Rep. Paul Gosar is Arizona’s most embarrassing member of Congress, but in the Arizona legislature, there are a multitude of challengers for the title of most embarrassing member of the legislature.
A perennial contender is Sen. Sylvia “Earth is 6,000 years old” Allen (R-Snowflake), a theocratic Dominionist Christian Reconstructionist whose heretical views of Christianity too frequently influence the legislation she advances.
Sen. Allen’s latest dog bone to chew on is the Minimum Wage Initiative (Prop. 206) overwhelmingly approved by Arizona voters in 2016. She believes that you the voters were “immoral” in approving the Minimum Wage Initiative, and she wants to reverse the will of you sinful voters. You’re all going to Hell!
The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Senate committee passes resolution to repeal state’s minimum wage:
A resolution sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, would ask voters to undue much of Proposition 206, a citizen-driven initiative that boosted Arizona’s minimum wage from $8.05 to $10 in 2017, $10.50 in 2018 and eventually to $12 by 2020. Allen’s resolution would also repeal mandated paid sick time and a provision that allows domestic violence victims to take paid sick leave to handle issues caused by the violence.
Allen, who in the past has described the notion of minimum wage as “morally flawed,” wants voters to freeze the minimum wage at $10.50, repeal state laws requiring employers to provide paid sick leave, and adopt a new law prohibiting cities, counties or towns from adopting their own minimum wage if it’s higher than the state’s.
Mandating a minimum wage is like “pulling money from one person to give to another person,” she told the Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee on Monday.
Howard Fischer adds, Senate panel asks voters to reconsider their approval of $12 minimum wage:
Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, the sponsor of SCR 1016, said the issue goes beyond the effect on small businesses.
“Your business is your private property,” she told colleagues.
“No one has the right to tell a business what they have to pay to an individual,” Allen continued. “They don’t know the particulars of that business. They don’t know the liability that they carry.”
Let’s be clear: this “private property” argument was used by slaveholders in defense of slavery and indentured servitude, and was used by segregationists in defense of state-sanctioned segregation and black codes to deny service to minorities. It is code language.
It is the code language Sen. Allen and her ilk will use to oppose extending civil rights protections to the LGBTQ community under the Arizona Civil Rights Act, and the code language she and her ilk will use to argue for the so-called “religious liberty” measures from the Center for Arizona Policy to grant religious zealots a “get out of jail free” card to deny service to any minority group that their personal bigotry and discriminatory animus
religious beliefs oppose. This code language is now being extended to minimum wage employees, i.e., the working poor. “Jesus wept.’
Sen. Allen is not alone in sponsoring this measure to thwart the will of Arizona voters. The measure is sponsored by more than a dozen Republican lawmakers.
Sen. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, echoed Sen. Allen, saying the entire concept of having voters set a higher minimum wage is questionable.
“I believe I have a moral responsibility to be generous with my own money,” he said. “But I believe it’s completely immoral to be generous with other people’s money.’
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SCR 1016 would not entirely rescind what was approved by a margin of 58-42 percent. And wages would not go back to the $8.05 an hour they were two years ago.
But it would repeal future scheduled increases, freezing the minimum employers must pay at the current $10.50 an hour.
What it also would do — if voters really do have second thoughts — is eliminate another provision of the 2016 law, which says that full-time employees are entitled to at least three days of paid sick leave.
Monday’s 5-3 party-line vote by the Committee on Commerce and Public Safety sends the measure to the full Senate. If it is approved there and by the House, also controlled by Republicans, the question would go to voters in November.
The Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee paraded the usual suspects
witnesses from businesses opposed to paying the minimum wage and providing employee benefits before the committee, primarily from the food service industry represented by the Arizona Restaurant Association, which has always opposed the minimum wage and employee benefits.
The ARA is no doubt a big supporter of the Trump administration’s proposed rule changes to “tip pooling” that would allow employers to steal servers’ tips: “the proposed changes would allow employers to pocket tips from their employees as long as those employees earn minimum wage.” Sooo, lower the minimum wage and steal their tips! It’s all good!
Tomas Robles, co-director of Living United for Change in Arizona, the organization that spearheaded the initiative, had his own take on those stories.
“These are lies,” he argued. Robles cited figures that show unemployment in Arizona is at the lowest rate in a decade and that employment in the traditionally low-paying leisure and hospitality sector not only has risen since the measure was approved but has outpaced the national average.
“You are less popular than Prop 206 was in 2016,” Robles told GOP Republicans on the panel. “Most importantly you do not care about the will of the voters.” (h/t Bob Christie – AP).
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Supporters saw the issue in terms of the broader good.
David Wells, research director of the Grand Canyon Institute, acknowledged that taking wages from $8.05 an hour to $12 will result in the loss of about 13,000 jobs. But Wells said his study shows that about 800,000 Arizonans will see more in their paychecks.
Sen. Sean Bowie, D-Phoenix, pointed out the ridiculous hypocrisy of Sen. Allen’s argument that a minimum wage hike is like “pulling money from one person to give to another person.”
“We do that all the time,” Bowie said, pointing to not only the tax cuts given to corporations but even the decision by the Ducey administration to slash the number of auditors whose job it is to ensure that these firms at least pay what they owe.
Then there was the indifference by some GOP lawmakers to referring this measure to the ballot to allow Chamber of Commerce organizations and their dark money PACs another bite at the apple after losing overwhelmingly in 2016.
Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, went along with his GOP colleagues and voted to put the issue on the November ballot. But Worsley said he has no illusion that somehow the outcome will be different, even with extensive rural opposition.
“I suspect it will pass again,” he said, pointing out that the vast majority of voters live in the state’s urban areas.
And Sen. Sonny Borrelli of Lake Havasu City, who argued that it’s no big deal to ask voters if they still feel the same way.
“This is why these things are written on paper and not in stone,” Borrelli said, rebutting criticism that by passing the resolution, the Legislature isn’t listening to the will of the people. “Sending this back to the people is also the will of the voter, and we’re not taking away their right to speak up.”
Sure, let’s just vote on th Minimum Wage Initiative every two years until the Chamber of Commerce organizations and their dark money PACs eventually succeed — and then we can make it permanent so that it cannot be changed by a citizens initiative. That’s what Borrelli is really saying.
Contact your state legislators and tell them “hell no!” on SCR 1016. This matter has been decided.