Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Time once again for the Farley Report from Rep. Steve Farley (D-LD 28):
I hope things are going well with you now that the Legislature is no longer in session.
The last Farley Report was a bit of a downer, based on the high quantity and low quality of bills that passed through the House on that final day of session. I promise you that this report will be more hopeful.
One cause for celebration was that the Governor actually listened to many of our Democratic arguments on the floor and vetoed 28 Republican bills, often using reasoning and actual phrases that we had used during debate. I appreciate her listening to us -- this proved that a one-third minority can be very successful in opposition.
Among the bills she dispatched to the circular file were these fragrant offerings:
HB2067: This was amended in the final days by Senators Russell Pearce and Andy Biggs to take University Medical Center away from the Board of Regents and hand it to an unelected self-perpetuating board forever, risking the loss of our trauma center and our most talented doctors and researchers like Drs. Lemole and Rhee, who helped save Gabby Giffords' life.
HB2177: The Birther bill. No more need be said.
HB2230: Rep. John Kavanagh's third attempt to censor Arizona's 9/11 Memorial because he personally does not like it. One of the phrases Kavanagh sought to destroy was a reference to the Sikh man who was killed a few days after the attacks because he was wearing a turban. The Governor actually vetoed this bill while she was meeting with the family of this man.
HB2577, SB1561: an ideological attempt by the Legislature to seize and appropriate federal funds, a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution.
HB2581, SB1186: This requires a little narrative. First, the Governor vetoed 2581 that would have massively expanded the private school voucher program in the form of corporate tax credits without any limits. In her letter, she rightly echoed Democratic arguments that the bill would blow another hole in our deficit while amounting to a tax giveaway to: 1) big corporations, 2) rich families who already send their kids to private schools, and 3) privately run Student Tuition Organizations who take their profits as they funnel the money between the corporations and the rich families.
In response, the legislative majority amended the same bill onto Sen. Steve Yarbrough's 2011 Tax Corrections Act (SB1186) which is an important technical bill that is traditionally never amended to include any substantive policy issues. The Governor vetoed that one, too, with an admonition that she never wanted to see this kind of thing happen again, especially amended to a Tax Corrections or Tax Conformity bill.
HB2650: Sen. Frank Antenori amended this bill to end the merit system for employees in all counties except Maricopa. The merit system was put in place so you don't get elected officials firing competent civil servants and replacing them with political cronies. Eliminating the merit system would undo more than a century of reform and return us to the bad old days of Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed. It's hard to understand why a Pima County legislator would want to subvert Pima County citizens in this way, while letting Maricopa County off the hook.
HB2707: known to many as TABOR Lite, this was a disastrous experiment that almost destroyed the state of Colorado a few years back. It would have put draconian spending limits in place that would have forced cuts even worse than those we have already suffered at the hands of this legislature and hindered our ability to ever grow out of this recession.
SB1288: would have forbidden the state from revoking medical or other professional licenses for criminal or sexual misconduct if the culprit claimed that this conduct was based on his or her religious beliefs. Yes, you read that right.
SB1322: This is another Antenori bill (a collaboration with Phoenix City Councilmember Sal DiCiccio) that would have forced the cities of Phoenix and Tucson to fire all their employees and immediately issue requests for proposal (RFPs) to privatize all operations costing more than $50,000. Those fired would include the Procurement Officers who would have to issue the RFPs after their firings. The Governor pointed out that this bill was "riddled with shortcomings" and seemed to be more of a political statement than a piece of policy.
SB1329: an Antenori attempt to take away the FIrst Amendment rights of public employees to free speech and political activities. It was drawn so broadly that it might have even banned legislators from talking to each other about bills before the Legislature.
SB1201, SB1467: The Firearms Omnibus and Guns On Campus bills. Recent polls have shown that even a majority of Arizona gun-owning families reject further liberalization of Arizona gun laws. These bills were a slap in the face to most Arizonans, particularly this year.
SB1592, SB1593: Both were attempts to undercut President Obama's health care reform. They each would have eliminated coverage for autism, pregnancy, mammograms, and other vital services, while placing Arizona citizens at risk of losing our health insurance along the way.
So for these vetoes, I praise Governor Brewer for doing the right thing. Unfortunately, we must remember that she did some very big things to harm Arizona as well.
--> She signed into law a legislative majority budget that cuts $500 million from education in the next fiscal year -- guaranteeing crowded classrooms and closed schools -- despite promising us that she would protect education from further cuts if we voted for her one-cent sales tax.
--> She signed into law a legislative majority corporate tax giveaway package that will ship off more than $500 million of our money per year to out-of-state corporations -- as our friends and neighbors continue to lose their jobs and face losing their homes.
--> She signed into law a legislative majority budget that seeks to kick 160,000 childless adults in poverty off of their healthcare. Public interest attorney Tim Hogan will be filing suit to stop this in the next few weeks, and a judge will likely issue injunctive relief soon to stop the cuts as a violation of the Voter Protection Act. This will cause the so-called "balanced" budget to go $500 million out of balance once again. Perhaps this time the Republican majority will look to the 4" pipe sales tax exemption and some of the $11 billion in corporate tax giveaways to fill the hole, instead of going after people in poverty or schools?
--> She signed the bill I wrote about last Report that gives us a State Gun, although 60% of all Arizona voters oppose the concept and only 20% support it.
The bright side of these Republican legislative attacks on unprecedented numbers of people and organizations is that their actions have galvanized thousands of citizens into direct political action to change the legislative majority in November 2012.
Firefighters, police officers, Planned Parenthood volunteers, behavior health workers, teachers, students, parents, union members, senior citizens, business leaders, artists, musicians, doctors, nurses, and everyday people all over this state have come together and already begun door-to-door action to educate their friends and neighbors about the importance of changing the legislature at the next election.
A further beacon of hope that these newly minted activists can create actual change in Phoenix is that the state's decennial redistricting commission is truly independent this time around, and I believe the new district maps will be drawn to dramatically increase the number of districts that are truly competitive. This is Arizona's last stand, and we can win. We have the people, and we will have the maps. We can finally start to heal our beloved state and our economy and move toward the future with confidence and optimism.
* * *
Some of you have asked me from time to time something along the lines of, "Where do you get your optimism and your energy? Why doesn't that work at the Capitol just wear you down?"
I got that spirit from my mom.
I am sorry to report that one week after session ended, the Tuesday after Easter, April 26, 2011, my mom died. My sister and I were present to help her make the passage.
Carole Jane Hadovec Farley Ridley was my beacon of hope, and my model of hard work, joy, passion, and triumph over tough obstacles. She worked for 35 years as a public school teacher, most of those years working with kids in poverty. She was an artist in many ways -- she majored in Apparel Design, treated her classroom like a gallery, and was a respected potter. She was a loving, giving presence in the lives of so many. I miss her so much, but I feel her living on inside me.
If you knew her, or would like to find out more about her, you are welcome to join my family at her memorial service on 10:30am, Saturday, July 9, at Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 2331 E. Adams Street in Tucson, near the Arizona Inn. In memory of my mom's effervescent personality, please feel free to wear colorful clothing. If you would like to come, please RSVP to my sister, Karen Kennedy, at email@example.com.
Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Representative.