(updated, May 13th, 6:40 am)
Well, the AZ Legislature adjourned for the year, and gave Gov. Ducey pretty much everything he wanted, and more! It was one of the more sickening sessions in the nine years that we’ve lived in Arizona.
HCR 2022 is the Resolution to ask Congress to convene an Article V Constitutional Convention— Passed House and Senate. Does not require Governor signature. Arizona is the 29 state to sign on to a Constitutional Convention. (NM retracted its signature.)
It passed the AZ House and Senate. It must be passed by 34 state legislatures, before Congress must call a Constitutional convention. Arizona became the 29th state to sign on. The convention delegates would create their own rules for conduct and conclusions of said convention. At the point that the convention concludes, 38 state legislatures must pass those changes (by a simple majority) to the U.S. Constitution in order make the changes.
Anti-vouchers Talking Point–From Group Exercise
Good little summary video about school funding in Arizona
AEA Legislative Discussion Guide
Voting Rights/Voters’ Rights
HCR 2002 was passed along party lines in the House, and referred to the Senate on Feb 24th. It hasn’t yet been scheduled for a committee hearing. Will let you know when it is.
Suggested Email/Post Card from Group Exercise: We respectfully request that you fully support Prop 105 that was passed by the people ion Arizona in 1998. HCR 2002 is taking away the voice of the people, and it erodes the democracy of the State, its process, procedures, and principles.
Permits the Legislature to repeal a referendum measure.
Exempts referenda from provisions requiring the following actions to further the purpose of the legislation and be approved by three-fourths of each house of the Legislature:a) amending a referendum;b) appropriating or diverting funds created or allocated to a specific purpose by areferendum; andc) adopting a measure that supersedes, in whole or in part, a referendum approvedby the voters.
|Howdy, Friends O’Farley…
Last Thursday sent a shockwave through students, teachers, and parents — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike — all over the state. After politically threatening holdout Republicans, Governor Ducey rammed SB1431 — the statewide private school voucher bill — through the legislature and signed it into law that night.
The first people to tweet congratulations to the Governor were Jeb Bush and President Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. It’s clear that, in privatizing our public school system, Doug Ducey is serving his DC friends, not AZ kids.
This is marks the beginning the wholesale privatization of our public school system, which can only be reversed by unseating the Governor and the legislative majority at the next election.
Read on for the details of this disastrous policy.
—> Here is my floor speech, delivered last Thursday during the debate over SB1431:
Governor Ducey, I know you are listening, so I’m talking to you.
You call yourself an education governor. But you first came to prominence in our state as the leader of a successful effort to slash a billion dollars a year from our public schools.
Then you swooped in with a plan to save our public schools from the financial hole you originally created for them – Proposition 123.
Prop 123 took money from the future that was already set aside for schools in order to pay for the present desperate needs that you had created. It amounted to 70% of inflation and enrollment growth.
Which had already been ordered by voters 17 years ago to be paid and had not been paid since 2008.
Even with Prop 123 in place, our per pupil state support for K12, adjusted for inflation, has been slashed by 21% since 2008.
And I see the results in my daughter’s school, Tucson High.
> 10% of the classrooms are locked away because they are hazardous to inhabit and there is no money to fix them.
> The average age of computers is 12 years old, and there are not enough for more than one third of the students. Because of lack of computers, AZMerit testing is a logistical nightmare and students not being tested are attending three-hour classes while others test.
> There are six counselors for 3,200 students.
> Teachers with eight years experience and a masters degree are earning $37,000 a year.
> 44% of Arizona teachers leave after two years.
Our entire system is in crisis.
Throughout the Prop 123 campaign, Governor, which I supported because it was all you left for us to support, you kept saying you were committed to Step 456. You never said exactly what that was.
Now we have before us your Step 456, and it is utterly shocking. You are proposing the wholesale privatization of our public school system.
This is nothing less than a tax of $5,400 a year on each public school student, redistributed as debit cards to the parents of other students who are rich enough to afford the extra $10,000 to $15,000 a year in tuition to attend a private or religious school.
Governor, you may say that this is about choice. But currently, 94% of Arizona parents choose to send their children to public schools.
Once you have gutted those public schools through your education policies, capped off by this one, those of us who have chosen to send our kids to public schools will be left with no good choice.
Either leave our kids at a neglected school with decaying resources, or beg, borrow, or even seek predatory lenders to scrape up the rest of the tuition to try to send our kid to a private school, which can turn away kids for any reason and will be filling up to capacity with students fleeing from the public schools you have gutted.
