Category Archives: Arizona State Legislature

The GOP’s war on the poor: Medicaid work requirements

Now that Tea-Publicans have accomplished their one goal of passing their “tax cuts for corporations and plutocrats” bill, this year their attention will turn to punishing the poor for being poor, those damn “takers”!

The GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, Paul Ryan, “the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin,” wants to fulfill his life-long dream of dismantling Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the so-called “entitlement” programs, more accurately the “social contract” programs for which people paid taxes into during their working years on the premise that it will be there for them in their retirement years.

But with the Senate down to a bare 51-49 GOP majority, the Septuagenarian Ninja Turtle, Mitch McConnell, says Entitlement reform is not on 2018 Senate agenda despite what House Speaker Paul Ryan and senior Trump administration officials say. It’s Ryan vs. McConnell on entitlement reform. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s dream of dismantling the nation’s entitlement programs in 2018 has run into a harsh reality: His own party isn’t on board.

Nevertheless, Tea-Publicans are going to chip away at the social contract programs this year. In a break from longstanding legal precedent, last week the Trump Administration Says States May Impose Work Requirements for Medicaid:

The Trump administration said on Thursday that it would allow states to impose work requirements in Medicaid, a major policy shift that moves toward fulfilling a conservative vision for one of the nation’s largest social insurance programs for low-income people.

Federal officials said they would support state efforts to require able-bodied adults to work or participate in other “community engagement activities” as a condition of eligibility for Medicaid.

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Arizona legislature to court: you can’t tell us that we are violating the law by not funding schools

Earlier this week, I pointed out that Governor Doug Ducey, as well as reporters and pundits, were not discussing the lawsuit filed last year by Arizona school districts for being short-changed by our lawless Tea-Publican legislature on capital funding. Arizona schools to sue state over funding – again:

A year after voters passed Prop. 123 to resolve a $1.6 billion lawsuit over school funding, Arizona school districts are again taking the governor and Legislature to court.

And this lawsuit is even larger.

School budget officials have estimated the cuts since 2009 total about $2 billion.

On Tuesday, Governor Ducey offered a weak response: School capital funding case goes to court, Governor Ducey only offers pennies on the dollar of what is actually owed.

On Friday, the state of Arizona was in court arguing that the court does not have jurisdiction to decide that our lawless Tea-Publican legislature and governor are violating the law, and a previous landmark Arizona Supreme Court decision, on capital funding for schools. The state’s position is not supported at law or prior court decisions. State presses for dismissal of Arizona school funds suit:

An attorney for the state told a judge Friday he has no legal right to hear a complaint that the Legislature is not providing enough funds for schools.

“This is a political question,” Brett Johnson told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Martin.

The courts have previously rejected the “political question” doctrine in prior decisions.

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Arizona House Dems Drop 2018 ERA Bill

ERA in Arizona House

Arizona House representatives dropped the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) into the hopper on January 11, 2018.

In 2017, the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in eight states, debated in three, and ratified in one– Nevada. The Arizona Legislature was one of the bodies that debated the ERA. (Watch the video.) I have vowed to introduce the ERA every year until it is ratified by the states. Only two more states are needed. This could be the year the ERA is finally sent back to Congress to become an amendment to the US Constitution.

On Thursday, January 11, 2018, I dropped the ERA– with the help of some of my Democratic sisters. All of the House Democrats signed the bill. I stopped asking Republicans to sign the ERA, when I confirmed that Republican Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita also has introduced the ERA this year.  Ugenti-Rita and Rep. Heather Carter were the only two Republicans who voted to hear the ERA in 2017 (rather than shutting down debate, as the Republican leadership wanted to do.)

You’ll remember that in 2017 the Democrats forced the ERA debate by using parliamentary procedures. We did this because Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, chair of the Judiciary Committee, refused to hear it in committee. (Committee chairs often kill bills with this parliamentary procedure.)

In 2018, the ERA is coming in the front door of the Arizona Legislature.

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Confederate Clodfelter flies his Confederate flag (updated)

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports that Legislative District 10 Republican Rep. Todd Clodfelter is proud to fly his Confederate battle flag on his personal computer at the state legislature, and is proud of his Southern ancestry.

