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.”

Speaker Mesnard Applauds Court Decision Allowing Initiative Compliance Law to Take Effect

Arizona Seal

JD Mesnard

JD Mesnard

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-17) today applauded a decision by the Arizona Superior Court allowing legislation (HB 2244) passed by the Legislature earlier this year to take effect tomorrow.  HB 2244 creates uniformity, provides greater clarity, and ensures integrity in the signature-gathering process for initiatives and referenda by compelling strict compliance with requirements set forth in statute and the Constitution.

“Because the Legislature doesn’t have the ability to address unintended consequences created by initiatives, it’s important that initiative campaigns strictly comply with the law,” said Speaker Mesnard.  “I’m pleased with the Court’s decision and look forward to the implementation of the law.”

The new law goes into effect tomorrow, August 9.

Senator Sylvia Allen Update on Immigration

Sylvia Allen

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free….”
– Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus” as inscribed on the Statue of Liberty

Another 4th of July celebration has just past, and I am reflecting upon the 241 years of American history and how we got to where we are today:  the good and the bad.  I still strongly believe that the American principles are superior to any other form of governing.  However, my thoughts today are centered upon immigration.

Thomas and Jane Tenney were the first of my father’s line to come to America.  In 1638, a small group of Puritans from the village of Rowley, England, left their homeland to come to this raw, new country looking for religious freedom, to govern themselves, and realize self-determination and freedom.

In the 1860’s my mother’s grandparents came from Sweden also looking for religious freedom.

In 1980 my mother, Wanda Peterson Tenney, my sister, Linda Turley Hansen, and myself sponsored a Hmong family from Laos who were refugees from the Vietnam War.   The family consisted of a mom, dad, three little girls, and a grandmother.  They were so frightened when we met them at the airport.  My mother brought them into her home until we could arrange for their own apartment and find work for Shoo Long Vue, the father.

The tiny grandmother (about 4 ft 9 inches tall) would sit on a little stool and listen to Hmong songs on a small tape recorder and cry.  There was a language barrier, but somehow we could communicate.  I found out that she was crying for her husband and other sons who had been killed in the war, and she was crying for her homeland that she would never see again.

Two cute stories:  Soon after their arrival, I took the Dad and the three girls to get groceries.  I will never forget the wonderment on their faces as they looked at all the food.  As we went down the aisle the father would pick up things and look at them.  The little girls were talking a mile a minute. I could tell they didn’t recognize anything that was familiar to them in their eating habaits.   We had gone down three aisles, and he still had not put anything in his cart.  Then, we went around a corner on the soda isle and all four of them excitedly yelled, “COCA-COLA!”  They put two cases in their cart.

Apparently, the Grandmother was in charge of their laundry.  My mother walked into the bathroom in her home and there the grandmother was standing naked in the bathtub stomping on their clothes and singing.  My mother realized she needed to teach them about washing machines.  I happened to come in just as my mother had taken the grandmother into the laundry room for her first lesson.  As we went through the process, the grandmother got so excited she hopped up and down just chattering away.  She kept trying to lift the lid to watch the clothes going through the cycle, but the machine would stop.  So, she got really close and slowly lifted the lid just enough so it wouldn’t stop and so she could peek at the clothes being washed.

Helping this family was a joy to me.  The family eventually moved to California where some of their extended family was located.  For quite a few years, I wrote to the oldest daughter, Pie, who did very well in school and loved her new land.   This experience helped me to realize just how blessed we are.

Illegal Immigration has, in many ways, hardened the hearts of fellow Americans against the whole immigration issue.   We are so pressured with social issues and the vast amount of tax dollars for education, healthcare, and all the other welfare programs that are suffocating our system and has caused us to lose the feeling of mercy for those who do not have the freedoms and standard of living we have.

Border, language, and culture (government/history) make a country.  We have a right to defend and protect our sovereignty.  I believe that it is time for us to fix this problem, and both sides must compromise.

I support President Trump in the ban on visas from terrorist countries, deporting any person who is here illegally who commits crimes, and securing our borders.  These issues seem like a “no brainer” to me.

However, I believe that we can reform the legal process to enter this country.  It has become corrupt, political, hugely expensive and nearly impossible.  If the immigrant has a sponsor, a place to live, and work lined up, then why make it so hard?

Please talk to someone who has gone through the legal process and immigrated the right way.  That person will tell you about the nightmare of paperwork and fees.

