TJ Shope, Frank Pratt Named 2017 Legislative Champions by League of Arizona Cities and Towns

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Speaker Pro Tempore T.J. Shope (R-8) and Senator Frank Pratt (R-8) last week were named 2017 Legislative Champions by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.

The Legislative Champions award is given to legislators to honor their outstanding public service and dedication to local governance.

“I am honored to be named a 2017 Legislative Champion by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Shope. “Our work together ensures that communities across the state continue to grow into better places to live, work, and play.

“I am thrilled to be honored by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns,” said Senator Pratt. “Their dedication to support city and local leadership at the legislature is an asset to our state.

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns is a membership-based organization comprised of municipalities throughout Arizona and provides a bridge from local cities and towns to the state legislature.

Shope Pratt

TJ Shope & Frank Pratt

Is Illegal Immigration the Fault of President Donald Trump?

by  Sheila K Muehling

Over my lifetime there have always been people entering this country illegally. As a small-town Midwestern kid, I was never affected by anyone coming in and working or living in my hometown. My father was a local contractor and a union member. His men were hired from the union hall and as far as I knew, they were just regular American workers.

Immigrant WorkersOver my lifetime there have always been people entering this country illegally. As a small-town Midwestern kid, I was never affected by anyone coming in and working or living in my hometown. My father was a local contractor and a union member. His men were hired from the union hall and as far as I knew, they were just regular American workers.

As a young adult living in Chicago I still was not affected by illegal immigrants. We had large Polish communities, Hispanic communities, Little Italy, the Chinese community and most of the Southside of Chicago was the Black community. I hired men and women who lived all over the city and unless they did a poor job, they worked and got paid along with everyone else. If they were a payroll employee, they never received cash and they always paid their taxes.

When President Reagan passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986,   my support was with the President.  As a person who ran a business in the construction industry I knew many of my sub-contractors hired workers who were illegal. Because they were not my employees I didn’t worry about it.  Once the law passed I was happy to share the information with anyone who was not legal and help them to complete the paperwork to become citizens. I made a big deal of the new law and to my surprise some of my own employees secretly took advantage of the IRCA. Only after they became citizens and obtained a social security number of their own did I realize how many were illegal and using a false or stolen social security card.

After the law was passed the problem was that many throughout the country did not take the opportunity to become citizens.  Thousands stayed in the shadow from fear of the government but more importantly, many didn’t come forward because they didn’t want to pay taxes.  The fact was most of the sub-contractors I hired used illegals as cheaper labor. Not because they paid them lower hourly pay, but because they didn’t have to match the Medicare and Social Security taxes, and they didn’t have to pay unemployment or union dues. When the law passed many of those companies made the effort to get all of their people to come forward but I remember that many who would work on my jobs suddenly disappeared.

After the IRCA the government promised to fix the border issues but we all know that did not happen. People continued to hire illegal immigrants. Women loved having them clean their houses and keep their yards manicured. Many became nannies and many worked in eldercare. The farmers wanted them to pick the crops, the builders wanted them to clean up job sites and haul materials. My experience was most Americans hired Hispanic workers because they are hardworking and respectful not because they were cheap. I knew people who considered their domestic help part of the family.  But no matter how much Americans loved the illegals they were in the long run still illegal and the problem became bigger and bigger. Sooner or later it had to break.

I am a strong supporter of President Trump and I am proud to be standing with him. However, we have to find a way to fix this problem and calm the country down. Many of the protesters in Charlottesville, Boston and Phoenix were not there because of the Hispanic population they were there because they are of the mind that Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist. I would also guess that better than 50% were there because Hillary Clinton lost. If 10% of those protesters ever spent one minute working with our state social services that try to help children and families, they would understand the problem is not this President. The problem lies with the previous administrations dating all the way back to President Reagan who never did anything to improve and promote the current immigration laws and that includes Barack Obama.

