictions. It sailed through the House Commerce Committee in 2021 and through the House but was stopped by politics in the Senate. It was never heard in 2022. Helping people stay in their homes and apartments is more cost effective and humane that throwing people on the street, breaking up families and trying to put some of those people and families back together again later.
HB2792 landlords; tenant’s marijuana use (Rep. PPH, sponsor) says that any substance that is legal to use in the state of Arizona is legal to use in apartments in Arizona. Corporate leases exclude cannabis use in the apartments even in states like Arizona where cannabis is legal. This is an entrapment policy with no exclusions. Even medical marijuana patients with cancer can be evicted in Arizona for any cannabis use. That’s not fair.
HB2793 rent increase; limitations; substantial remodel (Rep. PPH, sponsor) says that year to year rent increases cannot exceed 10%. Arizona is a deregulation state. There are no restrictions regarding raising rent. Corporations are churning the apartment rental market in Phoenix by buying and selling giant apartment complexes and raising the rent every time. There are far too many stories of renters being forced to move because of 50-100% rent increases. Corporations make big bucks in fees when they force people to move.
HB2522 property taxes; elderly assistance fund (Rep. PPH, sponsor) helps low-income seniors pay their property taxes and stay in their homes, particularly if the area has been gentrified. (A Republican also sponsored a similar bill this year.)
HB2195 housing trust fund; unclaimed property (Rep. PPH, sponsor) would fully fund the Housing Trust Fund in Arizona. This fund historically was funded at $40 million per year until the dark days of Governor Jan Brewer and Senate President Russell “SB1070” Pearce when those funds were routinely swept to pay for tax cuts and other Tea Party priorities.
The Arizona Legislature created the current housing problems with 10+ years of bad Legislation. Let’s repeal these bad preemption laws, challenge cities and towns to innovate and keep people housed.
Check out my video for the details behind my housing bills and others that I support. This video was originally recorded on February 28, 2022. All of my video updates are available on YouTube and Facebook.
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.”
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 …
We are back in session and primarily debating and voting on unnecessary Republican bills, as if the COVID-19 virus had never happened.
Yesterday, I posted about the unnecessary and non-emergency insurance industry bills that were passed, primarily on a party line vote. Today, May 20, was a repeat but not quite so ridiculous.
My deciding factor in voting is: Is this bill good for the people of Arizona? For example, I voted for the bill that allows rural electric cooperatives to offer broadband to customers in their service areas. I think it’s the great way to expand Internet access to some parts of rural Arizona, and this will help rural Arizona fight COVID19 by improving communication. I also voted for the bill that offers suicide prevention training for teachers; a bill that allows crisis helpline numbers to be printed on the backs of the student IDs; expansion of teacher training for blind and otherwise impaired students; and some relief for people whose property has been foreclosed upon, a lien placed on it, and auctioned off. I voted against deregulation of drone delivery devices and a few other bills.
Everything blew up when Reps. Travis Grantham and Steve Pierce conspired to stop debate on S1397￼ by having Pierce call the question before Rep. Kelli Butler could propose her amendment to improve SB1397. It requires insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions in the future, if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed by Congress.￼ SB 1397 makes no mention of all of the other benefits from the ACA. Those are included in Butler’s amendment, but she was not allowed to present it, and we were not allowed to debate it at all.
OK, I’m back in the saddle again. Back in the Arizona House, that is.
To be safe, I am doing Floor sessions on the Floor with my mask and gloves but all other meetings remotely.
Today, we had a very interesting Democratic Caucus meeting in the morning. ASU data modeling scientists presented data and answered many questions about COVID19. Following that, the Grand Canyon Institute￼￼ presented on unemployment insurance and what a mess it was in Arizona, even before COVID19. Both of these presentations were excellent; it was such a breath of fresh air to hear the Grand Canyon Institute speak, instead of the Goldwater Institute! It gave me a glimpse of what the Arizona Legislature could be if the Democrats took control this year. (The meeting will be available in the Capitol TV archived videos.)
