Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Elections have consequences, right? UPDATED 1:00 am MST 1-13-15

[UPDATED legislation counts in the second and third paragraphs below as of the end of the first day of the legislative session.]

But elections do not give the winning political party carte blanche to do what they want without scrutiny. However...

On this eve of the start of the 2015 regular session of the Arizona Legislature, 67 87 pieces of legislation (bills and resolutions) have already been filed for consideration in the House of Representatives and 38 46 bills (no resolutions yet) in the Senate. We can expect at least roughly a thousand more bills to be filed before the deadline for new bills arrives in February.

Of the bills already filed, 7 13 senate bills and 42 44 house bills are "striker busses." With "technical correction" in the bill title, the changes ostensibly proposed in the original version of each are essentially meaningless.

For example, HB2053 proposes to change the word "which" to "that" in Arizona Revised Statutes § 48-1101.
A.  The board of supervisors of a county which THAT meets the requirements of this subsection may establish a television improvement district for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, extending, maintaining and operating television translator and relay facilities to service the communities of the county.
Additionally, such districts are "for the purpose of acquiring, operating and maintaining television translator facilities in the county." Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-LD6/Flagstaff) also proposes to add two words, "and relay" after the word "translator" to the existing language in another subsection of the statute. In both instances, the new wording causes no change to the substance and practical meaning of the statute.

Title 48 governs Special Taxing Districts in Arizona. 48-1101 authorizes Arizona counties, if they meet certain conditions, to establish "television improvement districts."

Television improvement districts provide those counties with translator equipment to allow, for example, news and network programming from Phoenix area Channel 5, KPHO to reach rural Arizona homes by rebroadcasting the signal, simultaneously on the same (relay) or different (translator) channel from a facility much closer to those homes than Phoenix.

We don't learn, from the posting of these bills and reading the language as introduced, what the sponsoring lawmaker actually wants to do with the bill.

The longstanding practice of the Arizona Legislature with "strikers" (aka strike all amendments) is to bypass committee hearings, thereby giving the general public and journalists dramatically less time to evaluate proposals and let people know what lawmakers are trying to cram down our throats.

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Of the actual policy bills that have been filed thus far, it should surprise no one that John Kavanagh's (R-LD23/Fountain Hills) SB1002 deals with the slavery industry in Arizona. Well, he wouldn't characterize it that way, I suspect. We know he has a deep and abiding interest in human warehousing, being the most outspoken advocate for expansion of the private prison industrial complex.

Comes now, Sen. Kavanagh to empower the Arizona Department of Corrections to raise the ceiling on what it is allowed to pay its slaves.
The compensation shall be in accordance with a graduated schedule based on quantity and quality of work performed and skill required for its performance but shall not exceed ONE DOLLAR fifty cents per hour unless the prisoner is employed in an Arizona correctional industries program...
We should rejoice for the noble work Kavanagh does for our slave population, right? I mean really, tripling the maximum amount that can be paid to each!

Of course, there is merit to the proposal. But my concern is that Arizonans come to grips with the role of institutionalized slave labor in our state. Obviously, there are other ways that private employers exploit the labor of workers, but I won't get into that here.

However, in light of the fact that the border zealots are overly concerned about how undocumented immigrants drive down the wages private employers are willing to pay actual American citizens to perform necessary tasks, the slave industry (prison labor) may have a much more dramatic impact. Undocumented immigrants at least spend money in the general economy to live here. Slaves don't spend their "wages" at local or even chain stores.

For those who might think I'm exaggerating when I characterize prison labor as slavery, I offer this. Section 1 of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution states:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except in the punishment for a crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
It's as plain as day in the Constitution. The 13th Amendment did NOT abolish slavery. It institutionalized it and made Congress responsible for establishing the institution.

So, the next time you're at the Arizona Capitol and see a bunch of people in orange jumpsuits with gardening tools, this is what that's about. It's about having slaves do work for (still) not more 50 cents/hour as opposed to paying the Arizona minimum wage of $8.05/hour to state employees or workers provided by a temp agency. Oh, and taxpayers, you're still on the hook for room and board for those slaves.

There's so much more to the story with regard to the criminal justice system and whether the laws which justify imprisonment are genuinely just and warranted.

Shiela Polk and Bill Montgomery mindlessly argue against decriminalization of marijuana possession and use. That is, even though it is well established that marijuana is FAR less harmful to individuals and to public safety than alcohol. Crime reporting statistics demonstrate that a great deal of the money taxpayers spend on police work, criminal prosecution and storage/warehousing of convicted persons is the result primarily of marijuana possession charges.

It's difficult to overlook that slave labor is one of the underlying reasons for America not, for practical purposes, really being the land of the free.

As to the point of elections not being the final word, today the Arizona Republic reports that goofball legislation to force Arizona to go on Daylight Savings Time with the rest of the country is already dead -- because of feedback Rep. Phil Lovas (R-LD22/Peoria) received after his proposal was reported by local corporate media.  

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Today it is a case of the grasshopper pitted against the elephant. But tomorrow the elephant will have its guts ripped out. Le Loi, Vietnamese emperor, 15th Century.

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3 comments:

  1. Maybe the Arizona Legislature should petition the US Congress to have Arizona become part of the Pacific Timezone. Just a thought.

    And yes, I always had real problems with "strikers" as they tend to come at the end of the session, when everyone is paying attention to the bigger bills.

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  2. Changing "which" to "that" isn't even grammatically correct.

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  3. In the California Legislature, we commonly introduced bills that had no purpose in order to reserve the possibility of introducing legislation for which we hadn't yet conducted our own internal research and preparation -- a consequence of the "hurry-up" deadline intended to limit late bill introductions.

    The crucial difference from AZ is that the CA Legislature is truly bipartisan (some would even say, quadri-partisan given the divisions within the two majority parties). As a result, when a striker-like bill appears on the agenda, the committees that process it -- first Rules, then policy, then appropriations/budget -- give their authors a real grilling. It's not uncommon for such bills to die an early death. That's not to say that some bozos get resuscitated and passed without sufficient scrutiny and public debate in time or crisis, as a convenient way to address some forgotten issue, or -- yes -- to avoid oversight -- but such bills usually would have made it anyway. Then the press squawks. These often are vetoed by the Governor, regardless of party, unless their need is legitimate.

    In AZ, where the Legislature is effectively a one-party organ, with a same-party Governor -- and where the conscientious political "press" is essentially the New Times and this blog -- it hardly matters whether bills are strikers or not. Really bad policy is the rule. No wonder AZ is the laughing stock of its neighboring states, not because its people are stupid, but because its Legislature is.

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