Monday, April 25, 2016

The sine die watch is on at the legislature

Guess what time of the year it is?

Hint:
Multiple sources, meaning mostly lobbyists and members of the media (because my "insider" sources are Democrats, who are told less than the media), are reporting that the state's budget will be done this week, and with it, the 2016 session of the Arizona legislature.

Sounds simple, but the ride is going to be at once rough and stultifyingly boring.

There is going to be a lot of "hurry up and wait" this week at the Capitol.  The budget negotiations take place between the governor's office and the "leadership" of the legislature.

Democrats and rank-and-file Republicans aren't welcomed to the table.

 However, things could still go sideways at the lege.

If that happens (which seems unlikely at this point), don't be surprised if they finish up work on regular bills this week, adjourn sine die (sending everyone home), and bring back the lege in a short special session to pass a budget.

The pressure to adjourn is partially brought on by a legislative deadline, requiring the lege to adjourn sine die by April 30 (Saturday).

However, that deadline can be extended by a simple majority vote, which is something that the Republican majority can usually achieve, easily.

The more practical deadline is related to fund-raising - members of the lege aren't supposed to accept contributions from lobbyists during the legislative session, this *is* an election year after all.

In other words, they all want to get the hell out of Dodge (Phoenix) and get on with the real reason that they are involved in politics - $$$.

Anyway, as of this writing, no budget-related bill have been posted on the lege's website.


Some of the tweets from the day, some from when the Tweeters thought the budget might come down today, and some after their hopes were dashed -





































Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Maricopa County Recorder's Office isn't telling the truth to Spanish-speaking voters? It must be a day ending in "y",,,

Arizona has a "special" election coming up for the voters to consider two ballot propositions placed before them by the legislature (which, for most observers, should be definitive evidence that both are bad for Arizonans - this *is* the Arizona legislature that we are talking about here).

Proposition 123 would allow the legislature to continue to shirk its duty to properly fund education in Arizona by letting it tap into the state's land trust at a faster pace than is currently allowed.

Proposition 124 would reward the legislature for it habitual underfunding of the pension system for public safety employees by placing more of the financial burden of the system on those public employees.


Early ballots have started reaching mail boxes this week, and there are already problems.

And to the surprise of almost no one, the problems are in Maricopa County.

Of course.

From KNXV-TV, written by Melissa Blasius -

ABC15 has learned thousands of early ballots mailed in Maricopa County this week have a major mistake in the Spanish translation of Proposition 124.

Proposition 124 is a proposal to make changes to police and firefighter pensions.  However, the boldface short title of the proposition in Spanish indicates it’s about education funding.  The wording in the title for Proposition 124 appears identical to Proposition 123, which is also on the ballot.

Beneath the incorrect title for Proposition 124, there is a more lengthy explanation that appears to appropriately describe the pension reform ballot measure.

Spokespeople for both the Arizona Secretary of State and the Maricopa County Recorder say they were unaware of the problem until ABC15 brought it to their attention Friday morning.


They, meaning Michelle Reagan (Arizona Secretary of State) and Helen Purcell (Maricopa County Recorder), respectively, the overseer of elections in the entire state and the overseer of elections in the state's most populous county, want people to believe that this is a minor mistake that can be corrected by reprinting the ballots to be used for in-person voting and sending post cards to the recipients of early ballots.

Which might be an adequate response...if there weren't problems with all elections in Maricopa County.

Most of the time, Purcell, Reagan, et al. place the blame for problems with elections square on the shoulders of the people they seem to despise most - the voters.

Apparently, certain elected officials are surprised when voters actually vote in elections that don't have those specific elected officials on the ballot.

Of course, there are a few examples of official malfeasance/sustained incompetence that even they can't blame on the voters; when caught, they just "pooh-pooh" (minimize) the impact of their bad acts on the voters.

Like they have in this situation.


Full disclosure time: I have already voted "No" on both propositions and returned my ballot.  My reasons for voting against Prop 123 have been stated before this.  As for Prop 124, while a number of people that I wholeheartedly respect actually support the measure, I cannot bring myself to support of anything that the legislature puts on a ballot.

Somewhere...someday...the modern Arizona legislature may spawn an idea that actually benefits all Arizonans, and not just their deep-pocketed masters.

When (if!) that comes to pass, the related post will have a title that starts with "Well, there's a first time for everything".


Anyway, a few pictures of my ballot, to illustrate the problem -

Prop 123; please note the Spanish language short title.
Prop 124; please note the Spanish language short title.


















Prop 124's Spanish language short title, magnified:






A translation, courtesy Google Translate (probably not necessary in Arizona, but it makes a great visual :) ):








Saturday, April 16, 2016

Proposition 123: Read the fine print, folks

In a few days, early voting will start for May's special election when the voters will consider Proposition 123, a plan approved by the legislature to get the voters to get the lege out from under a court order to properly fund public education.

Since I may be the only observer in the state to not weigh in on the measure, it's time for me to do so.

