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CEBV Weekly: May 15, 2023
Bipartisanship at all costs leaves quite the mess to clean up
Every week we confront an onslaught of bad bills proposed by the Republican majority party. It can be toxic to bathe in a swamp of extremism, chaos and conspiracies. But how do we write about a budget that was rammed through the Legislature by a Democratic governor who crafted it only with Republican leadership and refused most input from her own party?
Laurie Roberts may have put it best: "A majority of Democrats, with a figurative gun to their heads, joined with every Republican to approve a $17.8 billion spending plan negotiated by Gov. Katie Hobbs and Republican legislative leaders."
What have we learned from this experience?
1️⃣ Gov. Hobbs could use some negotiating skills. When your opposition is celebrating the deal that fulfilled their every wish, it might be time to think more about how to get your own goals met in a negotiation. She could start by reading Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, by Chris Voss.
2️⃣ Gov. Hobbs has destroyed much of the trust people had in her by strong-arming her supposed allies and rolling over for her opponents. We're told she felt she had no choice other than to work directly with opposing party leaders, who hold the majority in both legislative chambers, to produce a budget. She appears to have judged collaborating with her allies as a bigger risk than colluding with her opponents, and shrouded negotiations in a fog of secrecy just as former Gov. Ducey did. Time will tell if this hobbles her opportunities when she needs allies again — but politics is a business built on trust. If you don't have it, you can't get very much done.
3️⃣ Gov. Hobbs and her team lack the bold creativity that generates unexpected wins. Asymmetric warfare — battles between opponents with differing levels of power — demands innovation. Instead, she played her hand weakly, achieving a handful of smaller wins to brag about but losing big in the major areas that matter most such as school vouchers.
4️⃣ Gov. Hobbs seems to have allowed personal grudges to cloud her judgment by approving a budget that shortchanges a Secretary of State and Attorney General in her own party. She apparently disregarded legitimate requests from the SoS and AG for funding to make Arizona stronger and more secure. Personal animosity never justifies risking our democracy or the health of our citizens.
The wins that Republican leadership allowed Gov. Hobbs to claim include $150 million for affordable housing, a relatively small increase in KidsCare (Arizona's Medicaid program for children), an end to the inequitable “results-based funding” formula that allocates increased funds to schools already doing well, and just $300 million for public schools (vouchers, by contrast, already cost nearly $500 million per year).
The sad truth is that years of Republican tax cuts and carve-outs have left Arizona with a budget roughly the size of North Dakota’s (population just over 700,000). When the pizza is that tiny, even a large slice leaves you starving. Now we’ve got a fiscal mess with insufficient ongoing revenue to help the state grow. Even though government can be a powerful force for good, it’s hard to create good for issues like water, public schools, higher education or health care when there simply aren’t any resources left to do that with. The origin of the mess is former Republican governors, including Ducey, and legislative Republican leaders who forced through tax cut after tax cut which are practically impossible to undo. Now Gov. Hobbs has to deal with the consequences — and this isn’t the way to do it.
Gov. Hobbs seems proud of her “bipartisanship,” which earned her every single Republican vote along with a small majority of Democratic support, achieved mostly via threats and intimidation. She’s is walking on dangerous ground: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s “bipartisanship at all costs” strategy has earned her a 27% overall approval rating in Arizona. When voters are offered a choice between a hard-fought victory and a bipartisan failure, they almost always choose the politician who delivered. Empty election-year promises just don’t cut it.
Monday features an incredibly long House floor session, with over 75 bills scheduled for a hearing. We’re told legislative leaders are trying to push as many of those through as possible before Republican lawmakers start disappearing for vacations.
One thing we don’t know is whether the many bad bills we are still watching were somehow wrapped into budget negotiations. You’ll note, for example, the rental sales tax ban Hobbs vetoed in February has been revived as a striker and is on a floor calendar for Monday. We simply don't know what deal, if any, she may have made with the GOP on these.
After Monday they will go on break again, then come back the week of May 22, to hopefully adjourn for good (and good riddance).
⏰ If you have 10 minutes: Send Gov. Hobbs a message to share your feelings on the budget she just signed.
⏰⏰⏰ If you have 30 minutes: Choose a second bill from the list and do the same.
⏰⏰⏰⏰ If you have 60 minutes: Join us on Zoom at 4pm on Sunday for our next CEBV Happy Hour. This week, in addition to the required budget postmortem, we’re featuring a youth takeover from CEBV-Y and the young people there who give us so much hope.
