This newsletter was originally published by Judy Schwiebert.
House Education Committee
|It’s an honor to be part of the Dem Teacher Caucus serving on House Education committee that meets Tuesday afternoons. We’re all former – or current teachers, including Rep Jennifer Pawlik, Rep Laura Terech, Rep Nancy Gutierrez, and me. A list of all House Education Committee members can be found here.
This week our agenda included:
HB2178 (Kolodin-R)would require public universities to allow a student to select which clubs and organizations receive the fees they pay for clubs and campus-wide events like spring concerts or welcome centers. I voted NO because of potential unintended consequences. I believe this should be decided at the universities and student government level. Request to Speak(RTS): 62 urged YES, and 207 urged NO. However, it passed along party lines 5-4.
HB2246 (Payne-R)would allow schools to opt into a Purple Star School Program which would emphasize support to military students and families. I voted YES. because it’s an opportunity to offer social and emotional support to young people, something they all deserve in these times of increasing stress. RTS: 43 YES, and 0 NO. It passed 9-0.
HB2311 (Grantham-R) would allow district or charter schools to give enrollment preference to children of military members. I support Rep Gutierrez request for a floor amendment adding schools that receive ESA Vouchers. I voted YES showed RTS: 24 YES, 1 NO. It passed 9-0.
HB2608 (Gress-R) would require the State Board of Education to complete a study to determine the retention rate of public school teachers. Because it would provide info about what subject and grade level areas are having the greatest shortage, I voted yes. RTS: 3 neutral. Passed 9-0.
|House Appropriations Committee
|The House Appropriations Committee meets every Wednesday afternoon after the Floor Session.In addition to the bills on our agenda for this past week, we also heard from Director Heredia of AHCCCS (Arizona’s Medicaid program) and Director Cunico of the Arizona Department of Health regarding budget proposals. (See more on this in Sub-Approps below.) We also voted on
HB2383 (Livingston-R) would fund a co-ordinated re-entry grant program for sheriffs’ departments assisting people with drug addictions being released from jail. While I very much appreciate this great county program, I strongly object to the fact that first, no funds are being provided for Maricopa or Pima Counties where there is perhaps the greatest need for substance abuse treatment. I ALSO object that the bill sponsor is only allowing a small portion of the current $50 Million opioid settlement money available to treat the fentanyl epidemic to be spent when there is such an urgent need. I voted PRESENT. RTS: 45 YES, 1 NO. It passed with 10 YES, 4 NO and 3 PRESENTS. It will be heard again later on the Floor for a final vote in the House
|Sub-Approps on Budgetary Funding Formulas (BFF)
|Health Care Fraud in ArizonaThis past Thursday morning our Sub Approps committee heard from AHCCCS, the AZ Department of Health, and the Attorney General’s office about their work to clean up what AG Mayes has called the biggest fraud in the history of Arizona. $2 Billion in fraudulent claims have been stolen by criminal owners in the Sober Living and Behavioral Health industry.
This fraud went undetected by Gov Ducey’s administration for two years and has had devastating effects on the lives of Native Americans and others. Arizonans deserve so much better. Gov Hobbs and these agencies have done incredible work already this year to clean up this mess, but have a long way to go. The addition of 202 employees for this task in the governor’s new budget will pay for itself in savings from fraud alone.
I also used the hearing to highlight my bill HB2560 which would allow the state to pursue enforcement even if the Behavioral Health Facility or Sober Living Home is in the process of being transferred to a new owner. It would also increase fines from $500 to $5,000 per incident and require that owners pay fines before they can renew their license.
|Make your Voice Heard Next Week!
|To learn what’s coming up THIS week so you can make your voice heard in YOUR State House and Senate, I highly recommend subscribing to the Weekly newsletter from the nonpartisan Civic Engagement Beyond Voting. (CEBV) You can read it and subscribe here.
|Important Issues We’re Discussing
|WATER Chris Kudzas of the Environmental Defense Fund was the presenter for our first Water Wise Wednesday lunch at the legislature this past week. Protecting our water future is one of the most crucial issues we face as a state, and legislators of both parties are invited to attend this important bipartisan information session..
|The blue areas on the slide below shows where the 1980 Groundwater Management Act created what’s called Active Management Areas (AMAs) in the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas. This is where we currently have a relatively stable water supply because developers of single family homes must ensure a 100 year water supply before being allowed to build.
However, in the rest of the state access to water is a free for all where “whoever drills the deepest well wins.” Some rural communities where they see new wealthy landowners depleting their water supply are now looking for help to protect that supply. This is very much an oversimplification, since we’re also getting much less from the Colorado River than in the past, but it gives a general picture.
|Arizona has a two year window to prepare for significantly less Colorado River water deliveries every year. How do we deal with less water from the Colorado River? Manage well all the water we DO have = GROUNDWATER!
|EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT (ERA) I was proud as always this past Thursday to stand with the Arizona National Organization for Women (AZNOW) and fellow legislators in support of our annual bill to ratify the ERA. Following in the tradition of Sandra Day O’Connor, each year, one of us sponsors the bill calling for our state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
It simply says, “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” and further that “the Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” The one-seat Republican majority continues to stop our efforts to have the bill even heard, but we will persist.