For readers with short attention spans:


It's more than a bad idea; it's a scam.  I am voting against it and recommend that you also vote against it. 


For readers with longer attention spans:

When Arizona became a state, millions of acres of land were set aside in a trust administered by the state.  It was allowed to sell off a portion of those lands every year with the revenue being earmarked to help support a number of beneficiaries, primarily public education in Arizona.

If approved, the measure would allow the governor and the legislature to sell off state trust lands at a faster pace, bringing down the overall value of the trust, ostensibly using the increase in short term revenue to bolster public education funding here in Arizona.

The measure is something that is actually *bad* for Arizona public education, and even worse, it doesn't look like that the authors of the measure ever intended help public education.

People as ideologically diverse as five current and former Arizona state treasurers and former congressman Ron Barber think this is a bad idea.

These aren't people with whom I am often in agreement (including Barber, they are, one and all, far too conservative), but they are right on this.

Their evaluations of Prop 123 are far more eloquent than anything I can come up...but that won't stop me from chiming in with a few points. :)


Firstly, it's a scheme to sacrifice the future to pay for the present.

There are fables/aphorisms/fairy tales/whatevers to that fit here -

For people who are weary of the constant battle to support education in Arizona, or have just become so desperate to temporarily stave off further damage to the state's education system, there's the one pointing out the lack of wisdom in "eating your seed corn".

From TheFreeDictionary.com (linked above) -


To eat the corn which should be saved for seed, so as to forestall starvation; - a desperate measure, since it only postpones disaster.

any desperate action which creates a disastrous situation in the long-term, done in order to provide temporary relief.

For the people who look upon the state's trust lands with covetous eyes, there's the one about a goose and some golden eggs.

From UMass.edu -
One day a countryman going to the nest of his goose found there an egg all yellow and glittering. When he took it up it was as heavy as lead and he was going to throw it away, because he thought a trick had been played on him. But he took it home on second thoughts, and soon found that it was an egg of pure gold.

Every morning the same thing occured, and he grew rich by selling his eggs. As he grew rich he grew greedy; and thinking to get at once all the gold the goose could give, he killed it and opened it only to find nothing.

Greed often overreaches itself.


Secondly, there's the people who are supporting the measure oh-so enthusiastically, almost piously.








Sharon Harper, the chairman of the political committee formed to spend money, is the CEO of Plaza Companies, a large real estate firm/speculator, and W.J. "Jim" Lane is the mayor of Scottsdale.  A place where the most appropriate Christmas gift for the majority on the city council (of which he is the undisputed leader, both legally and practically) would be lip splints.

Needed because when a deep-pocketed developer walks into the room, they pucker up so intensely that they may sprain something.

This committee has raised nearly $4 million to spend in support of the scheme -




















In contrast, the committee formed to oppose the measure has raised slightly less -



















The committee is strongly supported by big business, getting more than $1.2 million in funding from business entities -

















To be sure, the people behind those business entities are ponying up some of the personal money (one page from the same campaign finance report) -















To be blunt, these are people whose definitions of "right and wrong" overlap with their definitions of "sufficient and insufficient ROI".


Thirdly, and perhaps most damning of all, there's the "fine print" of the proposal.

Not only is there nothing that forbids the legislature from cutting General Fund appropriations for public education by the same amount of revenue generated by trust land sales (or more!), there is "poison pill" language that allows the lege to massively cut education under circumstances that the lege itself can create.

The text of the proposal, from the bill passed by the lege (emphasis added) -

2.  Article XI, Constitution of Arizona, is proposed to be amended by adding section 11 as follows if approved by the voters and on proclamation of the Governor:
11.  Schools; inflation adjustments; exceptions; definitions
Section 11.  A.  On or before February 1 of each year, if the state transaction privilege tax growth rate and the total nonfarm employment growth rate are each at least one percent, but less than two percent, the director of the office of strategic planning and budgeting, or its successor agency, and the director of the joint legislative budget committee, or its successor agency, shall jointly notify the governor, the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives.  On receipt of the notification, the legislature is not required to make the inflation adjustments required by section 15-901.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, for the next fiscal year.
B.  On or before February 1 of each year, if the state transaction privilege tax growth rate and the total nonfarm employment growth rate are each less than one percent, the director of the office of strategic planning and budgeting, or its successor agency, and the director of the joint legislative budget committee, or its successor agency, shall jointly notify the governor, the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives.  On receipt of the notification, the legislature shall not make the inflation adjustments required by section 15-901.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, for the next fiscal year.
C.  Beginning in fiscal year 2024-2025, on or before February 1 of each year, if the total amount of general fund appropriations for the Arizona department of education, or its successor agency, is at least forty-nine percent but less than fifty percent of the total general fund appropriation for the current fiscal year, the director of the office of strategic planning and budgeting, or its successor agency, and the director of the joint legislative budget committee, or its successor agency, shall jointly notify the governor, the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives.  On receipt of the notification, the legislature:

1.  Is not required to make the inflation adjustments required by section 15-901.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, for the next fiscal year.

