(updated, Mar 28th, 8:50 AM)
Excerpts from The Farley Report, inside scoop from the AZ Senator, Steve Farley, D-Tucson
————–SBDemClub Exercise Results Posted——
Talking Points and suggested comments are posted below, in their applicable places on the page. Please use these to write legislators and object to:
We may be able to influence Sen. Pratt from LD 8, the SB Ranch and Oracle areas, with respect to the education voucher bills going through the Legislature.
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.
SB 1431 and HB 2394–“Empower Scholarship Accounts”, i.e., vouchers for education. Write Gov. Ducey and tell him to persuade the Legislature “not to pass an ESA expansions bill. And if it does, veto it!” [both awaiting action in their chambers]
Anti-vouchers Talking Point–From Group Exercise
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.
WE NEED YOU TO WRITE and CALL to stop HCR 2022 and HCR2002 from getting on the ballot in November. HCR 2002 It is one of two bills being looked at to refer to the voters. The other one merely makes some small changes to signatures required. However, this dual track approach is clearly intended did to confuse voters into eventually voting for HCR 2002 and giving our initiative powers over to the Legislature.
It’s the last week for committees to hear bills (with the exception of Appropriations Committees), so one would think that we are nearing the end and the risk of wayward bills would be receding. However, that’s not quite the way it works around here.
In fact, this is the week when dead bills come back to life in record numbers. The form that a zombie bill takes is a “striker” or “strike-everything” amendment. Like a parasitic wasp feeding on a sickly host caterpillar, a dying but moving bill is taken over by an entirely unrelated bill in committee. This week, I will tell you the story of one of these walking dead bills that is aiming to legalize yet another type of predatory lending in Arizona.
But first, the Farley Report Pledge Break…
A few weeks ago at a community event in Tucson attended by nearly 300 people, an audience member asked whether I would be announcing a run for governor in 2018. My answer and the audience reaction was captured on video.
Click to watch and share. If you think I should run, pleasecontribute today. I want to know if you are with me on this journey — it’s going to take all of us pulling together to move our state forward again.
—> Before we start the legislative to-dos, some good news — Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly, who have been doing great work with their efforts to promote common-sense gun laws like closing the gun-show loophole are bringing that work home to Arizona. I had a chance to spend some time with Gabby last week, and she is doing really well.Thanks to all of you who have supported her and the other victims of the January 8 shootings — the work marches on, and together we will continue to try to make our state safe for all of us.
—> Today in Senate Appropriations, HB2496 — formerly a bill on homeowner associations from Rep. Vince Leach (R-Oro Valley) — was appropriated by a striker authored by appropriations chair Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria).
HB2496 would allow out-of-state predatory lenders to offer renewable lines of credit to borrowers with credit ratings of under 600 at annual interest rates of 164%.
Let’s drill down on this a bit. If this striker passes, an Arizona resident could 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.
You may be thinking that we voters outlawed predatory lending like this years ago. Yes, more than 60% of Arizona voters set a cap of 36% on payday lending. But the initiative was restricted to payday lending, meaning that other forms can still be brought into existence, despite voters’ clear message that anything over 36% should be unlawful usury.
Additionally, it is illegal to offer any loan product of more than 36% to any active duty military member or their immediate family. The U.S. military decided that such loans put our soldiers at risk, so they enacted a federal law. However, veterans and their families, once they have separated from service, are not protected.
The companies proposing the current scheme have a sketchy history. One of them, Elevate, was spun off in 2014 from Think Finance (with the same CEO) which offered loans with rates as high as 365% and wrote off losses of 51% in 2014.
Another, Community Choice Financial, has been downgraded three times in two years by Moody’s rating service from B3 to Caa3 (the third lowest on the scale). Testimony brought out that their losses have been piling up from their predatory lending in other states at 60%, 90%, or 120%, so they may be trying this move into AZ at 164% in order to recoup these other losses.
There are already many options available for folks in tough financial straits like public and charitable emergency assistance programs, credit unions, and consumer lenders who lend at less than 36% interest. And help may be only as far away as their back pocket — one study showed that in Arizona, 2.5 million people with borderline or worse credit have credit cards with more than $3 billion available in unused balances that can be used for cash advances at 36% or less. None of these options pose the kind of debt spiral risk posed by a predatory lender.
During testimony, I was encouraged to hear great concern on the part of committee members for helping people in poverty. Some people just need a little money to get them through a rough patch, and these products can do that, the proponents say.
I wish I saw that concern in the form of a state budget that supports anti-poverty programs like education, childcare, basic nutrition, adult protective services, and job training — programs that really solve the problem without locking people into long-term unsustainable debt.
As I stated in my explanation of my No vote, 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.
The bill passed along party lines, 6-4. It now heads to the floor where I think we may have the votes to kill it, but I need your help. Please contact all the senators you can, and politely ask them to vote NO on HB2496.
