February 22, 2018

Howdy, Friends O’Farley…

The session rolls on. This is Crossover Week, when we shut down most committees in order to focus on pumping as many bills as possible from the Senate to the House and vice-versa. Bills are coming fast and furious, so we’ve got to keep our eyes peeled for surprise amendments, unintended consequences, and forgotten bills popping up out of nowhere.

I’ll fill you in on some of the Capitol happenings in a moment.


But first, the Pledge Break…

—> I am doing everything I can to be your next governor. This election offers the best opportunity in years to create real change in Arizona. Imagine our state as a light unto the nation, not a joke on late-night television. A place where public education is fully funded and everyone has quality, affordable healthcare and the opportunity to work at a livable wage. This future is within our reach, but I need your help in two ways:

1) Please contribute what you can. We are up against the Koch Brothers’ favorite son and we will need thousands of small donations to defeat Ducey’s few huge ones. He reported that his average campaign contribution in 2017 was $1,900 per donor, including $5,100 from Charles Koch himself. Only 5 donors contributed $25 or less. But his money from out-of-state billionaires won’t be as strong as your deep engagement — this will be unlike any other election in our lifetimes. Ducey can’t buy Arizona. This is our time, but only if you help.

2) Please sign my nominating petition to help me qualify for the ballot in November 2018. Please tell your friends and ask them to sign my petition. The first step to bringing change to Arizona is to put me on the ballot! The only way we win this is together, and I am honored to have your support. You can find my petition here.


—> My bill SB1261 to ban driving while texting is moving again. It passed Senate Rules on Monday and both Democratic and Republican Caucuses on Tuesday. There was some opposition voiced in the Republican Caucus, but I still have faith that it will get to the floor and beyond, and signed into law this year in some form.

I’ll let you know on my Facebook and Twitter pages when it gets assigned to a floor calendar so you can urge support from Senators.

—> On Opening Day this year, I stood on the floor and reminded my colleagues that January 8, 2018 was the seventh anniversary of the Tucson shootings that took the lives of six people, including my friend Gabe Zimmerman, and deeply affected so many more of us.

Back in 2011, I worked with Gabe’s parents and his fiancee to introduce a bill to reduce the carnage of a future mass shooting. The Tucson killer was subdued by brave bystanders when he paused to reload his gun. His magazine held 33 bullets. It only made sense to us that if we could limit a magazine’s size to 10 rounds, future shooters could be taken down earlier and lives would be saved. Even Barry Goldwater said, “If any S.O.B. can’t hit a deer with one shot, then he ought to quit shooting.”  My bill was never given a hearing.

This year, I have a bill that would ask voters to require background checks on all gun sales. This is a policy that works. Missouri repealed its background check law in 2007 and saw gun homicides jump by 25%. When Connecticut passed background checks after the Sandy Hook school shootings, its gun homicide rate fell by 40%. Lives have been saved. My bill was never given a hearing.

Meanwhile in the Arizona Legislature, we hear and vote on bills to allow guns in bars, on campuses, or in courtrooms. And the mass shootings continue.

The Florida school massacre was horrifying to us all. But it was not some unavoidable act. Legislators have refused to enact common-sense gun laws which could have helped. And this should not be a partisan issue. 

93% of gun owners support requiring a background check for all gun sales. 94% of Republicans support requiring a background check for all gun sales. This is as near to consensus as we ever get in policy debates.

I joined a bipartisan group of legislators earlier this week as we wrote a letter to Gov. Ducey demanding that he convene a task force to reduce gun violence at schools. We have not received a response.

I spoke on the Senate floor yesterday about what we can do, and you can view my speech here.

Just after my floor speech, Governor Ducey spoke to reporters for the first time since the Florida shooting. The Howie Fischer story starts like this:

“Three years into office, Gov. Doug Ducey said Tuesday he has no clear idea of how to prevent mass shootings at schools.

But the governor said he does believe in two things: Protect the Second Amendment and don’t “politicize” the massacre at the Florida high school.

“Speaking to reporters a week after the gunman killed 17, Ducey said he could provide no guidance on what changes in laws are necessary to prevent similar shootings here. …

“On Tuesday, the governor sidestepped repeated questions about the fact that, to date, the only consistency in his actions has been to sign measures to loosen state regulations of guns.

“For example, he signed legislation allowing weapons on public rights of way through campuses. He also penned his signature to one law requiring cities to sell off weapons used in crimes or surrendered rather than allowing them to be destroyed.”

Saying we shouldn’t “politicize” a massacre of children is simply your way of silencing the people of Arizona. Just because you are uncomfortable standing up to the Gun Lobby doesn’t mean we don’t need to have this conversation in a political realm, come up with solutions, and act.

Governor Ducey, your constituents deserve leadership to keep our children safe, not parroted Gun Lobby talking points. 93% of gun owners support background checks for all gun sales. Do your job.

—> Speaking of the Governor not doing his job, investigative reporter Craig Harris wrote two more articles for the Arizona Republic this week revealing:

1) Governor Ducey fired scores of revenue-producing auditors in order to hire non-revenue-producing managers with fat raises charged to carry out the lingo-heavy business-management trend called “lean”. Ironically, “lean” says you should fire managers and focus on quality and efficiency at the front lines of your company. Ducey did the opposite.

That isn’t good government. It’s porkbarrel spending by a governor dedicated to private enrichment instead of public service.

2) Governor Ducey refused to release public records showing why 82 State Parks Department employees have quit since 2015. 

An agency spokesperson claimed the Attorney General told them the records are “confidential and privileged”, but the AG’s spokesperson said, “We have not weighed in on it because we never were asked to weigh in on it. I have no idea why she said that.”

The agency director, Sue Black, had been investigated by the state twice for allegations of poor treatment of staff. The governor’s response to the allegations was to give her a 9% raise.

I seem to remember Candidate Ducey talking a lot about his competence as a manager. That was a long time ago, it seems.

—> Finally, a bit of history recalled. Eight years ago Sunday, years of hard work by so many of us came to fruition as Tucson’s Modern Streetcar project was officially greenlighted with receipt of federal matching funds to complete project financing. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood came to town with a $63 million grant to get us officially under way, and as one of the key activists behind our streetcar I was honored to stand behind him on the stage with many other community leaders.

Today, thanks to this catalyst and much more hard work by many, downtown Tucson is transformed into a true destination with scores of new businesses, a billion and a half dollars worth of private development, thousands of new jobs, new corporate headquarters, and 24/7 activity on the streets — making downtown Tucson one of the hottest cultural capitals in the country.

Inspiration combined with persistence can take us as a community anywhere we want to go. We did this. Together.

—> I’m continuing my nonstop Arizona road trip, gathering support from folks all over for a state government that works for them, for a change.

I shared my vision and experience with fired-up activists at the LD27 Democrats meeting in South Phoenix, spent time in Tempe with a whole lot of folks of mixed party registrations who are excited about just solving our problems together, headed up to Kingman for a wonderful event for Mohave County residents and an interview with the Kingman Daily Miner, motored through Lake Havasu City for breakfast to a great lunchtime event with some great Yumans, and shared some tasty Hawaiian food in Tucson with the Asian American Pacific Islander Democratic Caucus.

Wherever you live, you, too, can join our campaign so we can finally get the leadership we deserve right here in the state we love.

Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Senator.


Steve Farley

Senator, District 9, Tucson

If you like my representation and want to keep me in office, CONTRIBUTE TODAY!

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February 22, 2018