2.  May reduce the base level for the next fiscal year by the amount of the inflation adjustments required by section 15‑901.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, made for the current fiscal year.

D.  Beginning in fiscal year 2024-2025, on or before February 1 of each year, if the total amount of general fund appropriations for the Arizona department of education, or its successor agency, is at least fifty percent of the total general fund appropriation for the current fiscal year, the director of the office of strategic planning and budgeting, or its successor agency, and the director of the joint legislative budget committee, or its successor agency, shall jointly notify the governor, the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives.  On receipt of the notification, the legislature:

1.  Is not required to make the inflation adjustments required by section 15-901.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, for the next fiscal year.

2.  May reduce the base level for the next fiscal year by two times the amount of the inflation adjustments required by section 15-901.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, made for the current fiscal year.

E.  If the inflation adjustments required by section 15‑901.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, are not required to be made or are prohibited from being made pursuant to this section for a fiscal year, the omitted inflation adjustment amounts:

1.  Are not required to be paid or distributed in any subsequent fiscal year.

2.  Become a part of the calculation of the base level for subsequent fiscal years.

F.  If base level reductions are made pursuant to subsection c or D of this section for a fiscal year, the reduced amounts:

1.  Are not required to be paid or distributed in any subsequent fiscal year.

2.  Do not become part of the calculation of the base level for subsequent fiscal years.
G.  This section preserves the authority vested in the legislature pursuant to this constitution.
H.  For the purposes of this section:
1.  "Total nonfarm employment growth rate" means the percentage change in the seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment in this state from the final month of the most recent calendar year to the final month of the immediately preceding calendar year, as reported by the Arizona department of administration or its successor agency.
2.  "State transaction privilege tax growth rate" means the percentage change in the revenues derived from the state transaction privilege tax that are distributed to the state general fund from the most recent calendar year to the immediately preceding calendar year, as reported by the Arizona department of revenue or its successor agency.
3.  Nonseverability
If any portion of this proposition is finally adjudicated invalid, the entire proposition is void.
4.  The Secretary of State shall submit this proposition to the voters at a special election called to be held for that purpose on May 17, 2016 as provided by article XXI, Constitution of Arizona.

The way that this is written, the lege could enact more corporate tax cuts, further reducing state revenue.

And increasing the percentage of education spending as a portion of general fund expenditures (without actually increasing education spending) to the point where they could legally further reduce education spending.

Secretary of State (and Chief of Voter Suppression) Michele Reagan is on board with this scheme too, judging by the rather slanted ballot language crafted by her office -


















People like Doug Ducey and the lege favor Proposition 123, and that's reason enough to oppose it -

The next time that either one supports something that benefits civil society will be the first time.



Information on Proposition 123, including things like ballot arguments filed both in favor of and in opposition to the measure can be found here.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Maricopa County Election Fiasco: Was it an exercise in "Two Birds, One Stone" or was it an exercise in "All Politics Is Local"?

...Or maybe it was an exercise in "it's not what you know, it's *who* you know"...

Ya know, maybe Maricopa County Elections, in the persons of Helen Purcell (County Recorder) and Karen Osborne (Purcell's Director of Elections) didn't deliberately set out to disenfranchise minority and lower-income voters last week (something that they are still claiming they didn't do).

They have claimed that they determined the geographic distribution of the county's 60 polling places based on cost.

However, looking at some other data suggests that at least one factor, aside from cost, may have been part of the considerations involved.

This analysis from Phoenix' channel 5 points out the one that most people have already noted - the areas with the most polling sites tended to be whiter and more affluent than those areas with a dearth of polling sites.

Having said that, I'm not going to go there.

Well, not *too* much :)

Turns out that in addition to having the money to buy bigger houses and whiter neighbors, the residents of the areas looked upon with favor by Purcell et. al. have the money to buy themselves some neighbors that hold elected office.

To whit:

Of the 13 county-level elected officials*, both county-wide and board of supervisors (who are elected to represent districts), only three live more than four miles (by road, not "as the crow flies").

Don Covey, county school superintendent

Andy Kunasek, District 3 on the Board of Supervisors

Michael Jeanes, county clerk of courts

* = In Maricopa County, justices of the peace and constables are elected from 26 districts; for the sake of brevity, they aren't included here. They are "county-level elected officials" but there are too many of them.  Plus, as important as they are to general public in terms of day-to-day life, in terms of Maricopa County politics, the local PTB don't give them much more regard than the PTB give to the general public.


Of those three, two (Covey and Kunasek) are retiring.  Jeanes may be an elected official, but he is as low profile as low profile gets here.  For most people, *not* being able to name the clerk of courts is a good thing (I can, but I'm a political geek; you make the call about whether or not that's a "good" thing :) ).

Of the rest...

