Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Continuing Arizona Saga of Republican Legislative Overreach

With yesterday's Supreme Court ruling spanking the state legislature for challenging the will of the PEOPLE, you might think that's the end of it. Not so. The latest installment shines a laser-like spotlight on Tom Forese, former House Commerce Committee chairman and now Corporation Commissioner.

In May, I first analyzed the argument made by the Flagstaff Living Wage Coalition in the lawsuit brought on behalf of Flagstaff wage earners and citizens to challenge HB2280 (2013). Forese was the SOLE sponsor of the bill.

Now we learn that Attorney General Brnovich will not even defend the legislature from its egregious trampling on the rights of voters, because the bill was so shamelessly and obviously unconstitutional.

The FIRST sentence of Forese's Corp Comm bio proclaims,
Tom Forese has a distinguished record of accomplishment at the Arizona legislature.
Don't you think it would be appropriate now for Forese to add this accomplishment to his bio? That HE authored a bill -- and got it passed (by simple majorities, which is important here, because the Voter Protection Act requires supermajorities in both chambers in order for a bill to be enacted) -- that the gruff voiced Attorney General Mark Brnovich will not even defend in court.

Remember that name, Tom Forese. You'll be hearing and reading plenty more about him as the Stump public records fiasco continues to unfold.

Anyway, on Monday evening, the FLWC issued the following,
FLAGSTAFF – On Monday, June 29, 2015 the Attorney General on behalf of the State of Arizona reached an agreement with the plaintiff Flagstaff Living Wage Coalition in its lawsuit against the state. The parties filed a stipulated judgment and are waiting for a signature by the judge in the case.
The stipulated judgment declares that A.R.S. § 23-204, which was
passed by the Arizona legislature in 2013, and prohibits counties,
cities and towns from regulating employee compensation and benefits,
violates the Voter Protection Act. In 2006, Arizona voters passed
Proposition 202, which gave local governments the ability to regulate
compensation and benefits, and this judgment makes clear that the
state legislature cannot blatantly ignore the will of the people.
After successfully representing same-sex couples in their marriage
equality lawsuit last year, attorneys Shawn Aiken and Mik Jordahl
partnered again to support the Flagstaff Living Wage Coalition in
their legal action against the State. Aiken said, “The people have
prevailed once again. This was a clear case of our state legislature
overstepping its authority and we’re so pleased that Arizona voters
still have the final word.” Jordahl added, "Arizona voters understood
that local economic conditions such as Flagstaff's extremely high cost
of living may require consideration of higher local minimum wages.
The legislature had no right to shut down that conversation."
Eva Putzova, chair of the Coalition and Flagstaff City Councilmember
and Celia Barotz, Flagstaff Vice-Mayor, agree that this judgment
clarifies once and for all that local communities, do in fact, have
the legal authority to decide what minimum wages adequately reflect their local economic conditions.
“With the victory in this lawsuit, we are now ready to take the next
step and engage in a community conversation in Flagstaff about local
wages. The Coalition believes it is time to help not only the
thousands of working people who live in poverty but also thousands of
children who often go hungry because their families can barely make
ends meet. Positive outcomes of lifting working people from poverty go beyond economic security; they include better health outcomes and less domestic violence among others,” said Joe Bader, representing the
Coalition.
"If I can do it as a small business owner, then the larger companies
can, too. It's about doing what's right," responded Beth Heenan, owner
of Village Baker in Flagstaff to the question if a higher minimum wage
would be problematic for her business operation.
At 11 am, June 30, the Flagstaff Living Wage Coalition will hold a
press conference on the Coconino County Courthouse lawn at the corner of Birch and San Francisco Streets in Flagstaff. Follow Flagstaff’s conversation about raising the minimum wage at
facebook.com/MovingFlagstaffForward.

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