Instead of promoting the likes of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, stand with people like me who are demanding the government address the system of legal immigration now.  Let’s hold Democrats and Republicans alike to their promises during campaigns to reform the system. Let’s be committed enough to vote out the politicians who use excuses for doing nothing.  Americans should stand together on this issue.

Jeff Flake: We Can All Agree We Need Secure Borders

Jeff Flake

Senator Jeff Flake

Senator Jeff Flake recently posted the following opinion piece on Medium.

We can all agree — the President, Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and people all across the country — that we need secure borders. I also agree with the president that having a secure southern border requires physical barriers. The question is: what type of physical barriers are best? And how can technology and surveillance fill the void when physical barriers are not feasible?

I’ve been working on this issue with some of my colleagues for years. The bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013 (which I helped author) provided for 700 miles of fencing, including “double fencing” in some areas. This was in addition to doubling the number of border patrol agents from 20,000 to 40,000 as well as providing a host of other technological and border infrastructure improvements and significant additional resources to prosecute illegal border crossers.

Throughout the campaign, President Trump spoke extensively of “building a wall” along the southern border and his first budget asked for funding for “bricks and mortar” for a wall. I understand what he’s trying to accomplish, but there are there better ways to secure the border than a “brick and mortar” wall.

The closest thing we have had to a “wall” along the southern border were the surplus Vietnam War-era “landing mats” that are turned upward and placed end-to-end through some of the border communities. Because border patrol agents couldn’t see what was happening on the other side of the wall, rocks were often thrown over them, causing injury to agents and damage to border patrol vehicles. Consequently, these walls have largely been replaced with fencing.

It’s important to understand what sort of fencing we are talking about. It’s not a short chainlinked fence or a barb-wired fence you’d see on a ranch. We’re talking about a solid steel structure that often rises 20 feet above the ground but has narrow gaps allowing border patrols agents to see through to the other side.

I was pleased that during his visit to Arizona this week, President Trump traveled to the border community of Yuma, where “landing mat” walls have been replaced with fences, to great effect. I would invite the President to visit other stretches of the border in Arizona where walls have been replaced by fences in border communities. I should note that in some remote, mountainous areas, even border fences aren’t feasible because of the landscape. In these spaces, sensors, camera towers, and drone surveillance can help fill the void.

There are other issues with border walls. For example, the San Pedro watershed near the town of Naco in southern Arizona empties northward across the border into Arizona. A brick and mortar border wall would be either be breached during the monsoon season, or it would flood border communities on the Mexican side of the border. Even the current border fences in that region need storm gates to allow debris to escape northward through the border fence after a good rainstorm.

If the “border wall” is simply a metaphor for increased border security, which includes a mix of fencing, sensors, towers and drone surveillance, I strongly support the President. Arizonans have been working on this issue for years, and the downward trend in illegal border crossings over the past few years has been encouraging (owing both to better border security and an improving economy in countries south of our border).

But an actual brick and mortar border wall is not the most effective or efficient way to secure our border and keep Arizona safe.

Representative Finchem Applauds AZ Supreme Court Decision Overruling Tucson Gun Law

Mark Finchem

Mark Finchem

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Representative Mark Finchem (R-11) today expressed appreciation for the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision that Tucson’s controversial practice of destroying seized firearms is a violation of state law.

Between 2013 and 2016 the Tucson Police Department destroyed 4,820 guns, some of which were turned in by residents and others seized from crime investigations.

“It is a good thing that the City of Tucson will finally be held accountable for their blatant disregard of state law,” said Representative Finchem.  “Each citizen is expected to live by the law – for city officials to think they are exempt from state law is absurd.”

In 2013, Governor Brewer signed into law HB 2455, a bill that prohibits a city or town from destroying a firearm and requires them to sell any unclaimed firearms in their possession. Subsequently in 2016, Governor Ducey signed into law SB 1487, a bill that directs the Attorney General (AG), upon request of a member of the Legislature, to investigate any alleged violations of the Arizona Constitution or state law by a governing body of a county or municipality.

