The left has been stoking public outcry over election integrity reforms around the country, prompting Joe Biden to refer to Georgia’s recent election bill “Jim Crow on steroids.” The misguided outrage has been focused on Arizona too, and democrats have been referring to many of the bills here as a reaction to what they call the “Big Lie” referring to the 2020 election. In reality, the only “Big Lie” is the narrative from the media and left that these measures are voter suppression bills.
One bill they are targeting is SB 1485, which was introduced by Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita and has passed the Senate on party lines, the House Government & Elections Committee, and is waiting for a Floor vote in the House. Calling this a reaction to 2020 is easily disproven evidenced by the fact that Senator Ugenti-Rita introduced the same exact bill in 2019.
The bill simply requires county recorders to send a notice to a voter on the permanent early voter list who has not cast their mail-in ballot in four consecutive elections. If the voter fails to respond to the notice within 30 days, the voter would be removed from the early voter list.
It is important to note that unlike many other states, Arizonans can vote early in person for 27 days and should someone be removed from the early voter list, they can immediately re-register or simply choose to vote in person. No one is being disenfranchised.
But since the media and left have taken such a vocal stance against these bills, let’s compare SB 1485 to the rest of the country. Unlike Arizona, most states do not allow automatic early voting by mail and even those that do are far more restrictive than what SB 1485 proposes.
In Connecticut for example, the only people who can automatically vote by mail are those who are permanently physically disabled. And even then, it should not be called “permanent” because a voter is removed for failing to respond to an annual notice within 30 days. (§ 9-140e). Compare that with SB 1485, where a notice is sent only after failing to vote in four consecutive elections. Which is more reasonable?
In California, where any registered voter may sign up to automatically receive a ballot by mail similar to Arizona’s permanent early voter list, a voter is automatically removed after failing to vote in four consecutive elections (§ 3206). So, in reality, SB1485 doesn’t even go as far as California, a state in which democrats have held a trifecta since 2011.
And what about in D.C, where they allow voters to “permanently” request an absentee ballot but remove any voter who misses two consecutive elections (DCMR 3, § 720.4)? Where is the public outcry over D.C’s voter “suppression”?
The truth is that these reforms do not even go as far as laws that currently exist around the country, including in democrat strongholds. In Arizona, it is far easier to automatically vote by mail than it is in most states, but the lies being peddled by the media and woke left are duping corporations like Delta, Coca-Cola, and the MLB in Georgia, and now many here in Arizona too.
Somehow, they didn’t see it coming. Last week, Gilbert Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in Arizona, notified 152 certified staff members that they would be without jobs for the 2021-2022 school year. And the announcement sent shockwaves throughout Arizona’s public school districts.
Parents certainly tried to warn them. They pleaded with their school districts to find safe ways to offer in-person learning. And they threatened to leave for charter schools, private schools, or homeschool if they didn’t.
But the teachers’ unions didn’t want to listen. Instead they threatened to strike if schools reopened this past fall. And many staged “sick outs” in a sorry attempt to force students to remain online. All of this despite the fact that multiple schools throughout our state had returned to in-person learning safely.
Now, Gilbert Public Schools (with others likely to follow) is learning a lesson the hard way. Parents don’t like it when schools turn their backs on them—and their children. So, they voted with their feet. And enrollment in public schools plummeted.
Gilbert saw approximately 3,900 fewer students than projected. Peoria Unified School District reported a drop in enrollment of over 2,000 students compared to last year. And a recent report from the Arizona Department of Education indicated that enrollment in public schools across the state is down around 6% while charter schools have seen an increase of 9%.
Perhaps the teachers’ unions should take an economics class. Fewer students mean fewer dollars. And few dollars mean fewer teachers.
Of course, the Democrats can’t accept this simple principle. Instead of focusing on how to serve students and parents better to boost enrollment, you’ll never guess their proposed solution. Ok. You probably did. They want to dump more money into public schools. That’s right. State representatives like Kelli Butler (D-LD28) actually think rainy day funds will solve the problem until students magically return to public schools.
But what the Democrats fail to realize is that COVID-19 enhanced the importance of school choice while providing an opportunity to revolutionize education. And parents haven’t been content to sit around and allow themselves to be held hostage by the public schools. Some went so far as to create their own solutions, including new ideas like microschools and pandemic pods.
That’s why right now is the perfect time to have a real discussion about school funding. Instead of pumping money into schools and school districts that protect their own interests first, Arizona should look to fund students instead of systems. And the state could start by expanding Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) program. This would allow parents to use their tax dollars for alternative learning solutions, giving families access to the funds needed to tailor an education that best fits their children. And it would do so at a fraction of the cost.
It’s time for Arizona to take the power away from the teachers’ unions and put it in the hands of parents and students. They deserve the best education possible education and the funding to make it happen.