At the beginning of the floor session today, Rep. Arlando Teller from the Navajo Nation proposed sine die. This would have ended the 54th session, as the Arizona Senate has already voted to do. The Navajo Nation now has a higher COVID19 infection rate than New York City.￼ Both Teller and his seat mate Rep. Myron Tsosie talked about the friends and family who have been sick with the novel Coronavirus and those who have died. Several Democrats gave speeches about focusing on the pandemic rather than focusing on pet legislation that is not an emergency.￼ Rep. Kelly Townsend accused the Democrats of politicizing the issue. Teller’s motion was vetoed on a party line vote.
What did the House Republicans do next? They put up 15-20 unnecessary, non-emergency bills for debate and a vote.
Many of you have recently asked me what the Legislature is up to. After all, we haven’t been at the capital since March 23.
Today’s video is meant to answer the question: Are you done or what?
OK. We’re not done for the year. On March 23, the Legislature passed a “skinny budget” with the Senate bipartisan plan that included $50 million to fight the Coronavirus. After that, we voted to adjourn until April 13 (or until needed or it’s safe). Legislators and their assistants are all working remotely.
There is a lot of speculation about the Legislature, now that President has given up on his prediction that everything will be back to normal by Easter and is promoting staying at home through the month of April. The Legislature could vote remotely or come back with a skeleton crew and sine die (end for the year) or extend the adjournment.
The Capital Times is reporting that if we did indeed sine die now, only about 60 bills will have passed and been signed into law this year￼. ￼Traditionally, the Legislature passes more than 300 bills a year. (More than 95 percent of these bills are Republican bills, even though the Democrats make up 48 percent of the Legislature.) As a long-time Arizona voter, I remember asking myself how in the world can they could pass so many bills every year, particularly when the Republicans promote themselves as party of small government, and they’ve been in charge for decades.￼
Now, as a two-term Democratic representative, I know that the vast majority of the new laws passed by Arizona Republicans are totally unnecessary and often harmful to segments of Arizona’s population. They are NOT the party of small government, obviously,
I relish the idea of passing ~60 bills in 2020, rather than 300. Legislation to enable pet projects, pet vendettas and sweetheart tax deals for utilities and multinational corporations seem completely irrelevant and wrong-headed during a mismanaged public health crisis.
It would be a great thing for the citizens of Arizona if the Legislature passed fewer bills. In 2020, Legislators proposed a record number of bills, more than 1700. If we end the session now, hundreds of bad bills that would have passed in a normal year will be dead! This includes ~20 voter suppression bills; >18 tax giveaways that could total a $1 billion per year of lost future revenue; a bill that allows pawn brokers to become payday lenders; a bill that criminalizes people from standing on the median; a bill that forces us to buy license plates more often just so 3M can sell the state of Arizona more reflective coating, the reefer madness ballot initiative, more vanity license plates; several one-off Republican pet projects related to education (other than public education, of course); multiple attacks on Clean Elections, the Citizens Initiative, representative government, local control, and professional credentials, and whatever else is on the Republican to-do list from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Goldwater Institute, the Institute for Justice, Americans for Prosperity, Arizona Tax Research Association, the Chamber of Commerce or President Trump. ￼
It is completely unrealistic that April 13 would be a safe return date to the capital. I think we should sine die by remote vote. We could come up with a bipartisan, mutually agreed upon short list of bills that deserve to pass. Let’s identify 10 bipartisan bills (other than Coronavirus response bills) that deserve to pass– including earned release credits, the grandparent stipend, more money for caregivers in the ALTCS system, and increased district direct assistance for schools. All the bad bills would die. We would leave a few hundred million dollars sitting on the table (because the tax giveaways wouldn’t pass).
With so little commerce going on right now because of the Coronavirus, there is little sales tax being collected. Our state runs on sales tax. We’re going to need those extra funds in the coming months, along with the billion dollars that we have in our rainy day fund.￼
The Legislature can always come back for a special session.￼