March 21, 2018

Howdy, Friends O’Farley…

Much is happening around the Legislature since this is the final week for committees to hear bills (with the exception of my Appropriations Committee which gets one more week for last-minute bills from influential sponsors).

Some big topics are coming up, including the possible legislative renewal of Proposition 301, the 6/10-cent sales tax for education which would otherwise expire in 2021 and leave a nearly $700-million fiscal cliff for our public schools. Even its renewal, while important, will only leave us at the pathetically low funding level currently starving our schools. We need renewal plus large new investment. 

One of the biggest issues is Governor Ducey’s gun safety package. The policy details were released Monday, but we are still awaiting the legal language and still do not know whether it will be delivered in one or multiple bills, so it may be another week or two before we get to weigh in and try to make improvements.

More on that and my thoughts on Monday’s tragic self-driving Uber crash are below.

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But first, the Pledge Break…

 

—> The Republican Governors Association has already bought TV ad time in Arizona to help Doug Ducey — the only incumbent governor to receive such help from his friends in DC. That means they know he is in trouble. There are polls showing his job approval rating under water by 17 points. We can win.

1) But we can’t win without your help. Please contribute what you can. Don’t let Doug Ducey and his dark-money backers buy Arizona.

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!

3) Tell ten friends there is hope for Arizona — there’s a leader named Steve Farley who can govern from Day One and knows how to win. And ask them to tell ten friends. This is our best chance in years to create positive change in Arizona, but we all need to pitch in.

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—> On January 8, 2011, I was taking my young daughters on a family trip to Kartchner Caverns when my 2010 campaign manager Daniel Hernandez called me. “Gabby’s been shot. I’m in the ambulance with her. Find her mom, and get to the hospital ASAP.”

The world changed that day for us in Arizona, some in a more horrific way than others. Inside the hospital, the pain of gun violence left an indelible memory on those of us who had friends and family who were killed and injured.

Working with the family of Gabe Zimmerman, a friend who was killed that day, I introduced common-sense gun legislation in the state House to curb the sale of high-capacity magazines. The Tucson killer was subdued when he paused to reload, so if we limited the size of his magazine to 10 bullets instead of 33, the carnage could have been cut by two-thirds. This just makes sense.

That bill was never heard.

In subsequent years, the only gun bills heard in Arizona’s Legislature have been bills to further liberalize gun laws: Guns in bars; guns on campuses; guns at the chain-link fence of a schoolyard. Governor Ducey has signed many of these dangerous bills into law.

This year I introduced a bill, SCR1015, to require background checks on all gun sales. We ban felons and those who would be a threat to themselves and others from owning guns, but until we close the loopholes for gun shows, the Internet and private sales, background checks will be easily circumvented by anyone with the motivation. 97% of gun owners and 97% of Republicans want this policy to become law.

That bill was also never heard.

During his State of the State speech on January 8th, the seventh anniversary of the Tucson shootings, Governor Ducey proclaimed his belief that the right to bear arms is “God-given.” This was his signal to the gun lobby that he would continue to carry their banner.

Then came the massacre in Parkland, Florida, and the political climate changed overnight. Thanks to the courage of students who marched across Arizona and the country, even intransigent politicians have finally been forced to confront the reality of the horror inflicted by one man with a gun.

While Governor Ducey’s actions were tone deaf in choosing to tweet about the Cardinals instead of meeting with student leaders in his office last Wednesday, he has decided for the first time in his tenure to listen to a broad range of stakeholders, including Democratic legislators, as he developed a package of gun safety policies released Monday.

I welcome Governor Ducey to the conversation that many of us in Arizona have been having since January 2011. His policies deserve a fair hearing, just as Democratic gun safety bills have deserved for years.

I look forward to debate on the floor as we seek to improve his suggestions and create a bipartisan solution to start making our students and citizens safer from gun violence. Some of the proposed policies are good ones that have been proposed by Democrats in the past but never heard. But these good ideas can only be truly effective if we close the gun show and private sale loopholes. Without comprehensive background checks for all gun sales they simply have no teeth.

As a candidate running for governor against Doug Ducey, I believe he is the wrong choice to lead Arizona. But as a state senator representing the people of Arizona, I believe we must have the courage to put politics aside and work together to respond to the real needs of the people we serve, regardless of political implications.

Our constituents demand action and don’t care about the politics. Both parties are being called upon by the people of Arizona to pass bills that begin to address school safety and gun violence. If Governor Ducey is serious about compromising for the greater good, my colleagues and I are ready to get to work. 

