Archives for September 2013

Rep Matt Salmon Votes to Fund the Government & Protect American People From Obamacare

Washington—Today, Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) released the following statement regarding his vote on H.J. Res. 59, the Continuing Resolution for FY2014:

“For the third time, House Republicans passed a bipartisan bill to fund the government and protect Americans from the ever-mounting and damaging effects of Obamacare. Once again, our bill keeps the government open, protects Americans from being forced into Obamacare and puts Members of Congress and the President into the healthcare exchanges they created.

“It seems that each day we hear about another delay or new exemption by the Obama Administration. This is not only unfair to the American taxpayer, but demonstrates this harmful law remains not ready for primetime.

“Senate Democrats continue to offer no solutions to this problem and choose to be the Party of NO. Make no mistake, Senate Democrats are threating to shut down the government by failing to compromise with House Republicans. The moment of truth is upon them, and I call on Harry Reid to be responsible and immediately act to prevent a government shutdown.”

Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. He is also a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
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Republican Businessman Toby Farmer Gaining Momentum in LD13 Senate Announces First Wave of Community Supporters

Toby Farmer

(Buckeye, AZ) Today, LD13 Arizona State Senate Republican candidate Toby Farmer announced a first wave of endorsements and statements from community supporters. Farmer is the founder and principal of 1776 Capital, a private investment and holdings firm based in Buckeye. Farmer is challenging current State Senator Don Shooter in the August Republican primary.

“After speaking with hundreds of Republican voters in my district it became clear conservatives were looking for a candidate they could be proud of and support in the Senate Republican primary,” said Farmer. “The amount of support is incredible and I’m humbled by the wave of encouragement I’m receiving from voters and community leaders.”

What Others Are Saying About Toby

“Toby has the energy, intelligence and morals to get the job done right. Toby has the serious intent, positive attitude and ethical makeup that is much needed in state government.” – Litchfield Park Councilman Tim Blake

“I’m encouraged and excited when I see young, conservative, small business owners like Toby Farmer choosing to serve their community. Toby embodies the qualities and ethics needed to carry the core principles of our Party forward to the next generation of Republicans and tomorrows leaders.” – Former Arizona Speaker of the House Kirk Adams

“When I think of the caliber of individuals who need to serve in public office, spirited leaders like Toby Farmer immediately come to mind. I am confident in knowing that Toby offers the type of fresh ideas, principled dedication and leadership that state government cries out for in the current political climate. His commitment to his faith, family and community will likewise carry over into the quality and temperament of leadership we so desperately need in the Arizona Legislature. He has my unwavering support in his call to serve in the civic arena.” – Conservative Activist Shane Wikfors

More About Toby

Farmer’s roots run deep in district 13, which spans from Buckeye to Yuma. Both his grandfather and great-grandfather worked for the Wigwam Resort in the 1940s, and his great uncle, John Roach, is in the Arizona Farming and Ranching Hall of Fame. As the son of public school teachers, Farmer understands the importance of a quality education and of giving back to the community. As a legislator, Farmer plans to pursue a commonsense, conservative agenda in the state legislature.

For more information about Toby Farmer, visit www.FarmerAz.com.

Draft Ken Bennett for Arizona Corporation Commission Kicks Off

(Mesa, AZ) – Alan Heywood announced that he is heading up an effort to draft current Secretary of State Ken Bennett to run for the office of Arizona Corporation Commissioner.  Heywood stated: “Ken Bennett is one of the most effective leaders in the history of Arizona.  He had a stellar career in the legislature and was an excellent Senate President.  Bennett also answered the call from Governor Brewer to fill the vacancy as Secretary of State when she was appointed Governor.  Bennett then ran for a second term as Secretary of State, and was elected by an overwhelming number of Arizona voters.”  Heywood went on to say, “Ken has been considering a run for Governor and there is no question that he would make a fine Governor.  However, the Corporation Commission is critically important to the people of Arizona. Commissioners set the price we pay for gas, water, and electricity, and they determine what forms of energy generation will be used.”

