Merry Christmas, Infidels!




Okay, now that I have your attention, what I'm really excited about this evening is that state Sen. Steve Farley (D-LD9) has pre-filed for the upcoming legislative session, his ALEC Accountability Bill, which looks to be essentially the same (and may be exactly the same) as SB1219, the one he filed for the 2013 session.

SB1219 was assigned to Michele Reagan's elections committee and died an agonizingly slow death there. Reagan was busy last winter and spring pushing the Voter Suppression Bill (#stopHB2305) instead.

It becomes even more important this year since the Arizona Supreme Court let the dogs out (when it lifted the injunction against implementation of the Lobbyist Shakedown Bill).

Contrary to what these videos might suggest, I do take this situation — both the Lobbyist Shakedown and the ALEC Accountability Bill considered together — seriously.

Farley first introduced the bill (HB2665) when he was in the Arizona House, in 2012. One provision of which is to require disclosure of ANY BENEFIT, including travel, lodging or registration fees for conferences. Also known as wining and dining, that, of course, is how ALEC butters up state lawmakers. In January 2012, here's what Farley said about the bill,

“This bill keeps our elected officials in line and focused on getting results for Arizona’s families, not for special interests,” said Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley, the sponsor of the bill. “It’s high time that transparency becomes a priority down here, and lawmakers work to get the job done, not carry the water for out-of-state corporations.”

The bill is one of the first to come out of Democratic lawmakers’ 2012 plan to move Arizona forward and leave the Tea Party’s extremism and divisiveness behind.

The ALEC Accountability Act works to change a long-standing, back-door system of lobbyist-funded scholarships that pay for lawmaker participation in conferences with ideological agendas and provide fancy accommodations, upscale dining and entertainment "networking" opportunities in cities around the country.

On the indirectly related subject of the Lobbyist Shakedown, a local conservative editorial columnist opined in today's edition that

The decision by the Arizona Supreme Court to permit higher campaign contribution limits to go into effect was this year’s most important political development. […]

For those who profess to want more transparency in campaign spending, this should be a welcomed move. Money contributed to candidates is disclosed. Money contributed to independent expenditure campaigns often isn't. Increasing the voice of candidates in campaigns is good for transparency and voter choice. […]

Regardless, candidates will now be less of a bystander in their own elections and voters will have more information about who is backing them.

In 2012, HB2665 did not even get assigned to committees. Recall that in 2012, the GOP enjoyed a supermajority in both chambers. They got away with quite a lot of mischief that year.

We cannot know with any degree of certainty how far this year's version, SB1034, will go. But there are a number of factors in play suggesting Democrats will have substantially more leverage in what becomes law in 2014.

Without the ALEC Accountability Bill, the ability of voters to make informed decisions on whom to delegate their authority (by way of their vote) is dramatically hindered. We DO know, however, that Move to AmendRepresent.Us and the American Anti-Corruption Act all will get more publicity and therefore more traction in 2014. To the degree Democratic leverage increases in the Arizona Legislature, SB1034 might just have a chance. 

So, thank you very much Steve Farley. And Merry Christmas, Infidels!