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

‘School Choice Matters’ Ad Indicates Education To Be Top Issue In 2018

If you’re a Sunday Square Off viewer, you probably saw this political “thank you” ad air several times during the show. There was no “paid for” disclaimer but the ad was produced by the American Federation for Children.

The ad is airing to support and thank Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Legislature for passing and signing Senator Debbie Lesko’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) legislation. The law now expands school choice (although capped) throughout Arizona.

During final debate, opponents (primarily the Arizona Education Association) whipped up cataclysmic hysteria over the bill. Casual observers would have thought Arizona public education was about to be nuked into oblivion.

School choice advocates were probably caught off guard by the rapid rabid response.

Thus, the American Federation for Children realizing the need to recover the narrative and refocus the debate on children and parental choice, injected itself into the debate.

Anyone watching the warmup for Arizona’s 2018 election cycle can see that next year’s top political issue will be education.

And at the center of that debate, stand Arizona teachers.

Get ready. Every political candidate will position himself/herself as an advocate and “friend of teachers.”

The data proves that Arizona teachers deserve to paid more and if that means unclogging the pipes and removing the administrative clogs to get more money into the classroom, then so be it.

As the Arizona Legislature wraps up the budget and 2017 session, Governor Ducey and lawmakers are poised at an advantage in controlling the message heading into 2018. How they address direct delivery of tax dollars into the classroom, handing out teacher raises and elevating respect for the teaching profession will establish the battlefield for next year’s election.

Republicans have the opportunity to own and make 2018 the “Year of the Teacher.” If they seize the day, Arizona taxpayers, parents, teachers and children will win.

 

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…

Bob Stump: Why is Airbnb funding a group attacking Arizona Republicans?

All you Airbnb fans take heed! The company has decided to inject itself into Arizona politics by funneling dark money against Republicans. In this letter, former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump hits back with an email to Arizona legislators.

Bob StumpDear Honorable Member:

It is rare for me to contact you as a private citizen and former colleague. I believe this issue is important enough to merit it.

An extremist far-left organization, Checks and Balances, is active again in Arizona. Yet again, it is attacking elected Republicans.

I fully expect Republican members of the House and Senate to be next.

Airbnb, which has enjoyed a friendly regulatory environment in Arizona thanks to you, is funding Checks and Balances. According to Penn State’s Daily Collegian, “Airbnb representative Nick Papas said Airbnb supports the work CBP does.”

What exactly is this “work”? Smearing, suing or harassing Arizona Republican officeholders such as Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, members of the Arizona Corporation Commission — including four Commission chairs — and yours truly.

Consider the “work” of the group Airbnb supports financially:

In an act of pure malice, Checks and Balances published my mother’s private mobile number on the Internet.

At a cost of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars and staff time, and with the help of Democratic activist Dan Barr, Checks and Balances sued the Arizona Corporation Commission in an attempt to break the chain of custody of my phone and publish private text messages to my family and friends. Despite Checks and Balances’ conspiratorial fantasies, I was vindicated in court: Two judges determined that nothing retrieved from my phone met the definition of a public document.

Undeterred by losing in court every single time, Checks and Balances has taken to the pages of the Arizona Capitol Times to attack Arizona Corporation Commission Chair Tom Forese and Commission legal counsel Tim LaSota, who defended me in court.

Until recently, SolarCity, the nation’s largest solar rooftop leasing company, sponsored Checks and Balances. SolarCity’s aim was to attack and sue sitting regulators nationwide, in an attempt to alter regulatory outcomes and thereby enhance SolarCity’s bottom line.

SolarCity was shamed into withdrawing their support for Checks and Balances.

It is past time for Airbnb to follow SolarCity’s lead and cease funding a mercenary band of character assassins which exists to intimidate citizens at the behest of its corporate sponsors.

Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, ignored my letter to him, written when I was a sitting member of the Arizona Corporation Commission. Perhaps he will be more responsive to you.

I would suggest you contact Mr. Chesky and his lobbying team and ask why Airbnb is funding an unsavory group that sues and smears Arizona Republicans.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. And thank you for your service to our great state.

Sincerely yours,

Bob Stump

Former member and Health Committee Chair, Arizona House of Representatives (2002-2008)
Former Commissioner and Commission Chair, Arizona Corporation Commission (2008-2017)

Guest Opinion: Single Shot Syms

By Cactus Cantina Chats

With ten more days remaining until the August 30th primary election let’s focus on Legislative District 28 (LD 28).  Republican primary voters have a real chance to nominate a successful, well-educated female candidate to serve on their behalf in one of two legislative House seats for the next two years.  Maria Syms is the only candidate running in LD28 with the potential to win in November and serve honorably for the State of Arizona.  Please use your two votes to push her through the Republican primary.