“The objective was never to punish, but to ensure observance of state law,” said Representative Finchem. “When public property is destroyed, taxpayers are ultimately hurt by the lost revenue.  Today is a victory for taxpayers and the rule of law.”

TODAY: Help the Trump Administration Repeal Title II

Earlier this year, new FCC Chairman Avit Pai began the process of rolling back Obama era regulations which put a choke hold on innovation and liberty. In 2015, the Obama Administration, in a textbook example of regulatory overreach, began applying Title II regulations to the internet. These regulations placed exceptionally restrictive burdens on internet and threatened to dramatically decrease high speed access and open competition.

Chairman Pai’s unequivocal support for a free and open internet is worthy of our applause and our support. Moreover, we should be sure to thank our entire Republican delegation in Arizona, for standing up to the Soros-funded left and backing this important regulatory rollback.

Far left groups, many funded by George Soros, have declared today a “Day of Action,” in a final desperate attempt to keep this onerous regulatory regime in place. Several large corporations are joining them, worrying more about their bottom lines than about the freedoms that the internet provides all of us.

We know that our Republican elected officials are going to be getting a tremendous amount of pressure to oppose Chairman Pai’s efforts. Let’s make sure they hear from us today, thanking them for holding the line for fairness and a free internet. You can contact them through UnlockTheNet.com where you will see links from free market groups so that you can contact your representatives.

Congressional action ensures that never again will a free an open internet be threatened by the whims of an overzealous executive. A legislative solution is the best way to keep the forces of over regulation and burdensome rule making from interfering with the commerce and innovation of the internet.

Chairman Pai and the Trump Administration are taking a crucial step in maintaining a free and open internet. Now it’s our turn to seize control and demand that Congress pass legislation that will maintain these freedoms for generations to come.

https://m.facebook.com/FreedomWorks/photos/a.10150681417619548.418729.5633824547/10155363399994548/?type=3&source=44&ref=page_internal

Arizona Teachers Should Pay Off Debt BEFORE Retirement

A recent article in the Arizona Republic written by Alexa Chryssovergis caught my eye given that I now work in the world of public education.

Teachers across Arizona work multiple jobs to make ends meet,” gave several anecdotes of teachers who were struggling to survive just on their compensation. The article continued on the theme that Arizona public school teachers are among the lowest paid in the country. The data absolutely supports that.

One recurrent theme was that many teachers have student loans that they are struggling to pay off as part of their monthly budget.

Although the author provided no data as to the average student loan burden, stories I’ve heard (including during legislative testimony) reveal that teachers are carrying this form of debt that poses serious challenges to making ends meet.

However, what the article did not mention is that every public school teacher is forced to “contribute” 11.48% of their gross earnings into the Arizona State Retirement System. The contribution is mandatory but the rate is adjustable.

The bottom line is that teachers are paying student loan companies AND the State of Arizona retirement system before they even pay themselves.

In the wisdom of financial experts like Dave Ramsey, debt should always be paid off BEFORE putting money into a retirement account. And most student loan is manageable and can be paid down in a reasonable amount of time.

What if public school teachers were allowed to suspend their mandatory contributions to the Arizona State Retirement System in order to redirect that income toward paying down their student loan debt? This would lighten their financial burden, get them in the financial black and put them in a position to start building wealth with “gazelle intensity.”

Next year when the Arizona Legislature convenes, I hope to see several lawmakers sponsor a bill that gives teachers and other participants the option to suspend their mandatory contributions into ASRS so they can reduce or eliminate their student loan debt.

We all know that Arizona public school teachers are under compensated. Forcing them to divide their take-home pay between Sallie Mae and ASRS puts teachers further into a difficult financial position that sucks the joy out of doing their job.

Let’s give teachers a break by holding off mandatory contributions to the state until they dig out of student loan debt.

