Category Archives: Arizona State Legislature

Do Arizonans believe in equal rights for all Arizonans, or not? Give HB 2586 a vote

Since at least 1994, to the best of my recollection, a bill has been introduced in the Arizona legislature to amend the Arizona Civil Rights Act to include protections for the LGBTQ community. (Many Arizonans falsely believe that such protections already exist). As I recall, there may have been one year the bill actually got a committee vote — and was defeated — but almost every year the bill does not even get a hearing in the GOP-controlled Arizona legislature.

This remains true even after the U.S. Supreme Court and the Arizona Supreme Court have recognized equal protection for same-sex marriages, and same-sex spouses have the same parental rights as opposite-sex spouses under Arizona law.  Another lawsuit enjoined a 2009 statute that made domestic partners of state employees ineligible for health benefits.

Too many Arizona Republicans resist “the arc of the moral universe [that] bends towards justice,” under “a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a Union that could be and should be perfected over time.”

To paraphrase Joseph Welch, “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, GOP legislators, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

The GOP-controlled Arizona legislature is, once again, kowtowing to the hateful lobbyist for religious bigots, Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy, whose undue influence over the Arizona legislature makes her “Arizona’s 31st Senator.” It’s time to revoke her status.

The Arizona Republic reports, Bill to bar discrimination against LGBT people can’t get a hearing:

For the first time ever, a proposal to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in Arizona has gained support from a Republican in the Legislature, along with GOP municipal leaders.

But that doesn’t appear to be enough to get a hearing at the Capitol.

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Weird GOP Legislator Blocks Bill to Prohibit “Bump Stocks” on Guns

AZ State Rep. Eddie Farnsworth is stonewalling gun safety legislation.

AZ State Rep. Eddie Farnsworth is stonewalling gun safety legislation. He is some kind of weird gun worshipper.

A gunman in Las Vegas opened fire on the crowd at a music festival last Oct 1. murdering 58 people and injuring 851 more. During the horrific crime, the shooter fired more than 1,100 rounds from his hotel room using a “bump fire” stock to turn a rifle into an automatic weapon.

Today, a GOP legislator in the Arizona state house is blocking a bill that would outlaw bump stock devices and trigger cranks, defying popular support for this common-sense gun safety measure.

Republican state Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, who is the Chair of the state Judiciary and Public Safety Committee said that the bill will NOT get a hearing, because he thinks it’s a waste of time and personally doesn’t support it.

However, the general public is interested in having this bill heard, according to the organization Gun Violence Prevention Arizona.

The bill, HB 2023, was introduced in January by state Democratic Rep. Randy Friese and Rep. Daniel Hernandez, both of Tucson. Friese, who is a trauma surgeon, saved the life of then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head at a supermarket parking lot in 2011. Hernandez, who was an intern in her office at the time, held his hand over Giffords’ wound to slow the bleeding.

Voters in Arizona can contact Farnsworth to demand a hearing on the bill, by: Continue reading

Arizona House votes to expel Rep. Don ‘Tequila’ Shooter

I’m glad if I helped to advance this story to its proper conclusion, for what it’s worth. Arizona House expels Rep. Don Shooter, citing ‘dishonorable’ pattern of workplace harassment:

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, said earlier this week that he would hold a vote Thursday to censure Shooter, a reprimand that would be part of the chamber’s historical record.

But moments before the House session Thursday, Mesnard issued a statement saying he would push for Shooter’s expulsion instead. The change was due to a letter sent by Shooter to his House colleagues challenging portions of the investigation.

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The Arizona House of Representatives voted Thursday to expel Rep. Don Shooter from office over complaints that he that he sexually harassed women.

The vote comes after an investigation into sexual-harassment allegations against Shooter found “credible evidence” that he behaved inappropriately toward multiple women.

An explosive report from the investigation graphically details lewd language and actions from Shooter, a powerful Republican lawmaker from Yuma, who has openly behaved in a crass manner, but did so unchecked by his peers for years.

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Rep. Don ‘Tequila’ Shooter to be censured for sexual harassment? It should be expulsion (Updated)

A House investigation finally confirmed yesterday that there is “credible evidence” Republican Rep. Don “Tequila” Shooter violated a sexual harassment policy and created a hostile working environment at the Capitol. Well no shit.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Rep. Shooter sexually harassed women, created hostile work environment, investigator finds:

A House investigation confirmed today that there is “credible evidence” Republican Rep. Don Shooter violated a sexual harassment policy and created a hostile working environment at the Capitol.

After the allegations against Shooter surfaced, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard suspended Shooter from his powerful position as the chairman of the House Appropriations committee.

Mesnard said today Shooter will be permanently removed from all committee assignments immediately. Mesnard also said he will seek to censure Shooter for his behavior.

Excuse me? I’m sorry, but the remedy here is one of only two options: Rep. Shooter can either voluntarily resign his seat, or the House should vote for expulsion of a member. A censure is merely a slap on the wrist with no serious consequences.

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David v. the Goliath of the dark money ‘Kochtopus’ and lawless Tea-Publicans on Proposition 305

First, the good news … because you really could use some good news these days.

The “Kochtopus” network trying to prevent the citizens referendum of the “vouchers on steroids” bill to privatize public education from appearing on the 2018 ballot lost in court on the first round. The trial judge dismissed the case saying “there is no legal basis for the challenge.” Dismissals for failure to state a claim are awful hard to overturn on appeal.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Voucher measure can go to ballot, judge rules:

A judge has refused to block voters from getting the last word on whether they want to expand a system of vouchers that uses public funds to send children to private and parochial schools.

In a six-page ruling made public Tuesday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Margaret Mahoney ruled that the law in effect last year when the referendum was filed did not give individuals the right to challenge petition drives. She pointed out it was repealed in 2015.

Mahoney acknowledged that lawmakers did vote to reinstate the individual challenge law last year. And that change took effect on Aug. 9, 2017.

But the judge pointed out that the petitions demanding a public vote were turned in on Aug. 8. Quite simply, Mahoney said, there is no legal basis for the challenge.

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#AZLeg Passes Landmark, Bipartisan Opioid Bill

There were a lot of conversations going on in advance of the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act.

January 25, 2018 was one of the most dramatic days at the Arizona Legislature, since I was elected.

Not only did we have ~75 Luchadores visiting their Legislators and five extremely aggressive anti-immigrant, pro-Trump protesters heckling them, we also had the big vote on the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act (SB1001).

We have been working on SB1001/HB2001 for weeks. Unlike much of what we do in the Arizona Legislature, the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act was a truly bipartisan effort. The governor even gave the Democrats the bill language in advance and asked for our input. The Republicans included us in the bill development process because they needed our votes and because didn’t want us to blow it up on the floor with our speechifying, as we did with the stingy TANF and teacher raises in 2017.

As someone who worked in public health and nicotine addiction treatment for years, I was proud to serve on the Democratic Caucus team that reviewed the bill and offered suggestions for revision. It was very heartening that they included several Democratic ideas in this bill. Four of my suggestions were included: offering treatment instead of jail during an overdose situation, AKA the 911 Good Samaritan bill (HB2101), which has been proposed by Democrats for four years in a row; providing funds to counties for life-saving NARCAN kits (HB2201); providing a non-commercial treatment referral service; and offering treatment in a brief intervention after an overdose scare (when your doctor says, “You didn’t die this time. Maybe you should quit!”). The Democrats also suggested including the Angel Initiative (where addicts can drop off their drugs and ask for treatment, without fear of arrest) and $10 million for drug addiction treatment services for people not on AHCCCS (Medicaid) or private insurance.

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