—> My bill SB1144 to require regular review of the more than 331 corporate tax exemptions in the sales tax code, representing more than $12 billion in lost revenues annually, has experienced its fair share of drama lately. We could reduce the overall sales tax rate while increasing the money for education by billions.
You’ll recall it was voted out of the Senate 28-2, with strong support from the right, middle, and left. Senate Finance Chair David Farnsworth (R-Mesa) is my cosponsor, and it has the support of the extremely conservative Free Enterprise Club, which has a history of opposing special interest tax breaks that create an unlevel playing field for the free market.
Last Wednesday morning 1144 was heard in House Ways and Means. After Kevin McCarthy, leader of ATRA and well-known to Farley Report readers, signed in as Neutral, he stood up before the committee and proceeded to attack the bill viciously with no hint of neutrality. Perhaps it’s purely coincidental that one of the best-known loopholes — that allows users of four-inch pipes to avoid sales tax — was designed for one of his ATRA board members, Nevada-based Southwest Gas.
McCarthy’s attempt to justify a vote against transparency was captured well by reporter Howie Fischer and ultimately carried the day, as five Republicans on the committee voted no. One Republican, Chair Michelle Ugenti-Rita, voted with Democrats in favor, but the bill died 4-5.
The next morning, the chair called me to let me know that she still likes the bill and was willing to put the bill back on this week’s agenda for reconsideration if I could flip a vote or two.
I went to work (along with some Republican friends), and have been working ever since. I even featured the bill in my speech to the NFIB Small Business Day at the Capitol yesterday morning, to an appreciative audience. It is on the agenda for tomorrow morning and I am optimistic that I can bring my own bill back to life during Zombie Week at the Legislature. Committee starts at 10am tomorrow. You can join the fun if you watch live on azleg.gov.
—> To end with some very good news, I have a public safety bill on Governor Ducey’s desk.
My SB 1073 – license plate covers; prohibition that bans the use of license plate covers intended to block identification of the vehicle passed 31-25 out of the House Third Read with the support of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Associated Highway Patrolmen. These covers can especially obscure plate numbers from law enforcement and witnesses to crimes in low-angle sunlight.
If you are so inclined, please contact Governor Ducey and urge him to sign SB1073.
Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Senator.
Senator, District 9, Tucson
On Saturday, the New York Times editorialized about the bill with the headline, “When Statehouse Politics Embarrass the Nation”. Under a photo of Governor Ducey with Scott Walker outside a meeting with President Trump, the editors write:
“Fortunately for the Constitution, Arizona’s Republican House leadership was soon bombarded with public complaints that the measure was a low-road, outrageous attempt to chill free speech. ‘The people need to know we are not about limiting people’s rights,’ the House speaker, J. D. Mesnard, hurriedly announced, killing the bill in an attempt to spare his party further embarrassment.”
Stay woke, folks — together we have a lot to do to reclaim our state and country from those who would dim our bright light of democracy.
—> Speaking of Governor Ducey, today I received an invitation to his Annual Prayer Breakfast on April 26.
Instead of choosing a speaker who would unite us all in a message of love and inclusiveness in this divisive time, the governor decided to feature Steve Green, the CEO of Hobby Lobby, the company best known for refusing to offer contraceptive coverage to its employees for religious reasons and which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep it that way. Way to send a message of welcome to all your constituents, Governor!
—> Here’s an update on the cynical maneuvering by Governor Ducey regarding the restoration of TANF funds to families in crisis. He is refusing to alter the bill in any way, no matter how many kids get hurt.You’ll recall that last year the governor slashed these payments (70% of which go to children in poverty) from 24 months to 12 months of eligibility. This January in a show of magnanimity, but without apologizing for the cuts he spearheaded, he announced that he was restoring the eligibility to 24 months. Last week the he unveiled the bill to do that, but it is loaded with strings that would make the restoration unpalatable.
House Minority Leader Rebecca Rios and I appeared live on Channel 8’s Horizon last week to explain the details to host Ted Simons — here is the video. Our segment starts at 1:50 and lasts till 15:00.
Today, we found out that the Governor’s lobbyist is telling advocates for the most vulnerable that there will be no compromise and no amendments. The governor is demanding that kids be punished for the mistakes of the parents or else he will refuse to restore the funding.
Please call the governor’s office TODAY and politely demand that he support a clean restoration of TANF to 24 months. We won with SB1142. For the sake of these kids, let’s win with HB2372 as well. You can call the Governor’s Office at 602-542-4331 or fill out the email form at: http://azgovernor.gov/engage/form/contact-governor-ducey
—> There’s still no sign of budget negotiations, but today in Senate Appropriations Committee — the committee that is supposed to create the budget — we spent a couple of hours talking about sending legislators to Dallas to rewrite the U.S. Constitution.
Yep, this is the Article V Convention that has been touted by many (but not all!) on the right as being the one thing we must do to rein in Washington and end their free-spending ways.