Monday was Early Childhood Day at the Legislature, and I appreciated meeting with Donna Davis from Education Forward, Valerie Pieraccini and Jennifer from United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona, and Katie Sprute from First Things First, all constituents in LD2 to talk about the urgent need for affordable quality childcare.
|I met also with Eric Bucher, CEO of the Arizona Association for Education of Young Children (AEYC) in Wesley Bolin Plaza. I’m deeply grateful for them all for their dedication to ensuring all Arizona children can thrive.
This year our state faces an urgent need to increase funding for childcare since federal pandemic funds will be expiring in September, leaving us with $100 million less for the vital services our children, families and employers need. The good news is that by investing $100 million, we can draw down another $90 million from the federal government to better meet the needs of more families and employers.
Cory Ream of Lucid Motors took my photo as I finished my test drive of Lucid’s amazing high end electric vehicle which is manufactured in Casa Grande and contributing to greater sustainability for Arizona.
|My constituent and friend Hazel Chandler of EcoMadres, the Mom’s Clean Air Force, visited during Environmental Day on Thursday. Our children deserve clean air and a healthy climate.
|This Week’s Community Builder
Lookout Mountain Veterinary Clinic15440 N. 7th St (at Coral Gables)Thank you to Dr Adam Schulte, Dr Celena Edens and Dr Courtney Leibering of Lookout Mountain Veterinary Clinic for the powerful ways you and your team create a sense of community for our furry friends and pet parents in the North Valley. Cheryl “CJ” Jones nominated you as this week’s LD 2 Community Builder.
She writes, “Founder Dr. Jeff Cook and partner and friend Dr Adam Schure are not only the very best in the field of veterinary medicine, but their ability to put together and retain a cohesive team of technicians and support staff is their real talent. Miss Linda always greets you with a smile. Tina, Chelsea & their team ALWAYS take the time to make sure you are informed, supported and even hugged when needed…
The pandemic was an amazing challenge for their industry, but they never closed. The team just worked faster and harder to ensure quality of care and service, literally running from car to car in the August heat carrying large pets in their arms so their paws would not burn. Giving back to the community is just a part of the business model by providing free medication and specialty food to clients in need, hosting free vaccination events, and NEVER turning away a lost, found or injured pet. I truly believe we are lucky to have this exceptional business in our community.”
|Nominate a Community Builder!
|As a lifelong member of our community, I’m so grateful to the many people and local businesses who make it such a great place to live. That’s why I’m excited to be partnering with the Bell Road Business Alliance and Stoke Interactive to recognize many of the local Community Builders in our neighborhood.
Check out our website at LD2NPCB.com to learn more about past recipients and nominate your favorite locally owned businesses or nonprofits in LD2. I’m honored to a part of recognizing them in this way for the vital role they play in making our community the safe, thriving, unique place it is.
|Save the Date! LD2 Democrats of North PhoenixWednesday February 21, 6:30 pm
Aspire Innovation Center, 20402 N 15th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85027
Do you want a state government that prioritizesPaying our children’s educators betterAddressing the water, affordable housing, and climate change crisesProtecting our freedom to vote by mail or in personEnsuring we can make our own reproductive healthcare decisions without politicians’ interferenceDon’t let the current legislative majority’s culture wars make you lose hope. Join like-minded folks committed to electing a new majority of state legislators who will focus on addressing the vital priorities that all Arizonans share. In 2024, our legislative district is likely to be the one that decides whether we get a new direction for our state.
The LD2 Dems offer hybrid meetings on the third Wednesday of each month where we hear from advocacy groups and candidates about how each one of us can make a difference . RSVP for the zoom link -or get directions here to join us in person!
Our wonderful LD2 State House candidate, Stephanie Simacek, and I will both be speaking about why we agreed to make the commitment to serve our community in the state legislature.
|Be Part of the Team To Win for Everyday Arizonans
Volunteer For Our Campaign
We’re already hard at work contacting voters in our community about what’s at stake in the race for our Legislative District 2 House and Senate seats: a new majority that’s listening and working for everyday Arizonans. But no one can do it alone. The two most important things to do right now are Join a Community Canvass. We’re knocking doors and getting petition signatures to qualify for the ballot as we listen to fellow voters who want a legislature committed to addressing our shared priorities. Use this link to find a day and time that works for you. We’ll buddy you up with someone experienced. We need door knockers and drivers. Donate to our campaign. We need everyone’s help to pay for the staff, literature, and other advertising that are essential to winning this competitive race.