RTS Alert: Republicans Are Attacking Clean Elections… again (video)

Clean Elections

Arizonans love Clean Elections and the Citizens’ Initiative because these two statues allow the voters’ voices to be heard. That is exactly why these two rights of Arizona voters are under continuous attack by the Republican Party.

HB2724 is a direct assault on the autonomy of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission and is the natural next step for right-wingers after the passage of the anti-Clean Elections Prop 306 in Nov. 2018.

HB2724 is politically targeted and costly over-regulation of a popular commission. HB2724 allows every rule created by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission to be challenged by anyone in the state and thus start an official investigation. This bill could spark multiple unnecessary investigations by the Governor’s regulatory agency. No other state agency suffers from this oppressive oversight. This is heavy-handed regulation aimed at suppressing the voices of candidates who choose to say no to big money politics.

If you backed the Outlaw Dirty Money Citizens Initiative, if you want to get money out politics and if you want your elected officials to answer to you — instead of answering to big money donors and lobbyists — just say NO to HB2724 on Request to Speak (RTS).

HB2724 is on the Regulatory Affairs Agenda for Monday, Feb. 18. Yes, this is the same committee that passed the sub-minimum wage last week.

You all stood strong on RTS against the sub-minimum wage. The RTS commenters helped LUCHA, who showed up in person, to speak against poverty wages. Let’s stand up for Clean Elections. Elected officials should answer to the people, not to corporations, lobbyists, or big money. HB2724 is being heard, but my bill to expand Clean Elections (HB2411) has been double-assigned to two hostile committees (Elections headed by Townsend and Government headed by Kavanagh).

My constituents have told me loud and clear that they don’t like the power of money in politics. Please go to RTS and say NO to HB2724 and YES to HB2411. Yes, I am a Clean Elections candidate. That means I am free of big-money politics.

There are many wild eyed right wing bills that will be heard in committee or on the floor in the coming week. Please stay vigilant in addition to commenting on agenda items. On RTS you can go to “my bill positions”, search for bill numbers, and enter multiple positions on bills even if they are not on an agenda.

Medical Marijuana Patients Arrested, Jailed Due to Glitch in Criminal Code (video)

Activist county attorneys and judges are jailing medical marijuana patients in rural Arizona. They are using a disconnect between the criminal code and the Medical Marijuana Act to jail patients.

Why isn’t the Arizona House hearing bills that would protect patients who are legally buying cannabis concentrates?

Recently, a stage 4 cancer patient was jailed in Yavapai County for two weeks because he had a cannabis concentrate on his person. He missed his chemotherapy because he possessed a medicine that he purchased legally! The case of Rodney Jones, who was jailed for 2+ years for possession of a vape pen with cannabis concentrate, will be heard by the Arizona Supreme Court.

Overall, across the state of Arizona, marijuana laws are being enforced differently. You’re much more likely to get arrested and charged for possession in certain counties than you are in other counties. That’s not fair. Your rights should not depend on your ZIP Code, but they often do.

Rep. Tony Rivero and I have both proposed bills to fix the language in the criminal code. Neither of these bills has been heard– despite broad public support for fixing the legal disconnect that is causing innocent patients to be jailed.

Are Unregulated Health Insurance Plans Good for #AZ Consumers?

Healthcare forum

In the Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday, Feb 14, we are hearing a long list of bills including two about health insurance.

HB2375 would extend short-duration insurance to three years. This insurance is currently capped at one year because it is seen as a stop-gap measure for people who are between jobs or disconnected from insurance for some reason.

HB2376 relates to association health care plans for small businesses and sole proprietors. This bill allows them to band together and buy insurance as a group. A concern with this idea is regarding the quality of insurance that will be purchased and how that will impact workers who will be included under these plan.

Will association health plans cover essential health benefits, like the Affordable Care Act does? Will they cover people with pre-existing conditions? Will they have lifetime insurance caps? Will coverage be determined by the employer’s “deeply held religious beliefs”?

These association health insurance plans will NOT be regulated by the Arizona Department of Insurance. I fear that this will be Wild West Health Insurance, which will be cheap but not comprehensive.

We still have a problem in this country with medical bankruptcy. People buy the insurance they can afford, rather than the insurance they need. Cheap plans don’t offer full coverage and can leave patients in dire financial straits.

On the macro-economic level, these plans could lure people out of the Healthcare Marketplace and weaken the system.

If you are on Request to Speak at the AZLeg website, please offer an opinion on 2375 and 2376.

Request to Speak Update: #JustSayNO to Sub-Minimum Wages (video)

HB2523 is on the agenda for the Regulatory Affairs Committee for Monday, Feb. 11. This is a terrible bill for younger workers who are under 21 years of age, employed in the gig economy, and full-time students.

This bill allows employers to pay you less than Arizona’s current minimum wage of $11 an hour. They can go as low as the current federal minimum wage which is $7.25 an hour.