Let’s give our students a solution that’s centered on them. Because if this past year has taught us anything, it’s that they are really the ones who are paying the price.
With just over two months under his belt since taking office, President Biden’s hand has to be getting tired. So far, he has signed 37 executive orders, 13 presidential memoranda, 24 proclamations, and seven notices. In his first two weeks alone, Biden had already signed more than double the number of executive orders signed by President Trump in his first month.
And isn’t it funny? After four years of lambasting Trump’s executive orders as authoritarian or an abuse of power, the left and the mainstream media have been silent about Biden’s.
There’s no saying how far our current president will go with these actions, but if the first two months are any indicator, it will only get worse. Despite Biden’s pandering calls for unity, his executive orders have been divisive and partisan.
On his first day as president, Biden signed an executive order to disband the 1776 Commission, an advisory committee established by Trump to support patriotic education. This more than likely signifies Biden’s support for the 1619 Project, a “history” curriculum that has already drawn some ire here in Arizona for its claims that the United States was actually founded on slavery in the year 1619.
But Biden didn’t stop there.
A couple days later, he signed another executive order that strengthens the power of federal labor unions. He paused new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters to help tackle the “existential threat” of so-called climate change. And he instituted several policies supporting illegal immigrants. The list goes on and on…
Thankfully, a bill that passed through the Arizona House is seeking to combat these executive orders. HB2310 allows a member of the legislature to request that the Legislative Council review a Presidential executive order and recommend that the Attorney General further investigate the order. If the Attorney General determines that the executive order is illegal, HB2310 requires him to file action in federal district court.
And Arizona is not the only state taking such actions. Recently, HB1236 passed through the House in Oklahoma, where state legislators plan to review executive orders regarding the pandemic and the halting of the Keystone XL Pipeline, to name a few. In fact, just yesterday, Oklahoma joined 13 other states to sue the Biden administration for the executive order in January that paused new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.
Arizona should stand with states like Oklahoma to help lead the way in fighting the overreach of the Biden administration. Now, it’s up to the Arizona Senate to do its part by passing HB2310 and sending it over to Governor Ducey’s desk. Our state should never enforce any unconstitutional executive orders. And President Biden must be held accountable if and when he signs them.
By passing HB2310, our lawmakers can make it clear that in four years Biden’s hand may not be tired, but his feet will be worn out from standing in court.
How much longer will the government allow Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, and Apple to run amok? Is their penchant to play speech police enough? Google-owned YouTube has a history of deplatforming and demonetizing conservative organizations. And by now, you probably know that Twitter didn’t hesitate to ban President Trump while he was still the President of the United States.
Or what about their influence on this past November’s election? Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg alone gave hundreds of millions of dollars to election offices to influence local elections. And as you can probably assume, it wasn’t to ensure the process remained fair and nonpartisan.
Or could it be Big Tech’s uncanny ability to collude with each other to serve their own interests? Just ask Parler how it went when Apple, Google, and Amazon conspired to remove the new social media company from the internet—an objective that Apple still appears to be committed to.
Big Tech companies are out of control, and it’s time for the government and our lawmakers to do something about it. Consumers rightfully expect a free marketplace where all individuals and companies can compete on a level playing field. But these Big Tech companies are becoming increasingly monopolistic. And while it was good to see 46 states, including Arizona, join the Federal Trade Commission to sue Facebook for such practices this past December, more work needs to be done.
Now, Arizona can play a key role in this effort.
Since 1974, our state law has prohibited actions that seek to restrict or monopolize trade. Arizona’s government and lawmakers should be leveraging such laws to reel in Big Tech before the problem gets even worse. Thankfully, the Arizona Senate is now looking to do just that by taking an important step forward with SB1155.
The purpose of this bill is to appropriate $1 million from the Antitrust Enforcement Fund to the Arizona Attorney General to “investigate and bring enforcement actions against technology companies engaging in anti-competitive, anti-consumer, or monopolistic behavior.” This would give the Attorney General the resources needed to litigate against Big Tech companies that violate Arizona’s antitrust laws.
And what better time than right now for such litigation to take place?
After all, Big Tech companies are gaining more and more power each day. And as they do, they will wield it on an even greater scale to stop emerging competition, stifle innovation, censor speech, and feed the fire of our current “cancel culture.”
That’s how we’ve gotten to where we are right now. And it’s going to get even worse if our government and lawmakers don’t do something about it. Just think about what that could mean for conservative voices and platforms—or even the next election.
It’s time for our state legislature to act. Arizona companies and consumers are being harmed by the Big Tech monopoly. But this can all be changed if lawmakers ensure everyone—including these tech companies—abides by the American principles of free speech, fair competition, and equal opportunity.
