The Farley Report from Phoenix #141: 12-21-11

Howdy, Friends O'Farley… 

I apologize that my Farley Report is a day late this month. It's not just because my Santa duties got in the way. Late last night the Independent Redistricting Commission approved the final draft maps for both the congressional and legislative districts, and I wanted to bring you the details right away. 

After months and months of public hearings, public comment, and public attacks from the Governor and legislative leaders, the people's commission asserted their independence and approved a final legislative map that actually returns the control of the Arizona Legislature to the people, by making more of us legislators work harder to earn your votes. 

You can look at the final map (which will be submitted for pre-clearance to the federal Department of Justice in a few days) and data here:

http://www.azredistricting.org/Maps/Tentative-Final-Maps/default.asp 

In my estimation, this map restore true democracy to Arizona by doing what district maps ought to do. It gives both parties the opportunity to gain majorities in either the House or the Senate, based on the strength of the candidates and their campaigns. It ends the era wherein only one party has been able to gain a huge majority by dint of their unfairly packed districts.

In fact, it is entirely possible -- given the combination of good candidates, competitive districts, public anger with the policies and tone of the current Tea-Party-dominated legislature, strong and well-funded campaigns, and a strongly motivated base of Democratic and Independent volunteers and voters -- that next year's Legislature could be significantly different that this year's. We may even see a different party in power. 

Because these maps are truly fair, and at the same time enhance the ability of minority candidates to get elected to office, I expect we will see many lawsuits challenging their legitimacy from those currently in power in the coming weeks and months. However, these frivolous lawsuits will have no legal basis to overturn the approved lines, so I believe the excellent work of this truly independent commission will stand. We will in all likelihood stand for election in these districts in November 2012.

My district will change significantly as well. I will be running in the new District 9 (although not the one with extraterrestrials, you movie fans!). 

Furthermore, I wanted to let you know that I am exploring a run for the State Senate in District 9, since my current senator Paula Aboud is term-limited and cannot run for re-election.

I have worked in this part of town for years now, walking and phoning for Lena Saradnik, Charlene Pesquiera, Nancy Young Wright, Cheryl Cage, and Don Jorgensen. The volunteers from this area are tireless and dedicated, and the voters are well-educated on the issues. Many of you are residents of the new District 9. I feel very at home in this part of town, which now stretches from Speedway on the south to the Foothills and Casas Adobes, as far west as I-10 and as far north as Lambert Lane. I really look forward to meeting voters at their doors while gathering signatures very soon. If you want to join me, I please sign up at:

http://www.friendsofarley.com/volunteer

To create District 9 and the neighboring District 10, the Commission decided to increase competitiveness in the current Districts 27 and 28 by moving a large Democratic swath of the currently safely Democratic 28 into 26, thus making both into districts that either party can win -- the new 9 and 10.

I strongly support this move, even though it means that I will have to campaign harder to return to the Legislature. In fact, I wish it could have been replicated in more districts because I believe that we electeds should not be able to take our constituents for granted. We should be held accountable at elections by voters in fair districts throughout the state. 

Speaking of holding us accountable, I wanted to give you a preview of one of the bills I am working on for the upcoming session, the ALEC Accountability Act. 

ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) is a conservative national political organization funded by large corporate interests that funnels language for right-wing legislation to conservative lawmakers in state capitols across the country. 

Media reports have made it clear that the relationship between the ALEC and corporate special interests, lobbyists and lawmakers in Arizona is an intimate one. Currently, a quiet system of lobbyist-funded scholarships fund lawmaker participation in conferences that promote an ideological agenda at the same time as it provides fancy accommodations, upscale dining and entertainment "networking" opportunities in cities around the country. These activities are not regulated or disclosed in a way easy for the public to track.

ALEC lobbies Arizona's state lawmakers to carry out its right-wing corporatist agenda and it is quite effective in doing so, successfully orchestrating the passage of many of its bills relating to private prisons, voter suppression, the privatization of public education, and attacks on healthcare and environmental protection. You can read more about ALEC's influence on Arizona in this PDF report from People for the American Way and Common Cause: http://site.pfaw.org/pdf/ALEC-IN-ARIZONA.pdf

Currently, ALEC operates outside the regulations in place to limit lobbyist influence on our state's political process so the extent of their activities -- and those of the special interests that fund ALEC -- is unknown, even though it seems clear that ALEC is merely another vehicle for special interests to advance their self-interested agenda through Arizona's lawmakers.

The public has the right to know who funds ALEC's activities, who funds legislators' costs associated with attending ALEC meetings and conferences around the country and which legislators are accepting those funds. Arizona's citizens also have a right to ensure that, as a lobbying entity, ALEC complies with the laws in place to limit the influence of lobbyists on Arizona's political process.

My ALEC Accountability Act of 2012 will require ALEC to adhere to the same laws that other lobbying entities must follow. It is time to shine the light on who funds this organization and who funds the travel and other participation costs of legislators active in groups like ALEC. 

I will keep you posted about the progress of this bill and much more as I begin the weekly Farley Reports once again on January 10, so that you can follow the inside story of all the action in the Centennial Legislature.

As you know, the only special interest I report to is you. As you figure out your year-end contributions, please consider helping out my campaign as I carry out my leadership duties to recruit, support, and elect a new generation of Arizona leaders. I can't do this alone. I need your support right now. 

---> You can contribute up to $424 per person online by going to my newly updated website and clicking on the "Contribute" button. Thanks so much for helping us transform our state. Every dollar you can share will make a difference. <---

Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Representative. 

Steve

Steve Farley
Arizona State Representative, District 28
Assistant Minority Leader
Ranking Member, Transportation Committee
Ways & Means Committee
Ethics Committee
Legislative Council
Capitol office: 602-926-3022
Tucson office: 520-398-6000
Official email: sfarley@azleg.gov 

Please contribute up to $424 per person to help me carry on the work:

http://www.FriendsOFarley.com

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