The Farley Report from Phoenix #271: 3-28-17

The zombie bills were out in force in the last committee still meeting in the Senate this week — Appropriations. We heard 14 bills, and 7 were strikers. I’ll talk in detail about the worst of them, HB2244.   

But first, the Farley Report Pledge Break…

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Stay tuned, I have a major announcement in the works. In the meantime, we all need the Arizona Democratic Party to be as strong as possible.  

Please contribute TODAY to the ADP. to provide the support we all need to turn this state around. 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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—> The citizen initiative is one of our most cherished Constitutional rights here in Arizona. Last week, Governor Ducey demonstrated his wrong priorities by signing HB2404 to make it harder for the average citizen to exercise our right to petition our government. He wasted no time — it was signed as soon as it hit his desk, in order to minimize the window of time for public outrage.  

The onslaught is not over. Sen. Debbie Lesko’s striker to Rep. Eddie Farnsworth’s HB2244, which passed 6-4 along party lines out of Senate Appropriations Committee this afternoon, is even worse. By requiring “strict compliance” instead of “substantial compliance,” the bill would result in nearly every citizen initiative effort being thrown out for technicalities. 

Should 2244 become law, petitions with 1/16” too narrow a margin will be tossed. If a petition signer makes a mistake on an address or date (or anything else) and crosses it out to fix it, the entire petition with all its signers will be tossed. If a signer does not include the word “Rd.” or “Ave.” on their street address, the entire sheet will be tossed. If anything at all is wrong with the form of the petition, it’s tossed. 

Within the text of this bill is a “legislative finding”: A bit of rhetoric supposedly explaining why the bill is important. The lawmaker author complains that the citizens’ “initiative process has evolved into an extraordinary power” and that crushing our rights to bring forward citizen initiatives is necessary “for safeguarding the integrity and accuracy of the initiative process.”  Sounds like they want us to “destroy the village to save the village.”

If this seems eerily familiar, it’s not your mind playing tricks on you. The Governor and legislative majority in 2013 enacted HB2305 with this same provision to gut our initiative rights, and we successfully gathered enough signatures to force it to the ballot.  

Rather than face voters’ wrath, they repealed the bill before the election in 2014. The next year, however, in order to make it harder to use our right of referendum in the future, they passed a law to force “strict compliance” on referendums to make it harder for us to repeal their bad laws — including HB2244 if it passes. Clever plan. Folks are talking about trying a referendum on this anyway, but that 2015 law will make it tough. 

And to make it tougher, certain Arizona Chamber of Commerce members are rumored to be actually readying plans to preemptively hire all the signature gathering groups to NOT gather signatures for any other referendum attempts. They may be ready to spend millions on this scheme to attack our right to citizen initiative.

THIS IS A HUGE ATTACK ON OUR SACRED RIGHTS AS ARIZONANS! Please contact your senators now to make your voice heard before they shut us all up. Here’s Howie Fischer’s article on the bill for more details.   

—> Speaking of attacks on sacred rights, several more bills calling for an Article V Convention that could end up rewriting the U.S. Constitution passed along party lines from the Senate yesterday, despite many of the calls and emails that you sent to urge their rejection. 

The convention, required by the legislation 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 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 and former Senate President Andy Biggs agree and join me in opposition.

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 34 states do the same, that's it.  

Here is the scoreboard for how many more states are now needed to pass identical resolutions, after yesterday’s action passing these bills, taking into account New Mexico’s wise decision to rescind their call that had been previously enacted: 

> HCR 2013 (Mesnard) which now need only 5 more states after AZ to start the convention.

> HCR 2022 (Mesnard) which would need only 5 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.

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, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Virginia, South Carolina, and Maine. Find out more here.

—> Here’s an update on my bill SB1144 to require regular review of the more than 331 corporate tax exemptions in the sales tax code, representing more than $12 billion in lost revenues annually. If we can find and eliminate $2 billion in loopholes that do nothing for our economy, we can decrease our sales tax rate by a full percent while gaining another $1 billion annually for public schools. 

Chair Michelle Ugenti-Rita heard the bill on reconsideration last Wednesday morning, and I was successful in convincing Rep. Jay Lawrence to change his vote to a Yes, joining the chair and all three Democrats to resurrect the bill 5-4. 

Next steps for SB1144 are convincing Speaker JD Mesnard to hear the bill in Rules and send it to the floor for Committee of the Whole and Third Read. This bipartisan bill that sailed through the Senate and is supported by folks on all sides should get a fair hearing on the floor.  

—> Ready for a little good news? Governor Ducey just signed one of my bills into law. My SB1073 will ban all license plate coverings that obscure the numbers from law enforcement and witnesses to crimes. 

Supported by law enforcement, this common-sense bill will improve public safety in our state and stands as proof that I can work all the way across the aisle for the public good. Special thanks to my longtime staffer Mark Bogart who originally wrote the bill for me many years ago. It’s been a long time coming, but we finally crossed the finish line. Someday we’ll get that statewide ban on texting while driving, too…

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—> Outside the surreal confines of the Capitol, I spoke with three great groups of Democratic activists across the state last week — on Thursday night I made a wonderful stop in Casa Grande, and on Saturday I addressed enthusiastic groups in Benson and Sierra Vista. The energy out there is amazing and constantly growing, and I am convinced that together we can turn this state completely around in November 2018. 

If you’d like to join me on another road trip this Saturday night, contact the Greenlee County Democrats to buy a ticket for their 9th Annual Polly Rosenbaum Fundraising Dinner in Clifton. I’ll be the keynote speaker to give a live version of the Farley Report and offer hope for the future of Arizona. If you want to go, you can purchase a $40 ticket at the door at the Blue Door Sanctuary at 6pm. I hope to see you there for this fun event!

If this Saturday doesn’t work, you may be able to catch me on a swing through Santa Cruz County on April 8. I’m coming soon to a town near you!

Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Senator. 

Steve

Steve Farley

Senator, District 9, Tucson

If you like my representation and want to keep me in office, CONTRIBUTE TODAY!

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