The Confederate battle flag, which became popular as a symbol of opposition to the civil rights movement of the 20th century, is a symbol of defending slavery, state sanctioned segregation, white supremacy and institutional violence against African-Americans. If Rep. Clodfelter does not understand this history and is insensitive to how offensive this symbol is to African-Americans, he is an idiot. Pair of lawmakers at odds over display of confederate flag on laptop:

After saying he would not remove the Confederate flag image displayed on his laptop in the Arizona House, Rep. Todd Clodfelter, R-Tucson, said he’ll leave the computer at home instead [with Confederate flag intact].

The Tucson Republican’s 180-degree turn came one day after Rep. Geraldine Peten, D-Goodyear, expressed concerns that she could clearly see the flag from her desk, located one row behind Clodfelter’s seat, during a mandatory harassment and ethics training session at the House of Representatives Jan. 9.

ClodfelterPicture of Rep. Todd Clodfelter’s confederate flag screen saver, posted on Facebook by Rep. Geraldine Peten.

“To me it’s intimidating,” she told her colleagues. “It creates a hostile work environment.”

Rep. Geraldine Peten is correct. Under the new guidelines being adopted by the legislature to come into compliance with the Arizona Civil Rights Act to deal with complaints filed against members of the legislature — arising out of the sexual harassment claims against Rep. Don Shooter — Rep. Peten would be within her rights to file a complaint for a racially hostile work environment over this incident. It would appear that this “mandatory harassment and ethics training” needs some work.

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Pass HB 2158 to permanently extend Prop. 301 education funding

State Rep. Doug Coleman, R-Apache Junction, on Wednesday introduced legislation that would permanently continue the Proposition 301 education sales tax that brings in about $600 million a year to Arizona schools, which is set to expire in mid-2021. Sen. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, is signed onto the bill as a co-sponsor. Republican bill would permanently extend Arizona’s education tax:

The education sales tax, which voters passed in 2000 as Proposition 301, is set to expire in mid-2021.

State Rep. Doug Coleman told The Arizona Republic that House Bill 2158 would essentially “get rid of the cliff” surrounding Prop. 301.

Prop. 301 is a 0.6 cent per dollar education-funding sales tax. Its future has been a point of contention and concern among education and business advocates and state leaders. The money funds things such as teacher salaries and classroom expenses.

The sales tax — and the hundreds of millions of school-funding dollars that come with it — will be gone unless voters approve an extension of the tax in the 2018 or 2020 election or two-thirds of the state’s 90-member Legislature pass legislation to maintain the funding.

Democratic lawmakers last year introduced legislation to extend and expand Prop. 301, but Republican leadership never granted it the required public hearing or votes.

Coleman said his House Bill 2158 would not have additional funding beyond what schools already receive and would not change how the money from the sales is doled out to schools.

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School capital funding case goes to court, Governor Ducey only offers pennies on the dollar of what is actually owed

The other day I pointed out that Governor Doug Ducey, as well as reporters and pundits, were not discussing the lawsuit filed last year by Arizona school districts for being short-changed by our lawless Tea-Publican legislature on capital funding. Arizona schools to sue state over funding – again:

A year after voters passed Prop. 123 to resolve a $1.6 billion lawsuit over school funding, Arizona school districts are again taking the governor and Legislature to court.

And this lawsuit is even larger.

School budget officials have estimated the cuts since 2009 total about $2 billion.

Governor Ducey addressed this oversight on Tuesday and, once again, just like his sham Prop. 123 to settle the inflation adjustment school funding lawsuit by tapping the State Trust Fund and only paying about 70 cents on the dollar of what the courts had already determined that the state owed to Arizona’s school districts,  Governor Ducey is again proposing to pay only pennies on the dollar over five years as a settlement offer in this capital funding case. The plaintiffs in this case should not settle for less than what is owed, again. Governor’s school funding plan would restore capital dollars to pre-recession levels (not really):

Gov. Doug Ducey trotted out a plan Tuesday to eventually restore funding for capital needs for schools to what it was before the Great Recession (2007).

The proposal would put an immediate $100 million this coming school year into an account that is earmarked for “soft capital,” things like computers, books and school buses.

Ducey hopes to boost that to $371 million by the fifth year of the plan. [upwards of $2 billion is owed.] He also wants to give school districts flexibility, allowing local boards to use the dollars for other priorities, ranging from construction to teacher salaries.

The offer comes nearly a year after a coalition of schools and educators filed suit against the state charging it is not living up to its constitutional obligations to provide adequate funding for school buildings, equipment and repairs. It also comes just three days before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Martin hears legal arguments in that case.

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