Monthly Archives: November 2017

January Contreras Campaigns for Consumer Protection in Attorney General Race

Former Prosecutor January Contreras is campaigning to restore protections for Arizona consumers, kids and seniors as she runs to be state Attorney General.

“Consumer protection is the core mission of Attorney General’s office,” she says. “This has not been on the agenda of Attorney General. We need an Attorney General who is willing to ruffle feathers when it involves going after these drug companies purposely making money off the opioid crisis.”

Contreras seeks to oust incumbent Republican Mark Brnovich, who has been A.G. since 2015, carrying out the agenda of Gov. Doug Ducey. She spoke recently at the LD9 Democratic party meeting in Tucson.

She was Ombudsman and Director for U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2009-2012, Arizona Health Policy Advisor from 2006-2008, Assistant Director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System from 2004-2006, and an Assistant Attorney General from 2000 – 2003. Prior to that she was a deputy Maricopa County prosecutor.

She plans to enforce laws against drug companies and distributors that have caused the opioid crisis by flooding Arizona with hydrocodone and fentanyl. More than 3,200 suspected opioid overdoses have been reported to state officials since June 15, with more than 400 of those deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“Recently, 44 Attorneys Generals – Republicans and Democrats – took action to hold drug companies accountable. Mark Brnovich wasn’t one of them,” she says. “As this bipartisan group called on Congress to repeal legislation that weakens the DEA’s power to go after suspicious drug companies, Brnovich was one of six Attorneys General who looked the other way.”
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Chamberlab Vexations marathon to benefit ACLU of Arizona

Here’s an unusual event: 16 hours of music at the Hotel Congress & then at Maynards Kitchen & Cocktails, of various musicians playing the same piece 840 times — if they make it. And it’s a benefit for the ACLU of Arizona.  Donate now & drop by on Dec. 2nd to check it out. Having served on the ACLU of Arizona’s state board in Phoenix for 5 years, I will drop by sometime during this 16 hour “vexathon”/marathon.

“We’re playing Erik Satie’s VEXATIONS 840 times in a row to benefit the ACLU of Arizona! This is open to ALL MUSICIANS, and we hope you’ll take a chair and PLAY YOUR PART FOR FREEDOM!

Read all about it and sign up at www.vexathon.com!

“SO FAR:

34 performers,
74 sponsors,
$5,449.96 pledged!

We begin at 8:00 AM at Hotel Congress (311 E. Congress St), and we play for fourteen hours, and then, at 10:00 PM, we march in grand style, still playing, across the street to Maynards Market (400 N. Toole Ave.) for the final two-hour stretch and celebration. That’s a sixteen-hour Satie marathon to benefit the ACLU of Arizona!

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The final countdown on the Senate GOP tax bill has begun: call your senators now

The Senate voted 52-48 along party lines Wednesday to begin debate on the Senate GOP tax bill. Several Republicans who have not committed to voting for the final bill, including Sens. Collins, McCain, Corker and Flake, voted in favor of moving forward to debate. But final passage could be another story.

Currently there is no firm agreement on the trigger provision Sen. Corker wants, no pay-for to partially keep the state and local tax deductions Sen. Collins wants, and no language on the pass-through changes for small businesses sought by Sens. Johnson and Daines. Senate Republicans are about to overhaul the tax code, and they don’t know what’s in their bill yet;

Senate Republicans are in such a rush to pass a tax overhaul in the next few days that they voted to start debate on a bill that could still undergo a bevy of last-minute changes they haven’t seen in writing — changes that could dramatically affect the US economy over the next decade.

But most Republicans aren’t letting some last-minute deal cutting that could mean billions of dollars in tax increases, tax cuts, or federal spending cuts get in the way of moving the bill along.

Even Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who’s one of the senators most skeptical of the bill and is pushing for the major addition of automatic tax hikes if the federal deficit grows too quickly, voted to start debate on the bill. He had told reporters earlier that he couldn’t describe the changes “until we get it in writing.” Corker later told reporters they could “throw away” anything they’d heard about the deal because it is “still evolving.”

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The Senate GOP tax bill is also an assault on health care

I explained the other day how the mythical moderate from Maine, Senator Susan Collins, is being played by the Trump White House on her wholly insufficient “Obamacare” reinsurance fund bill in order to gain her vote on the Senate GOP tax bill. In major policy reversal, Trump now backs bipartisan fixes to ‘Obamacare’ to get Sen. Susan Collin’s vote on GOP tax bill.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has now scored the bill negotiated by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) to stabilize the “Obamacare” market, and it also comes up woefully short. The CBO just released a report that should worry Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski:

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office dealt what should be a crushing blow to the tax bill: The deal that was crafted to win key senators who objected to the bill’s provision that would leave millions uninsured won’t actually stanch the loss in coverage.

With moderates expressing concern over a provision that would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate — leaving an estimated 13 million more uninsured by 2027 — Republican leadership hatched a plan to simultaneously pass a bill to stabilize the Obamacare marketplaces, a proposal negotiated by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA).

But this proposal hit a major snag Wednesday when a new CBO report found passing the Alexander-Murray proposal — the centerpiece of which is funding Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies that Trump has threatened to pull — would not in fact help mitigate the coverage losses and premium hikes triggered by repealing the individual mandate.

Previous estimates from the CBO found that repealing the individual mandate, the Obamacare policy that penalizes people who opt out of buying health insurance, would leave 13 million fewer insured by 2027 and increase premiums by an average of 10 percent over the next decade.

“If legislation were enacted that incorporated both the provisions of the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act and a repeal of the individual mandate … the effects on the premiums and the number of people with health insurance coverage would be similar,” Keith Hall, the CBO’s director, wrote in a letter to Murray.

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The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 is about to become a big effin’ deal

Andrew Rudalevige, the Thomas Brackett Reed Professor of Government at Bowdoin College, has an excellent summary of the legal battle over the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It’s the Game of Vacancies at the CFPB! Watch out for the bureaucratic duel of conflicting statutes.

It’s not exactly “Game of Thrones” – federal budget procedures make it difficult to acquire decent-sized dragons – but there is a monstrous battle over who should be head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

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The Dodd-Frank Act, which created the CFPB, decreed that it should have a single Senate-confirmed director who would serve a fixed term and could not be fired by the president. It also funded the agency via the Federal Reserve instead of the regular budget process, limiting legislators’ ability to slash the CFPB’s budget during annual appropriations.

Most relevant to this week’s drama, the Dodd-Frank Act also states that the agency’s deputy director becomes its acting director in the event of a vacancy at the top. Last Friday, director Richard Cordray resigned, amid speculation that he might run for governor in Ohio. On his way out the door, he named his chief of staff, Leandra English, as deputy director – and thus, in short order, acting director.

FVRA vs. Dodd-Frank: Bureaucratic battle of the giant statutes

Or was she? President Trump turned to a different statute – the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. The FVRA allows a deputy to fill a temporary vacancy, but also provides that the president can instead appoint another executive branch official in that deputy’s place, so long as that official has also been confirmed by the Senate. And so as soon as Cordray’s resignation took effect, Trump named Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney to do double duty at CFPB.

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Pima County Sales Tax Advisory Committee’s public meetings re: proposed sales tax increase

If you can’t make any of these meetings, please go online and give your input about this proposed 1/2 cent sales tax increase. Speak up Tucson.