Americans For Prosperity Releases 2017 Legislative Scorecard

Are your state legislators Champions of the Taxpayer… or Champions of BIG Government?
 
 
The Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity has released its 2017 Legislative Scorecard. Go to www.azscorecard.com to see the results!  
 
AFP-Arizona’s scorecard assigns weights to over 300 bills according to their projected dollar impact to Arizona taxpayers, consumers and producers, with $1 million equaling one point on the scorecard.
 
This year’s legislative session was very positive. Here are some highlights:
 
SB 1522:  Balanced and Responsible Budget — The FY 2017-18 budget protects families and businesses from tax increases by growing state government spending more slowly than the rate of growth of the Arizona economy. The final FY 2018 budget figure was $9.817 billion. Even with $25 million in supplemental increases to the FY 2017 budget, the total was $55 million under a population-plus-inflation increase over last year’s budget.
 
SB 1431:  School Choice Expansion — By expanding eligibility for Arizona’s system of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), this reform will help more Arizona schoolchildren obtain the educational resources they need to succeed. Please use THIS LINK to thank Governor Ducey and your legislators for supporting school choice!
 
SB 1437:  Right to Earn a Living — This reform allows would-be entrepreneurs and job-creators to challenge professional licensing regulations designed to stifle competition and do nothing to protect public health and safety.
 
SB 1152:  Stopping Hidden Tax Hikes — This reform protects families and businesses by requiring local governments to put sales tax increases on the ballot in November of even-numbered years, rather than hiding those measures in low-turnout elections.
 
As it has done in past years, AFP-Arizona also grades legislators and the governor on missed opportunities, important reform bills that are prevented from reaching floor votes in the House or Senate. 
 
Among this year’s missed opportunities was the Senate’s failure to bring the Truth in Spending budget transparency reform to a floor vote, and the House’s failure to bring the Education Spending Transparency Act to a floor vote.
 
The highest-scoring legislator on AFP-Arizona’s 2017 Scorecard was Rep. Travis Grantham of Gilbert, with 94 percent, which earned him the designation of “Hero of the Taxpayer.”  The lowest-scoring legislator on the 2017 Scorecard was Sen. Martin Quezada, with 17 percent, which earned him the designation of “Champion of Big Government.”
 
For Liberty & Prosperity, 
 
Tom
 
Tom Jenney
Senior Legislative Advisor
Americans for Prosperity-Arizona
 
PS: To view scorecards from previous years, click HERE.

Arizona Business Owners React to Hearing in U.S. House Ways and Means Committee

Americans for Affordable Products

Hearing Showcases Border Adjustment Tax Based on Academic Theory, Not Real-World Reality

Scottsdale, AZ – Local business owners throughout Phoenix are sharing their reactions on the U.S. House’s recently-concluded Ways & Means Committee hearing focused on the border adjustment tax.  Anthony Cantelmo, owner of Fifth and Ford Cigars, said “The Border Adjustment Tax will cripple my business here in Scottsdale.  I cannot absorb a 20% increase in costs for the items that I import, which is everything. I’ll have to make some very painful decisions—scale back business, let employees go or close my doors. None of these are desirable. I hope that the committee will reconsider this proposal and think of the small business owners like myself.”

John Arterburn, owner of Ace Hardware in Scottsdale, also had a strong reaction to the hearing, saying “The committee wants tax reform that’s based on fairness and simplicity. The Border Adjustment Tax provides neither. Everyone will be touched one way or another by the price hikes it will impose.”

Jim Mapstead, owner of Accurate Signs and Engraving, released the following statement, saying “Retail accounts for 20 percent of the jobs in the U.S. That’s a big chunk of the economy to hit with a 20 percent price hike on the cost of doing business.  There must be a better way and hopefully the Ways and Means Committee is looking at alternatives.”

Americans for Affordable Products is a coalition of job creators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and consumers united against higher prices on everyday necessities. To learn more, please visit:

www.KeepAmericaAffordable.com.

