Howdy, Friends O'Farley…
First a word from our sponsor, the Farley campaign for State Senate:
1--> Join us on joint walks with Ron Barber at 10am and 1pm on Saturdays and 1pm on Sundays. Volunteers will be gathering nominating signatures for Barber for CD2 and Farley for LD9. Please join us! If you can come, call or email my campaign manager Daniel Hernandez, 520-248-7432 or daniel@FriendsOFarley.com.
2--> Please CONTRIBUTE $25, $50 or even $100 and VOLUNTEER on our website TODAY, and share our website with your friends & colleagues.
3--> Please SIGN my nominating petition ONLINE by clicking the link at:
Now for the news…
--> Budget: Negotiations are not going well between the Governor and majority legislative leadership. In fact, yesterday she issued an ultimatum that she would veto all bills that come to her desk before she gets a budget she likes, something that has not gone over terribly well with her fellow Republicans. I also will have to tread carefully with my long-term care bill 2713 to avoid it becoming collateral damage in this GOP internecine conflict.
General capitol chatter holds that this all means the session could drag on for many more weeks, despite the stated goal of the Speaker and the President to adjourn Sine Die on the 100th day -- yesterday. The longer we drag on, the more of a chance that bad bills will find a way to come back from their current dire straits.
The good news is that we are now engaging in staff-level talks with legislative Republicans who actually like the House Democrats' fiscally conservative budget that also invests in education at all levels, CPS, hospitals, KidsCare, and true job creation.
The big question is, will the Republicans be willing to work with us to assemble a veto-proof majority for our budget -- thus effectively removing the Governor from the process -- even though she would likely kill all remaining bills on the table? If not, what will we all be doing here for the next few weeks as the Governor and the Legislature remain hundreds of millions of dollars apart, if we can't send any bills to her for fear of veto? Tune in next week for the latest exciting episode of "As the Capitol Turns"… Or is it "All My Legislators"?
This week's News in Bills:
--> Today was a huge step forward for my bill to help middle class families pay for long-term care for the seniors they love. HB2713 passed Third Read in the Senate 28-1. The only No vote was from Ron Gould (R-Lake Havasu), who actually voted for the bill in committee a few weeks ago. That means the bill has returned to the House where it will be put on a calendar soon for final passage, then sent off to the Governor for her signature if she chooses.
If you would like to help, please call or email Governor Brewer to urge her to sign HB2713 once it reaches her desk so that we can help middle-class families afford to take good care of our loved ones in need, while at the same time saving the state money it would otherwise have to spend on the ALTCS program. You might also remind her that part of the bill allows families to set up Health Savings Accounts, an idea that has broad Republican support. You can call her at 1-800-253-0883, or comment online at:
--> The legislative war on women sadly continues as two of this year's most egregious bills were brought back from the dustbin. HB2036, Kimberly Yee's (R-Phoenix) striker to ban all abortions after 20 weeks (making AZ the most restrictive state in the Union) and criminalize women's healthcare was signed by Governor Brewer and is now law, endangering the future of OB-GYNs in Arizona, who now feel personally under attack -- they strongly opposed this effort to insert the Legislature between families and the most important decision of their lives. This new law underlines the importance of all of us doing everything we can to elect a different majority this November.
--> HB2625, the attack on women that would allow your employer to deny birth control coverage to you if they had a "moral or religious objection", was brought back from defeat and approved in the Senate after sponsor Debbie Lesko (R-Glendale) promised several Republicans that she would amend it in committee to limit the effect to "religious-affiliated" employers, something that is very close to current law -- although it does raise the spectre of a religious-based hospital being able to fire an employee if a boss doesn't like the way the employee is using birth control. It is up for a final read tomorrow morning in the House, then to the Governor.
--> Rep. Jeff Dial's (R-Chandler) HB2664 would make it easier for out-of-state credit card companies and credit card debt buyers to collect debts from Arizonans that have already been paid, dismissed, or forgiven, also was brought back from defeat and is now waiting for a final vote on the House floor before it also heads to the Ninth Floor. Too bad we can't pass bills to protect Arizona citizens instead of out-of-state finance companies.
--> Our dark skies are in danger once again, despite Governor Brewer's veto of 2757. The limitless resources of the billboard industry have paid for much more lobbying on their part to come to a "compromise" with the astronomers, who have been unfairly pushed into believing that they would otherwise be faced with e-billboard-based light pollution everywhere ruining their hundreds of millions of dollars worth of investment in observatories.
While Bob Robson (R-Chandler) and the billboard lobbyists have been trumpeting "peace in our time" all over the media, the astronomers are not happy, nor should they be. No compromise that compromises our world-renowned dark skies should be tolerated, especially for the short-term profit of out-of-state corporations. When a germane bill comes up for conference committee and the lobbyists attempt to amend this "deal", I will be there to object.
--> Happily, the Governor did sign the reauthorization of the Arizona Commission on the Arts for ten more years, although their budget still receives no money from the general fund. At least they can continue to be funded by federal and other grants, and a small funding stream from corporate filing fees. We have to celebrate our victories where we can find them.
--> Thanks to those of you who showed up to celebrate the kickoff of our Tucson Modern Streetcar construction, now branded as SunLink. It was a wonderful day, especially for those of us citizen activists who originated the idea more than 11 years ago.
One of those folks, Clague Van Slyke, brought the original T-shirt map from our 2003 Citizens Transportation Initiative. We pointed out the streetcar route on that map to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who was impressed by our tenaciousness in pushing through to this day against all obstacles. He told the crowd that the broad-based and enthusiastic coalition that we created along the way was the reason that we received the $63 million TIGER grant, and the reason that we serve as a model for other cities around the country for how to come together to get rail transit and sustainable development done.
If you couldn't make it, here is a great story from Secretary LaHood's official blog of the events of the day:
Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Representative.
Paid for by Friends O'Farley