The Farley Report from Phoenix #269: 3-14-17

I really, really, really wanted to write a Farley Report full of good news this week, but the Legislative Majority and Governor had other plans. But if you make it through the bad news stories, I did find a ray of hope to report at the end.

But first, the Farley Report Pledge Break…

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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.

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—> Here’s an urgent call to action. You likely remember SB1431, the voucher bill to swipe an average of $5,400 per student from public schools and hand it out in the form of debit cards to the parents of all 1.1 million children in the state for use at private schools, home schools, or online schools with little accountability. 

As of a few weeks ago, the votes were there to kill the bill on the Senate and House floors — all Democrats and three Republicans were solidly against in the Senate, and all Democrats and five Republicans were solidly against in the House. The bill that would endanger the future of public education in Arizona was dead in its tracks.

But over the weekend a number of our solid Republican No votes were subjected to massive pressure from their leadership and we hear that enough may have flipped to allow the bill to pass. 

Please contact the Senate and House Republican members NOW to politely ask them to hold firm against SB1431 for the sake of our children. You can find their contact info online at the legislative website.

—> You’ll recall that last week I shared with you the new push by certain Republican activists to convene a new Constitutional Convention, purportedly to limit federal spending (primarily on human services, education, health care, infrastructure, and other non-defense priorities). The convention, to be held in Dallas, would have one delegate from each of the states (making Wyoming’s power equal to California’s), appointed by their respective legislative majorities. Then the amendments they write would be approved by those same mostly rural and Republican legislative majorities in states representing only 40% of the U.S. population. There are no checks or balances in the process.

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 last week 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. Interestingly, even far right Constitutionalist groups like the John Birch Society agree and join me in opposition.

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. 

It's interesting to read what the pro-Constitutional Convention folks are saying on the right — they express a utopian vision that rewriting the constitution will fix all problems and create a sort of heaven on earth.

From a constituent: "I believe it to be our last best hope to make America a better place for our children instead of a place where debt is a crushing burden, and innovation is legislated out of existence. It will bring us a place where states and individuals can chart their own course and make their own decisions. It will help us to be freer and more prosperous."

Like all utopian visions, the view of a perfectable society is inevitably undercut by the reality of human imperfection and has historically led to a scapegoating and purging of enemies of the state that are assigned blame when the utopia does not materialize.

That's the key to why our Constitution has stood the test of time. Writing from the perspective of folks who had just been through the hell of wartime on their own soil in order to fight for true liberty, they were not driven by a utopian vision, but by a realistic and history-aware view of how we humans really behave and how we can live and govern together via checks and balances. Messing with that successful formula now would be utter disaster.

On reconsideration (we had killed it previously) the Senate majority yesterday voted 16-14 to convene a Constitutional Convention (HCR2010), to in effect rewrite the United States Constitution to their liking. And we the taxpayers will be paying for their expenses for this exercise. The sponsors let us know on the floor that they have plenty of ideas for what they want to do, from eliminating federal spending on human services to taking away our rights as voters to elect US Senators directly and allowing legislative majorities to appoint their own without involving voters.

The majority put harsh pressure on the Republican holdouts and flipped their votes on reconsideration. Only Judy Burges (R-Peoria) voted with all Democrats against this abomination.

This would be easy to dismiss if it weren't so serious. Now that this has passed in Arizona, if only four more states follow suit the machinery will swing into place and the Constitution that has withstood so much for so long as a model for the entire world will be at grave risk from the short-sighted actions of a few people who are likely not endowed with the wisdom of our founders.

Those in charge demonstrate they have the wrong priorities time and again. How about focusing on funding our schools? It's time for change.

IMPORTANT NOTE: These HCRs do not even go to the Governor for signature or veto. They do not go to voters.  

The way the process is set up, all that is needed was a vote by the House and Senate majority, then it is sent to Congress notifying them that we want a Constitutional Convention. Once the other four states do the same, that's it.  

While it is too late to stop HCR2010, there are actually three other bills to make the call (using slightly different methods) that are still in motion in the Senate now, having passed the House. That means there is still action you can take in AZ to stop this misdirected movement.

Specifically, waiting for floor action are:

> HCR 2013 (Mesnard) which would need only 4 more states after AZ to start the convention.

> HCR 2022 (Mesnard) which would need only 4 more states after AZ to start the convention.

> HB2226 (Mesnard) which would need 30 more states after AZ to start the convention. This one also needs the signature of the Governor.

Many conservative groups are also opposed to these efforts to rewrite our Constitution, including Eagle Forum, John Birch Society, Gun Owners of America, Oath Keepers, and of course Congressman Andy Biggs. If you can urge your right-leaning friends to speak out against this, we can work together in a bipartisan way to stop this attack on our founding document. 

To urge a No vote on these bills, contact all Republicans in the Senate -- you can find their contact info here.

The other thing that can be done now is to ask your friends in other targeted states to fight this there. Those states are Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Virginia, South Carolina, and Maine. Find out more here.

—> In the Dereliction of Duty Department, AP reporter Bob Christie just published an investigative report showing that Governor Ducey has put at risk the management of the Arizona State Retirement System that covers more than 575,000 former and current state employees and teachers through his refusal to nominate people to fill vacancies on the ASRS board. This is in stark contrast to how quickly he has been appointing Republican judges and board members for judicial nominating boards. Perhaps some calls to the Governor’s Office could help move him into action — 602-542-4331.

—> As I previewed last week, the Legal Tender bill (HB2014 from Rep Mark Finchem R-Oro Valley) is back, this time with a special guest star - former Presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul who is strongly in favor based in his belief that we should eliminate paper money and restore the gold standard - a policy that would bring back the bad old 19th century days of quickly cycling through boom and bust. 

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This version of the bill gives up the facade of conservative philosophical correctness and the ability to pay taxes or buy groceries with bullion. Instead, it simply enacts a huge loophole from paying taxes on capital gains from selling gold or silver coins.

I opened my questioning by thanking Congressman Paul for his public service and for his really cool Revolution logo from the campaign. I then asked him how this is not simply a massive giveaway to coin collectors.

He expressed that the exchange of legal tender for legal tender should not be taxed. I responded by saying that I could accept that if the owner of a $20 gold piece from 1850 were exchanging for a $20 bill. But the increase in numismatic value and the value of the metal is a capital gain and should be subject to tax like any other investment.

He then stated that if people put money in coins to protect their nest egg from inflation, they shouldn't be taxed on the gains. I suggested that people protect their nest eggs from inflation in many ways, including real estate, stocks, classic cars, and so much more, but they pay taxes on capital gains. Here is reporter Howie Fischer’s blow-by-blow of the Great Debate.

This is picking winners and losers with an ideological sheen. There is no public policy purpose for advantaging coin collectors over everyone else. It passed along party lines 4-3.

—> Finally tonight, the ray of hope. You may remember the story of Mohammed Kher, the young shirt-shop manager from Aleppo who escaped the bombs that destroyed his shop and after years of vetting and waiting made it to Tucson all by himself last November as a refugee, becoming one of our newest Americans. 

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I brought him as my guest to Opening Day and introduced him to Governor Ducey so he could meet a Muslim refugee and hear his story. His bravery and great good spirit are inspirational to me, as is the speed with which he has picked up the English language. His immigrant energy and drive are what has always made America great. 

Tomorrow his parents and sisters will arrive in Tucson for a joyful reunion with Mohammed. He has won the hearts of those of us who know him and we are so grateful that his family made it in before the wall comes up. Here’s to reunifying families, and not dividing families who are already here. 

Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Senator. 

Steve

Steve Farley

Senator, District 9, Tucson

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