Last week was the final week to hear bills in committee, which means the session is moving mainly to floor votes and then the eventual work on the state budget.
We had a few fireworks last week, with final votes coming to the floor on a variety of issues. The one you probably heard the most about was HB 2404, which attacks the citizen initiative process. The bill, which Governor Ducey signed into law late last week, would make it harder for citizen initiatives to pass, by upping the requirements for signature collection.
I voted no, and did so because I believe in the process of allowing citizens to have their voices be heard at the capitol, because sometimes, legislators don’t listen and need a check on their power! That’s what the initiative process is all about. There are other bills aimed at attacking the initiative process making their way through the legislature, and will continue to oppose efforts to undermine the will of the people and direct democracy itself.
The budget is progressing slowly, which Republican leadership and the governor’s office huddling over the details. We still expect to be in session through at least early May, as some of the more contentious details get ironed out. Some of the key sticking points: the governor’s proposal for the universities to allow them to collect sales taxes on their campuses and use for bonding purposes; the sweep of the HURF funds into the general fund; and finally, making sure that our teachers get a better pay raise than the 0.4% raise per year that the governor proposed in January.
I had a busy week away from the capitol last week too. I attended the Tempe Union High School District governing board meeting on Wednesday night, and went on several tours on Friday, including a visit with the leadership of Mesa Community College. I went on a tour of the campus, and explored many of the fascinating new programs and initiatives they are launching.
On Saturday, I visited Flagstaff and participated in a budget town hall with some of my House colleagues. It was great to hear from voters on what they want to see in the budget, particularly around education and relief for the developmentally disabled community. Their concerns align with mine, and it was great to see such strong support for our budgetary priorities.
More visits planned this week, including a trip to ASU to speak to the Young Democrats there and a trip to Tucson on Saturday. Stay tuned!
I spent part of my day yesterday knocking on doors in the district. You may be saying, “Why is he knocking on doors in March of 2017?!”
Well, a couple of reasons. First, I love talking to my constituents and hearing what they have to say about the legislature. There is no better way to hear direct feedback from the people you represent!
Second, I wanted to hear what voters had to say about the budget. We receive calls and emails throughout the week, but I think knocking on someone’s door has an impact, especially from a state legislator. It’s great to have 1-on-1 conversations, and hear which issues resonate with them and their families.
I had a great time talking to voters in Tempe, and received a lot of positive feedback. The issue I heard about the most, by far, was education. I received the same feedback during the campaign, so this doesn’t come as much of a surprise! I told everyone that my #1 priority with the budget is to restore education funding and give our teachers the raises they deserve. I also mentioned my push for more support for our universities and community colleges.
As many of you know, I knocked on a lot of doors during the campaign, and I will continue to do so as an incumbent. I like the idea of knocking on doors every weekend, actually, running into next year! Stay tuned.
District Snapshot – A special edition of my trips throughout the district last week!
I had a busy day last Friday. I spent the morning speaking to the Chandler Chamber of Commerce’s Policy Breakfast, where I shared updates on how things are progressing at the capitol. After that, I spent time touring two of the schools in LD18. And not just any schools – my old elementary and middle schools!
I have a goal of visiting every public school in my district over the next two years, and I wanted to start it off with the two schools I attended growing up.
First up was Pueblo Middle School in Chandler, home of the Bulldogs! I really appreciated taking a tour of the entire campus to see how little (and how much!) it has changed since my time there.
My personal favorite was the tour at Kyrene de la Mirada in Chandler. I had several students show me around and take me to the library, classrooms, the school garden, and more. I visited about a dozen classrooms, and many of the students had questions for me about my job and how I became a senator.
Many thanks to everyone at the Kyrene district office and the staffs at Pueblo and Mirada for making these tours happen – I enjoyed every minute!
As always, you can follow me on Facebook and on Twitter for more up to the minute updates. I appreciate all of your help and support – if you can, please consider showing your support today so I can keep fighting for our values and priorities at the state capitol. It is an honor to represent you in the state senate!
Yours in the fight,