With this bill, on top of your other education policies, you are paving the way toward this dystopian future of dwindling opportunity and a widening chasm between the haves and the have nots.
Governor Ducey, you have resorted to wielding intense pressure and political threats to members of this body who have stood strong up to this point and voted their conscience. That is wrong.
You are ignoring the outcry of millions of Arizona citizens who need a foundation for the future and parents who choose public schools for their children. That is wrong.
You are dismantling the most effective tool we have ever built for lifting people out of poverty and delivering opportunity. That is wrong.
You are pushing a bill that will destroy Arizona public education as we know it. That is wrong.
I urge you, Governor Ducey, and urge all the members of this body, to reject SB1431.
—> Sadly, the Governor did not take my advice. SB1431 bill passed by the bare minimum of 16 votes in the Senate and 31 votes in the House, then was signed by Governor Ducey to cheers from his DC friends and jeers from AZ parents.
Several of the Republicans who had previously stated opposition to the statewide voucher scheme had flipped after the Governor threatened to veto their bills and leave nothing for their districts.
One of the holdouts, Senator Bob Worsley, negotiated a cap of no more than 30,000 children eligible for the vouchers by 2022. That won his support. But as I pointed out on the floor, the cap could disappear with a one-line provision in the upcoming budget in the middle of the night, or at any other time.
Sure enough, before the ink was dry on Governor Ducey’s signature that very night, the right-wing Goldwater Institute sent out a fundraising email where they bragged, “There is a cap at 5,000 new kids per year; we will get it lifted.”
While the speed and brazenness of this braggadocio was breathtaking, it was hardly surprising. The Goldwater Institute has eliminated caps and restrictions on these voucher programs each of the 11 years I have served in the Legislature. This program was characterized at the start as just a tiny program to help a very limited group of severely disabled kids. Several steps later, all 1.1 million students in the state are now eligible — presuming their parents have the cash to pay for the rest of the tuition.
The Goldwater Institute’s stated goal is the complete privatization of public education. They are now well on their way.
It’s time for change in Arizona state government.
—> On another vitally important topic, health policy, Governor Ducey is struggling with his understanding of the issue. He came out with this amazing statement yesterday on the Mac and Gaydos show on Phoenix’s KTAR radio:
A) Medicare is “government healthcare” last I checked.
B) Medicaid in Arizona is called AHCCCS and is run by the state government. Which is run by the Governor.
Perhaps we could use a governor whose understanding of health policy goes beyond simply attacking Obamacare?
—> Try to enjoy the rest of your week till next time when we may have some word on a budget, although there’s no sign of movement yet.
In the meantime, I will be taking a fun swing through Sonoita, Tubac, Nogales, Patagonia, and Green Valley this weekend to meet with all kinds of enthusiastic Democrats and talk about our bright future in 2018. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Senator.
Senator, District 9, Tucson
If you like my representation and want to keep me in office, CONTRIBUTE TODAY!
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The Farley Report from Phoenix #273: 4-4-17
Howdy, Friends O’Farley…
The pace of legislation is slowing down now as we await word of a budget deal from the majority caucuses and the Governor’s Office. Word is, that deal may be a few weeks away at the earliest, so we will be spending a lot of waiting-around time until we get out of here for good.
Despite a lot of talk about including Democrats in the budget process, that new climate has not materialized just yet. Even Governor Brewer recognized that Democrats can bring a lot to the table to broker a final deal — perhaps once the majority realizes they can’t come to agreement on their own, we may get some of our priorities included. How about 4% teacher raises instead of Governor Ducey’s 0.4% ?
As most of you know, I was the first legislator in the country to introduce a bill banning driving while texting.
And you also know that we are still one of only two states with no statewide ban for anyone. We are one of only four states without a statewide ban for adults. Another of those four states is Texas.
Unlike us, Texas does have a statewide ban on cellphone use while driving for anyone under the age of 18. We are currently struggling to even get a bill through (SB1080, currently stuck in House Rules) that would only ban cell phone use by teens in the first six months of their driver’s license.
But even if that bill gets through, it would do nothing to stop in Arizona the horror witnessed in Texas last Wednesday, when a 20-year-old texting driver crossed over the center line of a winding road and slaughtered 13 eldersfrom the New Braunfels First Baptist Church while on a field trip.
As you can see in this report from Fox News, the driver had been texting on the road for at least 15 minutes before the crash. Texting while driving is legal in Texas, just like it is here. When a practice is legal, people do it. When it is illegal, most people stop.
