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

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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.

Democrat Randall Friese ‘Sour’ Over TANF Sponsorship

JD Mesnard

House Speaker JD Mesnard

There’s a short news item on AZCentral by Mary Jo Pitzl this morning reporting a “sour note” in the harmony sought by Arizona House Speaker, JD Mesnard.

Apparently, State Representative Dr. Randy Friese (D-9) wanted to sponsor the bill restoring funding to TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) but was beat to the hopper by Republican State Representative Jeff Weninger.

Friese called the move an example of “hyper partisanship.”

Jeff Weninger

Rep Jeff Weninger

During his State of the State address on Monday, Republican Governor Doug Ducey announced a round of legislative and budget initiatives including the restoration of TANF funding. Weninger, who represents Chandler, is spearheading the bill.

Dr. Friese and his Democrat colleagues made it obvious that they don’t approve of Republicans stealing their brand of helping the most needy because it takes away an issue they’ve used to craft political dependency. It pains them to lose credit on the issue and by alleging the move as an act of “hyper partisanship,” Friese hurts his credibility should he sign on as a co-sponsor the bill.

Randall Friese

Randall Friese

Speaker Mesnard, perhaps presented a more realistic forecast of legislative action acknowledging the challenges of finding room in the budget to fully restore TANF.

Unfortunately for Rep. Friese, Democrats don’t control either chamber so it’s in their best interest to stop acting petty and become team players on issues they support.

Arizona Solicitor General Issues Opinion on Arizona GOP Party Elections

Just issued today, a legal opinion by the Arizona Solicitor General office of the Arizona Attorney General, resolves a dispute regarding notification in Republican Party elections.

Solicitor General Dominic Draye

Solicitor General Dominic Draye

The opinion issued by Dominic Draye to incoming Speaker of the House JD Mesnard, settles the legal question of whether or not precinct committeemen were properly noticed regarding the upcoming Maricopa County Republican Party election and ultimately the election of State Committeemen in LD23 including an announced candidate for State Party Chairman.

In question was the definition of “by mail” as cited in ARS 16-824. The statute states:

16-824Meeting, organization and officers of county committee

  1. The county committee shall meet for the purpose of organizing no earlier than ten days after the last organizing meeting of the legislative districts which are part of the county, and in any event no later than the second Saturday in January of the year following a general election. The county committee shall elect from its membership a chairman, a first vice-chairman, a second vice-chairman, a secretary and a treasurer. The latter two offices may be filled by the same person. The chairman of the county committee shall be ex officio a member of the state committee.
  2. The chairman of the county committee shall give notice of the time and place of such meeting by mail to each precinct committeeman at least ten days prior to the date of such meeting.

Current Maricopa County Republican leadership has argued that “by mail” is vague enough to include email as a method of notification to precinct committeemen. Despite an outcry from district chairmen warning Bowyer of the statutory demands and his misunderstanding, he and Secretary Dan Schultz remained adamant they were correct in their interpretation of the law, referring to their bylaws and ignoring statute.

Chairman Tyler Bowyer cited recent changes to the Maricopa County GOP bylaws, where the inclusion of email was listed as a means to notice meetings, insisting the statutory definition was inclusive of email notification in that it didn’t exclude email.

In the opinion posted by Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Solicitor General Draye clarifies and establishes the correct definition of “by mail” in the following statement:

While judicial authority interpreting the phrase “by mail” under Arizona law is limited, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona recently interpreted the word “mail” as used in Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 4.2(c).  Cachet Residential Builders, Inc. v. Gemini Ins. Co., 547 F. Supp. 2d 1028 (D. Ariz. 2007).  The court, relying on an established dictionary definition, held that mail is “defined as ‘letters, packets, etc. that are sent or delivered by means of the post office.’”  Id. at 1030 (citing Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language 864 (1989)).

