The Farley Report from Phoenix #152: 3-21-12

Howdy, Friends O'Farley… 

As you've undoubtedly heard by now, my good friend Ron Barber has announced that he'll be a candidate for Congress in the fall regular election.  I couldn't be more thrilled. 

I had already announced my support for Ron's candidacy in this summer's special election, and with his announcement that he'll run in the fall, I immediately suspended my own campaign for Congress and threw my full support behind his campaign.  Ron is a dedicated public servant who will be a powerful voice in Washington.  

With the suspension of my Congressional campaign, I also announced my candidacy for the State Senate in the new Legislative District 9.  The people of Southern Arizona need a strong advocate at the state capitol who will stand up for them every day.  

I'm looking forward to the campaign and to representing you in the State Senate, and with Ron as a partner in Congress, giving the people of Southern Arizona a voice in both Phoenix and Washington.

Thanks so much to all of you who have already stepped up to support my Congressional campaign, and who will be on board with the State Senate campaign as well. Next week I will have my website and donation page switched back over to the State Senate race, so I would be honored if you can sign on to volunteer and contribute then.

On to the latest from the Capitol…

--> This week was supposed to be chock full of floor action starting in the morning and heading into the night. It's not quite worked out that way. The Senate has been pumping out House bills, but the House has not reciprocated for reasons that are unclear. Perhaps the Speaker feels that he would like to slow things down to use bills for leverage purposes as budget negotiations drag on. 

That strategy may backfire, since there is a lot of grumbling from Senators that the House isn't moving with enough speed on their bills, so they just might stage a slowdown themselves, something that could cause the session to stretch on a lot longer than any of us had hoped even last week.

--> And the longer the session extends, the more bad stuff happens. Just as members -- even Republicans -- had begun to take for granted out new districts, Speaker Andy Tobin has told Capitol media that he plans to gain legislative authorization to file a lawsuit against the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) to overturn their maps. 

I hoped that Mr Tobin would have given up his quest to overturn the work of a truly independent IRC by now, since many of his members have already given up the fight against fair districts and cast their political lots according to the new maps. But it would appear that his appetite for wasting public money on huge attorneys' fees in losing causes is insatiable.

Luckily, Senate President Steve Pierce has made clear he does not share that appetite, so this final attempt to overturn the voters' will may not get far.

--> The budget negotiations slowly march on between the Governor and the Legislative Majority, with the Governor willing to spend less if legislative leadership passes her bill to dismantle the merit system for public employees, taking us back to that bygone era of rampant political cronyism when an incoming governor could fire most of the state workforce and replace them with political buddies. 

Let's hope those negotiations don't work out too well. There are better options. We House Democrats have a pretty good budget that creates jobs, funds schools, hospitals, and Child Protective Services, and leaves a lower deficit than either the Governor or the Legislative Majority. 

In fact, the conservative Arizona Republic columnist Bob Robb suggested in a column this week that Republicans would do very well to drop the Governor's plan and just enact the House Democratic budget right away. You can read his column here:

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/viewpoints/articles/2012/03/16/20120316state-gop-should-tap-house-dems-budget-ideas.html

It's about time we put partisanship aside and worked together. Maybe this is the year!

--> My long-term care bill, HB2713, is still moving and will be heard in the Senate Rules committee on Monday, and possibly go to the floor a few days later. More next week!

--> HB2416, the bill that would force the City of Tucson to provide water to a Dallas investment firm so that they could build homes on a stunning saguaro forest near Painted Hills in westside Tucson, has cleared Senate caucus and is ready for Senate floor action, but I am hopeful the bill may not gain support, since the sponsor has not amended the bill in a way that satisfies the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Even if it passes, it may not get the governor's signature. Keep fingers crossed. 

--> 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", has not yet been heard in Rules, and the Governor slammed it this past weekend in the media. So it may yet fail as well. Keep fingers crossed there, too.

--> HB2757, the big billboard companies' attempt to place electronic billboards anywhere they like -- destroying our astronomy and optics industry -- passed the Senate unamended 20-8, despite the efforts of Senator Olivia Cajero-Bedford (D-Tucson) to amend the bill with the astronomer's compromise of a 75-mile exclusion zone around the state's major observatories -- the same amendment I attempted in the House. 

As I mentioned last week, it is definitely time to appeal to the Governor for a bit of economic reason. Tell the Governor that this is a big deal. Our astronomy industry is admired the world over for our dark skies, and these e-billboards will put at risk a huge part of our high-tech economy that she has said she wants to preserve. HB2757 will take away a natural resource that makes Arizona unique, and replace it with gigantic garish glaring ads that distract our drivers and take us further down the road to homogeneity. 

You can call the Governor at 1-800-253-0883, or comment online at:

http://www.azgovernor.gov/Contact.asp

Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Representative. 

Steve

Steve Farley

Paid for by Friends O'Farley

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Arizona State Senator Steve Farley
Arizona State Senator Steve Farley