...County Sheriff Joe Arpaio lives less than three miles from not one, but two (2!) polling places (Fountain Hills and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation)

...County Supervisor Denny Barney (District 1) lives just over two miles from his nearest polling place in Gilbert (as a bonus, Senate President Andy Biggs lives just over a mile from the same polling place; not a "county" official, but one with some influence nonetheless)

...County Attorney Bill Montgomery lives just two miles from his nearest polling place, also in Gilbert

...County Supervisor Clint Hickman (District 4) resides 3.3 miles from the nearest polling site in Goodyear

...County Assessor Paul Petersen resides less than a mile from the nearest polling place in Mesa (as a bonus, his predecessor Keith Russell, now a justice of the peace, lives even closer to the same polling place)

...the previously mentioned Andy Kunasek lives a little less than 4.5 miles from his closest polling place in Paradise Valley.  He's retiring, though.  On the other hand, County Supervisor Steve Chucri (District 2) resides a little more than a mile from the same polling place.  And he's not retiring.

...The soon-to be-retired Charles "Hos" Hoskins, Maricopa County Treasurer, resides a little less than 3.5 miles from his nearest polling place in Peoria

...County School Superintendent Don Covey, himself soon to be retired, "wins" this round (not that this is really a competition that anyone wants to win), living in far north Phoenix over 8 miles from the nearest polling place

...County Supervisor Steve Gallardo (District 5), the lone Democrat on this list, lives a shade under three miles from the nearest polling place

...County Clerk of Courts Michael Jeanes resides just over 4 miles from the nearest polling place in north Phoenix (not as far north as Covey, though)

...County Recorder Helen Purcell, the center of the uproar surrounding last week's fiasco (ya didn't think I was going to forget her, didja? ) lives all of 1.4 miles from the closest polling place to her in Phoenix


...Bonus time: Michele Reagan, Arizona's Secretary of State (and chief elections officer), lives 6.3 miles from the polling site in Phoenix nearest to her home in Scottsdale, which doesn't sound too bad.

Except for the fact that her father Michael, an elected official in his own right (justice of the peace) resides all of 1.6 miles from the closest polling place in north Scottsdale.


Now, I expect that most, if not all of the "dignitaries" listed above are on the Permanent Early Voters List (PEVL) and voted by mail in last week's election.

However, all but one of them live in mostly white and relatively affluent areas, and have mostly white and relatively affluent neighbors.

Meaning that not only do their neighbors get special treatment because of their skin color and the size of their bank accounts, they are accorded special treatment because of who they live near.

It's a bit of a "chicken or egg" question - do those folks live near elected officials because they (and the electeds) are affluent, or do the affluent like living near electeds?

Either way, the average Maricopa County resident ends up with the short end of the stick on Election Day...and every other day of the year.



My nominees for the two most questionably placed polling stations:

Pinnacle Peak Public Safety Substation, 23100 N. Lake Pleasant Road in Peoria and Cross of Glory Evangelical Lutheran Church, 10111 W. Jomax Road, also in Peoria.












Why?

Both sites are located in the same precinct, Lake Pleasant.*.

If the "cost" excuse was the truth, why waste money by having two polling locations in such proximity?

* - Actually, the recorder's website's district locator function indicates that the police substation is in the Zuni Hills precinct and that the church's address doesn't exist, but maps published by the recorder indicate that both are located in the Lake Pleasant Precinct (which is immediately north of Zuni Hills).


Notes:

All distances above are based on Googling the addresses.

All addresses are based on public record filed by the electeds in question.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Maricopa County has election problems: It must a day ending in "y"

Monday morning, the state legislature (in the form of its House Elections Committee) will hold a hearing to look into the fiasco that was the in-person voting process in Arizona's Presidential Preference Election (presidential primary) last Tuesday.

On Tuesday, some voters stood in line for hours (literally!) to cast their ballots.  The delays were so long that many national (read: based on the East Coast) MSM operations were literally calling the races here right after showing video of the still-long lines at some of Maricopa County's polling places.

The chief elections officer in Maricopa County, County Recorder Helen Purcell, responded the way that she usually does whenever there are problems with voting in Maricopa County -

She blamed the voters.

Of course, her statement only served to increase the torrent of criticism already being directed her way.   By Wednesday, she had backed away from her statement, but the damage had already been done.

While the state legislative hearing is almost certainly going to be a "pro-forma" exercise (lots of talk, little or no substantive action), there is already a call for a federal investigation.


Purcell and her apologists have been trying to spin the mess that she (and they) created as something caused by their quest to save money.  They had cut the number of polling places in Maricopa County from 200 to 60 and the larger-than-expected voter turnout then caught them unaware.

Something like this actually happens every couple of years here in Maricopa County, just more isolated (2012, 2010, the pushing of easily disenfranchised voters toward provisional ballots during every election. etc.)

Every couple of years, there are reports of long lines and ballot shortages at one or another polling place (or places).

