America Pack, a grassroots movement “built to empower citizens to hold elected officials accountable, advocate for honest elections, support law enforcement, and fight for freedom and liberty,” has issued a list of its most important bills this session in the Arizona Legislature. The topics primarily address election integrity, education, and COVID-19. They must be scheduled to be heard in a committee by Feb. 18, or they will die.
Election Integrity – House Government and Elections Committee
HB 2023, sponsored by State Representative Mark Finchem (R-Mesa) with several co-sponsors, requires digital images of ballots to be posted publicly online after elections.
State Rep. John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction) introduced one of the most sweeping election integrity bills this session, but it appears all but doomed due to a rare procedural maneuver deliberately made to stop it by House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa). Bowers scheduled all 12 House committees to hear HB 2596, basically guaranteeing it will never reach the floor since some of the committees won’t bother to hear it.
“Canvass Queen” Liz Harris, so named after conducting an 11-month long independent grassroots audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, told The Arizona Sun Times she was extremely disappointed Bowers did this considering she is certain there was massive fraud. “From the canvassing I’ve done, this is what I realized needs to happen,” she said. She explained that other election integrity legislation is composed of single-issue bills which will only fix one area in the elections process, allowing fraud to move to other areas.
Texas’ controversial elections bill cleared the state House Friday afternoon, clearing its way to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk after a months-long battle that drove Democrats to flee the state in an attempt to block its passage.
Senate Bill 1 was lauded by Republicans as a means to better secure future elections, but was chastised by Democrats as an effort to restrict voting access following former President Donald Trump’s discredited claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent. It passed on an 80-41 vote that fell largely along party lines.
The Texas House considered dozens of amendments during a marathon session Thursday, and the bill now heads to the Senate for the provisions adopted to be approved before heading to the governor’s desk. Abbott, a Republican who has championed the issue, has vowed to sign it.
Rep. Walt Blackman (R-Snowflake) is running for Congress in Arizona’s first Congressional district. The seat, which encompasses much of the northeast part of the state, is currently held by Tom O’Halleran, a former Republican turned moderate Democrat.
“We need to get back to the rule of law of Arizona to protect its people,” the Arizona legislator said in a video discussing his run on July 18.
The Arizona Free Enterprise Club completed its rankings of how Arizona legislators performed during the 2021 legislative session, and one Senator and six House members scored a perfect 100%. AFEC ranked them based on election integrity, income tax policy, “regulatory relief and ongoing government overreach from the covid-19 pandemic, banning critical race theory in our taxpayer-funded institutions and school choice.”
The seven legislators with a perfect score are Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) and Reps. Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa), Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction), Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), and Travis Grantham (R-Gilbert).
An advisor for Governor Doug Ducey sent letters Wednesday to two Arizona school superintendents letting them know their policies of requiring unvaccinated students exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine is illegal. Education policy advisor Kairlin Harrier told the superintendents of Peoria Unified School District and Catalina Foothills School District their policies violate a new law, HB 2898, which states, “A school district or charter school may not require a student or teacher to receive a vaccine for covid-19 or to wear a face covering to participate in in-person instruction.”
Harrier went on, “The policy must be rescinded immediately.” She pointed out that children under age 12 haven’t even received approval from the federal government to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Children ages 12-15 only received approval for the vaccine in May.
Arizona State Rep. Martin Quezada (D-Maryvale), who is also the campaign manager for Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, tweeted on July 9 that fellow legislator, Vietnamese-American Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott), is a “white nationalist” for tweeting Governor Doug Ducey’s announcement of Arizona’s new law banning critical race theory. Nguyen, who is Vietnamese, fled Vietnam with his brother during the Vietnam War as a refugee, living in refugee camps until they were reunited with their parents four months later.
Nguyen tweeted a news release from the governor’s website, “Governor Ducey, Legislature Take Strong Action to Stop Critical Race Theory” with a link. Quezada copied the tweet and wrote, “This is what #WhiteNationalism looks like,” with an arrow pointing at Nguyen’s tweet.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2906 on Friday, banning government agencies from requiring critical race theory, known as CRT. The budget bill he signed last week, HB 2898, banned critical race theory in schools. Ducey also signed 22 other bills, including one restricting sex education in schools, HB 2035. He has until Monday to sign or veto 11 remaining bills.
“I am not going to waste public dollars on lessons that imply the superiority of any race and hinder free speech,” Ducey declared. The law prohibits the state, cities and counties from requiring employees to participate in orientation, training or therapy that suggests an employee is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
The Arizona Legislature wrapped up this year on Wednesday with a nearly record-long session, reaching 171 days. Lawmakers came to an agreement on most of the budget last Friday that contained historic tax cuts. Governor Doug Ducey signed that bill, HB 2900, also on Wednesday.
During the last few hours, the legislature approved the education budget bill, HB 2898, which included an expansion of the school voucher program. It reduces the length of time children must attend a public school before they are eligible for vouchers to use at a private school. Low-income children who live near poorly-rated schools will be eligible immediately, and others will only have to spend 45 days in the school, down from 100 days.
Just over three months into his presidency, Joe Biden has been nothing if not active. Fresh off proposing two bills that could end up costing taxpayers $5 trillion over the next decade, the President is now proposing yet another $1.5 trillion spending package. This plan, intended to fund expanded childcare and education initiatives, would include huge tax hikes that would act as yet another sucker punch to a still-rebounding economy.
About the only tax increases the President hasn’t supported thus far arewealth taxes and financial transaction taxes. But just because the tax hikes in this package are less exotic doesn’t mean they wouldn’t prove to be harmful.
In keeping with Biden’s ongoing efforts to undo the 2017 tax reform law, the first tax increase proposed is the restoration of the top tax bracket to 39.6 percent, the level it was at before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) lowered the rate to 37 percent. The top individual rate isn’t the most influential piece of the tax code on economic growth — as the Tax Foundation estimated prior to the passage of the TCJA — but it’s also far from the only tax hike that Biden is proposing.