Additional Information:

Martha McSally Making A Difference to Fix Failed Healthcare

By Southern Arizona Sam

Martha McSallyThe so-called “Affordable Care Act,” better known as Obamacare, has been a disaster any way you look at it.

First, it promised to bring down the cost of healthcare for middle class Americans. Wrong: premiums and other out of pocket costs continue to sore.

Second, President Obama promised people that if they liked their healthcare or their doctors, they could keep them. As we all know that has proven to be false as well.

As with most complicated federal programs, Obamacare created more red tape, more bureaucracy, created higher costs, and created shrinking healthcare options. With less competition, costs seem poised to sky rocket even further.

The political facts demonstrate that the American people, and certainly Arizonans, are opposed to Obamacare. First, in 2010, Republicans took the majority of the House in one of the largest electoral shifts in American history. Then in 2014, they reclaimed the Senate. Both did so on a platform of fixing, repealing, or replacing Obamacare.

With just weeks to go before the 2016 Presidential election, in states like Arizona, many people received notice that they were going to lose their healthcare in 2017. The plan simply didn’t work for many insurance companies and doctors. Obamacare promised coverage and yet many Arizonan’s were two months away from losing coverage.

The new Republican healthcare alternative has had its detractors but here are the facts about the bill.

  1. It will create more competition in the marketplace. This will give consumers more options and lower costs.
  2. It will allow people with pre-existing conditions to have healthcare.
  3. It will provide a stable transition so that people can keep coverage as they move to the new plan.

In Arizona, we should applaud Congresswoman Martha McSally, Congressmen Trent Franks, Paul Gosar, and David Schweikert for supporting this bill. It is a promise kept to voters and shows a real recognition that the current healthcare system is unsustainable and unworthy of the greatest nation in the world.

Congresswoman McSally should garner special mention for her leadership. She is getting criticized for her vote but she is doing what she promised the voters she would do. She also fought for the interests of ALL Americans by adding an amendment to eliminate healthcare exemptions for members of Congress. 

We should be very proud of our Congresswoman McSally and those Republicans who stood up for lower health care costs for all Arizonans. We applaud her service to her constituents.

Defending the Indefensible

By Debi Vandenboom

I have spent the last fifteen plus years fighting for the cause of life. I have read books and articles from every side of the debate. I’ve watched interviews, documentaries, exposes and undercover investigations. I have spoken with, counseled, and come alongside girls who were pregnant and scared, young mothers trying to find their way, as well as women who deeply regretted their decision to abort. I have spent many hours sitting in legislative proceedings supporting pro-life legislation. And I have diligently prayed for hearts and minds to change.

In all of those years of experience, one of the things which never ceases to amaze me is the depths to which abortion advocates will go to defend the indefensible. They have developed a science out of using carefully crafted talking points, data manipulation and outright lies to defend “women’s health”, aka abortion. I have heard it so often that I can spot the spin within seconds of hearing or reading someone’s words. Abortion advocates fight for the “right” of a woman (or young girl at literally ANY child bearing age) to have access to abortion without notifying her parents if she’s a minor, without informed consent of the procedure or its risks, without meeting the doctor ahead of time, for any reason, at any stage of gestation, using the grisliest procedures, and preferably paid for with taxpayer dollars. If you dare to try to place even the tiniest, most reasonable restriction on abortion, then you clearly must be anti-woman and hate the poor. No exaggeration. I’ve heard it. I’ve seen it. It’s ugly.

But, it doesn’t end there. In order to defend the indefensible, abortion advocates must also take horrific stands on issues that don’t directly relate to women’s access to abortion. One of these is the issue of fetal homicide. This really came to light back in 2003 when Laci Peterson and her unborn son were murdered in California. There was much discussion about whether baby Conner had or had not been born prior to his demise. My question is, why should it matter? Laci Peterson was 8 months pregnant. Whether the baby died in utero, or post birth, he still died. And, his death was clearly, directly connected to his mother’s murder. However, pro-abortion groups like NARAL and NOW advocated to keep Scott Peterson from being charged with two murders. Despite the fact that pro-abortion organizations claim to support the choice of women who carry “wanted” babies, that support only goes so far. They could not risk having such a high profile case bring to light that an unborn baby is in fact alive and can in fact be murdered.