Which doesn't actually sound too bad, until you remember two things:

1.  Election problems may only occur here every couple of years, but elections only take place every couple of years.  In other words, there are issues with every election here, and those problems are always blamed on the voters (the one exception that I can think of:  In 2012, her office was caught giving out Spanish-language election information pamphlets that listed the wrong election date (English language versions had the correct date).

For that one, she just minimized the impact of her office's "mistake", saying that it didn't matter because it affected few voters.

2.  The areas affected by the problems are usually (OK, seemingly "always") heavily minority populated or otherwise Democratic-leaning.


In a bit of a twist, that second point where she may find some real push-back this time - while the areas most negatively affected by her placement of polling stations this year tended toward being mostly populated by minority populations, some of the polling stations with inordinately long lines were in Republican-leaning, Anglo-populated, areas.

Because of that, many of the state's Republican elected officials are already throwing her under the proverbial PR bus.  People like Governor Doug Ducey and Secretary of State Michelle Reagan, persons heretofore known for their anti-voter sentiments and actions, have soundly criticized Purcell.

They are outraged (OUTRAGED!) that people who might ever support them were inconvenienced by Purcell et. al.

Of course, there was nothing but the sound of crickets emanating from these distinguished personages over Purcell's regular disenfranchisement of ethnic and racial minority voters.

Still, to go along with the general ugliness, there were some intriguing selections for polling places -

- Phoenix, with a population in excess of 1.5 million people had 12 polling places, or one for every 158K residents.

- Fountain Hills, with a population of just over 23K people, had 1 polling place, or one for just over 23K people.

Can you guess which one is home to nativist stalwarts like Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and State Senator John Kavanagh, and which one is the ethnically and culturally diverse largest city in Arizona?

Oh, and apparently just to ensure that the friends and neighbors of Arpaio and Kavanagh weren't too inconvenienced by having to travel too far to a polling place, there was another one less than 4 miles away at the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.


And these weren't the only "curious" choices.

- Avondale, a city with nearly 80K residents, had zero! polling places.  Of course the city population is a little more than 50% Hispanic.

- Scottsdale, a city with approximately 230K residents had five polling places, or one for every 46K residents.

Which doesn't sound too bad...until you look at the fact that of the five polling stations, four were in north Scottsdale (north of Shea Boulevard, the high-influence, deep-pockets area of the city) while the one station located in south Scottsdale was actually located in the community center of the Salt River Pima/Maricopa Indian Community.  A place that has a Scottsdale mailing address, but isn't physically located *in* Scottsdale.

And approximately 45% of Scottsdale's population lives in the southern 12% of the land area of the city (aka -south of Shea Boulevard).













- Gila Bend, with a population of 1922, had three polling places, which sounds great...until you realize that Gila Bend is in the freakin' middle of nowhere.  People standing in long lines at other polling places would have had to drive more than an hour to get there.

For example, the distance from the Mountain View Lutheran Church (the southernmost polling place in Phoenix) to the Gila Bend Town Hall (one of the three polling places in Gila Bend) -












Historically, there have been more than a few observers who have opined that when faced with a ****up as big as this, one should not presume that there was malicious intent at work when the situation can be chalked up to simple bad judgement or stupidity.

I try to follow that guideline, but when it comes to sustained "stupidity" from people who aren't stupid (and make no mistake, while I think that Purcell is a very bad elections officer, she isn't stupid, not by a long shot), I tend to be very judgemental -


It's time for Helen Purcell and her hangers-on/enablers to go away.  The people of Maricopa County deserve and need someone in that office who will work for all of the people of the county, not just the ones in preferred areas.



Some of the sources of information for this post:

US Census data

List of polling places in Maricopa County, from the website of the Maricopa County Recorder

Voter registration figures, by city, in Maricopa County, from the website of the Maricopa County Recorder

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Don't bother staying up late to see the results of the Arizona presidential primary

The Presidential Preference Election in Arizona (what we folks here call our presidential primary) is over.  At least it will be after some stragglers in Maricopa County vote.

(The consistent ineptitude/malice of Maricopa County's chief elections officer, Helen Purcell, can and will be the subject of a separate post in the near future.)

The MSM pundits will soon declare one or the other candidate to be the "winner", even though most of them know full well that pledged Democratic delegates in Arizona are awarded proportionally, with candidates needing to reach 15% of the vote to earn any delegates.

Given that there are two main candidates (Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton) running fairly evenly (with Clinton ahead) nationwide, both should attain that 15% threshold easily.

Based on that, the "winner" will be expected to earn more than half of Arizona's pledged delegates, but nowhere near all of them.

Except that it's not quite that simple.


The Arizona Democratic Party does, in fact, award its pledged delegates proportionally, and 15% is the minimum vote threshold needed by any candidate to receive some.

Where it gets complicated is in the fact that delegates are awarded based on *Congressional District* and the 15% threshold applies to each district's votes.