SB1011, Kavanagh (R-3), would make municipal elections, like mayors and city councils, partisan beginning in 2024. OPPOSE.
SB1013, Kavanagh (R-3), would allow anyone who is “lawfully present” on a university campus to protest anywhere on campus the law permits them to be. This could give rise to protests in classrooms and other protected areas, creating serious safety issues. Influenced by the Goldwater Institute. OPPOSE.
SB1026, Kavanagh (R-3), threatens school funding by prohibiting organizations that receive state tax dollars from hosting “drag shows” to entertain people under 18. Violators would lose state funds for 3 years. Broad enough to include school plays and pep rallies. OPPOSE.
SB1028, Kern (R-27), would classify drag performances as “adult cabaret” (a category historically limited to strip shows) and ban them from public property or anywhere else a minor may be able to see them. Broad enough to include Cabaret, Rent and Peter Pan. OPPOSE.
SB1040, Kavanagh (R-3), would ban trans kids from using school bathrooms, changing facilities and “sleeping quarters” that align with their gender identities. OPPOSE.
SB1088, Kern (R-27), would allow police officers to cite “non-operators” (anyone other than the driver of a vehicle) for certain violations. The bill is aimed at bicyclists and scooter riders, but could apply to passengers as well, and could lead to increased racial profiling. OPPOSE.
SB1092, Kern (R-27), would fine the Bar and the state Supreme Court if they “infringe” on “political speech” of lawyers. The bill would aid freshman lawmaker Alex Kolodin (R-3), who is under investigation by the State Bar for filing bad-faith lawsuits over the 2020 election, as well as Kern himself, whose lawyers were ordered to pay $75,000 in legal fees after the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt. OPPOSE.
SB1105, Carroll (R-28), would require elections officials to immediately tabulate early ballots that are brought to the polls on Election Day, rather than putting them through the signature verification process. A spokeswoman for the Association of Counties said the bill was “unimplementable.” OPPOSE.
SB1106, Rogers (R-7), would ban social media platforms from willfully "deplatforming" or “shadow banning” candidates. OPPOSE.
SB1135, Kavanagh (R-3), would force voters who try to return their early ballots at the polls on Election Day to stand in line, surrender their early ballot, show ID, and then wait their turn to fill in a fresh ballot. It would also stop Arizona from participating in ERIC, a multi-state system that weeds out duplicate, deceased or suspicious voter registrations. The ERIC system is one of the strongest safeguards against voter fraud for election officials; there’s no viable replacement. OPPOSE.
SB1140, Hoffman (R-15), would force counties to return to precinct-style voting. The voting center model has numerous benefits, including voter convenience, financial savings, and increased turnout. Lawmakers should be making it easier, not harder, for us to vote. OPPOSE.
SB1141, Hoffman (R-15), would require anyone who turns in an early ballot at the polls to show ID, and if they turn in more than one ballot, to sign an affidavit. Violators would be subject to a class 5 felony. OPPOSE.
SB1142, Hoffman (R-15), would require publicly posted lists of each event the Secretary of State or a county recorder attends and provides voter registration services. Hoffman said his intent is to open elections officials to complaints under a 2016 law that allows any state lawmaker to order the Attorney General to investigate whether counties are violating state law. GOP lawmakers have traditionally used these complaints to block policies they disagree with. OPPOSE.
SB1143, Hoffman (R-15), would ban anyone except political parties and election officials from distributing early ballot or early voting request forms to voters. Why shouldn’t regular people be able to help their neighbors register to vote the way they want to? OPPOSE.
SB1144, Hoffman (R-15), would outlaw “central bank digital currency” and make any coin containing precious metals legal tender in Arizona. The sponsor introduced his bill as saying we are “in the middle of an imploding banking system,” a belief that the federal government is conspiring to cause a central banking crisis, and “the end of Western civilization as we know it.” OPPOSE.
SB1146, Hoffman (R-15), would require Arizona’s retirement system to divest from certain companies for ill-considered political reasons, leaving half a million teachers, municipal workers and other government employees with retirement accounts that are unable to invest in most major companies. OPPOSE.
SB1201, Kavanagh (R-3), would ban electronic signatures from polling place or voting center pollbooks from being used to verify early ballots. The sponsor considers them “inherently fraudulent” because they are electronic. OPPOSE.
