Where We Are Now in the 2021 Session
Your legislature can – and does make many changes in state law each year, but its main purpose is to create a budget for Arizona. And we’re not there yet.
So first, an update on the law-making part. Thank you to everyone who has emailed me about what’s important to you and your families.
With you in mind, I’ve been proud to help work for and pass some important bills to help everyday Arizonans. Those include SB1539 to increase the stipend for grandparents and other relatives fostering family members’ children. HB2123 and HB2124 support Career and Technical Education programs. SB1451 ensures workmen’s comp for firefighters who develop cancer, and HB2282 would provide small business assistance grants. I’m also proud to have sponsored HB2824, a bi-partisan Adult Education bill that’s a win for working families, employers and our economy.
That said, this legislative session has been full of some really bad bills as well – and though we’re closing in on the end of the session, some of the worst attacks on our voting rights, public schools, reproductive rights, and state budget are still going on.
Read on to see how you can help stop them.
2 Urgent Calls to Action!
Call Governor Ducey’s office at 602-542-4331 and ask him to VETO SB1456. Parents already have the right to opt their children in or not to age-appropriate sex education programs, and this bill outlaws the program altogether in grades K-4 where children learn about their bodies, safety and health, leaving our vulnerable children at greater risk of abuse. ALSO, the bill moves Arizona backward, treating LGBTQ+ people (including students) as “abnormal” and requiring parent permission to mention important LGBTQ+ figures or events in any class at any grade level. Everyone deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
NO on SB1457
This extreme attack on reproductive rights already failed a floor vote, but is being revived in a conference committee. Call your legislators to urge them to vote NO on this extreme attack on women’s reproductive healthcare. It gives fetuses in all stages of development the same rights and privileges as any living US citizen, and turns doctors into felons, leaving juries to decide whether a physician on trial for performing an abortion exercised reasonable judgment.
Your Voting Rights
Like so many of you have said in your emails, I’m proud of Arizona’s long history of integrity and security in our elections. In fact, I believe that as your legislators, our highest priority should be to protect the very thing that defines us as a free nation: the sacred right of every citizen to vote in a simple, straightforward manner. Yet Arizona’s legislature has introduced at least 19 voter suppression bills this session. Here’s a link to an Op-Ed I wrote that recently appeared in AZCentral.
Call to Action! Your voice is powerful. Please call State House members to urge them to vote
- NO on SB1485 that would purge hundreds of thousands of Arizonans from the Permanent Early Voting List
- NO on SB1713 that would require more hoops for the 80% of Arizona voters who vote by mail if their vote is to be counted
- NO on SCR1024 that would require citizen initiatives that increase state or local revenue to pass by a 2/3 vote.
Your Public Schools
Every day I receive your messages demanding that the legislature respect the will of the voters and properly fund our schools. I agree! As a mom, grandma and teacher for 27 years at Greenway & Cactus High Schools, I know that we all do better when every student gets a great education, and we can only provide that when we invest in our neighborhood public schools attended by 90% of our children. They are counting on us to provide the safe buildings, activities, staff and teachers who do the vital work of helping every child succeed.
Call to Action! Did I mention that your voice is powerful? If you want our state to properly invest in our public schools, please call and email State House members to urge them to vote NO on
SB1273 that would expand allowable uses of STO vouchers that last year drained $200 million from state revenue, $20 million of which didn’t help a single student
SB1452 that would greatly expand ESA vouchers that siphon hundreds of millions of dollars from our schools each year.
SB1783 that would gut $500 million from voter-approved Prop 208 funds for schools.
HB2427 is a solution in search of a problem. Arizona families can already choose any public school in the state. This bill erodes local control, creates duplicative red-tape and unfunded mandates for school districts, and requires them to advertise charter and private schools on their websites.
Stop Shifting the Tax Burden to Working Families
Your State Budget
Finally, the legislative session cannot end until a budget is approved, and everyone at the Capitol is waiting for budgets to be released by majority policymakers in the House and Senate. But here is the word….
Despite the fact that Arizona is already underfunding schools, healthcare, roads, prisons and almost every other area, the majority is now proposing over $1 BILLION dollars in PERMANENT tax cuts that would mainly benefit the rich while shifting even more of the tax burden onto working families.
That $1 billion in the governor’s rainy day fund and the at least $1.2 BILLION unexpected one-time projected budget surplus should be used for critical needs of the citizens of our state like
- Roads and infrastructure. Every Appropriations committee meeting seemed to include bills for desperately-needed road repairs that can’t wait the 5-10 or 15 years it takes for ADOT to get to them because they don’t have adequate funding.
- Healthcare. We have a moral obligation to care for our most vulnerable citizens, but independent evaluations show that our state’s budget falls short by hundreds of millions of dollars annually in what’s needed to address the needs of our youngest, elderly, and disabled neighbors.
- K-12 classrooms. Too many of our school buildings are decaying. All of our children deserve safe and modern facilities in which to learn.
- Teacher pay. We were in such a deep hole, that even after recent increases Arizona teacher salaries remain in the national basement, and children in 1 in 4 classrooms have no permanent, qualified teacher.
- Higher education. Tuition for our state universities is among the highest in the nation, largely because Arizona invests less in all three universities than we do on prisons, which are also underfunded.
Call to Action! Your voice is powerful. Call your state Representatives, Senators, and the Governor to say NO to permanent tax cuts. Use the record budget surpluses to address the urgent needs of our state.
How will you celebrate?
April 22 is Earth Day!
This April 22, we’re all invited to celebrate the 51st Earth Day since the celebration began in 1970. This day is a reminder that together we can create the world we want to live in, one that is clean, healthy and sustainable for our children. But that starts with each one of us. Here are some event listings at EventBrite or check out some ideas from ASU here or here about how you can contribute to a healthier planet.
Whether you’re picking up trash, taking a run or bike ride, volunteering, or bird watching, you can be a part of making our community a better place.