From the Delegate Selection Plan crafted by the Arizona Democratic Party -











To sum up, mathematically, a candidate could "lose" statewide, but still end up with more pledged delegates than the "winner" if he or she wins in a couple of districts by a large enough margin to shut out the other candidate while finishing far behind the other candidate in the other districts, but still earning enough of the vote in those places to break the 15% threshold.

Or to sum up the "sum up", don't go to bed thinking you know how the Arizona primary turned out.

It won't be "over" until all of the district level results are tallied.



Sunday, March 20, 2016

Arizona Legislature: The coming week

One takeaway from this week's planned agendas at the Capitol:

There's now proof that when a legislator tells you that one of the schemes to take authority away from the federal government is all about their love of "local control", they're lying about that "love".

According to the latest update from State Senator Steve Farley, we should start hearing rumblings about a state budget soon.  He noted that there may be some recalcitrant Republicans who "feel they got rolled last year on the budget and are determined not to make that mistake again."

My prediction:

Though some of the Rs mentioned above may try to gum up the works as they hold out for some earmarks in the budget, it's an even-numbered year (aka - an election year).  They all want to get out of the Capitol and start campaigning for reelection.  Plus, the leaders of each chamber are running for Congress this year (Senate president Andy Biggs: CD5; House speaker David Gowan: CD1).  In other words, there will be a flurry of activity behind the scenes, the budget will be revealed "suddenly", railroaded through the lege in three days with a minimum of public input, and "sine die" will take place shortly thereafter (not much of a prediction there; that's the way the lege has operated for years).

Let this be the first public sine die date prediction:  Thursday, April 14.


We've reached the part of the legislative session where the committee process is over - except for the chambers' respective Appropriations committees.

So far, this week's meeting of House Appropriations looks harmless ("so far" is a big caveat - at the Capitol, things can change quickly), but Senate Appropriations?

Not so much.

Among the measures up for consideration this week:

- A proposed striker to HB2163, overruling any local ordinances regarding pet stores and puppy mills

- HB2501, a scheme to move any and all health-related boards and commissions under the purview of the state Department of Health Services and giving the director of DHS veto power over any regulations proposed by those entities

- A proposed striker to HCR2014, a proposed amendment to the state's constitution to have the voters renounce their vote in 2006 establishing a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum wage and further, bar municipalities from establishing local minimum wage levels

- HB2690, a proposal to remove the licensing and oversight of pawnbrokers from county sheriffs and local agencies and give that responsibility to the Arizona Department of Public Safety


The rest -

Notes:

All committees meetings and agendas are subject to change without notice, and frequently do.  If you plan to travel to the Capitol to observe or weigh in on the consideration of a particular measure, check with the lege ahead of time to confirm that the meeting that you are interested in is still on schedule and your item(s) of interest is still on the agenda for that meeting.

Meeting rooms designated "HHR" are in the House of Representatives building. Meeting rooms designated "SHR" are in the Senate building.

All House committee agendas can be found here. All Senate committee agendas can be found here.

Committee schedule (mostly just copied and pasted from the lege's websiteThe agenda links work, as of this writing, but may not later in the week if an agenda is modified in some way):


Agenda Date Committee Time Room HTML Document
03/24/16 Government and Higher Education 9:00 A.M. HHR 1 Click Here
03/23/16 Appropriations 2:00 P.M. HHR 1 Click Here





Agenda Date Committee Time Room HTML Document
03/24/16 Education 9:00 A.M. SHR 1 Click Here
03/23/16 Finance 9:00 A.M. SHR 3 Click Here
03/22/16 Appropriations 2:00 P.M. SHR 109 Click Here


Floor Calendars:
The House has COW (Committee of the Whole) calendars (here and here) scheduled for Monday.

The Senate has a COW calendar posted for Monday.

There will be floor calendars later in the week, but those are generally posted the day before, or even the day of, consideration.

The lege's Capitol Events calendar is here.

Monday, March 14, 2016

It's "Demonize The 'Other' Time" at the Arizona legislature

...Not that it's ever *not* "Demonize The 'Other'' Time" down at the state capitol...

In this week's schedule post, I warned that strikers (strike everything amendments) could pop up at any time.

Turns out, I was being prescient - many committee agendas were updated on Monday...and the week is still young.

What may be the most nativist measure proposed by this bunch (and that's saying something) is a striker now added to Wednesday's agenda for the House Judiciary Committee.

That meeting was already scheduled to start at the painfully early (by legislative standards, anyway; for normal people, it's early, but not outrageously so) of 8 a.m. because of the long and ugly agenda.

And with Monday's changes to the agenda, it is now longer and uglier.

Committee chairman Eddie Farnsworth has agendized a striker proposal to SB1452 -

A proposal to demonize refugees and organizations that aid them.

The text of the proposal -

A.  For five years after RESETTLING a refugee, A refugee resettlement agency is liable for both of the following:

1.  The indemnification of this state or any political subdivision of this state for the cost of prosecuting a refugee received by the refugee resettlement agency for resettlement in this state.