SB1234, Rogers (R-7), would ban the use of photo radar, which will lead to more dangerous roads and more collisions. OPPOSE.
SB1243, Mesnard (R-13), would condense the categories for STO (School Tuition Organization) vouchers and increase the maximum contribution amount — a way to bolster profit. OPPOSE.
SB1323, Hoffman (R-15), would put Arizona public school teachers (but not teachers at ESA-funded private schools) behind bars for up to two years if they so much as recommend a book to students that lawmakers consider too “sexually explicit.” State law already makes it a felony to show pornography to children. OPPOSE.
SB1332, Shamp (R-29), would make the “cast vote record” (a receipt of everything scanned by a voting machine) a public record. It’s the latest example of the endless, fruitless quest for a smoking gun that has so far yielded no proof of election wrongdoing. OPPOSE.
SB1410, Wadsack (R-17), would require public school boards (but not charter schools or ESA-funded voucher schools) to establish the equivalent of Supt. Horne's "teacher snitch line" for parents to report purported violations of their rights. OPPOSE.
SB1413, Wadsack (R-17), would require cities and counties to immediately remove any "homeless encampment" and throw away all materials found there. Homeless people on private property would be charged with trespassing. The bill does not include solutions for housing or shelter. OPPOSE.
SB1435, Wadsack (R-17), would move attorney licensing in Arizona from the State Bar to the Arizona Supreme Court, which would not be able to require an attorney to be a member of any organization to become or remain licensed. OPPOSE.
SB1471, Kavanagh (R-3), would set up a “man-versus-machine test” of whether humans are better or worse than machines at counting ballots. This would essentially serve as a hand-count audit, measuring accuracy as well as the time and resources required to implement hand counting statewide. OPPOSE.
SB1500, Carroll (R-28), would require state retirement funds to evaluate their investments solely based on finances, in a crusade against “woke” banks that creates real consequences for those who depend on Arizona’s retirement system. OPPOSE.
SB1503, Rogers (R-7), would require Arizonans to show ID proving that they are over 18 before they can look at "explicit sexual material" online. Lawmakers are struggling to make the bill constitutional; it has already failed one House floor vote. OPPOSE.
SB1595, Mesnard (R-13), would make voters present ID in order to drop off their early ballots after 7 PM on the Friday before election day. This would complicate voting for over 1 in 5 voters, resulting in more ballots being rejected. OPPOSE.
SB1597, Mesnard (R-13), would require Maricopa and Pima County elections officials to provide one voting location in each legislative district that could tabulate early ballots on-site. Driven by conspiracy theories and does not cover the significant costs required. OPPOSE.
SB1611, Kern (R-27), would ban government from contracting with any company unless the contract specifies the company will not "discriminate" based on political affiliation or social or environmental values. Could cost Arizona millions. OPPOSE.
SB1694, Hoffman (R-15), would ban the state and public schools from requiring "diversity, equity, and inclusion programs" for its employees, spending public funds on such programs, or setting policies to influence the composition of its workforce on the basis of race, sex, or color. Any employee required to participate could sue. Shamefully, the sponsor says his bill is what MLK would have wanted. OPPOSE.
SB1696, Hoffman (R-15), would double down on a bill passed last year by banning district and charter schools from exposing minors to "sexually explicit materials." Violating the incredibly broad description would be a class 5 felony, punishable by up to 2 years in jail. OPPOSE.
SB1698, Wadsack (R-17), equates drag shows with "dangerous crimes against children" and makes them a crime on par with bestiality, child sex trafficking, second-degree murder and sexual assault. One columnist calls the bill “flat-out bonkers.” OPPOSE.
HB2722, Griffin (R-19), would allow county elections officials to hand count all of the ballots for any election. Such a move would put ballot security at risk, create counting errors, and damage voter confidence, ushering in a cascading series of events that would seriously undermine election integrity. OPPOSE.
HB2786, Heap (R-10), would require school boards to notify parents if schools recommend any "training opportunities" for teachers or school administrators. The new Horne administration believes that social-emotional learning, diversity and equity are Trojan horses for "critical race theory." OPPOSE.
HCR2039, Chaplik (R-3), would ask voters to amend the state Constitution to require lawmakers to come back to work each month, including when the legislature is out of session, and approve emergency declarations. As one lawmaker pointed out, changing the law would make that funding “dependent on us getting together every 30 days to argue over whether or not the drought is real and upends the whole practical approach to dealing with the drought.” OPPOSE.
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