The final days drag on with zombie bills coming out of the woodwork as we head toward permanent adjournment Sine Die as early as tomorrow night. But believe it or not, there is actually much to feel happy about -- we are killing bad bills on the floor,and the Governor is killing some of the bad bills we couldn't stop in the Legislature. Read on for some good news for once, after the Farley Pledge Break:
It's that time again! If you'd like me to continue serving you in the Senate, I need to get re-elected. In order to get re-elected, I need two things from you tonight: Signatures and funding.
1) Signatures: If you live in District 9, and you like the representation I have been providing you, you can now sign my nominating petition online by clicking on this link. It's really easy and will take no more than 30 seconds of your time, so please click and sign today, and urge your friends to do the same. It costs you nothing! Thank you!
2) Funding: I need to raise money to get the word out to voters on why I should be re-elected. The more you can give now, the less I will have to bother you later!
My opponents (whoever they may be) may get more deep pockets in their corner (given the new maximum contribution of $4,000 per person!), but I feel confident I can match them stride for stride with your passion for good governance on my side. Please help me out in any way you can, starting today. Thank you!
On to the news:
--> Governor Vetoes Gun Bills: Yes, you read that right. Just this afternoon, Governor Brewer vetoed two of the bills I wrote about in the Report last week. Brenda Barton's (R-Payson) HB2339 would have forced private property owners to allow guns onto their property during public events, abrogating their private property rights and endangering the public, as well as forcing guns into any public buildings that did not have metal detectors and security guards -- City Council chambers, DES offices, post offices, libraries, anywhere.
And Steve Smith's (R-Maricopa) HB2517 would have fined (up to $5,000) and booted from office (without a vote of the people) any elected official of any city or county that tries to enforce its own gun laws on its own territory -- for example, no guns in parks, background checks at gun shows, and anything else relating to firearms. And any person adversely affected by such laws could have sued and received up to $100,000 in damages.
Thankfully, Governor Brewer acted as a common-sense backstop to this onslaught of liberalized gun laws that seem to crop up in election years like weeds after monsoon rains. Perhaps she reads the polls that show even gun-owning families believe that Arizona gun laws are liberal enough as they are.
--> Governor Vetoes Kill-the-Endangered-Wolves Bill: In another welcome surprise, Gov. Brewer vetoed Gail Griffin's SB1211 which would have allowed ranchers to kill the remaining 83 endangered Mexican Grey Wolves that are currently being re-introduced into their native habitat in Arizona and New Mexico.
You may recall in the bill's hearing before my Government and Environment Committee in February a rancher testified that he had lost a few calves to wolves in 1998 and that justified the killing of endangered wolves now, 16 years later, despite major changes made to the wolf reintroduction program to reduce the likelihood of livestock loss.
In fact, the Defenders of Wildlife group has brokered a program with cattlemen and conservationists alike that would pay ranchers above market value for each head of livestock lost to a wolf, making it a better business deal in many cases to lose a calf that way than to pay to raise it to the age where it can be sold at auction.
Additionally, data from the US Department of Agriculture on the mortality of cattle indicated that most deaths were from disease, coyotes (who are also hunted by wolves) caused 9% of deaths, dogs caused 0.8% of deaths, and wolves of any kind caused only 0.1% of deaths. There are only 83 wolves in the state, alongside 920,000 head of cattle.
I am grateful that Governor Brewer saw the wisdom of letting the wolves live and finding other ways of compensating the few ranchers who may lose a few calves to wolf predation. In Montana, their wolf population has become a major tourist draw -- perhaps we can now move on to attracting people to our state for our natural wonders rather than repel them through our unnatural politics.
--> Bipartisan Death for Glendale Super Bowl Bailout: In Senate Floor action today, Rep. David Gowan's (R-Sierra Vista) HB2547 died a very unusual premature death in Committee of the Whole (COW). The new Mayor of Glendale Jerry Weiers came to the Legislature asking for $2 million from the state general fund to underwrite the city's security costs, claiming that they lost money the last time they hosted the Super Bowl. Perhaps if that was a money-losing venture, they shouldn't have tried again? Interestingly enough, the last time Glendale came looking for a similar bailout from the Legislature, Mayor Weiers was a State Representative, and voted No.