That’s why we have extensive drunk-driving laws. While some people will still drink and drive, most people don’t. And those who do are stopped and fined and often jailed. Because drunk drivers kill — just like texting drivers.
It’s only a matter of time before we witness a horrific crash like the one in Texas. In fact, a new study reveals that 52% of recent car crashes across the country resulted from phone distraction. The average duration of distraction for drives that involved a crash was more than two minutes.
It’s happening here already. Months after I introduced the nation’s first cell phone ban in 2007, a texting 19-year-old driver crossed over the center line in Peoria, Arizona, and instantly killed Stacy Stubbs, a mother of three from Chino Valley. In the 11 years since, I have met dozens of grieving family membersand felt their inconsolable pain from the nonsensical loss of a loved one to the carelessness of a distracted driver.
One family was that of DPS Officer Tim Huffman, killed in Yuma by a texting truck driver who was caught on video surfing Facebook on his phone immediately preceding the crash. His killer was convicted of lesser charges because texting while driving is not illegal in Arizona.
Polls show more than 90% of Arizonans of all political beliefs support a ban. How many more Arizonans need to die before we get that law?
I have worked each year to ban driving while texting in Arizona. I will not stop until the ban is in place.
I have worked with people as unassailably conservative as Senator Al Melvin and a variety of other people from both parties who support the ban. This is not a partisan issue.
Since the Texas tragedy, more folks across the aisle have stood up to support a statewide ban for everyone, and are working behind the scenes to try to make it happen this year, in the form of an amendment to existing bills. I am hopeful we have a chance. It’s time. There are no excuses.
—> For some better news, I am happy to share that your calls and emails have worked, and it looks like we have stopped this year’s legislative efforts to allow predatory lending at 164% annual rates in Arizona.
HB2496 would allow an Arizona resident to borrow $2,500 from one of these companies and pay back monthly a required 2% principal reduction plus the interest on the remaining principal. At the end of twelve months, the borrower would have to make a balloon payment for the balance. In the end, he or she would have paid $6,133 for a $2,500 one-year loan.If the money is not available to pay the balloon payment (which is likely), the borrower could roll over the remaining balance into another one-year loan to pay all that interest again. This is a long-term debt trap.
Last week, Senate President Steve Yarbrough announced that HB2496 “will not be allowed to advance.”
I am grateful to him for stopping this inhumane bill. As I stated in the explanation of my No vote in committee a couple of weeks ago, we as a legislature should be doing everything we can to end poverty in Arizona, not serve up the poor as a new market for out-of-state predatory lenders.
—> Your emails and letters have also worked their wonder on another problematic bill, HB2287, which would have weakened Shannon’s Law. This was enacted in the wake of the 1999 death of Phoenix 14-year-old Shannon Smith, who was killed in her backyard by a bullet fired into the air by someone who has never been caught. It’s now a felony to negligently fire a weapon inside city limits.
2287’s sponsor Tony Rivero thought that was unfair, and that the law should be weakened. After a sustained public outcry, Senate President Steve Yarbrough announced that the Senate would not consider the bill, saying, “It’s important to have this law in place to deter folks from firing weapons in these circumstances, even accidentally.”
Thank you for speaking out, and thanks to President Yarbrough for having the courage to act on what he heard from you. Citizen activism works.
—> Outside of the capitol, I am continuing to meet inspiring folks all over the state.
I was honored to keynote the 9th Annual Polly Rosenbaum Dinner for the Greenlee County Democrats in Clifton last Saturday night. My former legislative mentors Ann Kirkpatrick and Tom O’Halleran also spoke and we had a delicious home-cooked meal in a lovingly restored former Masonic Lodge now called the Blue Door Sanctuary. The turnout was tremendous, and the people I met were unforgettable.
The highlight of the evening was giving awards to local youth who have overcome seemingly insurmountable difficulties, including Gerardo Cerna of Duncan High School, who survived a horrific car crash when he was in sixth grade, and Jose Cazares, who received a kidney from his dad while in elementary school. They are now two of the brightest rising stars in Arizona for their leadership, empathy, and drive to better their community. I came away utterly inspired, and I won’t miss the 10th Annual Dinner next year!
And last night, despite the tough luck of being scheduled at the same time as the NCAA Championship Game, I was able to address more than 200 Democratic activists gathered at Chandler/Ahwatukee’s LD18 regular monthly meeting. 43 of the attendees had never come to a Democratic meeting before, and the atmosphere was electric with hope and determination.
With this level of energy, we win in 2018. Together.
Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Senator.
Senator, District 9, Tucson
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