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.

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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.

New Survey: More Than 60% of Voters Oppose Proposed Border Adjustment Tax

Americans for Affordable Products

Arizona Businesses and Consumers Urge Arizona Delegation to Oppose Tax on Imports

Phoenix, AZ – Americans want tax reform but are deeply opposed to a proposed Border Adjustment Tax (BAT), according to a new national survey released today by Americans for Affordable Products.  A strong majority (63%) of voters oppose the border adjustment tax, including 46% of voters who strongly oppose this proposed tax.  Key constituencies showed particularly strong opposition to the proposal including women (70%) and senior citizens (63%). The Tarrance Group fielded the survey of 800 likely voters from April 2-5, just ahead of the congressional spring recess.

“This is a wake-up call for congress to follow the lead of our two great Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake and oppose the BAT,” said Michelle Ahlmer of the Arizona Retailers Association.  “Americans want our broken tax code fixed, but they are deeply opposed to paying more for everyday necessities just so several large multinational corporations can operate tax free and boost their already deep profits.  As the rest of our delegation returns home for spring recess, they can expect to hear wide opposition to the border tax from Arizona businesses and consumers.”

The survey finds that opposition to the BAT’s 20% tax on goods and products imported in the U.S. sharply increases when voters learned of the potential economic impact it could have on them.  More than 70% are less likely to support the BAT when they learn it could increase costs for food and clothing by $1700, gas by as much as $.50 per gallon, and car payments by $100 per month.  76% are less likely to support the BAT when learning of the increased price in medicine and prescription drugs.  The costs of the BAT to businesses would lead to job losses and unemployment across multiple business sectors.  73% of voters are less likely to support it when they learn that it could increase the unemployment rate.

The reality is setting in for many that the controversial Border Adjustment Tax is a “poison pill” to enacting the pro-growth, comprehensive tax reform that President Donald Trump is calling for, and American consumers and job creators badly need. Opposition to the Border Adjustment Tax is widespread among Senate and House lawmakers, and more importantly among voters.  Fortunately, both Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have expressed their concerns over the BAT.

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) recently said the following on the BAT: “Cheaper inputs mean lower production costs for U.S.-based businesses, which in turn allows those companies to expand production and to reduce prices. What will happen if we placed a 20 percent tax on all imports?”  He went to say of tax reform, “We ought to make sure that the middle class isn’t in the losing column.”

To view a summation of the survey data, click here.

To obtain a full list of the AAP coalition, click here.

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.

BOOM! Arizona lawmakers pass broad ESA expansion

by Matthew Ladner

Arizona lawmakers passed legislation tonight that will phase in near universal eligibility for ESA program. This will start with public school students in kindergarten and 1st grade, 6th grade and 9th grade in 2017-18, and then add grades from the on ramps (K,1,2 and 6,7 and 9-10 in year 2 and the next year K,1,2,3 and 6,7,8,9,10,11). The bill will also increase academic transparency and improve administration of the program.

Governor Doug Ducey’s stalwart support of expanding options proved crucial to this victory. Huge kudos to the bill sponsor Senator Lesko and Rep. Allen as well as the members who took a tough vote in the face of determined opposition. Groups including the American Federation for Children, Americans for Prosperity Arizona, the Arizona Catholic Conference, the Arizona Chamber, the Center for Arizona Policy, Ed Choice, Excel in Ed and the Goldwater Institute all made vital contributions. Senator Worsley also deserves recognition as someone who played the role of honest broker in crafting a compromise that a winning coalition in each chamber supported. We’d all like to live in a world where there was no need to compromise, but that world is not the one we find ourselves in.

The Census Bureau recently announced that Maricopa County (Phoenix metro) as the fastest growing county in the nation-nudging out the Houston area. Enrollment growth is firing up again and the expanded ESA will give parents a broadening array of private educational choices to consider in what is already a robust public choice market. ESAs are an unfolding experiment in liberty, and future legislatures will debate further refinements and improvements, but this is the first big private choice victory of 2017, so…

Trent Franks, Other Arizona Conservatives Need to Keep Healthcare Promises

By Sam Stone

The Trump Administration may be less than two months old, but for conservatives, it may already be D-Day in Washington.

In less than 48 hours, the House of Representatives is set to vote on the curiously named “American Health Care Act” – the current GOP effort being pushed by Speaker Paul Ryan as a repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

This bill is the wrong idea at the wrong time and it does not deserve a “yes” vote. Right now, the count says that it’s too close to call. So every member of Congress counts.

Here’s our question: Will Trent keep his promise to repeal and replace Obamacare in a responsible way?

Let’s step back.

Trent Franks is no rookie when it comes to opposing Obamacare. Look at his record here. Lots of detail and votes against what he consistently calls: “Health care proposals that wrested control of the American health care industry from the hands of private organizations and turn it over to the federal government.”

Right when this year’s Congress began, Franks and Congressman Andy Biggs introduced the Protection from Obamacare Mandates and Congressional Equity Act.

Franks said it contained three bedrock principles:

  • First, it gives every American more coverage options.
  • Second, it would allow Americans to purchase their coverage across state lines, opening up more opportunities for competition that will, in turn, help to lower costs for consumers.
  • Third, our alternative protects the patient-doctor relationship.

Just a month ago, Rep. Franks said: “My concern is [a repeal-replace bill] will give some lackadaisical senator a reason to vote against it. My concern is the entire repeal is in mortal danger … There may be some people who will get weak-kneed.”

These are valid concerns, but they sound like reasons not to vote for the current plan, which has all sorts of problems.

The reliable conservative policy think tank Heritage Action makes the fundamental case that the AHCA falls short:

“Many Americans seeking health insurance on the individual market will notice no significant difference between the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) and the American Health Care Act.  That is bad politics and, more importantly, bad policy.

“Rather than accept the flawed premises of Obamacare, congressional Republicans should fully repeal the failed law and begin a genuine effort to deliver on longstanding campaign promises that create a free market health care system that empowers patients and doctors.”

Congressman Franks is a solid conservative leader. Currently, he is listed as “leaning no.” That’s why this is the ideal time to give him the support, encouragement and, well, cautionary warning he may need to stay true to his principles and his promises by not resting until Obamacare is gone – and in its place a true, principled alternative – instead of Obamacare-lite.

House Democrats Oppose Effort to Prohibit Public Money from Going to Political Parties

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The House of Representatives today failed to pass HB 2403, legislation sponsored by Representative Coleman which would prohibit Clean Elections candidates from contributing public funds to political parties.

Doug Coleman

Rep Doug Coleman

While a majority of House members supported HB 2403, it failed to achieve support from three-fourths of the body, which is required to amend statutes created through the initiative process.  Republicans overwhelmingly supported the measure, but Democrats opposed it.

“Clean Elections candidates are supposed to use public money to run for office, not to line the coffers of their political party,” said Representative Coleman.  “This is an abusive manipulation of the Clean Elections system and violates the trust of Arizona voters, yet Democrats would apparently rather protect the interests of their political party than taxpayers.”