“There are many significant decisions that must be made over the next several years concerning energy policy in Arizona. We must elect highly qualified individuals that have extraordinary abilities to make decisions on very difficult and complex energy issues.  Ken Bennett is one of the few in our state that has the background, experience, knowledge and ability to serve in this capacity.  It is hard to imagine that there is a more important office to the people of Arizona during the next several years than that of Corporation Commissioner.”

A webpage has been set up where individuals and/or organizations can register their support to draft Ken Bennett to run for the Arizona Corporation Commission.  It is critical that we let Ken know that he has strong and deep support for his candidacy for this important office.  It is vital that supporters sign up as soon as possible.

Go to: DraftKenBennettForACC.com and tell Secretary Ken Bennett that we need and support him in a run for the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Draft Ken Bennett

 

UPDATE: Hospitals Paying Traitors for Their Yes Votes on OBrewercare

Monday’s, September 23’s, Yellow Sheet Report reported that the Friday, September 20 fundraiser thrown by the health care-industrial complex for their bought-and-paid-for legislators (Sens. McComish [LD 18], Pierce [LD1], Driggs [LD 28], and Worsley [LD 25], and Reps. Shope [LD 8], McGee [LD28], Carter [LD 15], Coleman [LD 16], Dial [LD 18], Goodale [LD 5], Orr [LD 9], Pratt [LD 8], and Robson [LD 18]) who voted to expand Medicaid rolls under Obamacare is expected to raise $350,000 meaning that the 13 Republican traitors for whom the event was thrown will receive almost $27,000 for their campaign warchests in exchange for their votes assuming the cash is split evenly.  The article states that the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association is holding another fundraiser for these traitors in roughly a month on October 23.  Assuming that this upcoming fundraiser collects as much as the one on September 20, the hospital-industrial complex will be halfway to fulfilling their promise to give turncoat legislators $100,000 for their campaign warchests.

To additionally show that this is a quid pro quo, note that the recipients of this campaign cash DIRECTLY matches the traitorous Republicans that voted to expand Arizona’s medicaid program under Obamacare’s provisions (HB 2010 in the First Special Session of the 51st Legislature).  Also, the Yellow Sheet reports that a lobbyist at the event stated that the fundraiser was to support those Republicans that voted for OBrewercare who would likely face primary opposition .  The unnamed lobbyist indicated that the hospital-industrial complex crony corporatists wanted to do “everything we can to assist them.”  In other words, the traitors lined the hospitals’ pockets, now, it’s time for the health care industry pay these corrupt politicans back by giving them the resources necessary to be nigh undefeatable in an election.

Keep an eye out, voters.  We could be seeing two additional fundraisers for these criminals and it will give them almost insurmountable cash to ensure that they are re-elected.  Not only did these people take money out of your pocket to line their own, but they are also trying to subvert your choice in who represents you.  You should be very angry.  Again, follow the money.  When their campaign finance reports come out, read them.  Learn exactly who is pulling their strings.  FINANCIALLY support their primary opponents!  Tell everyone you can about what you know about these criminals that are fleecing you.  Remember what you’ve learned when you go to the polls and urge your friends to do the same.

Ron Barber’s Blank Check To Obama

Pelosi And Barber Want to Give President Obama Unrestrained Power to Waste Money and Borrow from China

WASHINGTON – Over the weekend, Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi proudly proclaimed the cupboard was bare and there were “no more cuts to make” to wasteful government spending. Pelosi and Ron Barber are just completely out-of-touch when it comes to bringing fiscal sanity to Washington. They want to raise the debt limit without any meaningful reforms, increase spending, and fund wasteful government programs such as robotic squirrels and climate change musicals.

“Ron Barber and Nancy Pelosi may think there’s nothing left to cut out of the federal budget, but the American people aren’t stupid,” said NRCC Communications Director Andrea Bozek. “Instead of giving President Obama a blank check, Democrats should be working with Republicans to lower our debt and rein in wasteful spending.”