This bill has usually been stopped in its tracks by my old friend former Senate President Andy Biggs. He felt so strongly about the risk of a runaway convention where our sacred founding text is shredded by those without the wisdom of the Founders that he wrote a book called “The Con of the Con Con.” In it, he writes,
“People ask me why I oppose altering the U.S. Constitution through a process initiated by the States. When time is short I respond with just a couple of questions.
“ ‘Do you believe that the U.S. Constitution is the cause of the problems in America today?’ Most people say no. I then ask why they would tinker with something that isn’t the problem instead of addressing the real issue. Their approach is like overhauling an engine to fix a flat tire.
I don’t agree with Congressman Biggs on most things, but he’s right on the money here. For these positions, Sarah Palin once accused him on national television of being “to the left of Nancy Pelosi.”
Biggs is now away in Congress, so his caucusmates will play. Speaker JD Mesnard is running a set of bills (HB2226 and HCR2022) that would create a compact with other states and a set of rules for punishing delegates (who must be sitting legislators) if they don’t do exactly what the legislative majority wants. Each state sends one delegate, so Wyoming has the same voice as California regardless of the difference in population.
According to the bills, the two things the delegates would have to do in the rewritten Constitution would be to take away the power of the federal government in any given year to spend more than it takes in, and to require a two-thirds vote to raise taxes. This was cooked up by former Goldwater Institute staffer Nick Dranias, the same person who created the idea for the anarchist utopia Prosperity Districts described in the Farley Report a couple of weeks ago.
Constitutional experts who testified said that the rules of the convention would be made by the delegates themselves, so anything could happen regardless of the legislation’s intent — a runaway convention that could endanger some of our most sacred rights. I argued in the explanation of my No vote that we cannot compare our current intellect and wisdom to those of our founders, and to do so would involve risking the integrity of our country. In good and bad times, our Constitution has been our rock, a model for the world of how to maintain stability in tempestuous times. Altering it now, and in such a flawed way — as we face a government headed by a man with no respect for any rules — courts utter disaster for us all.
29 states have already approved such laws. If only five more (including Arizona) pass the compact, this could actually happen. That would be bad.
—> In today’s good news, my SB 1073 – license plate covers; prohibition that bans the use of license plate covers intended to block identification of the vehicle passed 6-2 out of the House Transportation Committee with the support of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Associated Highway Patrolmen. These covers can especially obscure plate numbers from law enforcement and witnesses to crimes in low-angle sunlight. It is now awaiting House Rules, Caucus and Floor.
From the Latest “Farley Report” #267: 2-28-17
written by St. Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson
—> Remember back on Opening Day when the Governor announced in his State of the State speech that he was going to increase the eligibility for Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) financial support for families that are in temporary crisis from 12 months maximum to 24 months maximum? He said, “For Arizonans who are actively looking for a job, who are getting their kids to school — let’s extend them up to 12 additional months of cash assistance, known as TANF, as a bridge out of poverty and into a better life.”
He failed to mention that he had personally pushed for and received a cut from 24 months to 12 last year, the meanest cut in the nation in these temporary assistance funds to families in crisis, often moms and kids running from domestic abuse.
And now the story gets worse. HB2372, the bill to restore eligibility to 24 months, has a poison pill in it. If the TANF recipient makes one mistake and fails to comply with any eligibility rules during the first 12 months (even temporarily), his or her entire family is dropped at the 12th month. 70% of TANF recipients are children. This policy would punish the children for the sins of the parents.
Sadly, this also continues Governor Ducey’s track record of slashing programs, fighting their restoration, then only agreeing to restore with strings attached. Once that is done, he declares himself the savior.
Remember the $30 million he cut from JTED career and technical education programs in 2015, the fight to keep those cuts in 2016, the strings he attached when he was forced by bipartisan legislative unity to agree to restore $28 million, and the end-of-year report where he bragged about the way it was his idea in the first place to “invest” $28 million into JTED?
Shockingly, after the House Democratic Caucus stuck together to vote down this horrible bill, the Governor’s press secretary tweeted, “This is downright shameful & partisan. How did they sleep last night? Even I’m shocked by this.” and “Shameful, Cynical. Partisan. Sad.” and “Pure partisanship by Dems. Shows they care more about politics than helping the people they purport to care about.”
Wow. Positively Trumpian. Does the Governor’s press secretary now believe that Governor Ducey was “Shameful. Cynical. Partisan. Sad.” when he slashed the benefits from 24 months (with no strings) to 12 months last year over the strong objections of Democrats?
—> In some good news, SB1144, my bill to force regular review and possible repeal of the 331 corporate tax loopholes in our sales tax code (that cost us more than $12 billion annually), passed the Senate today 28-2. If we repealed $2 billion worth, we could cut the sales tax rate by a full percent and add $1 billion a year to public schools. Next stop, the House.
“Request to Speak: Link