Speaker J.D. Mesnard visits the desks of Republican members who have not voted yet.
The volume of bills heard in the Arizona House this past week was down significantly from the crossover week flurry, but we still voted on some doozies.
Tax cuts, sales tax giveaways, deregulation on the edge of risky business, “efficiency savings,” and miscellaneous wacky bills abound.
The capital gains tax cut, which benefited only the wealthiest Arizonans, was a party line vote, with all of the Republicans voting for tax cuts for the 1%. Other than that, the tax giveaways have passed with bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition. Votes shift here and there depending upon the cost of the tax giveaway and the stated beneficiary, but the most consistent votes against giving away taxes are cast by Progressives and Libertarians– the same people who killed several tax giveaway bills in 2017. Several of these votes can be seen below the fold and in my Marijuana to Bump Stocks to Tax Giveaways: How did your #AZHouse Rep Vote? blog post from last week.
Tax Cuts R Us
HB2479 was hotly debated because it is a sales tax exemption with an unknown price tag. This bill includes a laundry list of digital goods that could be exempt from sales tax. Although some of these items are currently exempt, this bill is overly broad in its scope. A look at the Request to Speak comments is informative. Who supports HB2479? Corporate giants like Microsoft, AT&T, Century Link, and others, as well as several Chambers of Commerce. Who is against? Many local governments (because they will lose sales tax revenue.) If we ever want to fully fund the People’s To-Do List– education, roads, healthcare, and security–we have to stop giving money away in tax breaks. (Watch the archived debate COW #1 on Feb. 28, 2018; the third read vote is on the same day.)
HB2459 is an outrageously large tax cut– $96 million– proposed by Rep. Paul Mosley. This bill would have raised the child tax credit on Arizona state income tax returns by $250 per child. It included not only biological, adopted and step children but also foster children and the relatives and descendants of these folks. At one point the cost was $300 million, but it was “capped” at $96 million, according to Mosley. He said he suggested this bill as a way to spend some of Arizona’s projected $135-200 million from the Trump tax cut bill. (How about we spend this unexpected cash on education? Just a thought.) This bill died on the floor, but reconsideration was proposed. (I hate reconsideration. A few bad bills– like mandatory sentencing for fentanyl– died and came back to life again as Zombie bills with reconsideration arm-twisting. Mosley is one of several Republicans who refuses to answer most questions about their bills. When asked if they want to explain their bills, they say, “No. It’s a good bill.” Don’t they have courage in their convictions? Why not debate and answer questions? Mosley stood in silence as the Democrats lobbed questions and comments around the room like a volleyball. When they refuse to explain their bills and answer questions, they give the Democrats the power to shape the message. (The video of the debate is here, COW #1 Feb 27.)
Risky Business, part deux
Last week under the Risky Business heading, we had HB2434, the regulatory sandbox where corporations could test “innovative financial products” on unsuspecting Arizona consumers. This week we had HB2490, the deregulation Thunderdome. Under the deregulation Thumderdome, two or more people could enter into an online contract and waive contracting and licensure statutes. You’re may asking yourself, “Is that legal?” Probably not, according to the Rules Committee and the House attorneys. When has unconstitutionality ever stopped the Republicans from passing ideological bills like this one? (Watch the archived debate COW #1 on Feb. 28, 2018 the third read vote is on the same day.)
LD9 Rep. Randy Friese (far left) answers questions from Rep. Mitzi Epstein (across the room, out of the frame) as HB2490 bill sponsor Rep. Tony Rivero stands with his head down. Several Democrats– including Friese, Epstein and me– voiced concerns about the lack of consumer protections in both the Sandbox (HB2434) and the Thunderdome (HB2490). Like Mosely, Rivero refused to answer more than one or two questions about his bill. This lack of debate shortchanges the people who are watching the videos and sitting in the gallery. Refusing to debate is a nationwide Republican tactic.
Here’s Your Well-Regulated Militia
HCR2002 eliminates the maximum age for eligibility in the Arizona state militia. The maximum age was 45. Hmmm…
Article V Convention
It wouldn’t be a session of the Arizona Legislature without an Article V Convention vote! HCR2024 proposes the states have an Article V Convention for the purpose of setting term limits for Congress. First of all, opening up the US Constitution for tinkering is a bad idea– particularly when the country is run by a compulsive Tweeter. There is a national group hawking this bill around the country. They brought a Florida Democrat, who was the deciding vote on this bill in their legislature, to meet me and other Arizona House members. They are proposing an Article V as the only way to get rid of career politicians who stay in Congress for decades. I sympathize with this cause; everyone can name politicians from both sides of the aisle who should have retired or lost their re-election bid years ago. In my opinion, we would no longer have the problem of out-of-touch career politicians if we overturned Citizens United, got money out of politics, eliminated gerrymandering, and set up nationwide clean elections and independent redistricting. Big-money politics is destroying our democracy. (You’ll note that this is not a party line vote. Three Republicans voted NO, and one Democrat voted YES. If you want to hear me speechify about big-money politics, check out this link, Third Read on Feb. 26)
All of these bills — except Mosley’s child tax credit– have been sent to the Senate. If they are assigned to committee there, you can make a comment on the Request to Speak System, and, of course, you can always contact your legislators by email, phone and social media.
To watch any of the archived videos from the Arizona Legislature, go to the Capitol TV link here. You can also watch live here. Check out the status of these and other bills at AZLeg.gov.