This definition, which focuses on whether the item is “sent or delivered by means of the post office,” is consistent with how the term “mail” is used elsewhere under Arizona law.  For example, Rule 35(c)(1) of the Arizona Rules of Protective Order Procedure distinguishes between communications by mail and email.  Ariz. R. Protect. Ord. P. 35(c)(1) (“A limited jurisdiction court may allow contact by mail or e-mail to arrange parenting time . . . .”) (emphasis added).  Likewise, the Arizona Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure specify that “[a] party that serves documents on another party by mail in an expedited election appeal also must deliver the documents by electronic means, including email or facsimile, or as agreed to by the parties.”  Ariz. R. Civ. App. P. 10(h); see also Ariz. R. Civ. P. 5(c)(2)(C), (D) (distinguishing service by “mailing it” from service “by any other means, including electronic means”).  Further, in the Code of Judicial Administration, the term “notify” is defined to mean “written communication by mail, fax or email.”  Ariz. Code of Jud. Admin. § 6-211 (emphasis added).  The distinction between “mail” and “email” in the above rules would be superfluous if “mail” already encompassed email.  These authorities also show that, when delivery by email is permitted under Arizona law, Arizona authorities have expressly authorized it.

For purposes of the present question, our preliminary conclusion is that notice requirements elsewhere in Arizona law provide the best analogue to the requirement in A.R.S. § 16-824.  Those provisions illustrate that, where email notice is permitted, it is listed separately from “mail.”  This interpretation is also consistent with dictionary definitions and common usage as explained in Cachet Residential Builders.  For these reasons, notice by email appears insufficient to satisfy A.R.S. § 16-824. (emphasis added)

Tyler Bowyer

Tyler Bowyer

Given this official legal opinion, the Maricopa County Republican Party Bylaws are out of compliance with the law.  In that all GOP bylaws must be in compliance with both state law and the state party bylaws, any legislative district bylaws allowing email notification are also out of compliance with both Arizona Republican Party Bylaws and Arizona statute.

Today was the last day for elected precinct committeemen in Maricopa County to be properly noticed leaving the Maricopa County Republican Committee (MCRC) ill-prepared to make right the serious error as Chairman Bowyer called chairs over the past few days encouraging them to utilize email notices.

It has been reported that several LD chairmen received calls today from AZGOP Chair Robert Graham informing them that the state party was abiding by statute and mailing the call despite this statutory obligation falling on the county party. This to ensure all PC’s are eligible to vote in the upcoming MCRC elections with a proper notification.

Additionally, the opinion also affects upcoming party elections at the state party level.

Jim O'Connor

Jim O’Connor

In Legislative District 23, where notice of their election was provided by email, the election of state committeemen would be invalid because the meeting was conducted illegally. Chairman Robert Graham notified former Chairman Jim O’Connor, who was responsible for the illegal action, to the error and offered the ability for a “do over”. The newly (and also illegally) elected chair replied and vehemently declined the “do-over,” ignoring of the law and asserting the LD23 bylaws allowed for email. Chairman Graham met with representatives from LD23 and attorneys to no avail, with LD23 holding firm on their decision to use email and declining a legally called election.

Unfortunately, a better understanding of the law would have benefited the PC’s in LD23.  The warning from Graham outlined the problem that would result from the ill-advised and illegally held meeting; that those elected as state committeemen would potentially not be seated or run for a party position as the election was not valid. Specifically, candidate Jim O’Connor, who made the decision to use the illegal method of notification, could be disqualified as a candidate for State Party Chairman.

Robert Graham

Robert Graham

The Solicitor General’s opinion affirms AZGOP Chairman Robert Graham’s assertion was correct, that districts such as LD23 that improperly noticed their precinct committeemen by email, were in violation of party bylaws and state statute all along.

With the State Republican Party Meeting and Election rapidly approaching, there is not enough time now for a “do-over” election leaving LD23’s illegally elected state committeemen potentially ineligible to vote. The legal remedy is for Chairman Graham to disregard the illegally called meeting results, seat an appointed contingent of committeemen from LD23, and hold the State Meeting according to statute and bylaw.

Party activists and officials must be aware of these important bylaws and statutes especially when they conduct the process of elections and seek higher leadership. Pushing a personal agenda by skirting the rules or making them up as you go is the not the upholding manner in which GOP leaders should conduct themselves.

 

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.