In Senate COW, Senate President Biggs spoke out forcefully against the bill, arguing that any city that voted to bail out the Coyotes hockey team to the tune of $15 million a year without any chance of ever recouping that investment should be able to afford its own security for its own Super Bowl.
I stood up afterward and argued that my constituents should not have to pay for an event whose financial benefit would accrue almost exclusively to Maricopa County. When the voice vote was called -- usually a perfunctory matter of approval, literally no one voted Aye.
When a bill goes down in COW, it is immediately put up on the board for a roll call vote. A few more Ayes showed up, but the bill in the end went down 10-16 and now cannot be revived unless amended to another bill in conference committee for which time is running out. The vote count is a wonderful picture of bipartisan consensus -- folks from the left, right, and middle voting to stop a piece of pure pork from shunting taxpayer money to a private sports event. Wish we could do this more often. Too bad we couldn't send the $2 million to the UofA research lab budget request to actually get a return on our investment!
--> This Year's Alt Fuels Disaster Killed: Another terrible bill went down to permanent defeat after it was voted down twice today -- once on Third Read and once on reconsideration. HB2448, another Gowan bill, could have been this year's version of the Alt Fuels disaster. It would have allowed any property owner in the state to get a tax credit for up to $100,000 if they claimed (with no evidence necessary) that a city or county land use law, zone, or code had reduced the value of their property. That money would be taken from the State Shared Revenues that are apportioned to cities and counties. Just like in the Alt Fuels debacle, there was no limit to the aggregate amount of money that could be claimed.
Luckily, enough Republicans were convinced to join Democrats in defeating this bill 13-15 and then 11-17 on the final vote. It is heartwarming to see bills go down that simply seek to make ideological points at the expense of our state. I hope the momentum can continue.
--> Voucher bill dies in House: A candidate for Most Dangerous Bill of the Year Award, HB2291 also died a bipartisan death in the House last week. On a vote of 27-31 with the Medicaid expansion majority voting No, this bill that could have expanded eligibility for the voucher program to more than 400,000 Arizona kids went down and the votes will not change. This bill alone could have been the final blow to public education in Arizona because it would have taken up to $2 billion a year from K-12 public schools and distributed that money to private schools and parents who homeschool their kids with virtually no accountability. Considering these consequences, it is actually scary how close this came to approval. This is another reason elections matter -- #RememberinNovember
--> Crackdown on Abusive Dog Racing Advances: I have been working this session with fellow Humane Legislator of the Year Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) to work toward the elimination of the institutionalized cruelty of dog racing in Arizona. To my mind -- and many others -- there is very little difference between dog racing and dog fighting when it comes to the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable animals. A few weeks ago, a dog was actually electrocuted during a race in South Tucson.
Reps. Kavanagh and Orr managed to amend Steve Pierce's (R-Prescott) SB1282 Racing Omnibus (which primarily dealt with horse racing) to include two greyhound track related provisions. One would eliminate the preemption clause that allowed the state Department of Racing to overrule the voter-approved measure in South Tucson that bans dangerous steroid use in racing animals. Another would institute a publicly accessible list of all injuries and deaths to dogs used in racing.
These two provisions will open up the curtain behind which a cruel industry hides its secrets, and hopefully lead to its ultimate demise as happened a month ago in Colorado. As a member of the conference committee to resolve the differences between House and Senate versions of the bill, I was able to successfully preserve these amendments and the bill will go to a final vote on both floors tomorrow.
It's great to end on a positive note! If we get our wish and end this session tomorrow, this will be the last Farley Report for a month. Once again, it has been a real pleasure sharing with you the details on what happens up here, good, bad, and ugly. I hope you appreciate the Reports enough to help me come back here next year and keep you informed.
Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Senator.
Senator, District 9, Tucson
Paid for by Friends O'Farley