—> Monday night, a Tempe woman was killed by a self-driving Uber traveling 40mph while in autonomous mode. The car did not attempt to brake until after it hit her.

While my thoughts are first and foremost with the family and friends of the victim of this tragedy, my thoughts are also with the policy climate that caused this to happen.

As the New York Times article on the crash pointed out, Gov. Ducey has allowed “testing of unmanned self-driving cars, noting that a ‘business-friendly and low regulatory environment’ had helped the state’s economy.”

This “low regulatory environment” and a tendency toward crony capitalism has now led to the death of an Arizonan. I have been warning for years – Ducey has a dangerous desire to allow flashy out-of-state corporations to operate without oversight.

In 2015, Ducey was all-in for another one of those corporations, Theranos, which made the news last week when the now-bankrupt company’s superstar CEO was charged with “massive fraud” by the SEC.

Just last July, I wrote at length in the Farley Report #256 about Ducey’s push for the administration to prisoners of Vivitrol, an expensive and lightly tested addiction drug with a powerful lobbying team and questionable results.

Here is the conclusion to my story, written in July 2017. It’s worth a second read in the context of this week’s developments:

The Vivitrol episode is yet another chapter in what is undoubtedly a disturbing pattern emerging of Governor Ducey cozying up to flashy corporations and offering up the citizens of Arizona as experimental subjects for their unproven products. 

Governor Ducey has only been in office for two and a half years. the Vivitrol experience is the fourth suspect corporate experiment he has inflicted upon us over that time. Let’s review:

1) Theranos. I was one of only two legislators to vote against Governor Ducey’s bill to allow this Silicon Valley startup to try out its unproven blood-testing product on our citizens. Turns out the product gave false results and endangered lives. The company is now an international symbol of arrogance and failure.

2) Uber. After Uber’s self-driving cars left California, Governor Ducey placed a “Welcome Uber” sign on the Executive Tower and held a press conference declaring that Uber had to flee because of “California’s burdensome regulations” and they were free to test their product on Arizona streets. In February it was revealed that they were kicked out of California because six of those cars ran red lights while people were in crosswalks.

3) Private-school vouchers for all. At the urging of national conservative figures like Jeb Bush, Betsy DeVos, and Grover Norquist, Governor Ducey pushed through the voucher bill in April, swiping taxpayer money from neighborhood district schools and giving it to unaccountable private schools. The backers said this was just a six-year “experiment” on our children.  National education researchers have already uncovered the results of this experiment — student achievement is cut in half in the first year after taking a voucher.

4) And now Vivitrol.

It would appear that Governor Ducey is governing our state for the benefit of his corporate cronies, not for the rest of us. He does not share our priorities. We can and will do better than this. It’s time for change. 

—> Endorsement News: The campaign was honored with another powerful endorsement this week — from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. IUPAT represents a growing force of men and women in the United States and Canada who work in the Finishing Trades – Industrial & Commercial Painting, Drywall Finishing, Glazing & Glass Work, Sign & Display and Floor Covering Installation, and many more successful careers in the construction industry and public sector.

Recognized as one of the most active unions in the labor movement, IUPAT members help shape their communities in many ways: through an abiding commitment to service, by fighting passionately for workers’ rights that benefit all working families, and through effective and aggressive political mobilization. I am truly honored to have their support as we build an Arizona that works for everyone.

I’m also honored to have the support of two wonderful county treasurers in Yuma’s Angela Pancrazi Moreno and Coconino’s Sarah Benatar. Pinal County is also on Team Farley — I’m proud to announce endorsements from Maricopa Councilmember Henry Wade and former Pinal County Supervisor David Snider. Together, we will turn this state around.

—> The campaign keeps a-rollin’ all over this great state of ours, getting people excited about the positive change heading our way.

I shared some great conversation with the Maricopa County Young Democrats in Phoenix, laid out our vision with a great group of concerned citizens in Casa Grande, walked with some Irish Wolfhounds and my friend Congressman Tom O’Halleran as I shook hundreds of hands in the Sedona St. Patrick’s Day Parade, talked policy with Northern Arizonans in painter Bruce Aiken’s Flagstaff studio, spoke with supporters at another event in Sedona, enjoyed a beautiful day with folks wanting change at a Roosevelt District coffeehouse in Phoenix, and addressed a festive crowd of Tucson Democrats at the Cunninghams’ annual St Patrick’s Day gathering.

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

Steve Farley

March 21, 2018