Championed by the left as a win for the people, the Democrat COVID “relief” plan is little more than a blue state bailout with handouts to special interests and expansion of progressive policies. As if the billions of taxpayer dollars being funneled away wasn’t enough, Schumer snuck a provision into the package that would prohibit states from cutting taxes and providing relief to their taxpayers. Not just this year, but through 2024.
Yes, that means that in addition to only a dismal fraction of the “relief” going directly to taxpayers, further relief through state tax cuts would be barred.
It’s a simple principle: good behavior ought to be rewarded, and bad behavior punished. Yet the Democrat’s blue state bailout does the exact opposite, extracting billions from states that budgeted responsibly and mitigated economic shutdowns while rewarding blue states whose budget shortfalls are of their own making – stemming from bad policies pre-pandemic and even worse during the pandemic.
Initially packed with $140 million for Pelosi’s Big Tech pals in Silicon Valley and a bridge to nowhere, the $1.9 trillion Schumer-Pelosi package was still passed with $350 billion to flood blue states, $1.7 billion to Amtrak, billions to expand Obamacare and bailout union pensions, $165 billion to schools that remain closed, and recklessly sends stimulus checks to prisoners and illegal immigrants.
Unlike states that completely shut down their economies, Arizona would be receiving federal funds on top of our billion-dollar budget surplus. With this flood of deficit backed billions, D.C is trying to run up state spending, creating unsustainable budget baselines all while tying our hands on tax policy.
By overreaching into the tax policy of state governments, Democrats are inspiring Republican legislatures to tie every future penny to block blue states from activities like tax increases, infringements on the Second Amendment, expansion of social programs, and many other preemptions to thwart the left’s agenda. In the words of Mitch McConnell, “you’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think.”
Additionally, the move is completely antithetical to our federalist form of government and potentially runs amuck of the anti-commandeering precedent of the Supreme Court. James Madison argued the powers of the federal government are “few and defined” while the powers of the states are “numerous and indefinite” extending to all objects including “the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” How can we provide for the prosperity of the state if we are barred from touching our tax code for the foreseeable future?
Democrats running blue states are unsurprisingly upset from years of businesses and taxpayers fleeing their states and flocking to low-tax, pro-growth red states. Perhaps the plan is to make red states as bad as their own by preventing any tax cuts and eventually businesses and taxpayers will be trapped with nowhere to flee. Since their ship is sinking, they want to pull the whole fleet down with them.
Lawmakers should take a stand against Schumer’s infringement on state governments and the ridiculous non-pandemic related spending in this package and force a debate over whether we should be spending billions bailing out unions, special interests, and expanding progressive polices or return the money to taxpayers and create a pro-growth environment for small businesses. Common-sense and history say the latter.
Reading, writing, arithmetic…these aren’t controversial topics, and neither should be the education of our children. Kids are supposed to go to school to learn life skills and become productive members of society. This isn’t complicated. And yet, schools are increasingly becoming the primary tool of a radical agenda to indoctrinate children in leftist ideology.
Take the 1619 Project for example. Various schools across the country have adopted a history curriculum centered on this series of essays from The New York Times,which claims that the United States was actually founded on slavery in the year 1619.
But the radicalization doesn’t stop there.
A school district policy in Madison, Wisconsin not only helps children adopt transgender identities, but it instructs teachers to lie about it to parents.
And right here in Peoria, Arizona, parents are dealing with similar frustrations after district officials denied them access to review learning materials that appear to be based on the principles of the Black Lives Matter organization.
In a year that’s already been challenging enough for parents as they’ve navigated through COVID, online learning, “sick outs,” and more, you would think that school districts would seek to build trust with them.
But apparently some public schools are too committed to their agenda.
Thankfully, the Arizona Senate is seeking to create more transparency through SB1058. This bill, which has now been transmitted to the House, requires district and charter schools to post a list of procedures used to review and approve learning materials on a prominent portion of their websites. In addition, they would also have to post procedures by which a parent can review learning materials in advance.
But what about district and charter schools that do not have such procedures? They would have to clearly state this on their websites.
While Arizona law currently allows for parents to review learning materials, the process hasn’t always been easy. And many parents have grown frustrated by officials who block access to curriculum.
But SB1058 would allow for more transparency from schools without burdening the staff. This should be a win-win for everyone involved, except of course for schools that have something to hide.
After all, any school that’s currently featuring the 1619 Project as part of its history curriculum probably doesn’t want parents to know that several renowned historians have criticized it for being inaccurate and pushing a false narrative. And they also probably don’t want them to know that Nikole Hannah-Jones, the architect behind the 1619 Project, has admitted that the whole point behind it is to make an argument for slavery reparations.
But a bill like SB1058 would help bring this to light. And while more work needs to be done, this is definitely a step in the right direction. Parents have a right to know if ahistorical and fringe topics are being taught to their children. And now the House needs to pass this essential piece of legislation to give parents the transparency they deserve from the schools their children attend.