BarberCheck  

Nancy Pelosi Said There Are “No More Spending Cuts To Make.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says that while deficit reduction is a laudable goal, there are precious few spending cuts left to negotiate in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. ‘The cupboard is bare,’ the California Democrat said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ ‘There’s no more cuts to make.’ (Elizabeth Titus, “Pelosi Says ‘The Cupboard Is Bare’,” Politico, 9/22/13)

Democrats Have Vowed Not To Negotiate Over The Debt Ceiling. “House Democrats are pressing for a so-called “clean” extension of the debt limit in a letter to President Barack Obama – laying down their marker in what is likely to be a nasty battle over fiscal policy in the coming weeks. In the letter being circulated by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a slew of House Democrats – including all five members of its leadership – warn of the dangers of defaulting on the nation’s debt and urge Obama to stand firm on his pledge to not negotiate on raising the debt limit.” (Seung Min Kim, “Dems Pledge Support For ‘Clean’ Debt Limit Bill,” Politico, 9/17/13)

Pelosi Has Called For Increased Spending. “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wants more spending than House Republicans have put in their stopgap spending bill in return for Democratic votes. Pelosi on Thursday came closer to suggesting that Democrats would withhold votes from a ‘clean’ continuing resolution that continued the sequester at $986 billion.” (Emma Dumain, “Pelosi Wants More Spending In Return For Democratic Votes,” Roll Call, 9/19/13)

The Federal Government Spent $325,000 To Develop A Robotic Squirrel. (2012 Waste Book, Office Of Senator Tom Coburn, Accessed On 2/27/13)

$697,177 Was Used To Develop A Musical On Climate Change And Biodiversity. (2012 Waste Book, Office Of Senator Tom Coburn, Accessed On 2/27/13)

Dave Morse: An Open Letter on Public Lands and the Enabling Act of 1912

Arizona celebrated 100 years of statehood last year. Admittance into the Republic of the united States of America is executed by Congress passing and the (Arizona) Territory agreeing to an “Enabling Act”—describing how the Territory will be reborn as a full-fledged State. With few exception, all states since the original thirteen have achieved statehood through enabling acts.

One significant matter remains to be completed in the century following Arizona being admitted as the forty-eight state. The Federal Government still holds title to forty-three (43) percent of the State’s land area.

This matter is not unique to Arizona. If an imaginary line were drawn straight southward along the western borders of North and South Dakota south to Texas (with an eastward jog for Colorado) an interesting and perplexing contrast is seen between Eastern and Western States. In all states east of this line, each state has no more than five (5) percent of its land area controlled by the Federal Government. Ninety-five (95) percent of the lands are under state control. In all states west of this line an average fifty (50) percent of the State’s lands are under Federal control, and in Nevada eighty-six (86) percent in under federal control. Many have asked “Why this stark contrast?” No one has truly been able to provide an answer to this question.

“So what?” the reader might ask.

Two answers.

Answer 1) From a legal and historical perspective, all States are supposed to be admitted to the Union “on equal footing”. As part of the enabling process the Federal government takes title to all lands in the territory, and then is supposed to “dispose” of title to the newly formed state. Thus giving birth to a new state having same the rights, powers and privileges of existing states. The Federal government is not supposed to hold back large portions of the land within the State’s borders which are the State’s birthright.

Answer 2) The timber, minerals, oil, coal, waters and simply the land itself rightfully belong to the individual State to be managed to best advantage to the State. North Dakota, who has less than four (4) percent Federal intrusion, is experiencing an economic boom unimaginable to most other states. Why? North Dakota has large natural resources available to be used because they are on State land. Utah, Colorado and Wyoming have more proven oil reserves than the entire rest of the world. Yet this wealth cannot be touched because it lies beneath “Federal” lands. It is estimated that on and below Federally controlled lands in the Western States there is over $150 trillion (yes TRILLION) dollars in recoverable natural resources.

Tired of being unemployed or finding only low-paying employment? In North Dakota so much money is coming in from oil, gas and coal royalties, the State Legislature is considering doing away with income taxes. And workers up there are raking in the dough. Tired of high gasoline costs? How much would a gallon cost if we bought oil from our own friendly Rocky Mountain States instead of a hostile Middle East? Who needs involvement in foreign Civil Wars when we have a steady flow of oil from our own wells?