2.  Damages or injuries suffered by a victim that are proximately caused by any criminal act committed by a refugee received by the refugee resettlement agency for resettlement in this state.

B.  This state, a political subdivision of this STATE or a victim of a criminal act committed by a refugee may commence a civil action against a refugee resettlement agency for any damages or injuries that are proximately caused by the refugee's criminal act.

C.  On or before July 1 of each year, a refugee resettlement agency shall report to the department of insurance on a form prescribed by the department its financial capacity to meet any obligations imposed under this section in an amount up to twenty-five million dollars. 

D.  If a refugee resettlement agency fails to make the report prescribed in subsection C of this section, the department of insurance shall impose a civil penalty of not more than one thousand dollars per refugee relocated in this state by the refugee resettlement agency in the previous five years.  Each day after July 1 that a REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT agency fails to comply with subsection C of this section is a separate violation.

E.  For the purposes of this section:

1.  "HIGH-RISK COUNTRY" MEANS ANY COUNTRY OR TERRITORY THAT IS either of the following: 

(a)  DESIGNATED AS A STATE SPONSOR OF TERRORISM BY THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE.

(b)  IDENTIFIED AS HIGH RISK BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT AGENCY, INCLUDING THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION or THE OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE.

2.  "Refugee" means any person who is a citizen of a high-risk country and who has been granted either of the following:

(a)  refugee status pursuant to 8 United states code section 1157.

(b)  ASYLUM pursuant to 8 United states code section 1158. 

3.  "refugee resettlement agency" means any nongovernmental agency that RECEIVES refugees for resettlement in this state. 

Sec. 2.  Emergency

This act is an emergency measure that is necessary to preserve the public peace, health or safety and is operative immediately as provided by law."

I don't know which is worse - Farnsworth et. al. trying to use their positions to turn their private hatreds into public policy, or their unmitigated gall in adding a declaration that their hatred (and yes, fear) constitutes an emergency.

Oh, and I think that we have the front-runner for the award for most shameless two-step of the legislative session -

In a lege notorious for it anti-federal government sentiments and actions, Farnsworth uses sections of federal law to define which groups of people will be affected by his hate missive.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Arizona Legislature: The coming week

This is the last week when bill proposals can be heard in committee (there are a few ways around that rule, but the ways involve some serious sucking up to legislative leadership and/or the chairs of the respective chambers' Appropriations Committees).

In short, there's a *lot* of ugly on committee agendas this week.

This is also a very good week to pay attention to agenda changes - bills will be added to or removed from agendas with nearly no notice, strikers will be proposed out of nowhere, and meeting times will be changed.

Some examples, meaning that as long as this list may be, it's not even close to being comprehensive:

- A striker to HB2113, seeking to overturn any and all municipal bans on "puppy mills" (Senate Natural Resources, Monday)

- HB2579, barring municipalities from regulating "nonwage compensation", such as requiring sick pay (Senate Commerce and Workforce Development, Monday)

- HB2652, removing any labor protections for people like Uber and Lyft drivers by inserting language into state law that makes them "independent contractors" (Senate Commerce and Workforce Development, Monday)

- HB2445, allowing motor vehicle insurance providers to "non-renew" insurance policies for almost any reason (Senate Transportation, Tuesday)

- HB2300, barring the state or its political subdivisions (counties, municipalities, etc.) from enforcing or assisting with the enforcement of any federal law, rule, policy, etc. that they deem as infringing on the 2nd Amendment

- HCR2043, a proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution to allow the legislature to override the Voter Protection Act; more on this one from AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona here (Senate Federalism, Mandates, and Fiscal Responsibility, Tuesday)

- HB2517, barring counties, municipalities, etc., from enacting or enforcing rules, regulations, ordinances, policies, etc. that may restrict or inhibit the formation and operation of businesses, except under limited conditions (Senate Government, Wednesday)

- HB2537, Doug Ducey's scheme to pack the Supreme Court with pliable judges (Senate Government, Wednesday)

- HCR2023, another proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution to allow the legislature to override the Voter Protection Act (Senate Government, Wednesday)

- HCR2035, a proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution to hamstring the authority of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission (Senate Government, Wednesday)

- HB2043, exempting profits from speculation in gold and silver coins (calling those things "specie legal tender") from taxation, but making financial losses from such speculation tax-deductible (Senate Financial Institutions, Wednesday)

- HB2480, limiting the amount of "additional state aid" for education that the state can appropriate for education (Senate Finance, Wednesday)

- HB2115, attacking public employees by barring them from receiving a pension or severance pay if they are found to have "misappropriated" public funds.  The bill does not require that such an allegation be proven in court before the penalties are imposed (Senate Judiciary, Thursday)

