Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Redistricting and AZ Lege craziness

Tomorrow (Thursday, March 14) the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission meets primarily to discuss, in executive session, issues related to litigation, including the upcoming trial in federal court.

In addition to the executive session, exec. dir. Ray Bladine will report on recent staff activities and budget related issues. When the legislature passed the first FY2013 supplemental appropriation, Bladine had indicated that amount would not be enough to pay the bills for the entire fiscal year. Right now, it appears that the AIRC will run out of money (again) by the end of the first week of April.

The Arizona Capitol Times reported today that Arizona Democratic Party interim executive director DJ Quinlan will be required to give a deposition in the federal court lawsuit. Quinlan attended many of the AIRC business meetings and public hearings. Lawyers for the GOP plaintiffs seem to be digging for something incriminating to provide an "AH HAH!" moment in hopes the court will deem the current legislative map is unconstitutional.

That, in my mind, raises the question, "what about John Mills?" Mills is known to have been scheming with GOP commissioners as far back as the first IRC in 2001. He was at most of the meetings over the last two years also and was overheard in discussions with UNfair Trust attorneys (who are also counsel to plaintiffs in this case) bragging about his influence on the commission.

Last fall, Mills was indicted on 15 counts of wire fraud as a result of the FBI investigation that also led to charges against former state Rep. Ben Arredondo.


On Monday, I reported to you that the Arizona House of Representatives had passed HB2169, undermining university students' self-funded advocacy efforts. Yesterday, we learned that House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, among those who vociferously opposed HB2169, now faces an attempt to recall him.

Former unsuccessful legislative candidate Bob Thomas of Phoenix, who is involved with the recall committee, called Fire Representative Chad Campbell, said: “People are concerned about some of the issues he’s been promoting. The list (of issues) is too long to go over right now.”
Thomas said the effort will include both paid and volunteer signature gatherers. He said they were beginning training classes for volunteer gatherers Tuesday night. “The move is on,” he said.
Secretary of State’s Office spokesman Matt Roberts said the group will need to collect about 23,000 signatures by July 10 to get the recall on the November ballot.
Campbell said he’d heard the recall effort was coming and called it politically motivated retaliation.
“They are trying to stop me from doing what I’ve been doing, which is fighting for schools, fighting for healthcare, fighting for a better Arizona,” he said. “They’d better think twice.”

Twenty-three thousand signatures from voters in LD24 who disapprove of the job Rep. Campbell does in the Arizona House is a pretty steep challenge.

According to the official canvass of the 2012 General Election, voters in LD24 elected Democratic state Sen. Katie Hobbs by a two-to-one margin over her Republican challenger. In the same election, Campbell bested the only Republican in the race (which means GOP activists tried the "single shot" strategy) by a 33,075 to 19,491 vote margin. The lone Green Party candidate amassed 5,946 votes. 

The bottom line is that "Fire Representative Chad Campbell committee" is facing a virtually impossible task in obtaining enough valid signatures to force a recall election.

Consider that it took an overwhelmingly galvanizing issue/incident to motivate enough voters to sign petitions to recall former Sen. Russell Pearce. Of course, a single legislative district may (now) seem like a manageable task compared with the current effort to gather enough signatures to recall Maricopa County's nativist sheriff. But again, with the sheriff, there has been a dramatically downward trend in his approval rating over the last few years as news of Arpaio's mismanagement and unlawful activity has persisted.

So, barring an unforeseen scandal, the GOP is simply going to see the boulder slip out from its grasp and roll back downhill with even more force against the hatemongers and Tea Potters who have bitten off far more than they can chew. 

Here's a taste of why the hatemongers disapprove of Rep. Campbell.

During the February 13th hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, Tom Betlach, director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) testified regarding the proposal to draw down federal grant money for the Medicaid expansion pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. Betlach was explaining the significance of being able to draw in the federal money at the enhanced match rate specified in the federal legislation. 

Appropriations chair John Kavanagh, as his manner is, expressed his desire to take a "wait and see" approach. Betlach calmly asserted that the immediate impact of waiting (and not implementing the Medicaid expansion) would be devastating to the Arizona economy.

Campbell, to help Kavanagh put it in perspective, then compares this proposal to what the GOP pushed (and passed) as a tax cut in recent past legislative sessions.

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Nevertheless, Campbell is undaunted by the threat of a recall campaign.

By the way, Brewer just yesterday held a press conference with supporters to unveil an outline of her proposed legislation to enable Arizona to participate in the Medicaid expansion.
The measure, expected to be officially drafted as a budget bill in coming weeks, includes no real surprises but all the elements Brewer has outlined:
It increases eligibility for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, to cover everyone earning less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or just less than $15,000 a year.
It provides a “circuit breaker” that rolls back coverage for those between 100 percent and 133 percent of the poverty level if federal funding falls below 80 percent of the expansion cost.
It gives AHCCCS authority to “establish, administer and collect” a hospital assessment that will raise an estimated $256 million to pay for the state’s share of expansion, with about $100 million left over for the general fund.
That last point goes directly to the issue last year when the Arizona Supreme Court declined to reinstate AHCCCS enrollees who had been dropped due to claims of budget constraints, despite the fact that voters had authorized coverage of those people in prior year ballot measures.

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