Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sen. Michele Reagan, SOS wannabe -- are your pants on fire? UPDATED 5:30pm MST 3-17-14

Candidates for secretary of state weigh in with views on SB 1062

Dateline: March 13, 2014 1:54am

Along with Democratic former Attorney General Terry Goddard and Republican state Rep. Justin Pierce (LD25/Mesa), current state Sen. Michele Reagan (R-LD23/Scottsdale) responded to inquiry by the Arizona Republic on the topic:
Here's how candidates running for the No. 2 spot in state leadership view Senate Bill 1062. The bill, which Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed last week, would have provided a legal defense against lawsuits if service was denied based on the service provider's sincerely held religious belief.
Of course, all three agreed that the bill was rightfully vetoed, but there is so much more nuance in their responses, including the degree to which they agree with the underlying question of discrimination against anyone on the basis of "religious liberty." By the way, (hard-line) "Republican candidate Wil Cardon opted to not respond" to the Republic's request for comment.

Michele Reagan's response went beyond tone deaf and deep into the territory of WTF!

Here's what (the Republic published from what) she said:
"I'm pleased that the governor had the courage and good sense to veto SB 1062. It was the right decision. I regret specifically that the members of the Senate were not fully educated or informed of this legislation." (Reagan voted for SB 1062.)
"Personally, I thought the bill was unnecessary and our current laws were sufficient, but there were several constitutional law attorneys who suggested otherwise — similar to the situation during the last legislative session when a nearly identical measure sailed through the process. Not one person stood up or spoke out in opposition to this bill during its Senate committee hearing. Misunderstanding of the bill's possible consequences, the overheated rhetoric, and negative publicity were truly unexpected results. ...
"Unfortunately, our foresight was not as good as our hindsight."
Translation of the first paragraph: "Hindsight is 20/20. But it was not my fault, mahn." However, she DID vote FOR SB1062.

The second paragraph is largely evasive drivel but the claim that, "Not one person stood up or spoke out in opposition to this bill during its Senate committee hearing," is brazenly untrue.

Sen. Gail Griffin (R-LD14/Hereford), chair of the Government and Environment committee, on January 16, heard testimony regarding SB1062 for 50 minutes.  Griffin said that she would allow three people to testify in favor of SB1062 and three who opposed it, and (in addition to bill sponsor Yarbrough) did so.

Tory Anderson, representing the Secular Coalition of Arizona, Tracy Stewart, representing the Anti-Defamation League and Rebecca Wininger, president of Equality Arizona, all spoke out in opposition.

All three made intelligent, coherent arguments against passing SB1062. Just before the roll call vote at the end of debate on the bill, names of others signed in on the legislature's online Request to Speak system, both opposing and supporting, were read into the record. At the 55:15 mark of the recording, Sen. Judy Burges (R-LD22/Sun City West/Tinfoil Hat caucus) read my name and that of Victoria Lopez of the ACLU into the record as opposing SB1062.
The absent are never without fault, nor the present without excuse. Benjamin Franklin
GOP members of the Arizona Legislature, on SB1062, almost to a person, have been clinging to the excuse that fault lies with the opponents of the so-called religious liberty bill. How anyone can actually believe that excuse baffles me.

That line of deflection (I find it impossible to fairly characterize it as "reasoning" because it's NOT reasonable nor is it rational) began with the bill's sponsor, when he presented it to Griffin's committee that day in January. Right off the bat, he blamed opponents for distorting the bill.

Yarbrough said, "Misleading newspaper headlines have certainly created unnecessary angst for some folks,"

Never mind that on January 16, the controversy had not even started. [Apparently, I am unable to embed more than one excerpt from the Jan 16 Senate GE committee video. You will find Yarbrough's bizarre claim about opponents distorting the implications of SB1062 at the 11:34 mark on the recording. The link to watch the entire hearing can be found here.]

If it actually had been reported on in newspapers throughout the state, many people might consider that something was fishy for Yarbrough to make such a claim that early in the game. Again, the date was January 16.

Had any newspaper yet published ANY headline about SB1062 at that time?

Maybe I don't know how to search to find out when the earliest newspaper coverage of the SB1062 controversy appeared, but I don't find anything prior to January 19, which is not prior to the January 16 hearing.

For the record, here's Ms. Anderson, Ms. Stewart and Ms. Wininger testifying OPPOSED to SB1062.

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Specifically, Stewart cites several scenarios that would be likely to occur if SB1062 had been enacted.

The closest anyone came to refuting those scenarios was when a so-called expert -- again using misdirection -- simply claimed he did not know whether the US Supreme Court would ultimately decide if people were justified in discriminating in those ways. Most definitely weak arguments that did not address the heart of the issue. Namely, that people claiming to be exercising their religious liberty WOULD discriminate against any number of different groups or individuals. He just didn't know if they would ultimately get away with it.

For their part, Sen. Begay (D-LD7) and Sen. Hobbs (D-LD24/Phoenix) were diligent to ask probing questions trying to get to the heart of the matter. Though they did not succeed at thwarting the bill in committee, they too spoke definitively in opposition.

Given the stark reality of Michele Reagan having absolutely no clue that there had been citizen testimony emphatically opposed to SB1062 at the senate committee hearing, one really has to wonder how she thinks she could possibly be qualified to be the chief elections officer, Secretary of State, for Arizona.

So, Michele Reagan, this is for YOU! Well, for your buddy Yarbrough too.


A reader pointed out the possibility that Ms Reagan may have been referring, in her response to the Arizona Republic's inquiry, to LAST year's bill (SB1178) that was "virtually identical" to SB1062 when she said that nobody had stood up to oppose it. So, to obviate her excuse, if that's what she might claim, I offer the following.

SB1178, (original subject was Long-term Disability in the Arizona State Retirement System) was sponsored solely by Yarbrough. It passed the Senate on February 6, 2013 by a vote of 19-9.

On the last day, last week meeting (March 21) of the House Judiciary committee, Yarbrough's bill was retrofitted with a strike all amendment which completely changed the subject. Perhaps because striker amendments to a retirement system/LTC bill may not be subject to quite as much scrutiny, or very much advance notice, there was no testimony opposing the amendment.

However, Linda Brown, then representing the Secular Coalition of Arizona, and Joseph Seelye (representing himself) did make their opposition known by way of the Request to Speak system. Their names were thus read into the record as opposing SB1178.

IF Reagan wishes to make the claim that she was simply referring to last year's bill and House Judiciary committee hearing, it would still be quite disingenuous. Discussion, Yarbrough's testimony and the vote on SB1178 all took place between the 1:27:50 and 1:33:22 marks on the linked video.

Additional UPDATE 6:15pm MST 3-17-14

"Virtually identical" apparently means "materially different" these days for Republicans like Michele Reagan and Yarbrough.

A HUGE difference between last year's bill (SB1178) and this year's SB1062 is the expansion of the definition of "person" to mean essentially any business entity, large or small. Last year, as sneaky as SB1178 was with the striker strategy, it did not attempt to broaden the legal protection for those discriminating against the LGBT community to include ALL businesses.

1 comment:

  1. But see, for an Arizona Republican, her deflection and outright lie makes her more than qualified to be the next AZ SOS.