Category Archives: Arizona State Legislature

AIRC wins final legal challenge to redistricting maps

On Thursday, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge rejected challenges from a coalition of Republican voters that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) used the wrong process in drawing boundaries for Arizona’s nine congressional districts. Arizona redistricting commission wins another legal challenge:

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Roger Brodman rejected claims that the five-member commission violated the state’s Open Meetings Law as it went about its work.

Brodman’s ruling continues a string of redistricting-commission victories. The citizen-created commission has won all five legal challenges brought against it, including two that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is unclear if the plaintiffs will appeal; attorney Brett Johnson was not immediately available for comment.

Joe Kanefield, one of the attorneys representing the commission, called it a “sweeping victory” because the judge sided with the commission on all the complaints.

“It’s a broad victory, there’s nothing left to litigate at this point,” Kanefield said.

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AZ Court of Appeals upholds Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan

The Arizona Court of Appeals has affirmed the Maricopa County Superior Court decision upholding former governor Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan in 2013. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Arizona appeals court says Medicaid expansion law is constitutional:

The appellate court in its opinion (.pdf) said the law imposed an assessment that is exempt from the requirement that any act by lawmakers increasing state revenues, such a tax hike, must get a two-thirds vote in the Legislature [the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” amendment, Prop. 108 (1992)].

The health care law was approved by a simple majority.

At issue is the assessment on hospitals, which the state uses to draw down matching federal funds.

The law has allowed Arizona to expand eligibility to residents who earn between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

In 2015, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Douglas Gerlach also upheld the law, ruling that the hospital assessment that funds the program is not subject to Arizona Constitution’s supermajority provision.

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Plenty of blame to go around

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

Let me first say that I have much respect for Richard Gilman of “Bringing Up Arizona” and the work he has done on behalf of public education. I also very much appreciate his gracious support of my work and wish him well as he moves on to a new chapter of his life.

I did find much though, in his last blog post, to disagree with. It shouldn’t have surprised me, as the last time he and I had lunch, it was pretty clear he was frustrated. I tried to allay his concerns, but obviously, failed. It’s not that I don’t agree with his position that “the status quo in K–12 education is not acceptable. Of course I do. We have the lowest paid teachers in the nation, our per-pupil funding ranks 48th, and our education performance ranking isn’t much better. I do not agree though, that ”the onus belongs as much or more on public school administrators.” School administrators are after all, busy managing their schools and school districts. They are busy focusing on their students and the teachers educating them. That’s where their focus should be. Continue reading

AZ Supreme Court unanimously upholds Prop. 206

The Arizona Supreme Court unanimously ruled against a challenge brought by our corporate overlords in the Chamber of Commerce organizations to the voter-approved Prop. 206, the minimum wage initiative, raising the state’s minimum wage and providing for paid time off regulations. The Arizona Capitol Times  (subscription required) reports, Supreme Court upholds minimum wage law:

The justices rejected arguments by a group of plaintiffs, led by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, that Proposition 206 led to an unconstitutional mandate for the government to spend money. Attorneys for the chamber argued that expenses caused by Prop. 206, which raised the minimum wage to $10 per hour on January 1, violated the Arizona Constitution’s revenue-source rule.

Adopted in 2004, the rule requires ballot initiatives to identify funding sources for any new government spending.

Chief Justice Scott Bales announced the ruling in a brief order released Tuesday afternoon. A lengthier written opinion will be released at a later date.

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Chair of AZ Senate Ed Cmte Needs Education

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

AZ Senator Sylvia Allen, Senate Education Committee Chair, recently asked, “When is it [funding for education] ever enough?” That depends on what kind of educational opportunities we want to offer our students. Additional funding alone can’t assure high quality schools, but it can provide a broader curriculum, more experienced teachers, smaller class sizes, better maintained facilities more conducive to learning, and much more.

It might be better to ask how much IS NOT enough. I believe there is not enough when: our educational performance is ranked 44th in the nation, our per pupil funding 48th, and our teacher salaries 50th2,000 of our classrooms are without a teacher and another 2,000-plus are filled by uncertified personnel; and our districts received only two percent of the facility repair and maintenance funding they needed from 2008 to 2012, creating a backlog impossible to clean up under current funding constraints. Continue reading

Public policy is failing to address the economic disruption from rapidly advancing technology

Back in December I posted about a New report on automation and AI replacing human labor.

The New York Times editorialized in February that No, Robots Aren’t Killing the American Dream. As evidence, the Times cites “the data indicate that today’s fear of robots is outpacing the actual advance of robots. If automation were rapidly accelerating, labor productivity and capital investment would also be surging as fewer workers and more technology did the work. But labor productivity and capital investment have actually decelerated in the 2000s.”

Sarah Bauerle Danzman, assistant professor of international studies at the School of Global and International Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, and Jeff D. Colgan, the Richard Holbrooke associate professor of political science at the Watson Institute of Brown University, respond today at the Washington Post. Robots aren’t killing the American Dream. Neither is trade. This is the problem.

Unfortunately, [the Times‘] argument leads many people to conclude that globalization and liberalized international trade must be what’s hurting U.S. manufacturing. That’s the argument that Alan Tonelson, a campaign adviser to both Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), made in a more recent Times op-ed. According to Tonelson, the U.S. economy needs protectionist policies to revitalize it.

But they’re wrong. Worse, those arguments distract us from implementing the policies that could most help the American worker. Here’s why.

1) Automation is reducing employment in key industries.

The U.S. economy has steadily lost manufacturing jobs since the late 1970s. In 1970, manufacturing employed close to 25 percent of the workforce; but today employs only about 8.5 percent of working Americans. At the same time, the real median household income for people with high school diplomas but not college degrees fell 27.8 percent.

One key piece of evidence is that the United States shed 5 million manufacturing jobs from 2000-2014, even as output over the same period rose. That suggests that automation is the primary reason for the loss. If international trade were the chief culprit, we would also expect U.S. manufacturing output to decline.

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