Saturday, March 15, 2014

Talking and Taking Back

Arizona operates with a "part-time" legislature: every year, members shoot for a 100-day session and then go back to their day jobs. Having lived in Arizona nearly 20 years, I can't remember when they last met that 100-day goal.

This year will likely be no exception: both chambers have filled up their floor agendas with myriad bills but none feature the main event, the budget bills. And it appears that when they finally get to doling out funding, we may see an extended rematch of last year's budget battle thanks to fault lines that have already cracked open with the first bill passed this session.

That would be the now infamous SB1062. Yes, the first bill sent to the Governor by our majority-conservative, "pro-business" legislature was not a job creation package or even ways to fund our schools or fix our child welfare crisis. Instead, though billed as a correction to existing law, SB1062 rode into town a Trojan horse that could have unleashed rampant discrimination in the name of the "free exercise of religion."

Arizona spent a week in the nation's spotlight, the butt of many jokes, a dark stain on graphics mapping anti-discrimination laws. But Arizonans grew vocal about not wanting this preemptive piece of legislation that created rather than "solved" problems. In the end, SB1062 was vetoed, but its malice echoes in bills awaiting votes.

So we need to keep talking and make sure we are heard, whether for or against bills. And then we need to keep talking all the way to November with our votes. Because the only way we can see an end to bills like SB1062 is by ending the tenure of legislators who support them.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fast Forward

I am more than a bit surprised to find how long it has been since I last posted anything to this blog -- nearly four years, or a generation in dog years and two in Internet time....

Since then, one son has graduated college, established himself in his field, and become a homeowner, while our other son graduated high school and is now ensconced in university life. The business my husband and I established more than two decades ago has gone into hyper drive since the recession -- probably one of the reasons my writing has been on other pages and not here.

In reviewing some of my previous posts, however, I didn't actually feel stuck in the past. Discussions of what was -- or, more accurately, was not happening -- in the Arizona legislature felt like they could have been written nearly any time during the past four years, with only names and time references requiring updates.

Until the end of last session, that is, when a number of concerned elected officials disregarded political party and coalesced around ideas to expand health care coverage and add at least some funds to areas that have been cut for years, such as education. In other words, govern for the people as opposed to ideology.

The new session begins this coming Monday. Much ink has been spilled about the bad blood that remains from the end of last session and how that will play out with bills buried and rhetoric ratcheted up once legislators take their seats as well as hopes and expectations for the new session in this election year. I hope to be more conscientious in adding to those discussions on this page as we see how some of the predictions play out....