Let’s take a look at Syms’ competition for the two House seats, and then evaluate Syms’ impressive background:

Ken Bowers, Jr. is the final candidate running for the Arizona House. It is quite difficult to know too much about who he is and where he stands on the issues because he has also decided to ignore candidate surveys issues by different associations and groups representing causes or industries throughout Arizona. He seems to only care about reforming Arizona’s correctional system and hasn’t given much thought to the broader issues facing Arizona’s future.

Alberto Gutier, III is an active PC in LD28.  Unfortunately, he has not taken the time to fill out any candidate surveys or set up a website sharing his viewpoints on the issues. Nice guys typically don’t finish first in a competitive legislative race.

Mary Hamway is an uber liberal Republican In Name Only (RINO) candidate who is a retread from the 2014 election cycle. Hamway has spent so much time as a Paradise Valley town councilmember raising taxes and cutting funding for cops that she single-handedly jeopardizes a prosperous future for Arizona.  Since Mary lacks the spine to vote publicly she and several of her other Big Government crony councilmembers rely on closed door executive sessions so they don’t have to truly make a public statement of town council matters.  Hamway talks out of both sides of her mouth if you can bear to listen to her speak.  Hamway has been an arduous proponent of Medicaid expansion and common core over the past several years.  Hamway self-funded her 2014 loser campaign to the tune of nearly $100,000. After she lost to Bolick, she had her husband make a $500 campaign contribution to liberal pro-choice Democrat Eric Meyer. It is not surprising Hamway has been endorsed by the former Mayor of Paradise Valley, Scott Le Marr, who once served on the Planned Parenthood board.

Matt Morales is a moderate Republican precinct committeeman (PC) in LD28 who has been a registered lobbyist on behalf of the vaping and gaming industries.  Need we highlight any more of his resume to illustrate that he is not a conservative choice.  Morales likes to tell his fellow Republican voters how he encouraged Kate McGee in 2010 to use her maiden name “Brophy” to get elected to the Arizona House of Representatives.  In 2014, Morales boasted of being Adam Driggs’ campaign manager.  At the same time Morales worked on an Independent Expenditure (IE) to benefit only McGee and Driggs in the general election.  Considering there was one additional Republican on the ballot for the other House seat this speaks volumes to Morales’ lack of character in electing Republicans to two House seats. One last point: it is laughable that Morales’ campaign signs say “conservative” and “personal freedom.”  He answered the Arizona Voter Guide’s survey which is sponsored by Center for Arizona Policy as supportive of a living Constitution.

Maria Syms

Maria Syms

Fortunately, LD28 has Maria Syms as their only conservative choice!  She has taken the time to thoughtfully share her views on the issues in support or opposition against many policy issues facing Arizona.  Syms has served honorably on her short time on the Paradise Valley Town Council.  There aren’t many city elected officials who don’t vote in lockstep to vote for a tax increase, but Syms is one who has encouraged thoughtful conversation while holding the line on tax increases. If she wasn’t running for the Legislature she would be a perfect addition to Arizona’s Justice system.  Her past job titles include: Assistant U.S. Attorney, Senior Adviser to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich plus she is a Mom of three children spanning the school choice spectrum so she fully grasps education and opportunity for all!

When you vote by early ballot, or vote in person on August 30th please only vote for Syms! She is the real deal and the only choice to represent LD28 honorably.

Arizona House Speaker Gowan Tries to Hide From Arizona’s Open Records Law

Defend Rural Arizona
Two and a half months after a request was issued to the Arizona House, a request for records relating to Speaker Gowan’s travel remains unfulfilled
Earlier this year, embattled House Speaker David Gowan had to pay back $12,000 in expenditures after audits found he had requested mileage reimbursements for travel unrelated to state business, had claimed mileage while using a state vehicle, or had been granted a per diem for days when he was not doing state work.  Subsequent press investigations found that a substantial amount of his allegedly “official” travel was taken to areas within Congressional District 1, and questions remain as to the extent of his attempts to use state resources to subsidize campaign travel.For this reason Defend Rural Arizona issued a request for the Speaker’s travel records on March 24.  DRA still has not received any files from the speaker or his office.  The only communication we have received is confirmation from May 5 that our request had been received and would be processed.

Under the Arizona Public Records law, A.R.S. § 39-121.01(D)(1), “The custodian of such records shall promptly furnish such copies, printouts or photographs.”  Failing to furnish requested information for more than two months does not seem to fit with the definition of “prompt” disclosure.

