Category Archives: Gender Equality

AZ’s Worst Legislator: Vince Leach, not a Servant of the People in LD 11

State Representative Leach

State Representative Vincent Leach of Legislative District 11 and other reactionary zealots like him sure act like big government promoters when it comes to their reactionary and anti-democratic agenda.

Leach has sponsored ideas such as:

  • Protecting Dark Money contributors.
  • Overruling local election results and ballot initiatives, such as whether local towns can prohibit plastic bags in stores.
  • Opposing a woman’s right to choose.
  • Allowing taxpayer money to help students choose private religious schools.

LD11 spans from Maricopa in the north to the tip of Tucson in the south.

A self-described conservative, Leach has an A rating from both the Oliver North led National Rifle Association and the American Conservative Union, yet poor marks with the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, and the Children’s Action Alliance. A SaddleBrooke resident, Representative Leach has been in the Arizona State House since 2015. He is now the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety, Infrastructure, and Resources and Vice Chairman of the House and Ways Committee.

He is planning to run against Democrat Ralph Atchue for the State Senate Seat in LD 11 being vacated by Steve Smith. The main issues he plans to run on are border security, the Second Amendment, job creation, healthcare, and “life.”

Favoring the privileged
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Fully Funding Education is the Top Issue as LD 18 Democrats look to take both State Representative Seats in 2018

State Representative Mitzi Epstein

State Representative Mitzi Epstein

Education, Education, Education. That is the top issue for all three candidates competing for the two Representative seats for LD 18 as they vie to continue the trajectory of making this district increasingly blue in this year’s election.

As reported in a previous overview of LD 18, it is a district that includes Ahwatukee-Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, and Mesa. Socioeconomically, it is a mostly upper-middle-class district. It is where the main campus of Mesa Community College is located as well as technology powerhouses GoDaddy and Intel.

Jennifer Jermaine

Until recently, the district has predominately elected Republican candidates for its local seats. Democrats made their first electoral gains in the district this decade with victories for State Senator Sean Bowie and State Representative Denise “Mitzi” Epstein in 2016.

The party hopes to continue this trend by re-electing Bowie and Epstein to their current positions and electing either Jennifer Jermaine or LaDawn Stuben who will run against Republican State Representative incumbent Jill Norgaard.
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AG Candidate January Contreras Will Protect Vulnerable Populations

January Contreras

January Contreras

Over cups of coffee and water at the Tucson Café Passe (the bratwurst is good as well), Democratic Attorney General Candidate January Contreras, a fourth generation Arizonan, described the reasons she is the right person to lead the state’s justice department starting in January 2019.

An experienced jurist and advocate, Contreras, a wife of 24 years and mother to two sons, has an extensive record of public service. Mentored (and still guided) by former Attorney General, Governor, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, she has served as a Deputy County Attorney for Maricopa County and Assistant Attorney General. In these capacities, Contreras prosecuted criminals, people, and entities that committed health care fraud against vulnerable citizens like the elderly in nursing homes.

Furthermore, under former Governor Janet Napolitano, her duties also included policy advisor and serving as the Assistant Director at the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) where she fought proposed cuts to the system. Joining Governor Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama Administration, Contreras helped establish the Council on Combating Violence against Women and served on other task forces designed to further advances for women and children.

Returning to Arizona, Contreras founded ALWAYS (Arizona Legal Women and Youth Services), an organization dedicated to assisting victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and child abuse. When necessary, Contreras would help the victims for free.
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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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The time has come to amend the Arizona Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity

The Arizona legislature is about to be consumed by the sexual harassment ethics complaint filed by Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita against Rep. Don Shooter. Unbelievably, there was no formal, written policy in the House of Representatives available to legislators detailing how to respond to sexual harassment claims. Rules, enforcement lacking to prevent sexual harassment among lawmakers.

So the House has now drafted its first sexual harassment policy ex post facto to address the sexual harassment ethics complaint against Rep. Don Shooter. But that draft policy does not go far enough. No LGBT protections in Arizona Legislature’s new harassment rules:

When Arizona House Speaker J.D. Mesnard released a new harassment policy this week, members of the Legislature’s LGBT caucus felt something was missing.

The policy prohibits workplace discrimination in the Arizona House of Representatives based on someone’s race, age, national origin, religion, sex, disability or veteran status, among others.

Not included in that lengthy list: protections for House members or their staffers who might face discrimination for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

NOTE: The Arizona Civil Rights Act does not provide for express protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. A bill has been introduced in the Arizona legislature every year since at least 1994 to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Arizona Civil Rights Act but only once, to the best of my recollection, has a bill ever received a committee hearing. It has always been opposed by GOP leadership, because it is opposed by the religious right Center for Arizona Policy.

State Rep. Daniel Hernandez, D-Tucson, said he and other members of the recently formed LGBT caucus are going to push to change that.

Hernandez said while the policy allows anyone to report instances of sexual harassment, the portion dealing with discrimination should be amended to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I would like to see that it gets spelled out,” he said, “just so there isn’t confusion or issues later on.”

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The ERA in the #MeToo Era

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

Here I am– ironically talking about the ERA– while Reps. Don Shooter and Eddie Farnsworth stand in from of me. These micro-aggressions happened all the time.

I have given a number of speeches since the #MeToo stories started popping up on social media and since the powerful men started falling down. People regularly ask me about the Arizona efforts to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Now, they also are asking me about sexual harassment in government.

My younger naive self experienced workplace sexual harassment perpetrated by much older men. Like Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, I made my own #MeToo post on Facebook, but mine focused on men from my past– not on men in the Arizona Legislature.

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