This happens in case after case. Tragically, murder is one of the top causes, sometimes listed as the number one cause, of death for pregnant women. According to WebMd, murder accounts for 20% of the deaths of pregnant women, as compared to 6% of the deaths of nonpregnant women. You might think that pro-abortion groups full of self-proclaimed feminists who supposedly champion women’s rights, would speak out against such atrocities. You would be wrong. If a baby in utero can legally be recognized as a fully alive human being capable of being murdered, it casts a giant shadow on the entire issue of abortion. Therefore, abortion groups are more interested in protecting abortion, and their own profit margin, than they are in actually protecting and advocating for women.

Another area where abortion advocates justify especially reprehensible acts concerns babies who “accidentally” survive an abortion attempt. It happens more often than you might think. When a child survives an abortion procedure at a clinic, he or she may simply be discarded in a bin or left to die on a metal table with no medical attention whatsoever. In Arizona, it has been the law since 1975 for babies who were born alive to receive care, and it has been federal law since the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act” of 2002. Yet we continue to hear about babies being left to die with no care at all. For example, recently in Arizona, a baby girl was born alive after an unsuccessful abortion at 22 weeks, and was left to die alone on a steel table with no medical care or assistance. She suffered alone for nearly an hour and a half before finally passing. This is heartbreaking. It only takes a simple Google search to see that this is not an isolated incident. You can find stories across the country of babies surviving abortion.

One would think that signs of life such as a heartbeat, gasps of breath, or umbilical cord pulsation would be enough to cause someone with medical training to jump into action without being forced to do so. Unfortunately it is not. So, at the federal level, legislation was introduced this session which would strengthen protection for abortion survivors. In Arizona, Governor Ducey just signed SB1367 into law which further clarifies the state’s existing born alive law. During and after this bill’s passage, the pro-abortion nonsense abounded in the newspaper, on social media, and in legislative hearings. Among the most incredulous things I personally heard was that it was “inhumane” to provide “intrusive” medical care to a baby who would not survive anyway. Inhumane? As opposed to treating a living baby like discarded medical waste? A baby may be considered too young to survive at a certain gestational age, until one defeats the odds and does survive. I’ve personally met 2 young women who were so tiny and premature at birth that their parents were given no hope of survival. They are now 20 and 21 years old. Life has a tendency to defy all odds. And even if that baby truly cannot survive, she still deserves to be treated as a human being and at least given basic care, rather than being left untreated in a steel medical bin. But, here lies the problem for Planned Parenthood and other radical abortion advocates. Once an abortion has failed and you are dealing with a living breathing infant, then abortion should no longer be relevant. Born alive laws have absolutely nothing to do with abortion access. However, if a baby at 20 weeks, or 22 weeks, is a human being in need of medical care, then what is an in utero fetus at 20 weeks or 22 weeks? In almost every state, including Arizona, abortion is legal up to 24 weeks, and in some states even further. A living breathing abortion survivor throws a giant monkey wrench in to the “clump of cells” sales pitch. So again, in order to protect abortion and to protect their bottom line, abortion advocates will defend the truly indefensible. Abortion, at it’s most fundamental level is inexcusable and horrific. We have literally made an industry out of destroying life at its most vulnerable stages. So, abortion advocates must attempt to justify abortion at its most extreme levels, such as fighting fetal homicide rulings or born alive protections, in order to be able to justify it at all. If they don’t, the whole house of cards will come tumbling down around them. That is why it is important to shine a light on some of the most horrific aspects of the abortion argument. We can’t be squeamish. We must continue to shine light into this darkness, until the last card falls.