America’s greatest resource is her people.  On this July 4th, 2017, we must rededicate ourselves to being that “shining light on a hill” that represents freedom, peace and hope to all the world.


Senator Sylvia Tenney Allen
Legislative District 6

Gov. Doug Ducey: Ex inmates in Arizona’s fire-crew program given a real second chance

‘I felt like a zero. Now I feel like a hero.”

That’s what an Arizona inmate said to me when I traveled to Navajo County in the summer of 2016. My team and I were up north observing the damage caused by the Cedar Fire and meeting the brave firefighters who risked their lives to protect our state’s landscapes.

The man I met was part of a group of inmates enlisted in a fire-crew program operated by the Arizona Department of Corrections. The agency’s program selects current inmates to fight fires throughout Arizona while serving their time in prison.

To me, the program is a way of letting these individuals pay back their communities and, by giving them a chance to be productive members of society, increasing the likelihood that they won’t return to prison after being released. Often, it means a job is waiting when they walk out the doors.

One squad boss who spoke to KOLD News 13 in April said that the program has “been a life-changing experience for me. I know a lot of the guys out here feel the same way.”

I told that story during my State of the State address in January, and I’ve thought about it many times since. Exchanges like this — and the positive outcomes we’ve seen from Arizona’s forward-thinking corrections efforts — are one of the reasons we’re investing more in anti-recidivism programs this year.

The next time a Sawmill Fire rages through Southern Arizona, threatening our neighbors’ homes, property, and livelihood, I want it to be easier for individuals released from prison to stand up and protect their communities.

That’s why the new state budget I signed a few weeks ago is investing $1.5 million to create a post-release fire crew. (The existing program enlists current inmates; the new program enlists released inmates.) We’re giving Arizonans a real second chance to turn their lives around in a meaningful and productive way.

Our anti-recidivism strategy is a win-win for everyone involved, including hardworking Arizona taxpayers. After all, it’s expensive to house inmates — and, according to the data, 39 percent of inmates released from prison will eventually return to prison. That’s a big bill to pay in the long term.

Taxpayers already give enough of their hard-earned money to government. They shouldn’t be expected burden the ever-growing costs of recidivism because of outdated policies.
This new fire crew accomplishes both: It protects taxpayers from long-term prison costs, and it improves public safety. And it’s not the only investment we’re making to make that happen.
Our fiscal year 2018 budget also finances the expansion of “Employment Centers” within Arizona prisons. These centers help inmates do things like build résumés and find jobs before they’re released, giving them tools to lift themselves up and build better lives rather than revert to their old ways.

This is a common-sense investment to reduce the state’s prison population and save taxpayers money.

So far, we have opened three of these successful Employment Centers, including in the Manzanita Unit in Tucson. All three centers are now open and operational, and we’ve already seen 35 individuals receive job offers after participating. (There are nearly 200 inmates currently going through the program.)

Our goal is to give people the tools they need to improve their lives, help them see value in themselves (maybe for the first time in their lives), and offer them a concrete way of paying back their communities.

Whether that means analyzing the effects of outdated occupational licensing processes on individuals with criminal records or enabling released inmates to work as peer coaches to help those struggling with addiction, our state is taking the lead when it comes to getting people back on their feet.

That’s how to give Arizonans a real second chance — and how to save Arizona taxpayers money while doing it.

This guest opinion originally appeared on


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 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 Jenney
Senior Legislative Advisor
Americans for Prosperity-Arizona
PS: To view scorecards from previous years, click HERE.

Bridger Kimball Announces for Arizona’s LD-11 House Seat

Bridger Kimball

Former Maricopa City Councilman Bridger Kimball Announces Bid for the Arizona House of Representatives in LD11

Maricopa, AZ –  Recently, Bridger Kimball filed paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State’s office to officially kick-off his campaign to fill the open house seat of Arizona’s legislative district 11. 

Kimball is a military veteran having served in the United States Marine Corps until his service was cut abruptly by a significant non-combat injury which led to an honorable medical discharge.  

Kimball is also a small business owner where he serves as president of the popular Rangemasters Shooting Range (d.b.a. Caswells Shooting Range).

In 2012, Kimball was elected to the City Council of Maricopa where he learned the value of being a public servant and working with others to make Maricopa a great place to live and raise a family.

“All my life I have wanted to serve whether it was in our nation’s military, community or government,” said Kimball. “Arizona has always been my home where, if elected, I will fight to improve our education system, protect 2nd amendment rights, support small businesses and honor our military veterans.”