“This is a classic example of a career politician who thinks he’s above the law.  It should come as no surprise that he is under investigation,” said James Harris of Defend Rural Arizona.  “We believe the people of Arizona have a right to know if Speaker Gowan is improperly using his office to further his political career, and we encourage Speaker Gowan to stop dragging his feet and release these records.”

A copy of the original records request can be viewed here, while a copy of the response received from the House Republican Caucus Press Secretary can be viewed here.

Andy Biggs’ Special Fire District Still Burned In My Memory

By East Valley Evan

They say an elephant never forgets. This Republican certainly doesn’t but sometimes it takes an incident to help recall.

The massive fire in Gilbert recently stoked my memory about one of our local politicians who tried to take advantage of a serious public safety threat.

Andy BiggsBack in 2005, Rural Metro notified the Town of Gilbert that they were ceasing operations in Gilbert because it was becoming too expensive to service the town due to the numerous county islands. That provoked a political fight between Gilbert and the county islanders.

In early 2006, county islander and State Representative Andy Biggs jumped feet first into the fight by sponsoring legislation allowing his fellow islanders to form a special fire district that would also pay back the Town of Gilbert for use of their municipal fire service. There was only one problem. The town of Gilbert was not going to recover the full cost of providing that service – an additional $5 million! Gilbert taxpayers like me would have had to pay the difference and subsidize all the folks in the county islands who were receiving Town of Gilbert services.

To add insult to injury, we would have had to pay the start up costs for a year and a half for Biggs’ special district before we even saw any reimbursement for our up front costs.

The Town of Gilbert decided to sue based on the grounds that Biggs’ law was specially catered for his county islanders.

After Gilbert filed the suit, Andy Biggs snuck in another special amendment that would force Gilbert residents to pay the legal fees in lawsuits against the formation of his special fire district. It was written specifically to apply to the Town of Gilbert.

In the first round of legal battles, a judge saw through the special legislation and shot down Biggs’ special law. Unfortunately that the same judge made us pay for the legal costs in stopping Biggs’ unconstitutional law. It ended up costing us over $292 thousand.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, under Don Stapley’s lead, filed an appeal against the lower court’s decision but that case also ended up losing in court. In it’s decision, the Arizona Court of Appeals stated that Andy Biggs’ law failed to be written in a constitutional manner.

This battle over Biggs’ expensive unconstitutional fire district became so heated that it spilled over as an issue in the 2006 elections. Biggs was challenged by a Gilbert resident but ended up winning reelection because most voters thought the issue was settled and other issues dominated. But not this voter.

Fast forward to 2016 and Andy Biggs is now running for Congress in my district. Ten years may have passed and the memories of some voters may have faded but I won’t be voting for Andy Biggs. He’s proven himself time and time again to be the ultimate career politician who’s only interested in one thing – what’s best for Andy Biggs.

It might seem like an eternity in politics but this Gilbert Republican won’t easily forget what’s been seared into memory of how another politician divided a community to serve his own personal interests.

Rep JD Mesnard on Arizona Flex Loans

(Reposted from azcentral.com: http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2016/04/18/my-turn-providing-alternative-arizonans-payday-loans/83028610/)

My Turn: Providing an alternative to Arizonans on payday loans

Last month, the Arizona House of Representatives passed a consumer finance bill that contained little-noticed provisions inserted by my colleagues that abolish the toxic lingering effects of payday loans once and for all in Arizona.

It was a wise move, as Arizona is the only state where certain loopholes are used due to the lack of other legal lending options available in the state, such as installment loans.

The consumer finance legislation in question, which carries these critical provisions, is the Arizona Flexible Credit Act.

This act will establish a realistic pathway to serve those lacking access to viable, legal and safe credit options for the first time in Arizona, and will further help consumers rebuild their credit scores and profiles.

It permits loans from $500 to $2,500, which must be paid in equal monthly payments over a term of up to 24 months.

Research in other states shows that the overwhelming majority of these types of installment loans are paid off in approximately six months. The maximum monthly interest rate is comparable to existing title loans at 15-17 percent; however, much like existing title lending in Arizona, the heated marketplace between lenders will drive down rates.

For Arizona’s working middle class, there is an unmet need for these types of loans, which are not offered by traditional banks and credit unions.

Furthermore, this proposal carries the most robust set of consumer protections anywhere in the nation. The protections include:

  • A free repayment plan option for at least three months if a customer becomes delinquent in his or her payment schedule
  • A database that will track all lending activity and require authorities to immediately investigate any violations of the statute
  • No hidden or additional fees
  • A 10-year legislative review and 20-year sunset (elimination)

Under the proposal, qualified entities can apply for licenses to offer flexible credit loans if they meet certain criteria of solvency and legitimacy as determined and overseen by the state Department of Financial Institutions , as it should be.