The Federal government, in this writers opinion, has held those lands for three reasons:

1) They want to keep title and control over the lands;

2) They do not want to let the various States take control of the lands and resources thereto; and;

3) No one has forced the Federal Government to dispose of lands to the States since Statehood. There is precedent. In 1832 seven States (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana and Florida) after years of unrelenting battle, forced the Federal Government to “dispose” of title back to lands of the States—fulfilling promises made at Statehood. One State, Florida, had approximately ninety (90) percent of the State’s land area under Federal Control. After the 1832 “disposal”, Florida has less than four (4) percent land area under Federal Control.

What is to be done? Ask questions. Start a ‘buzz’ about the issue of State’s Lands, State Sovereignty and making the Federal Government keep its promise and give the proud and Sovereign State of Arizona ALL her lands. Ask elected officials and candidates for elected office to make State Land an issue after elected. Keep the talk going.

We have waited a hundred years. Obviously patience alone will not get the job done.

David Morse is resident of Pima, Arizona.

Dinner at Monti’s? It may require reservations now thanks to Obamacare

Reservations at Tempe’s dining landmark Monti’s?

That’s right, because it may be a little harder now.

Monti’s, the famed Tempe restaurant, is now cutting hours for employees because of ObamaCare.

Kyrsten Sinema ObamacareThe same law that Kyrsten Sinema helped craftcampaigned for, and voted to keep is hurting workers in her own district.

But this isn’t the first time that the law’s regulations have hit home for Sinema. Just a few weeks ago, ObamaCare caused her coworkers at ASU to see their hours cut.

When she supports laws that actively hurt those in the 9th district, Kyrsten Sinema proves that she’s just too big a risk for Arizona families.

According to Matt Gorman, spokesman for the NRCC, “The disastrous law that Kyrsten Sinema helped craft and campaign for is hurting workers right in her district. How can workers and families trust her to dismantle ObamaCare when she was its biggest cheerleader in the first place?”

Just another example of the unintended consequences of a devastatingly bad public policy.

 

Andrew Thomas receives standing ovations before and after speech

A m e r i c a n  P o s t – G a z e t t e

Distributed by C O M M O N S E N S E , in Arizona

Sunday, September 22, 2013

 

Leading candidate for Arizona governor discusses out-of-control activist judiciary
Text of speech given to the East Valley Action Alliance Pro-Life Conference on September 21, 2013 

Deserve Victory in 2014

By Andrew Thomas

How do we win in the 2014 elections? In the past, we have defined winning as electing a large crop of candidates who describe themselves as pro-life.

But we now know this not victory, properly defined. True victory means an end to abortion. In political terms, winning entails electing candidates who will move us decisively towards that goal. Given the stakes, and to paraphrase General Douglas MacArthur, there is no substitute for such victory.

Roe v. Wade was handed down forty years ago. The time has come to ask whether we are truly any closer to victory, properly defined, now than we were four decades ago. If not, what must we do differently?

The hard truth is this: We are not winning. This is not for lack of effort, as everyone here well knows. We have tried various strategies over the decades. But the statistics and reality tell a very sobering story that we must honestly confront.

Hitting a Wall

Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, the number of abortions in the United States reached its peak of 1.6 million a year in 1990. Ten years later, that number had leveled off slightly to 1.3 million. Since then, for the last 13 years, that figure basically has not budged. Last year, there were just over 1.2 million abortions.

This number is the bottom line, and is now essentially static. Regardless of how many pro-life leaders we elect, the pro-life laws they pass, or the pro-life lawsuits they file, nothing has lowered that number. The goal of ending abortion, in turn, has become ever more elusive. In short, we have hit a wall.

Why are we not winning? The answer is simple and obvious for those who have eyes to see. Liberal elites control the judiciary. They have captured it lock, stock and barrel. Every time we pass a law or file a lawsuit to advance the pro-life cause, the ACLU and their allies simply go to court and enlist activist judges to block us.