You have until 2 o’clock on Monday to voice your opinion on the request to speak system. Tell the Republicans loud and clear that this is not fair to younger workers! Why are we saddling college students with enormous debt and then forcing them to work for slave wages?

Go to RTS as the AZLeg website. I am ranking member on the Regulatory Affairs Committee. We have heard many bills about dumbing down qualifications for professions and other bills that are bad for workers.

Three Bills on Prison Reform Await a Committee Hearing

Today, I met with two representatives from Americans for Prosperity about prison reform. We discussed HB2270, HB2245 and HB2363. The first two would reduce jail time for lower level, non-violent crimes. The third would offer a process of expungement of sentence for lower level offenses. HB2363 would not provide restoration of rights, but Americans for Prosperity said that they were in favor of restoration of rights. They said worked on the Florida bill which passed recently. We were on such a roll of agreement that I told them about my ideas for preemie prevention and improved maternal and child health.

Arizona Women Win 42 Legislative, State & Congressional Races (video)

Arizona has a history of electing women to public office. In 1932, Arizona elected Isabella Greenway to the US House of Representatives. In 1972, State Senator Sandra Day O’Connor was the first female president of the Arizona Senate. In 1998, Arizona voters elected five women to run the state government— Jane Hull (Governor), Betsy Bayless (Secretary of State), Janet Napolitano (Attorney General), Carol Springer (Treasurer), and Lisa Graham-Keegan (Superintendent of Public Instruction). To this date, Arizona’s Fab Five remain the most number of women elected to state government at the same time. In 2017, the Arizona Legislature had the highest percentage of women (40 percent) of any state Legislature in the Country.

In 2018, Arizona elected its first female US senator and 41 other women to political office. Out of 108 races, women won 39 percent of them this year. After inauguration in January 2019, half of Arizona’s statewide offices (4/8), 27 percent of our Congressional delegation (3/11), and 39 percent of the Arizona Legislature (35/90) will be women.

Most of the woman who won are Democrats but not all. In the Congressional races, US Senate was won by Kyrsten Sinema (D), Ann Kirkpatrick (D) took CD2, and Debby Lesko (R) was re-elected to CD8. On the statewide level, women took: Secretary of State (Katie Hobbs, D), Treasurer (Kimbery Yee, R), Superintendent of Public Instruction (Kathy Hoffman, D) and one of the Arizona Corporation Commission seats (Sandra Kennedy).

Continue reading Arizona Women Win 42 Legislative, State & Congressional Races (video)

#StopThief Fair Tax Forum: It’s Time to Review Corp Tax Giveaways (video)

Fair Tax Forum

#RedForEd lifted the veil from our eyes and put the issue of corporate tax giveaways front and center in the fight to restore public education funding in Arizona.

As many of you are aware, the Arizona Legislature is giving away more than $13 billion in taxes every year and using only $10 billion to run the state. It is not sound fiscal policy to use accounting gimmicks and 50 fund transfers to “balance” the budget. It is no surprise that the state owes K-12 education around $1 billion. Thanks to scheduled corporate tax cuts passed by the Tea Party*, beginning in 2011, Arizona’s corporations got to keep an extra $1 billion in 2017. These corporate tax cuts continue through 2019, even though we can’t afford them.

As a result of the anger and frustration that many Tucsonans feel about the Arizona Legislature’s performance, the Stop Thief! Let’s Restore Fair Taxes Community Forum drew a standing room only crowd of diverse participants. The event was hosted by the Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF) and Progressive Democrats of America (PDA Tucson), with support from many other unions and community groups.

Tax giveaway banner
The star of the tax forum was the 20-ft banner listing 195 of Arizona’s 334 tax giveaways. Arizona is giving away $13+ billion is taxes each year and using only $10 billion to run the state. It is not sound fiscal policy when you use accounting gimmicks and 50 fund transfers to “balance” the budget.

Heart-felt testimonies from current high school students, who explained how school budget cuts have impacted their lives and their schools, opened the forum.

LD9 Rep. Randy Friese gave a detailed presentation on tax revenue and how it has been siphoned off by special interest groups and corporate tax cuts for decades. (Video after the jump.)

My talk focused on specific tax giveaway votes in the 53rd Legislature. focused specific tax giveaway bills and the drama that swirled around the bills that passed and the ones that failed. (Video after the jump.) Excluding any votes related to budget appropriations, all of the tax giveaway votes in the 53rd Legislature were bipartisan— with Democrats and Republicans on both sides.

The Legislature’s mindset on tax giveaways shifted from January 2017– when two Progressive Democrats made a pact to vote against every tax giveaway until the schools were fully funded– to budget night in May 2018. The Progressive viewpoint was: If the state “can’t afford” to fully fund K-12 public education (due to self-imposed austerity), then we “can’t afford” to give away or excuse any more taxes until the schools are on stable footing and fully funded. Thanks to the #RedForEd movement, on budget night 2018, hundreds of teachers, parents, and supporters filled the House gallery and the Capitol lawn and demanded that public education take priority over corporate tax cuts.

