Yesterday, in a very ironic twist
of events, Democrats in House Judiciary argued against the very platform they
purport to stand for.
Criminal justice reform.
In an astonishing display of
intellectual dishonesty, Democrat members attacked legislation
that reforms the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws that would require the
government obtain a criminal conviction prior to forfeiting an individual’s
property. Not only is this one of the
most important areas of criminal justice, it is an effort for which democrats
themselves have advocated and voted. In fact, just three years ago when more
modest reforms were being proposed, many democrats stated they would like to
see the legislation go further to include a criminal conviction.
Their public objections to the
bill teetered on the bizarre. They
claimed because the bill prohibits the Attorney General from funding employees
with RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) funds that would
force government to cut other areas of government such as public defenders. A clear demonstration as to why a built-in
profit motive is grossly immoral. They
also argued that the bill would eliminate law enforcement’s ability to seize
assets of criminals and therefore hurt victims of crime. A patently false statement that would have
been easily dispelled had any of the Democrats bothered to read the actual
bill. Perhaps the most strange argument
was that under current law, advocates of the bill could simply file a “1487” a
mechanism in state law that allows a lawmaker to request an Attorney General
opinion as to whether a local county or city is breaking the law and then withhold
state shared revenues if they were found in violation. The most blatantly obvious problem with this –
law enforcement isn’t breaking the law.
They can lawfully seize and forfeit an individual’s property
without even charging them with a crime.
That is in fact the reason for the bill in the first place.
Their arguments had themselves
turned in knots.
This new-found alliance between
democrats and prosecutors has them abandoning the people they claim to advocate
for the most – minorities and the impoverished.
Afterall, their philosophic truth council the ACLU
has been stalwart advocates for the overhaul of the forfeiture system both in
Arizona and around the country, in part because the backward laws
disproportionally harm minority and low income populations. Considering how instrumental the ACLU was in
passing Arizona’s 2017 reforms, it is curious they didn’t have more sway with
House Democrats this time around.
It is quite clear that the discussion of SB1556 has eroded into the politics of personality. House Judiciary Democrats being happy to sell out completely on their principles of criminal justice reform and defending the most vulnerable persons in the system to stick it to a bill sponsor they don’t like. Or perhaps they have flip flopped on the issue because in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, they now support taking people’s property without due process.
Considering we are living in a
time when many Americans and Arizonans are concerned with government overreach
and oppression, it is unconscionable that lawmakers would consider protecting a
system of legalized government theft.
Hopefully, House Democrats will remember who they represent and vote YES
today on SB1556.
This week the Arizona Legislature
lurched back into action, coming together for the first time since March to
pass a slate of bills before calling it quits. Normally more action (and bills)
at the legislature means bad news for taxpayers, but this time there was a very
good reason to have lawmakers come back: Covid-19 liability.
After Governor Ducey correctly
decided to end the shutdown earlier this month, businesses have been eager to
reopen, yet are uneasy on how to do it right.
Businesses are very concerned that even with their best efforts to
implement policies and procedures that keep employees and customers safe from
Covid-19, they are vulnerable to sue-happy trial attorneys and opportunists
looking to make a buck on class action lawsuits.
If the state is to recover
economically as quickly as possible, the legislature must pass legislation that
limits the liability exposure for businesses.
Current tort law in Arizona entitles an injured party to damages if they
can find the other party was simply negligent in their duties by a preponderance
of the evidence, a fairly low evidentiary standard.
Proposed legislation currently
being crafted by Senator Eddie Farnsworth and Representative John Kavanagh
would likely raise this bar to require a business or non-profit was grossly
negligent by clear and convincing evidence.
This change would only be applied to suits directly related to the
Governor’s Executive Order addressing COVID-19.
Additionally, many Arizona businesses
took exception to Ducey’s forceful approach to enforcement, threatening fines
and revocation of licenses for violations of his Executive Orders. Any bill that moves forward should either
remove or significantly limit the draconian (and often unconstitutional) danger
of excessive fines or punishment.
