Sunday, March 29, 2009

The week ahead...

Note: all info culled from online sources and subject to change without notice as events unfold. Check the appropriate organization's website for updates.

...In the U.S. House, the agenda looks to be a busy and somewhat contentious one.

- H.R. 1388, the "GIVE" Act, has passed the Senate with amendments. Those amendments are coming up for House approval. That will give the Three Amigos from AZ (Shadegg, Flake, and Franks), as well as the GOP caucus as a whole, another opportunity to vote against public service and volunteerism.

- Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick's (D-AZ1) H.R. 1513, the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009, will be heard as a suspension bill (2/3 support required to pass).

- Rep. Jeff Flake is bringing forward his sixth privileged motion "raising a question of privileges of the House. " The text isn't available online, it is probably related his call for both FBI/DOJ and ethics investigations into the campaign contributions made by PMA, a lobbying firm, and their relation to earmarks.

- H.R. 985, the Free Flow of Information Act. This one came up last year and passed the House, but later died in the Senate.

As with last year's version, this bill creates a federal journalists' shield law.

Also as with last year's version, this bill specifically provides coverage for corporate media personnel and specifically excludes bloggers and other citizen journalists.

It'll pass, but it's still inadequate.

- H.Res. 279, "Providing for the expenses of certain committees of the House of Representatives in the One Hundred Eleventh Congress." It provides over $300 million for House committee operations. Call this one the "Peacock Act" in honor of all the preening and posturing that will be associated with this one.

- H.R. 1664, "To amend the executive compensation provisions of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 to prohibit unreasonable and excessive compensation and compensation not based on performance standards." Sounds good, until you read the fine print - the Secretary of the Treasury decides what is "unreasonable and excessive." It'll pass the House but face serious hurdles in the Senate.

- And in what is sure to be the most contentious of all, the House will be considering the "Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for FY 2010." Whatever final form the bill takes after a Rules Committee hearing on Wednesday, the Republicans and most of the Blue Dog Dems (including AZ5's Harry Mitchell) will probably oppose the measure.

...Back here in the AZ Legislature, it will be a mostly quiet week on the committee front, as only the House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet. On the Senate side, a few committees will meet, but only to consider executive appointments and to hear about the parts of the federal stimulus package that fall into their bailiwicks.

The House COW (Committee Of the Whole) calendars (here and here) offer up a couple of interesting nuggets.

HB2352 exempts Class II Injection Wells from the Aquifer Protection Permit requirement. From the "fact sheet" for the bill -
"Injection wells discharge liquid byproducts in deep, underground porous rock. Class II wells inject fluids associated with oil and natural gas production. The majority of the liquid that is released is a salt water (brine) solution. In order to prevent contamination, class II wells inject brine deep underground."

An APP permit is required when "one owns or operates a facility that releases pollutants directly into an aquifer, onto the land surface, or in between an aquifer and the land. Currently, injection wells are considered a polluting facility, along with ten other facility types."

In committee, every Republican supported increasing contamination in our drinking water, and every Dem opposed it.

Expect the same trend in the COW session.

Another interesting bill could be HB2101, a measure to require that counties with a population of greater than 175,000 residents have five member boards of supervisors. The current threshold is 200,000. As it turns out, it only affects Pinal County, which under the current law would be converting to a five-member board in 2012 anyway. The county supervisors association opposed it, too, because of the increased costs to the county during a time when all budgets are tight. There are also some questions about whether or not the USDOJ would approve any new districts (that darn Voting Rights Act! :) ).

Again, in committee, all Dems opposed it and all Reps favored it.

Again, expect the same in COW.

The highlight of the week in the AZ lege, though, could be the Democrats' unveiling of their budget proposal on Monday at 10:30 a.m. That one is sure to set up some cross-chatter/smack-talk between the two caucuses. Once the Reps "official" release theirs (which looks to be so harsh that they may have trouble getting it past some of the more vulnerable members of their caucus), the mutual criticism society will start in earnest.

...The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will be meeting twice this week.

At Monday's "Informal" meeting (10:00 a.m., Supervisors' Auditorium, 205 W. Jefferson in Phoenix), the highlights include more budget balancing moves and an executive session, possibly to discuss the latest source of antagonism between them and the Maricopa County Attorney.

The agenda for Wednesday's meeting (9 a.m., Supervisors' Auditorium) is more mundane, yet still highlights the ongoing feud between the supes and the County Attorney and Sheriff.

One item (#16) covers the executive compensation package for Wade Swanson, the newly-hired director of the County's General Litigation Department. You know, the civil litigation duties taken away from Andrew Thomas.

AZRep coverage of the issue here.

...Anyway, those look to be some of the highlights of the upcoming week, though stuff could crop up out of the blue, like when Mayor Phil Gordon of Phoenix said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's anti-immigrant jihad is making Maricopa County look like Selma, Alabama in the 1950s.


Thane Eichenauer said...

@HR1388 - $1 billion in spending for programs not constitutionally authorized. Far from having anything to do with volunteerism this bill spends money that has been obtained through force (taxes).

Eli Blake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eli Blake said...


Get off of your high horse. The tax rates are set and voted on by elected representatives of the people.

I support paying more tax for bills like this that promote many social programs. You don't.

If you convince more people that you are right and then elect candidates who agree with your position then so be it. As a resident of a democracy I will accept that verdict, though I may work to reverse it in some subsequent election.

At least recently, more people have agreed with my position. I would point out that Barack Obama promised during the campaign 1. to propose something along the lines of this bill, and 2. said he would let the Bush tax cut on the top marginal rate expire on schedule, which is in keeping with the expressed will of the Congress of 2001 which specified in their bill that it was only a 10 year tax cut.

In a country like China or Zimbabwe taxes are obtained by force because those taxed-- like Americans prior to the revolution-- have no representation in determining the tax rates they would be taxed under.

In America on the other hand tax laws are no different than any other law-- written by the people's elected representatives who serve at the behest of those who at least implicitly agree to follow the laws they write.

Thane Eichenauer said...

I gladly admit to claiming moral high ground on this one as all elected officials choose to take an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Any laws they pass should (but often aren't) constitutionally valid. Any laws and appropriations that are not authorized by the constitution are unconstitutional.

Democracy doesn't make laws or taxes voluntary, far from it. It only imposes a tyranny of the majority.

Neither laws nor taxes are voluntary in any logical sense of the word.