Arizona Legislators Ask Tom Horne to Bow Out of Attorney General Race

Thursday, nine Arizona legislators sent a letter to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne to exit the Republican Primary and race for AG. Spearheaded by State Representative Paul Boyer, the letter expressed grave concern over Horne’s ability to lead and serve the public has been severely compromised by a number of legal, ethical and personal problems.

Eight of Boyer’s legislative peers also signed the letter affirming that “integrity matters in our elected officials and our elections.”

Boyer, who also authored the letter wrote:

Dear General Horne:

We write to express our grave concerns over the recent allegations leveled at you, your official staff, and your campaign.

We acknowledge the investigations into wrongdoing are not complete, but that in no way lessens the dark cloud of impropriety that hangs over you and your administration.

We trust that the authorities conducting these investigations will enforce the law to the best of their abilities. We also acknowledge this process will take time and that you have a right to your day in court. Your ability to lead and serve the public, however, has already been severely compromised.

We, the undersigned, have a responsibility to act in the best interest of our state and our party. We are convinced that if you continue in your campaign for re-election, both of these interests will be damaged.

For this reason, we take the difficult step of formally requesting that you withdraw from the race for Attorney General.

Integrity matters in our elected officials and our elections. We expect more from our Attorney General, the individual who is tasked with directing the Department of Law. Arizonans have a right to expect more out of the highest-ranking legal officer of the state.

Please do what is right for Arizona and for the Republican Party.

Sincerely,

Paul Boyer
Rick Gray
Warren Petersen
Nancy Barto
JD Mesnard
Karen Fann
Steve Yarbrough
TJ Shope
Kelli Ward

 

Here is a copy of the letter:

HorneLetter

 

Tom Horne Letter

The letter follows other high profile requests by members of the congressional delegation asking Horne to withdraw from the race. Last week, Congressman Matt Salmon called Horne and personally asked him to exit. The following day Senator Jeff Flake stated publicly that Horne should exit. Senator John McCain also stopped short from saying Horne should get out but did note that the AG should recognize his political situation and.

Over a week ago, this blog asked the Attorney General to drop out of the race.

Speaker Pro Tempore J.D. Mesnard Endorses Lisa Gray for Chairman, Maricopa County Republican Party

Arizona Party Builders

Phoenix – Legislative District 17 Representative, Chairman of the House Commerce Committee and incoming Speaker Pro Tempore J.D. Mesnard has endorsed Lisa Gray for Chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party.

“I evaluate people by what they do, not just what they say,” said Mesnard. “Lisa Gray has worked tirelessly to get Republicans elected, including raising money and organizing grassroots support, and has successfully worked with all members of our Party. This is the type of person we need as Chair in Maricopa County.” Mesnard went on to say, “Lisa’s strategy will produce the type of strong County Republican Party we’ll need in 2014. And as I look at the team she has put together, including Paul Brierley, Rene Lopez, Colleen Lombard and Walter Dudley, I see Lisa not only has the strategy we need but a great team of leaders who will help make it a reality. That is why I fully support Lisa Gray for Maricopa County Republican Party Chairman.”

“I’m truly honored to have Representative Mesnard’s support,” said Gray. “Like me, J.D. got involved in politics because he was tired of politics as usual and promises made but not kept by our elected officials. We need more people in office with proven track records, who have the ability to forge relationships that work to effectively advance our conservative principles. J.D. knows that I do what I say and so does the team I have asked to run with me.”

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About Lisa Gray
Lisa is a grassroots, conservative leader in the Northwest Valley, working with Republicans and Tea Party activists. She has served as LD9 and LD21 District Chairman, LD9 Second Vice Chairman, Sun City Republican Club President and Northwest Valley Tea Party Co-Leader. She was also a plaintiff against Proposition 121, which was not only detrimental to the Republican Party, but to all Arizona voters. She and her team have garnered the support of many conservatives across Maricopa County.

The Maricopa County Republican Committee (MCRC) statutory meeting will take place on Saturday, January 12, 2013. To learn more about Lisa and her team and the details of their plan, please visit www.AZPartyBuilders.com