It was not supposed to be this way. The founders of our nation intended for the judiciary to be, as Alexander Hamilton stated in the Federalist Papers, the “least dangerous” branch of government. Thomas Jefferson warned that a judiciary of unchecked power would grow into tyranny, an American oligarchy. Over the years, unelected judges have sought to make good on that prediction. They have amassed absolute power over our government and society.

Unelected judges can throw out any law they do not like. They do so typically without any regard to the text or original meaning of the Constitution. They do this for the purpose of advancing a liberal worldview that is popular among lawyers and elites but contrary to the will of the people.

Three recent examples in Arizona show us what we are up against. This year, the Arizona Legislature passed two important pro-life bills. One ended Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood. The other banned abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. Our leaders should be commended for these actions.

However, within weeks after passage of this legislation, federal judges struck down both measures. Today, neither is the law of the land.

Then there is the fate of Arizona’s parental-consent measure. Arizona first passed a law requiring parental consent for abortions for minors in 1989. Federal courts overturned the law. Ten years later, I lobbied for passage of a new version of this law as a lobbyist for Arizona Right to Life. Finally, after two decades of litigation, the parental-consent law was allowed to go into effect. That means we won, right?

No, we did not. Recently, Arizona news outlets have reported that in three out of four cases, judges simply allow minors to bypass the consent of their parents and obtain the abortions anyhow. In other words, this law is still being circumvented by activist judges. Even when we manage to win a case after decades of litigation before a hostile liberal judiciary, we lose in the end.

Consider also the cultural climate in which these events are unfolding. For fifty years, unelected judges have driven organized religion from public institutions while permitting every conceivable vulgarity in their place. We avert our eyes even as things worsen every year. Marriage is crumbling around us. Genuine fatherhood is mocked by Hollywood and becoming a relic of the past. Even the most dedicated parents can no longer preserve the innocence of their children amidst a constant barrage of smut and filth from the airwaves. Is it any wonder that more than one out of four teenage American girls, and almost half of African-American teenage girls, are infected with a sexually transmitted disease? Our children are crying out to us for help. Their cries are an indictment of the activist judges and cultural elites who have engendered this moral crisis.

Liberals realized decades ago that if they controlled the courts, they controlled the government. They systematically went about taking over the law schools, where conservative students are hissed and heckled if they dare speak out in class. They took over the bar associations and lawyer class, from which judges are drawn. The very few graduates of law schools who describe themselves as conservative and pro-life must keep their views to themselves, or they risk being professionally marginalized.

Judges have forbidden lawyers, at the risk of losing their law licenses, from publicly criticizing them or the judiciary. This gag order conveniently silences their most effective critics.

Kangaroos in Kansas

For decades, we’ve been told to campaign for Republican presidential candidates because they will appoint “strict constructionist” judges to the federal bench. What have we gained from this? On virtually every major case involving a significant cultural issue, the judges we fight to confirm flip to the other side. Though many of these judges surely tell themselves they would go to the gallows for their beliefs, the truth is that few of them are willing even to endure professional shunning by their self-righteous liberal colleagues. And so they defect, and we lose again and again.

We’ve been told to elect law-enforcement leaders who will enforce the legislation, pro-life and otherwise, we do manage to pass. But consider what happens to those officials who try.

As the elected Attorney General of Kansas, Phill Kline sought to investigate alleged crimes occurring in that state’s abortion clinics. In retaliation, the liberals who dominate the attorney disciplinary board of Kansas ginned up accusations of professional misconduct against him. They put him through a show trial they controlled, a process denounced by national conservative observers as a kangaroo court. Ultimately, a state judicial panel voted to suspend Kline indefinitely from the practice of law, which is disbarment by another name. Kline already has forfeited his law license by not paying his annual dues. Not content with that outcome, the disciplinary board now has urged formal disbarment by the Kansas Supreme Court; a decision is pending but obviously will not be positive for Kline. Sound familiar?

How do we begin to reform a legal profession and judiciary that are so openly hostile to conservatives and the pro-life cause in particular? Forty years after Roe, it is clear we cannot. These institutions are rotten and cannot be reformed from within. I believe I speak with some authority on the matter.

