Voters deserve a complete picture of their candidates’ votes and agenda so they can make informed choices. It’s hard to get the full story just by reading the mainstream media. For example, Martha McSally was frequently labeled a moderate by local media and was even endorsed by Tucson’s largest paper, the Arizona Daily Star. As both the reporter and opinion columnist charged with covering politics admitted to us in 2016, they let her off the hook in that cycle. Unfortunately, the paper continued to publish stories that gave McSally the benefit of the doubt, published her statements without fact checking them, and portrayed the growing base of constituents who were dissatisfied with her as unreasonable outliers. That’s why we began telling the rest of the story about McSally. We told the story so effectively that her slide into re-election was suddenly in question. When McSally decided to make a run for the Senate, we continued to tell the complete story, and shared our resources with reporters in Phoenix and DC, as well as with activists who had access to a wider audience.
There is no doubt that U.S. Representatives and Senators are in powerful positions; however, we also realize that local races hold a monumental impact on our daily lives. Imagine if the 2018 Democratic candidate for governor, David Garcia, (who believes in science and in helping the most vulnerable among us and would have taken the threat of COVID-19 seriously) had been elected instead of Doug Ducey. How many lives would have been saved? How many seniors and families would have been able to stay in their homes if emergency eviction money would have been distributed efficiently?
We can choose candidates who will look out for the health and safety of our communities, if we carefully analyze primary candidates up for election right now in Pima County.
To help with your decision, we present two posts full of facts about the most critical races in Southern Arizona.:
1. How Progressive is Your Candidate chart that highlights:
- Refusal to take money from the fossil fuel industry
- Received endorsements from the Chamber of Commerce
- Received contributions from the Police Union
- Endorsement by the Pima Area Labor Federation
- Received endorsement from conservative Arizona Multihousing Association
- Received contributions from realtor political action committees
- Received contributions from housing/building political action committees
2. An in-depth look at the Key Legislative Votes made by incumbent candidates. Keep reading below.
Key Legislative Votes
For this in-depth look at incumbents’ votes on key legislation, we chose to focus on issues that align with our progressive values. Working families, anti-racism, fair taxation, jobs and housing equity, defunding policing and incarceration, combating climate change and the belief that healthcare, housing and freedom to live, work and go to school is a human right for all, including those who are citizens without legal status. We have shown that progressive values are popular and we are seeing seismic shifts in perceptions of long held principles due to the vulnerabilities exposed by this pandemic.
How are our electeds likely to vote on legislation? The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. So let’s take a look at some key legislation and how our local state representatives and state senators voted.
Southern Arizona Legislators’ Votes on Key Legislation
Bill: HB2686 (Title: Building permits; utilities; restrictions; prohibitions)
Arizona Republicans tout personal and local liberties when it suits their aims: protesting the stay-at-home orders, and rallying against any and all regulations regarding guns, for example. However, these same Republicans are quick to override local control, when they disagree with local municipalities’ goals. Think: plastic bags (that time “Ducey signed a bill that would block cities from trying to do anything about those plastic grocery bags that clog up their waste disposal machinery and litter the landscape”) and prohibiting destroying guns.
So it is really no surprise, that when it comes to fossil fuels, that lobbyists and Republicans would work together to prohibit local entities from setting their own rules for their energy futures. What did surprise us is that they have, at times, been joined by Democrats.
HB2686, which was passed in February of 2020, “removes the power of every town, city, and county in Arizona to choose their own energy infrastructure.” The bill “would prohibit municipalities and counties from denying a utility a permit, even for safety or public health reasons. The legislation is written so broadly that it would outlaw a locality’s ability to adopt or amend ordinances or implement other measures that would allow for community oversight.”
This Southwest Gas-backed bill was not popular with most Democrats. State Representative Kirsten Engel, who voted against the bill said, “It’s premature for the state to be jumping in…You’re taking away the ability of cities and towns to say, ‘We’re going to limit our fossil fuel footprint of the future.’” This bill was opposed by the Sierra Club and both the City of Tucson and Pima county governments. HB2686 “favors monopoly corporations over local democratically elected governments.”
Southern Arizona Votes
All House Republicans voted for this bill. Democrats: LD3 State Representative Alma Hernandez and LD2 State Representative Daniel Hernandez were two of only five Democrats who voted for this bill in the House. In the Senate, all Republicans voted for this bill, and only two Democrats, including LD4 Senator Lisa Otondo voted “yea”.
Bill: SB1085 (Title: Association health plans; definitions; requirements)*
Since the Affordable Care Act was first passed, Republicans have been trying to repeal it. Although they have failed at ending it altogether, the Trump administration has made numerous efforts to undermine essential ACA healthcare protections. In June 2018 the Labor Department finalized rule changes to encourage enrollment in association health plans.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains what this means. “These associations could sell coverage to small businesses and self-employed individuals without meeting key Affordable Care Act (ACA) standards that would otherwise apply to plans sold to these customers. These include requirements to cover essential health benefits, prohibitions against charging higher premiums based on factors such as gender or occupation, and limits on charging higher premiums to older people.”
In February 2019, our Arizona state legislators passed Senate Bill 1085, that expands access to association healthcare plans.
Proponents say this bill will allow more people to access cheaper health insurance. “Detractors worry that expanding access to association plans could damage the risk pool of the individual insurance market in Arizona, drive up costs for those who remain, and hit some consumers with large, unexpected medical bills for services the association plans don’t cover.”
The bill was opposed by the Arizona Public Health Association, Childrens’ Action Alliance, The American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association.
Southern Arizona Votes
All Republicans in the Senate and the House voted for this legislation.