Businesses will undoubtedly do
what they can to follow recommended safety guidelines for employees and
customers. But if they must contend with
the looming anxiety of being sued for a fortune without adequate protections
under the law or of having their right to operate their business legally at
all, our economy will suffer.
Starting and running a business
is inherently risky. Individuals stake
their livelihoods on a concept they hope and believe will be successful in the
open market. The risk and uncertainty
created around COVID-19 has the ability to cripple our job creators. After the forced closures of thousands of
businesses in Arizona, many of them will not reopen. For the ones that do step into this brave new
world, they must have assurances that a slew of lawsuits or a government
crack-down won’t force them to close their doors again, this time for
the Arizona Free Enterprise Club announced its first slate of candidate endorsements
for the 2020 election cycle.
The endorsed candidates represent individuals who align with
the organization’s principles and key policy goals. Club President Scot Mussi stated, “It is critical Arizona has leaders and
policy makers who are able to articulate and stand up for free market
principles and pro-growth policies. This
slate of candidates has proven they can and will.”
Shedd, CD 1
Martin, CD 2
Gosar, CD 4
Biggs, CD 5
Schwiekert, CD 6
Lesko, CD 8
Judy Burges, LD 1 House
Quang Nguyen, LD 1 House
McEwen, LD 2 House
Joel John, LD 4 House
Cobb, LD 5 House
Biasuicci, LD 5 House
Allen, LD 6 Senate
Blackman, LD 6 House
Barton, LD 6 House
Peelman, LD 7 House
Carter, LD 8 House
Leach, LD 11 Senate
Finchem, LD 11 House
Bret Roberts, LD 11 House
Petersen, LD 12 Senate
Grantham, LD 12 House
Hoffman, LD 12 House
Kerr, LD 13 Senate
Gail Griffin, LD 14 House
Becky Nutt, LD 14 House
Nancy Barto, LD 15 Senate
Steve Kaiser, LD 15 House
Wilmeth, LD 15 House
Kelly Townsend, LD 16 Senate
Parker, LD 16 House
Mesnard, LD 17 Senate
Harris, LD 17 House
Sharer, LD 18 Senate
Kern, LD 20 House
Bolick, LD 20 House
Gray, LD 21 Senate
Payne, LD 21 House
Pingerelli, LD 21 House
Livingston, LD 22 Senate
Toma, LD 22 House
Carroll, LD 22 House
Ugenti-Rita, LD 23 Senate
Kavanagh, LD 23 House
Pace, LD 25 Senate
Bowers, LD 25 House
Pearce, LD 25 House
Pena, LD 27 House
Stephen Richer, County Recorder
Allister Adel, County Attorney
Steve Chucri, Board of Supervisors
Bill Gates, Board of Supervisors
Chuck Gray, Board of Supervisors District 2
Steve Miller, Board of Supervisors District 3
Jeffrey McClure, Board of Supervisors District 4
David Malton, Board of
Supervisors District 5
Jerry Weiers, Mayor
Ray Malnor, City Council, Sahuaro District
Ian Hugh, City Council, Cactus District
Mike Auerbach, City Council
Leah Sellards Martineau, Town Council
Mark Stewart, City Council
David Seibert, City Council, District 1
Dear Governor Ducey:
As a free market organization that represents entrepreneurs,
job creators and hardworking taxpayers throughout the state, the Free
Enterprise Club has defended many of the actions that you have taken to combat
the Covid-19 pandemic. Dealing with a crisis in real time is always going to be
difficult, especially when information and data is incomplete. There was an
incredible amount of uncertainty and risk in mid-March, and a shutdown of the
economy–while drastic–was understood.
To say that the press conference announcing the extension of
the stay-at-home order was a disappointment would be an understatement. Your decision was confusing, provided no
certainty for the thousands of small businesses that are on the verge of
bankruptcy, and shifted the rationale for why we started the shutdown to begin
The goal post shifting might be the most frustrating aspect
of the extended stay-at-home order. When the closures began in Mid-March, we
were told that these extreme measures were necessary to accomplish two tasks:
- Flatten the Curve to ensure so we don’t see a
huge spike in hospitalizations resulting in our healthcare system being
- Provide an opportunity for our hospital system
to ramp up and prepare for an influx of Covid-19 cases.