The only path to genuine reform is for the people to take direct control of these institutions and make judges accountable once again. In Arizona, voters must be given meaningful information so they can make informed decisions about whether to retain judges whose names appear on the ballot. Nationally, federal judges must be stripped of their jurisdiction over select areas of policy where they habitually abuse their powers. Nothing else will work. Be advised these will be very hard fights. The political and cultural left is without moral compass, has many powerful allies, and plays to win.

Our federal and state constitutions already authorize us to take such actions. We must find the courage to do so, so that we may start prevailing in this very difficult but most noble fight.

Jefferson’s Omen

If we fail, we will lose not only on the pro-life front. We will be forced to concede that Jefferson’s omen has proven true. We will have replaced the British crown with black-robed American oligarchs, swapping one unelected tyranny for another. Our democratic experiment will have failed. We cannot let this happen.

For attempting such changes, we will be savaged by the liberal media and legal establishment. We will be scorned and browbeaten in a manner familiar to the first Christians and anyone else throughout history who has advocated significant social reforms. But we must try. We can no longer accept repeated defeats in the culture wars simply because of reluctance to take on the liberal judiciary and their allies. Roe v. Wade was born in the courts, and it is there where it must be slain.

It is time for us to start taking ground again.

During the Second World War, the British put up posters throughout London featuring Prime Minister Winston Churchill flashing his familiar “V for victory” gesture. The slogan on the poster was: Deserve Victory.

We should follow the same standard. That starts with recognizing, in this next election cycle, what true victory requires of us all.

Thank you and God bless you.

OBrewercare Traitors Get Paid for Their Votes

Tonight, those traitorous Republicans in the Arizona state legislature who voted for Medicaid expansion are getting paid for their yes votes on OBrewercare by the hospital-industrial complex. The Governor is hosting a fundraiser for Sens. Steve Pierce, John McComishAdam Driggs, and  Bob Worsley, and Reps. Heather Carter, Kate McGee, Doug Coleman, Jeff Dial, Doris Goodale, Ethan Orr, Frank Pratt, Bob Robson, and T.J. Shope at the home of hospital CEO Reg Ballantyne. This is, quite clearly, a quid pro quo: they’re getting paid off for their yes votes to swell the rolls of Medicaid recipients at the cost of not only sick people (via a bed tax), but the American taxpayer as well (via increased Medicaid payments from the feds to Arizona, then to the hospitals). There is no other way to characterize this as anything but legal corruption.  The Governor, the legislators, consultants Chuck Coughlin and Peter Burns, and the hospital-industiral complex donors should all be going to prison for a very long time for corruption.

To fully illustrate that this is a quid pro quo, harken back to Loren Heal’s article on the subject on FreedomWorks.org‘s website on June 13 of this year. In that article, Heal stated that in August of 2012, a “consortium of the state’s hospitals, insurers, and left-wing groups” hired consultant Chuck Coughlin of High Ground and socialized medicine proponent and leftist Peter Burns to ensure that Medicaid expansion, a part of Obamacare, was passed in Arizona. Coughlin, who is the Governor’s puppeteer, told Brewer to push for expansion. As if Brewer were a ventriloquist’s dummy sitting on Coughlin’s lap, she parroted what Coughlin told her to say in her State of the State address in January 2013: expand Medicaid as Obamacare directs. According to beforeitsnews.com, Rep. Warren Petersen stated that Coughlin held a fundraiser to show legislators that if they voted for expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, the hospital-industrial complex could help raise money to give them immense campaign warchests for their re-election efforts. Well, enough traitorous Republicans took the bait, voted for OBrewercare, and tonight, they’re getting their payoff. While the invite, sent out by Rep. Heather Carter, suggests a $500 donation for each legislator, rumor has it that the hospital-industrial complex donors have to have $6,500 to get in the door ($500 for EACH)! That’s how they plan on rewarding each one of these traitors with at least $100K for their 2014 campaigns.

