The Farley Report: 3-26-13

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Time once again for The Farley Report from Sen. Steve Farley (D-LD 9):

You know that feeling you get when you've been carrying a heavy
backpack for a long time, and then you take it off — like walking on
the moon? That's kind of what it's like this week at the Legislature.  

There's still action, but now that regular standing committees have
ceased meeting (except for Appropriations and Rules) the pace has slowed
considerably, and the weirdness of this session is beginning to sink

The progress of bills is glacial, and the general sense
among those in the know is that we will be stuck in this netherworld for
weeks if not months, pledging and praying on the floor, moving a few
bills at a time, and waiting for a budget before bills get sent up to
the Governor's desk.  

In most years, budget negotiations would be well underway by now, but
not this year. Everything's waiting on school funding agreements, TPT
sales tax simplification compromises, and — most of all — Medicaid
restoration decisions before the budget gets considered. All three of
these items must be dealt with in order to determine what money is
available and where that money will go. And legislative leaders will
likely be using other bills as leverage for budgetary support once we
get there. Meanwhile, everything feels like, well, walking on the

I spoke at length about Governor Brewer's and Rep. Debbie Lesko's TPT
simplification bill in last week's Report, so I won't go over that
again here. (If you want to review the facts, you can read it again here.)
But I did want to share with you my explanation of vote which is posted
on YouTube. People have told me it's actually fairly entertaining
considering it regards a topic that is not known for its entertainment
value. I even relate an NFL analogy. Watch it here. 

As I said previously, we cannot allow any of our disagreements to
stop this bill this session — if we do not enact simplification, we
will not be able to collect more than $700 million annually from online
sales taxes we are not currently collecting.  

The federal law enabling this windfall — the Marketplace Fairness
Act — will likely be enacted before this fall. It actually passed a
strong bipartisan 75-24 test vote in the U.S. Senate last Friday,
clearing the way for final passage within the next couple of months. We
are one of only four states who are not currently ready to tax online
sales. Considering the expiration for our $1 billion annual temporary
sales tax for education in May, we cannot afford to be left out.  

Talks are still ongoing with the cities and counties who tell me they
and the Governor are coming closer together on final language,
especially since a new compromise was offered yesterday on the single
audit provision. May hope prevail over fear! 

The Medicaid restoration also had a hearing in the House last
Wednesday, but no vote. However, progress was made in a backhanded way
when the Maricopa County Republican Party Chair A.J. LaFaro testified
before the committee about his opposition to the Governor's bill by
saying, "Jesus had Judas, and the Arizona Republican Party has Jan
Brewer." What a way to kick off Holy Week! 

The reaction has been strong and bipartisan against LaFaro's
cretinous statement, and has certainly caused some Republicans who were
on the fence to consider whose company they would like to keep on this
issue. I hope we can vote on this soon, while his behavior — emblematic
of many harsh and angry emails I have received from self-identified
Republican precinct committee people — is still fresh in our minds.  

Another positive development is that former Arizona Republican Party
Chair Randy Pullen, not known as anything close to moderate, just came
out publicly in favor of the Governor's Medicaid plan, and is talking to
his party's rank and file. Looks like we may be getting some progress
here, too.  

There are a few other things brewing around these parts, but not much
worth mentioning right now. Plus, given our snail's pace, it looks like
we will have plenty of time to talk in April, May, June, July…..

Thanks for your faith in me as your Senator.  

Steve Farley

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