What a whirlwind week! There’s been tons of floor action to pump Senate bills over to the House, we began hearing House bills in the Senate, and — among many other appearances — I went on national Fox News live at 5:20am on Saturday to kill a bill that would allow the government to seize the assets of protest organizers. I finally found a moment of calm to share some of the happenings with you.
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, please contribute 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.
—> As soon as I sent off the last Farley Report, I headed over to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s house and had an intimate dinner with the first woman U.S. Supreme Court justice herself. What a great way to recharge and re-energize — talking history, politics, and justice with one of the great minds of our time. She is just as sharp as always, and just as disgusted with the current administration as you might expect. It is such an honor to be in her presence.
—> Things got a little less pleasant after that. The next day, the Senate voted along party lines to approve SB1142 and charge organizers of peaceful protests with racketeering (a law to prosecute criminal gangs) if two other people (perhaps unrelated to the group) break a window. Property destruction is already a crime. This would be an unAmerican infringement of our First Amendment rights.
And it gave us yet another in a series of self-inflicted black eyes on the national stage in the tradition of SB1070 (attacking immigrants) and SB1062 (attacking LGBTQ people), which hurt Arizonans while chasing away jobs, conventions and tourists. This one was timed to hit right before we host the NCAA Final Four.
What a distraction from real issues — instead of finding new ways to seize private property from law-abiding citizens, how about we find new ways to adequately fund our public schools?
I raised the alarm in the print media, then appeared on Fox & Friends live last Saturday morning to explain to folks on the right how this would hurt them as much as it hurts folks on the left and the middle. I shared a scenario that could happen under this bill: Tea Party activists organize a peaceful protest against a county that jacks up property taxes, two unknown people set a trashcan on fire, and the government seizes the Tea Party organizers’ private property without due process. This is the sort of law abused by King George III, inspiring our founders to dump tea in the Boston Harbor.
By the end of the interview, the anchor was agreeing with me. I received tweets from Trump supporters across the nation stating that they agreed with me.
The next morning, I debated Senator John Kavanagh on Phoenix 12News’ Sunday Square Off. Watch the clip yourself — I would submit that Sen. Kavanagh was unable to make his case either to Brahm Resnik or to the public.
These appearances, and the hundreds of stories in media around the world about SB1142, spurred thousands of Arizonans (maybe even you!) to act — writing and phoning the Governor and legislators and demanding that SB1142 be stopped.
The result? By Monday afternoon, the Speaker of the House announced the bill would not move forward, and the Governor’s spokesperson shared that he was “pleased” that the bill was dead. Thank you all for raising your voices. Working together, we killed that bill. Stay woke!
Howie Fischer’s article about the death of 1142 ended like this:
“Senator Farley, D-Tucson has an alternate solution to the problem. ‘If you really want to stop the protests the most important thing you could do is actually start governing based on reasonable principles,’ he said.”
—> Another dangerous bill that passed the Senate the same day as 1142 was SB1439, a bill from Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix).
As this Republic article from Alia Beard-Rau points out, this Center for Arizona Policy bill would allow doctors and nurses to refuse to obey patients’ personal orders to not insert breathing tubes, increase palliative medications, or cease food and water, if the patient was in a terminal state.
That’s right — the Arizona Senate majority last Thursday not only voted to take away our First Amendment rights to peaceably assemble, they also voted to void our individual end-of-life wishes as set out in our living wills and health care directives. On party-line votes.
I argued on the floor that placing the Legislature in between a family and their doctor is a terrible idea. SB1439 is now awaiting House action. Contact Representatives if you would like your voice to be heard.
—> 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.
As the Children’s Action Alliance put it in a a statement of opposition, “This bill is not the bridge out of poverty the governor described. Instead, it continues our track record of neglecting the poorest children.”
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?
Slashing programs then restoring them under pressure and declaring yourself a savior is not good leadership, Governor, it’s cynical manipulation. We can do better.
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?
I sure hope for the sake of these children in poverty and families in crisis that we can amend the bill in the Senate to get TANF benefits restored to 24 months without the Governor’s strings that punish vulnerable kids. Time to end your own partisan games, Governor. Just do the right thing.
—> 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.
—> Yesterday I organized Marian Lupu Day at the Capitol. Marian — the founding director of the Pima Council on Aging — was a legend among us, a towering figure who revolutionized how we approach issues of aging in our state, country and world. She passed from us last August at age 91.
In both the House and the Senate we unanimously read and adopted SCR1020, a wonderful statement of her life and work with all Senators signed as cosponsors. Even more significantly, in Marian’s honor we finally held the first official meeting of the new Arizona Legislature Senior Caucus with advocates from all over the state in attendance.
Our new Senior Caucus will meet monthly during session and bimonthly off-session to not only identify problems, but even more importantly to also share creative solutions that can help elders thrive in Arizona in every way. I like to think she is smiling upon us right now, tickled that her inspiring work continues to move forward.
—> I was devastated to hear the news last Friday that tireless Democratic and labor activist Laura Hogan passed away. She was a shining light to us all, and it is hard to imagine Arizona without her smile, her enthusiasm, and her drive for justice at every level. I am devastated at her loss and what it means for our community. First, Martin Bacal, now Laura. I can't even imagine Tucson without them.
If you knew Laura, please join me at her memorial service on Friday, March 3, 2017, 2pm - 4pm at the IBEW Hall, 750 S. Tucson Blvd in Tucson.
Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Senator.
Senator, District 9, Tucson
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