Wild & Crazy Things in the Legislature

It’s always nuts when the legislature is in session, especially with Sylvia Allen and Bob Thorpe and now term-limited Brenda Barton– unfortunately our legislators in LD 6 — on the loose. Thanks to our friends at Unitarian Universalist and Together We Will for following events closely. Now is the time to take action to support some good stuff and oppose some bad stuff.

This year’s legislation is filed, and bills must now get through their committee hearings. They’ve got less than two weeks: the deadline for bills to make it through committee in their originating house is next Friday, Feb. 16. That means anything not assigned and passed this week or next is dead. (Of course, sometimes at the end they pull tricks with substitution amendments, but we’ll look at that in April.) These two weeks will decide whether many bills become law. Some are good, some are bad:

HB2217 is sponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators. This bill would add diapers and feminine hygiene products to Arizona’s list of tax-exempt items, which currently includes groceries and personal medical supplies. This bill was assigned to two House committees, a common tactic used by leadership to increase the odds of killing bills they don’t like. Action: Contact Rep. Carter and her colleagues (especially Republican women) to make it clear we want this bill given a fair hearing.

House Health Committee:
Heather Carter (R-15) 602-926-5503 Chair
Regina Cobb (R-5) 602-926-3126 Vice Chair
Jay Lawrence (R-23) 602-926-3095
Tony Rivero (R-21) 602-926-3104
Maria Syms (R-28) 602-926-4860
Michelle Udall (R-25) 602-926-4856
Kelli Butler (D-28) 602-926-5156
Tony Navarrete (D-30) 602-926-4864
Pamela Powers Hannley (D-9) 602-926-4848

Equal Rights Amendment (yes, some of us remember it from the ’70s): A MAN (Rep Mesnard) is worried about other MEN at the Statehouse having to vote “No” on this bill in an election year. This would be the same MEN that looked the other way during the last several years at the sexual harassment going on right under their noses. That did not stand up and speak out for their female co-workers and female lobbyists. So it’s been assigned, but not to the correct committee(s) AND the committee leader(s) are refusing to put it on the agenda to be heard. When confronted, the MAN said that’s why he did it. Nice huh?

So the ERA Vote (which only needs 2 more states to ratify), may not be held in Arizona. Because. MEN. One MAN at the legislature holds up the bill to cover for other MEN at the legislature so they will be “protected” during an election year. Those same men couldn’t stand up and speak out for the women being sexually harassed but the little snowflakes need protection from a vote on the ERA??

Action: call committee chairs Rep. Eddie Farnsworth (602-926-5735 / ) and Sen. Judy Burges (602-926-5861 / ) to insist they either give these bills a fair hearing or reassign them to a different committee whose chair can get it done.

If you are signed up for Request to Speak, you can use RTS for some of the following. If you are not signed up, look up the contact info for the committee chairs named below.

1. RTS Action Senate: 
SB1507, sponsored by Sen. Gail Griffin (R-14), would allow for more development in areas without adequate water, such as Sierra Vista. The bill is specifically targeted at increasing the water pulled from the San Pedro River, Arizona’s last undammed river and an oasis for migratory birds. The river is over-tapped and is in danger of drying up under the pressure of development. →Fast-tracked bill. See companion bill HB 2512, sponsored by Rep. Rusty Bowers (R-25). Scheduled for Senate Natural Resources, Energy & Water Committee, Monday (2 PM). OPPOSE.

2. RTS Action House: 
HB2007, sponsored by Rep. Jay Lawrence (R-23), would ban masks, costumes and partial disguises at any public event. Wearing one could send you to prison for a year — a dozen times longer if you or someone else at the event was involved in property damage. In other words, if you cover your face at a protest, and there’s damage, you could spend 12 years in jail due to the actions of others. Scheduled for House Judiciary & Public Safety, Wednesday. OPPOSE.

HB2153, sponsored by Rep. Vince Leach (R-11), would remove the requirement that nonprofit organizations file as political action committees and disclose their donors. It also prohibits audits or subpoenas which would investigate violations of campaign finance law. This further loosening of campaign finance protections would allow for unfettered secretive spending by any organization with a 501c(3) or 501c(4) classification, opening the door to even more undisclosed money in our political campaigns and uncontrolled spending on our elections. Unsurprisingly, backed by dark-money lobbying groups Goldwater Institute and Americans for Prosperity, on the grounds that money equals speech. Aimed at preemptively shutting down the efforts of cities like Tempe to require disclosure for those spending money to influence elections. Scheduled for House Federalism, Property Rights and Public Policy Committee, Tuesday. OPPOSE.

HB2222, sponsored by Rep. Athena Salman (D-26), would remove the current limit on feminine hygiene products for female inmates. They are currently restricted to 12 pads or tampons per period, and those can be taken away for infractions. Though this restriction is a UN human rights violation, that protection is not enforceable without local laws to back it up. Most women in prison are poor or have no access to their funds outside of prison; pads and tampons can be incredibly difficult or expensive to obtain. This heartbreaking article describes the experience of menstruating in prison.  Scheduled to be heard by the all-male House Military, Veterans and Regulatory Affairs Committee, Monday at 2 PM. SUPPORT.

HB2277, sponsored by Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-6), would make American free-market capitalism the official state political-economic system of Arizona. The bill specifies that this is because “polling has demonstrated an alarmingly high percentage of individuals under forty years of age who appear to not understand” history, the benefits of such a system, and the drawbacks of living under other systems. What a waste of time!!! Scheduled for House Federalism, Property Rights and Public Policy Committee, Tuesday. OPPOSE.

HB2480, sponsored by Rep. Eric Descheenie (D-7), would require Arizona to work with the Navajo Nation to monitor uranium hauling routes and find locations for air and water monitoring. This comes as the uranium mining industry renews its push into areas adjacent to the Navajo Nation, including the Grand Canyon watershed and Bears Ears National Monument. More than 300 uranium mining claims are already active in the newly deregulated area. Uranium miners just six miles from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim have already hit shallow groundwater; environmental engineers say the groundwater flows in the region are too complex to rule out the risk of contamination. Scheduled for House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Committee, Tuesday (2 PM). SUPPORT.

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