Monday, April 22, 2019

The Blue Wave for Monday, April 22, 2019

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A weekly legislative update from the Arizona Senate Democratic Caucus

Volume 1, Issue 14
Monday, April 22, 2019

Top Stories

Finally, a texting ban

Arizona finally has a texting ban on the books and in immediate effect, thanks to years of hard work by the families of those who have been killed or injured by texting drivers and thanks to years of Democratic efforts.

For a decade and a half, Democratic legislators in Arizona have introduced legislation to ban texting and driving only to see their bills denied a hearing or voted down by the majority party. In fact, Arizona was the first state to have such legislation introduced. But until today's bill signing, we were one of three states left that didn't have a texting ban in place.

For years our effort was led by former Senator Steve Farley of Tucson, who worked tirelessly with stakeholders to push for this life-saving legislation. But he and we couldn't have done it without the families and friends of people killed by distracted drivers who came here to testify. Every year they relived the worst moments of their lives and every year until this one, the legislature would let them down. We have so much respect and gratitude for the courage of these families to persist the way they did.

Watch this week's Canyonside Chat with Senator Lisa Otondo, who has helped push for a texting ban for years:
Senator Victoria Steele interviews Senator Lisa Otondo on Democrats' years of efforts to pass a texting ban on this week's Canyonside Chat.

“Bipartisan” bill count

The final tally of Senate bills heard in the Senate:
Republican: 311
Democratic: 27

While Democrats hold 43 percent of seats in the Senate, our bills only account for 7.9 percent of bills heard.

News Clips

Governor Ducey wants to increase the rainy day fund to $1 billion, but how will that impact the rest of the budget? For more on this and other activity at the state legislature, Arizona Horizon hosted Democratic legislative leaders Senator Martin Quezada and Assistant House Minority Leader Randall Friese as part of their weekly capital update.

Bill would protect well owners from potential prosecution

Sen. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe, had his own concerns about eliminating criminal penalties. “I can’t understand how you can unwittingly kill a river,’’ he said.

Commentary - Legally sanctioned homophobia still a mainstay of Arizona law

For his part, Sen. Martin Quezada, a Glendale Democrat, had pressed for the law’s repeal in each of the past four legislative sessions. “What [the repeal effort] was asking for was that every kid in the State of Arizona be treated like the beautiful human being that they are,” Quezada told the Mirror last week. “It was asking that every kid…in the state of Arizona was able to receive information that would help them become healthy and productive adults.” That’s what I call common sense.

Highlights From The Past Week

Senator Juan Mendez kicked off Earth Day with a press conference highlighting the need to acknowledge and address climate change at national, state and local levels of government.

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