As I mentioned in my talk, a thorough tax giveaway review bill and several tax reform or repeal bills were proposed in the Legislature in 2018. Unfortunately, due to the gamesmanship at the Capitol, these bills were not heard because they were proposed by Democrats: Senator Steve Farley and Reps. Mark Cardenas, Randy Friese, and Pamela Powers Hannley.

It’s time to review all of the tax cuts, tax exemptions, tax credits, tax subtractions, and other tax loopholes. Some of these tax giveaways benefit narrow interests– to the detriment of the general fund and the general public. We must determine which tax exemptions benefit the people of Arizona (like the TPT exemptions for food and prescription drugs); which ones benefit special interest groups (like gold bullion enthusiasts); which ones benefit individual corporations (like the infamous four-inch pipe); which ones we are effective and affordable; and how we can spark economic development without breaking our budget and starving all of our educational institutions, as we are now.

Several people told me that they felt hopeful after my talk because so many costly tax giveaways were stopped on a bipartisan vote.  If fact, all of the tax giveaway votes were bipartisan— with Democrats and Republicans on both sides.  This is why it is important to ask every candidate in the 2018 election what their stance is on tax giveaways, the #RedForEd movement, the Invest In Ed Citizens Initiative (to secure long-term funding for K-12), and the Outlaw Dirty Money Citizens Initiative.  Will these candidates fight for the people or will they “take the money and run”?

Continue reading #StopThief Fair Tax Forum: It’s Time to Review Corp Tax Giveaways (video)

Happy Birthday, SunLink! (video)

Four years ago, on a ridiculously hot July day, thousands of Tucsonans showed up to welcome the Modern Streetcar (AKA Sunlink or affectionately “the trolley”) to downtown Tucson.

Tomorrow, July 28, Tucson will celebrate the streetcar’s steamy birthday with music and air-conditioned rides.

I won’t be downtown for the birthday party because I am giving a talk on the Equal Rights Amendment on Saturday night in Tubac, but I hope you all will check out the festivities and the live music on the streetcar and along the route. Here are a few photos and a video from opening day.

Sunlink Tucson
SunLink dedication
Playground Tucson
The view from The Playground.
Sunlink Tucson
Downtowners welcome the streetcar to Congress Street.

Continue reading Happy Birthday, SunLink! (video)

From Guns to Water: LD9 Forum Video

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

We had a great crowd of about 50 people who came out for the Tanque Verde Democrats LD9 Forum on May 12. For those of you who couldn’t make it, my husband Jim manned me video camera, and we taped the whole thing.

There are seven videos total. Each incumbent or candidate answered every question, and each question is a separate video. The video topics are: introductory comments, water policy, the property tax hike for TUSD residents, gun violence prevention, police interactions with communities of color, working across the aisle, and closing comments with accomplishments or goals.

You can watch the forum videos, as well as my one-minute updates and selected Arizona House Floor Videos on my YouTube Channel here.  (There is also a link to subscribe if you want to follow me on YouTube.) Below the fold are the videos from the meeting. If you are wondering what that red cone is in several of the videos, it is a flag on an audience member’s wheelchair. At first when I saw the raw video footage, I thought, “Who was wearing a tiny red party hat?” Check out the videos after the jump.

Continue reading From Guns to Water: LD9 Forum Video

Passage of Dental Therapy Expands Access to Affordable Care (video)

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

For several weeks during the 53rd Legislative Session, I posted (almost) daily one-minute video updates from my office at the Capitol and posted them on Facebook and YouTube.

I never imagined how wildly popular these videos would be. At the Capitol, #RedForEd advocates would randomly come up to me and say, “I love your videos!” Now that I am back in Tucson, people come up to me at events, at church and in stores, and say, “I love your videos!”

So… I will be keeping them up during the interim.

My first interim video is on the passage of dental therapy. To catch up, I am doing a few videos on some of the bills we passed in a flurry at the end of the 53rd Session last week.

On the very last day, we passed dental therapy as a striker on another bill. I played an integral role in getting dental therapy out of the sunrise committee hearing last fall. I believe it is good public health policy because it will offer affordable dental care in rural and urban areas. This will expand access to care, prevent tooth loss and offer a new career to residents of Arizona.

To Learn more about why dental therapy is important, you can read:

Economic Inequality, Access to Care & Workforce Development: A Progressive Roadmap.

Here is some of the media coverage on the passage of dental therapy:

Arizona law creates dental therapists to handle fillings, extractions and crowns 

Arizona is about to get a new type of dental professional

Chester Antone: Dental therapists good for tribes, good for Arizona