Democrats: Seven Democratic senators voted yes, including Victoria Steele, LD9; and David Bradley, LD10 (who is not running for office in 2020). Alma Hernandez, LD3, and Daniel Hernandez, LD2, were two of the seven Democratic representatives who voted yes.
Bill: HB2358 (Title: Landlord tenant; partial payment; assistance)*
Governor Ducey finally extended an eviction moratorium until October 31, 2020, for those affected by COVID-19. That is good news because the conservative estimate for how many people would have been forced out of their homes without the moratorium is 9,200 families according to landlord advocates, reports Jim Small, of the Arizona Mirror.
Before Ducey announced the program extension, housing experts said, in reality, the forecast was even more dire. “Tucson’s housing network braces for ‘pending tsunami’ as Arizona eviction moratorium nears its end”… “Across Arizona, 365,000 renters could face eviction over the next four months, according to a recently published analysis by the international consulting firm Stout Risius Ross.”
Whenever the COVID-19 protections end, the evictions will begin.
When Arizona’s HB 2358 passed in 2019, the legislators could not have known COVID-19 was soon going to make it much harder for many constituents to pay their rent, but those who voted for (and against) this bill, did know that it “would spell out that landlords are free to immediately evict tenants, even after they have accepted partial payment of rent from a government program, church or housing-assistance agency,” according to Howard Fischer, reporter at Capitol Media Services.
If legislators were paying attention, they also would have known that approximately 13,000 eviction filings are handled at the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court each year, and that in 2018 almost 44,000 renters were evicted in Maricopa County, which was a three percent increase from the year before. This bill was opposed by the Arizona Council Of Human Service Providers; the National Association of Social Workers, the Arizona Chapter; Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition; and the Arizona Coalition for Working Families.
Now, during this time of pandemic, $5 million in state aid was made available for rental assistance for those affected by COVID-19, but, “of the nearly 18,000 tenants who have applied for aid, less than 1,200 have received help. Nearly 80% of funding, or roughly $3.9 million, remains unspent.” By July 22, if Ducey’s eviction moratorium–which allows a temporary reprieve for people facing financial hardships, caregiver duties or health risks–expires, tenants who have already been issued an eviction will be forced to leave, while a new onslaught of eviction proceedings that has been on hold could begin…”
Southern Arizona Votes
All Republicans voted for HB2358, the bill that made it “easier for residential landlords across Arizona to evict low-income residential tenants for nonpayment of rent even if the landlord has already received partial payment.”
Democrats: LD4’s Lisa Otondo was one of three Democratic Senators who voted for it. LD2’s Daniel Hernandez was one of four Democratic Representatives who voted in favor.
Topic: Free Speech
Bill: SB1167 (Title: Israel boycott divestments)
What do you do if you’re a Republican majority Arizona legislature and your first attempt at legislation to prevent government contractors from participating in boycotts of Israel is declared likely unconstitutional in federal court? Well, you revise the legislation and try again. Of course you are potentially setting your state up for more costly lawsuits, but you are satisfied that you’ve made your point. The point apparently is seeking to inflict economic consequences upon an entity because of political views and actions you disagree with and believe should be punished.
Reminder: Doug Ducey threatened to pull subsidies from Nike’s proposed plant in Arizona after they announced they were cancelling a shoe with a Betsy Ross flag because, as The Rolling Stone reports, “There’s a pretty long history of the flag being used by extremist right-wing movements.”
Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers stands firmly in the anti-free speech camp. He says, “the state has a legitimate interest in using its economic power — the power to deny public contracts — to keep people from boycotting Israel…” and says he believes these boycotts are attacks on Israel’s right to exist. Nevermind the fact that, “Consumer politics is as American as apple pie. Throughout American history, consumer activists have sought to employ consumer power, not because they naively believed in a simple form of the sovereignty of shoppers but because they thought that collective consumer action was a necessary element of democratic politics and a way to combat powerful economic entities.” Remember the Boston Tea Party?
Democratic Representative Athena Salman, LD26, has a very personal reason to support the BDS movement and to speak out against censure of it. In an emotional speech at the state house, she talked “about how family members living in territories occupied by Israel were treated. She said the movement known as BDS — for boycott, divest, sanction — is designed to put pressure on Israel to end what she called ‘Israeli human rights abuses’ and illegal settlements in the West Bank.”
Nevertheless, 2019 Senate Bill 1167, which applies the prohibition on BDS only to government contractors with 10 or more employees, and more than $100,000 in state business, passed. Why keep the violation of free speech part of the law, but limit who will be affected? Well, the Arizona government contractor who sued to stop the original anti-boycott law, HB2617, has fewer than 10 employees and does less than $100,000 in state business. To be clear: SB1167 is the Arizona legislature’s effort to avoid the lawsuit, while still punishing free speech.
One of the most concerning issues regarding Democrats signing on to this bill is the legislation’s connection to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a Republican corporate-backed ‘bill factory’ producing fill in the blank legislation across the country focusing on anti-abortion, voter suppression, school choice, gun rights, and anti-BDS bills like this one that have their origins in extreme right wing brand of Christian Zionism.
This bill is opposed by the ACLU, which has “has long supported the right to participate in political boycotts and has voiced opposition to bills that infringe on this important First Amendment right.”
Southern Arizona Votes
All Republicans voted yes on this new anti-BDS legislation that passed.
Democrats: Daniel Hernandez, LD2 was one of six Democrats in the house that voted for it, and
Representatives Rosanna Gabaldon, LD2; and Alma Hernandez, LD3 were the only two Democratic Representatives who did not vote.
*titles edited 7/17/20 at 8:50pm to correct errors. Links were correct.