I have previously posted that the Authoritarian Movement Conservatism threatens democracy, and Amanda Taub at Vox.com reported on the most recent research, The rise of American authoritarianism.
Nowhere is this authoritarianism more prevalent than among the Tea-Publicans in the Arizona legislature, and Governor Doug Ducey, the ice cream man hired by Koch Industries to run their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona, now known as “Kochtopia,”our own version of George Orwell’s 1984.
They are in thrall to the “Kochtopus” and its tentacle organizations, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its local government task force, the American City County Exchange. Legislature keeps its thumb on Arizona cities:
State lawmakers introduced more than a dozen bills to strip cities and counties of the authority to regulate by declaring everything from dog breeders and rental-home taxes to plastic grocery bags and backyard chickens “a matter of statewide concern” that only the state can regulate.
Then they sealed the deal with a new law signed by Gov. Doug Ducey to strip cities of state-shared revenue if they pass ordinances that conflict with state authority.
Arizona’s assertion of the state’s primacy over local governments didn’t come out of thin air. State legislatures nationwide are on track to consider a record number of pre-emption bills, so named because they overrule any conflicting city or county regulations.
Helping drive it is the conservative, corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council and its local government task force, the American City County Exchange. ALEC serves as a clearinghouse for conservative ideas developed by lawmakers and business leaders working together in closed-door meetings. The ideas are turned into model legislation for lawmakers to then take back to their own state houses.
The organization is influential in Arizona. Several pieces of ALEC model legislation are introduced in Arizona each year. A number of local lawmakers, including sponsors of some of the pre-emption bills, are active members of ALEC.
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In his State of the State address, Ducey issued a warning to Arizona cities and towns, telling them to halt efforts to take local action on employment policies or risk losing some of their state revenue.
Residents of some communities had pushed for local governments to raise the minimum wage above the state’s $8.05 an hour. Other local governments were pushing back against other state laws, including last year’s law preventing cities from banning plastic grocery bags.
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Lawmakers took the issue and ran with it, introducing bill after bill asserting the state has control over various issues. The bills saw mixed success.
Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, introduced Senate Bill 1487, which allows any lawmaker to direct the attorney general to investigate an alleged violation that a city is trying to regulate an issue under state control. If the attorney general found the community in violation and it was not addressed, the state treasurer could then withhold state-shared monies until the problem was resolved. Ducey signed the bill into law, and it goes into effect 90 days after the session ends.
Will “Il Duce” also use his newly minted Border Strike Force as his Praetorian Guard to declare martial law in renegade counties and cities to enforce state laws? Be forewarned, Tucson.
“It is a long-treasured value in Arizona that cities have the right to pass legislation of local interest,” said Tempe Councilwoman Lauren Kuby. “In Tempe, we want our values represented in our ordinances, in our budget. People trust the local government to get things done because the Legislature decides their agenda based on ALEC meetings behind closed doors, ordinances written before session and lobbyists deciding which laws are going to be promoted and voted on.”
Ken Strobeck, executive director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, said he doesn’t understand the recent pre-emption push. He said there have been bills here and there for years, but nothing like this session.
“I always think it’s ironic that people who don’t like government telling them what to do feel like they are able to tell city government what to do,” he said, “and justify that by saying, ‘We have to have cities and towns all do the same thing.’ “
Strobeck said they have had little communication from Ducey or his top staff this session.
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Phoenix Councilman DiCiccio recently participated in an ALEC-hosted virtual town hall with Jon Russell, a Virginia city councilman and director of the American City County Exchange. The two said states should be tamping down on cities.
“Nowhere in the Constitution does it talk about the delegation of powers to cities and counties,” Russell said. “Local governments are known as political subdivisions. Power can be given or power can be taken away or amended by the states.”
Russell said in the past six years, local governments have increasingly tried to regulate issues such as fracking, plastic bags, drones, minimum wage and businesses such as Uber. He said “special interest” groups like the Sierra Club and labor unions are using cities to go around legislatures. States have been forced to respond by passing more pre-emption bills, he said.
“And that’s their prerogative,” he said. “You have to have levels of uniformity so people easily understand what the rules are when they come into that state.”
“We don’t have clearly defined lines of what is local and what is state-mandated,” he said. “If you want to find ways to make things work … you’ve got to have uniform laws.”
“The more you control a business, the more you control someone’s life, the less likely they are to be a productive entity,” he said. “The whole idea behind uniformity is to bring uniform laws across so you can conduct commerce, so you can live your life.”
What this tool for the Corporatocracy is really saying is that it is far more cost efficient for corporations to only have to buy a handful of legislators and a governor to get what they want rather than to have to purchase multiples of county and local officials as well (as they do). Uniform state laws creates “one stop shopping” at the capitol, and then corporations can save a few bucks by cutting loose the local yokels (like Councilman DiCiccio). This is the state of the GOP culture of corruption in Arizona.
The report goes on to list of the several local pre-emption bills that our authoritarian Tea-Publican legislators carried for the “Kochtopus” ALEC and its local government task force, the American City County Exchange.
The Republic editorializes today, Our View: GOP leaders assault local control:
There’s more to being a conservative than just saying you are a conservative.
You’ve got to demonstrate some commitment to the principles.
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Do you believe in smaller government? Do you believe that government closest to the people is best?
This last session was a haboob of central control that left cities and counties spitting dust.
Message: Bigger government knows best
More than a dozen bills were introduced this session that aimed to prevent cities and counties from doing what their residents might want them to do. Some died. Some passed. Some were signed into law.
The message to local residents was “bigger government knows best.”
One piece of state-control posturing that’s been signed into law strips local governments of state shared revenue if they do something considered to be a conflict with state authority. Another penalizes cities with gun laws stricter than the state’s and allows offended gun owners to sue cities for damages.
Then there’s the one about prohibiting cities from banning plastic bags.
So, yes, people. The state is asserting its authority over plastic bags. But those bags really do involve the very local matter of landfills and litter.
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Arizona’s conservatives will do unto cities what they don’t want Uncle Sam to do unto them.
Somebody look up the meaning of the word “consistency.”
Gov. Ducey set the table for this cram-down on local government in his State of the State address. He made local control sound threatening. Then he threatened cities that won’t do it his way.
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The hammer of central control is based on the corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council, which writes model bills and is a factor in this anti-local control push that is sweeping the nation, according to reporting by The Republic’s Alia Beard Rau.
They don’t respect residents’ independence
The effort to strip cities of their current ability to set minimum wages failed. But two measures barring cities from mandating benefits, such as maternity leave, or setting rules for work schedules passed.
Voters had their say on this issue back in 2006 when they approved a state minimum wage and allowed cities to set their own higher minimum. So in this case, it’s the voters whose authority was being challenged by the “we know better” control freaks at the Capitol.
An independent-minded state like Arizona should show more respect for its independent-minded cities.
Just how far does the long arm of the state’s authority reach? Legislation prohibited cities from barring Airbnb-type rentals – even the one next door to you. Another bill aimed to keep cities from banning the sale of puppies from puppy mills.
State to cities: Roll over and play dead!
When it comes to local control the Republicans who run Arizona are acting more like nanny state cops than real conservatives.
No, they are acting like authoritarian crypto-fascists in service to the Plutocrats of the Corporatocracy they serve. If you don’t want to live in a “Kochtopia,” voters in Arizona have to kick these authoritarian Tea-Publicans out of office en masse.
And then maybe we can finally tear the “Kochtpus” network out by its roots and salt the ground so that it never grows back again.