Both of these goals have been achieved by wide margins. The
curve has been flattened. There has been
no large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Arizona and hospitalization
rates have been flat for a month. Our healthcare system took advantage of the time
provided by increasing supplies of ventilators, beds and other essential PPE
needed to combat the pandemic. And residents throughout the state sacrificed
their income, jobs, businesses and mental health to do their part to stop the
Yet now we have created a new arbitrary set of metrics for
ending the shutdown. At the press conference you commented that a Fortune 100
company told you that public confidence is too low to open. That polling showed
some people believe Arizona is just not ready to reopen. You claimed that
another governor had a “bad experience” during their reopening (even though it
is way too early to make any such declarations). It was also mentioned that we
need better data trendlines than what we have seen.
It is easy to see why thousands of Arizona residents and
businesses owners were furious after the announcement. These explanations offered
no clear path forward and made it appear that the voices of large companies and
wealthy restaurant owners speak for the entire business community, not the
thousands of small businesses being wiped out because of the shutdown.
Even more frightening for those waiting to reopen is that likely
nothing will different by May 15th to satisfy your new criteria. The
number of new daily Covid-19 cases will be roughly the same and hospitalization
rates will remain flat. Public confidence won’t be improved. Doomsday modelers
that have been wrong
from the beginning will still be warning of dark days ahead if we end the
shutdown. And your office will encounter the same opposition to reopening from
the same politicians, media outlets
and twitter pundits, most of whom have not lost a single paycheck or suffered
any financial hardship during the pandemic.
Not surprisingly, citizens watching their lives be destroyed
are becoming more defiant in the face of what they see as government overreach
and abuse. The number and size of protests throughout the state are growing by the day. Restaurants
and other small retail shops on the verge of bankruptcy are beginning
to open despite warnings from law enforcement or concerns about losing
their business license. Social unrest is becoming a real threat, something that
is not carrying enough weight in the current decision-making process.
Now more than ever the residents of Arizona crave
leadership. This is not a crisis that can be solved looking at polling numbers
or crafting a snappy slogan. You have often spoke of “being bold” during
your time in office—that is what Arizona needs today! It is time to
lead, and here are a few suggestions:
- Reopen Arizona Today! The debate has
often centered around reopening our economy, but this is much bigger than that.
This is about reopening society, and you need to lead on a plan
that gets our state opened today. Most understand that our lives won’t go back
to normal right away and that some activities (sporting events, concerts, large
gatherings, etc.) will be delayed. But there is no reason that anyone wanting
to get back to work should be denied that opportunity.
- Provide Clear Guidelines for Businesses.
Missing from your press conference was any clear guidelines for businesses on what
to do when they reopened. This was rectified somewhat a few days later, but the
reality is that businesses are as confused as ever on what do to. Providing
simple guidelines will improve confidence for both employers and the public as
places begin to reopen.
- Trust our Judgement. The primary reason
that the so-called “experts” and modelers continue to be wrong in their
predictions is that they believe they can predict and control the actions of
millions of people. They cannot and the more that the government or the Karens
of the world try to impose their will on others, the more it will backfire.
You must trust that citizens will make healthy choices and are better at
protecting themselves and their families than the government.
- Provide the Facts on Covid-19. As Arizona
begins to reopen, people should be provided with an accurate picture of the
true risks associated with Covid-19. The data
is overwhelming that there are at at-risk populations, primarily those over
the age of 65 or with chronic health conditions. But it is also a fact, supported
by evidence, that healthy children and adults under the age of 45 are at an
low risk of getting seriously ill. There is also little
evidence to support the notion that major suppression/lockdown efforts have
been any more effective at containing the spread of Covid-19 than lighter
mitigation efforts. This information should guide our response and also help
people make informed decisions on the lifestyle decisions they choose to make.
Governor Ducey, if you lead on reopening, people will
follow. We urge you to take the reigns and lead our great state back to