- HB2123, gutting conflict of interest rules applied to members of the Arizona Corporation Commission (aiding their former colleague, Andy Tobin, a former House Speaker and current member of the ACC) (Senate Judiciary, Thursday)

- SB1516,  well, their title for this nugget of ugly is "campaign finance amendments" but it should be titled the "dark money protection act" (House Elections, Monday)

- SB1266, creating penalties for political subdivisions that enact, and for officials that enforce, any law, ordinance, rule, etc. that restricts firearms any more than state law does (House Judiciary, Wednesday)
- SB1474, barring scientific research on fetal tissue or embryos from abortions (House Judiciary, Wednesday)
- SB1485, barring state employees from making donations to Planned Parenthood through payroll deductions (House Judiciary, Wednesday)

- SB1324, imposing restrictions on medication-induced abortions (House Judiciary, Wednesday)

- SB1437, nullifying part of the National Defense Authorization Act (House Federalism and States' Rights, Wednesday)


The rest -

Notes:

All committees meetings and agendas are subject to change without notice, and frequently do.  If you plan to travel to the Capitol to observe or weigh in on the consideration of a particular measure, check with the lege ahead of time to confirm that the meeting that you are interested in is still on schedule and your item(s) of interest is still on the agenda for that meeting.

Meeting rooms designated "HHR" are in the House of Representatives building. Meeting rooms designated "SHR" are in the Senate building.

All House committee agendas can be found here. All Senate committee agendas can be found here.

Committee schedule (mostly just copied and pasted from the lege's websiteThe agenda links work, as of this writing, but may not later in the week if an agenda is modified in some way):



Agenda Date Committee Time Room HTML Document
03/17/16 Agriculture, Water and Lands 10:00 A.M. HHR 3 Click Here
03/17/16 Government and Higher Education 9:00 A.M. HHR 1 Click Here
03/17/16 Military Affairs and Public Safety 9:00 A.M. HHR 5 Click Here
03/16/16 Appropriations 2:00 P.M. HHR 1 Click Here
03/16/16 Commerce 9:30 A.M. NOTE TIME CHANGE HHR 1 Click Here
03/16/16 Education 2:00 P.M. HHR 4 Click Here
03/16/16 Federalism and States' Rights 9:00 A.M. HHR 5 Click Here
03/16/16 Insurance 10:00 A.M. NOTE TIME CHANGE HHR 4 Click Here
03/16/16 Judiciary 8:00 A.M. NOTE TIME CHANGE HHR 3 Click Here
03/15/16 Banking and Financial Services 2:00 P.M. HHR 3 Click Here
03/15/16 Health 2:00 P.M. HHR 4 Click Here
03/15/16 Rural and Economic Development 2:00 P.M. HHR 5 Click Here
03/15/16 Transportation and Infrastructure 2:00 P.M. HHR 1 Click Here
03/14/16 Children and Family Affairs 2:00 P.M. HHR 5 Click Here
03/14/16 County and Municipal Affairs 2:00 P.M. HHR 4 Click Here
03/14/16 Elections 9:30 A.M. NOTE TIME CHANGE HHR 4 Click Here
03/14/16 Energy, Environment and Natural Resources 2:00 P.M. HHR 1 Click Here
03/14/16 Rules 1:00 P.M. HHR 4 Click Here
03/14/16 Ways and Means 2:00 P.M. HHR 3 Click Here





Agenda Date Committee Time Room HTML Document
03/17/16 Education 9:00 A.M. SHR 1 Click Here
03/17/16 Judiciary 9:30 A.M. SHR 109 Click Here
03/16/16 Finance 9:00 A.M. SHR 3 Click Here
03/16/16 Financial Institutions 2:00 P.M. SHR 109 Click Here
03/16/16 Government 2:00 P.M. SHR 3 Click Here
03/16/16 Health and Human Services 2:00 P.M. SHR 1 Click Here
03/16/16 Public Safety, Military and Technology 9:00 A.M. SHR 1 Click Here
03/15/16 Appropriations 2:00 P.M. SHR 109 Click Here
03/15/16 Federalism, Mandates and Fiscal Responsibility 9:00 A.M. SHR 3 Click Here
03/15/16 Transportation 2:00 P.M. SHR 1 Click Here
03/14/16 Commerce and Workforce Development 1:45 P.M. OR UPON ADJ OF FLOOR (NOTE TIME CHANGE) SHR 1 Click Here
03/14/16 Natural Resources 9:00 A.M. SHR 109 Click Here
03/14/16 State Debt and Budget Reform 10:00 A.M. SHR 3 Click Here
03/14/16 Water and Energy 2:00 P.M. SHR 3 Click Here


Floor Calendars:


The House has a Final Read (approving changes to House bills that were amended in the Senate) calendar scheduled for Monday.

The Senate has a COW (Committee of the Whole) calendar posted for Monday.

There will be floor calendars later in the week, but those are generally posted the day before, or even the day of, consideration.

The lege's Capitol Events calendar is here.