The public policy is sound. My colleagues in the Arizona House did tremendous work, quietly in some cases, inserting major amendments to this legislation last month on the House Floor with little fanfare.

The bill, SB 1316, faces a vote in the Senate in the coming days, and I am hopeful that the governor signs it quickly. Arizonans can win with this long-overdue legislation.

Is Senator Kimberly Yee Feeling the Bern?

Is this GOP State Senator Feeling the Bern?

Source: American Action News

http://americanactionnews.com/articles/is-this-gop-state-senator-feeling-the-bern

An Arizona State Senator is pursuing a strange, populist course of action that puts her in camp with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren- the sort of interest rate voodoo that helped create the financial crisis:

Arizona State Senator Kimberly Yee is not making any new friends among the free-market Republican crowd in Arizona. In a recent Senate hearing, Yee, who has been touted as a rising star in the party, held her fire after a long debate until the voting opened on a financial services bill in her committee. She then unloaded with full ammunition on the financial services industry and their free market principles.

“This bill just doesn’t feel right,” Yee proclaimed. “I am standing with the poor,” while attacking the well-funded groups who were supportive and their consultant class.

Yee went on to explain she has a “strong moral compass” and wants to protect people – that she would possibly consider a bill capping interest rates on loans in Arizona, a position which is specifically prohibited under federal law by Dodd-Frank.  By promoting rate caps, Yew veers left of the Obama Administration.

The issue at hand in last month’s Senate Commerce committee hearing was a proposed consumer lending bill known as Flexible Credit Loans, which would create a new credit product for up to $2500 over the course of a two-year loan term. Yee emphatically stated she could not back the measure before teeing off on its supporters with a blistering rhetoric.

The bill (and ones like it across the country), however, is supported by a broad base from left of center to the far right.  In Arizona, leading free market groups, the Arizona Free Enterprise Club and the Goldwater Institute have spoken out in favor of the legislation.

One conservative Republican interviewed on the subject off the record stated that they were quite surprised at Yee’s comments and mini tirade.  “She sounded more like Bernie Sanders than an Arizona Republican.  I’m not quite sure where all of that came from.”

# # #

The Time To Rescue Sexually Abused Children Is Now!

By Paul Boyer

Thousands of children in Arizona are waiting to be rescued and it will not happen for most of them unless we act.

In Arizona, we know of 15,000 IP addresses (the Internet Protocol labels assigned to each computer device) belonging to people who are trading and downloading child pornography. A significant number of these videos and images consist of infants and young children being raped, tortured, and sexually abused. Some of them even include “how to” instructions on how a grown man can rape a three-year-old and groom him or her for years of abuse.

Statistically, 50 to 70 percent of those who download and trade child pornography are considered “hands on” offenders who are actively molesting and abusing children.  Meanwhile, 60-65 percent of the images intercepted in Arizona are of prepubescent children, while infants make up nine percent of victims.  Because of these very young ages, most victims cannot or do not report the abuse.

As the House Education Chairman, I care deeply about good education policy. But for the children who cannot sleep at night for fear of sexual abuse by child predators, no education policy, however well designed will help them. They desperately need law enforcement to rescue them from their abuser.

I have just introduced legislation that would enable the state to equip, train and hire 10 to 15 full-time investigators and forensic examiners for the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force. House Bill 2517 has 79 co-sponsors and uses $5 million of state lottery money – $4.5 million to equip, train and hire full time investigators and forensic examiners, and $500,000 to help victims.

Every state that has passed similar legislation was experiencing budget struggles, and Arizona is no different.

Last year, we appropriated an additional $60 Million to create the new Department of Child Safety making it an $834 million funded agency after realizing there were 6,600 uninvestigated cases of children in harm’s way. With nearly three times the amount of uninvestigated cases of children being raped, tortured and sexually abused, how can we not act now?

National studies show the average offender has between 14 – 23 victims before law enforcement catches them, which is why ICAC investigations are so critical. While Arizona has tough sentencing laws for those who prey on children, there are currently only four full time investigators in the state to proactively look into this depravity, and just a handful of part-time investigators from various agencies.

Right now, those investigators are focusing on triaging leads to locate “hands on” predators. With hundreds of new leads of child pornography coming in every month, they cannot keep up with current leads. This means less than two percent of known child exploitation cases are being investigated. We need to act and we need to act now.

Let the 52nd Legislature be known as the one that acted swiftly to rescue kids when it was in our power to do so.

Republican state Rep. Paul Boyer represents Legislative District 20 in Phoenix and Glendale.