Kimball is an Arizona native and was born in Mesa and has been residing in the city of Maricopa since 2003 with his wife Mary and their two amazing children, Keegan, 13, and Liam, 11.

Republicans Pass Budget That Raises Teacher Pay by $1,000 Above Inflation

Republicans Pass Budget That Raises Teacher Pay by $1,000 Above Inflation and Invests Over $300 Million in New K-12 Spending

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-17) and Senate President Steve Yarbrough (R-17) this morning applauded passage of a budget that increases teacher pay by an average of $1,000 and adds over $300 million for K-12 education.

“Republicans in the Legislature and Governor Ducey have worked hard to craft a budget that reflects Arizonans’ top priority: education,” said Speaker Mesnard.  “This budget includes a $1,000 raise beyond inflation for public school teachers, over $300 million in new K-12 spending, a massive investment in university research facilities and infrastructure, and dozens of other provisions that boost education funding.”

“Conservative budgeting over the past few years put extra money in our state coffers,” said President Yarbrough.  “With that, this year we boosted teacher paychecks, provided funding for school repairs and the construction of six new schools, targeted tens of millions of dollars to schools getting results, guaranteed yearly funding for university building projects and provided an additional $30 million to repair our roads.  We also delivered a broad-based tax cut and left the state with a structurally-balanced budget.  I’d say the people of Arizona are better off because of this state budget.”

Highlights of the budget:

·         In addition to inflation and growth increases, directs $68 million over two years for an average $1,000 raise for public school teachers.

·         Appropriates $62.9 million for new school construction projects.

·         Provides $37.6 million for Results-Based Funding for K-12 education.

·         Offsets the impact of Prop. 206 on the developmentally disabled community by directing $45 million to the Department of Economic Security and AHCCCS.

·         Demonstrates a commitment to rural transportation by appropriating $30 million to the Highway User Revenue Fund.

·         Appropriates $27 million to provide debt service to allow universities to construct new facilities through bonding that could exceed $1 billion in value in future years.

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…

House Ed Chair Paul Boyer, Rep. Drew John Endorse Tracy Livingston for Superintendent

Phoenix, AZ – Two more members of the Arizona House of Representatives, House Education Committee Chairman Paul Boyer (R-LD20) and Representative Drew John (R-LD14) today announced their support for Tracy Livingston as the  next Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“As Chairman of the House Education Committee, I am responsible for advancing policies that will strengthen every classroom in Arizona,” said Rep. Boyer. “As a teacher, I am responsible for the best interests of my classroom full of kids. Because I have to approach education from both perspectives, I am very encouraged by what I’ve seen and heard from Tracy Livingston. I’m supporting Tracy for Superintendent of Public Instruction because we need someone who understands the impact education policies have on kids, on teachers, and our classrooms. Tracy will fight to end Common Core and will champion giving parent’s choices and control over their kids’ education.”

Echoing the sentiments of his colleague, Rep. John had this to say: “Improving Arizona’s schools will require more than just good policies. We are going to need dedicated teachers who love their kids and what they do. And what better place to put just such a teacher than into the office of State Superintendent. That’s why I’m endorsing Tracy Livingston and why I hope you will support her.”

While 13 states currently elect their Superintendent, none of those elected in recent years appear to have spent the majority – or even a significant portion – of their careers in the classroom. Unlike them, Tracy Livingston has spent her entire career teaching kids and understands the needs of students, parents and teachers alike.

“The non-traditional student of 20 years ago is now the norm,” Mrs. Livingston noted, “and teachers are having to adapt, but school policy and administration isn’t keeping up. Teachers are facing a greater burden today than ever before, yet the enormous run-up in educational spending over these last few decades hasn’t reached the classroom. As a classroom teacher, I know we can do better – and I know what we need to do to make it happen. It’s time for a teacher to lead.”


Mrs. Livingston is a graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelors in Broadcasting from the Walter Cronkite School, and a Masters of Education. First elected in 2014, Tracy is a member and former President of the Maricopa Community College Governing Board. Before that, she served two years on the Peoria Unified School Board. Tracy has also served as an elected Republican Precinct Committeeman in Legislative District 22 since 2011.

Tracy and her husband, David, have one son, Kyle, who is an EMT in Prescott, Arizona. David Livingston is a member of the Arizona House of Representatives. The family currently lives in Peoria with their two rescue Siberian Huskies, Katie and Spencer.