Follow the money, people. This is corporate cronyism at its worst. Hospitals have used the power of government to take money right out of your pocket to line their own pockets. The perpetrators should be punished severely, but they likely will not be. If the failure to put Obamacare on the ballot is any indication, you are not mad enough at these criminals and they will have the warchests necessary to keep their seats and the low-information masses will re-elect them. Until you get angry enough to change things, expect more of this in the future. Call these legislators. Shame them (granted, they are shameless since their actions are so brazen)…but you’ve GOT to do more than shame them: you’ve GOT to collect signatures for their opponents, DONATE to their opponents, talk to your neighbors about how corrupt these corporate cronies are, and VOTE against them AND get your NEIGHBORS to vote against them too. If you’re NOT THAT angry, you’re not paying attention.

AZ Electric Utility Rates: Regulated Monopoly or Free-Market Competition?

gavel1-300x223In May, 2013, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) opened a docket to gather information on how Arizona might allow competition among electric companies. On September 11, they shut down the docket with a 4-1 vote, citing “legal issues” that were apparently just too much trouble to tackle. Maybe the ACC will tell us more about that later(?).

So until & unless a new docket on the subject is opened, it’s over.  Of course, Arizona residents do still have a choice: either sign up with the one company legally allowed to provide electric service in your area or go without electricity altogether.

APS and SRP are regulated monopolies. The ACC sets the rate of return that they are allowed to earn on their capital investment in generating stations, transmission lines, and so on*. Their day-to-day operating expenses, depreciation expenses, taxes, etc. are fully covered, dollar-for-dollar, by their customers (you and me). That’s the law.

power-transmissionIs that so bad? Yes, it can be. This is the classic problem of regulated monopolies. While their rate of return is firmly capped by ACC, what are the incentives these monopolies have to hold down their capital expenditures on which they earn that guaranteed return? And what are their incentives to minimize expenses such as payroll? Technically, there aren’t any, other than their own good will and the ACC looking over their shoulder.

So can’t the ACC guarantee that the monopolies are run efficiently?  Oh, would that it were!  No, ACC politicians can’t hope to micromanage a monopoly for efficiency.  On the other hand, if there were competition, the utility would have to run itself efficiently or lose customers to a more efficient competitor that could charge lower prices.

Even when the monopolies are run by people of good will and good intentions**, they can easily slip into inefficient behaviors when there is no overriding free-market, profit-motivated, competitive incentive to stay efficient and keep prices down.

Bell_System_1939I’ve been through deregulation before. From 1969 to 1984, I worked at Bell Laboratories, the research arm of the biggest regulated monopoly ever — the old Bell System (“Ma Bell”).  We even had our own tightly coupled manufacturing arm called Western Electric.  The old Bell System was heavily regulated at the federal, state, and (in some states like Texas) local level.

In the old Bell System our advertising proudly claimed that we provided the world’s best telephone service at the world’s lowest prices. And we really did. But the DOJ Antitrust Division broke up AT&T anyway in 1984, opening the long-distance and equipment manufacturing businesses to competition. It was traumatic for us.  It was complicated.  But the job got done, and today’s telecom industry is much more competitive, innovative, entrepreneurial, and a lot cheaper than it would be if we still had one grand national monopoly.

powerlinesWouldn’t it be nice if the same thing happened with electric power in Arizona?  It could — but not until the ACC opens another docket and attacks those “legal issues” anew.

————————————————————

*Correction: As shown on the ACC website, ACC regulates rates for APS, but on SRP, ACC is only involved when SRP wants to build large power plants (100 Megawatts) or very high voltage transmission lines (115 kVolts.)  ACC also regulates Tucson Electric Power (TEP).

** Regarding good intentions:  A look at the SRP and APS websites will show that these utilities are indeed responsible corporate citizens, offering ratepayers tips, a choice of rate plans, rebates, and other assistance to help customers lower their electric bills. Both utilities and their employees are involved in conservation, and I know first-hand of their contributions to public education in Arizona. But business is business, and there’s nothing like the pressure of competition and the incentive of higher profits to drive a company to run the most efficient operation and offer the lowest prices possible.