Arizona Progressives Stood Tall in 2014 Legislative Session

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It’s over! While progressives, working families and supporters of public education, voting rights and equality were under constant attack during this legislative session, we should be very pleased with the results.

The 2014 Arizona Legislature adjourned sine die early this morning with minimal damage done. Working and standing together, Arizona’s growing progressive community stood up and – with a few exceptions – thwarted the extremist agendas of Cathi Herrod and the Center for Arizona Policy, the Goldwater Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“Cathi Herrod, ALEC and the Goldwater Institute have treated the Arizona Legislature like their personal playground for far too long,” said Robbie Sherwood, executive director for ProgressNow Arizona. “Arizonans are sick and tired of ideological Tea Party legislators serving corporate masters and not constituents, and making Arizona a national laughingstock. We stood up and stopped their agenda cold in 2014. Voters will hold accountable those dividing our state and who refuse to work on solutions to restore education funding, stop discrimination, protect workplace rights, equal rights and women’s healthcare.”

High points of the 2014 session included:

  • Senate Bill 1062 vetoed. Cathi Herrod’s legislation to condone discrimination against the LGBTQ community based on religious objections inspired thousands of young Arizonans to protest and become politically active, many for the first time. The deafening community outcry and embarrassing national spotlight forced Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the bill.
  • Public education protected from “Alt-Schools Fiasco.” Led – astoundingly – by our own Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal, ideologues on the right sought to serve a knock-out punch to public schools by massively expanding tax-payer funded private-school vouchers. Though one smaller expansion snuck through, the bills sought by Goldwater and the Alliance for School Choice to steer hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into private schools failed in the face of bi-partisan opposition in both the House and Senate.
  • Big wins for public servants and working families. ALEC and Goldwater’s anti-labor bills on “paycheck deception,” release time and to destroy retirement security (HB2058) for public employees were bottled up and killed.
  • A bad year for ALEC all around. ProgressNow Arizona helped expose ALEC’s back-room wining and dining of Arizona Republican lawmakers with a hidden-camera investigation by KPHO-TV 5 News. In addition to its anti-labor and anti-public-school agenda going down, controversial ALEC bills also went down, including an “ag-gag” measure to protect farmers from animal cruelty investigations (HB2587), a single-source contract for online education company Imagine Learning (HB2485), and a student-privacy/anti-Common core measure (HB2316).
  • Voters are off the menu. After the Protect Your Right to Vote Committee successfully referred last year’s heinous voter suppression bill HB2305 to the 2014 ballot, frightened legislators came back this session and repealed their bill. Bottom line, efforts to get tough on voters in 2014 were stopped.

However, there’s still more work to do. The National Rifle Association pushed over-the-top legislation to allow guns in public buildings and to supersede local government efforts to pass common-sense firearm ordinances. Fortunately Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed these bills, but a future governor might not. And Brewer disappointingly signed HB2284 allowing unannounced inspections of abortion and women’s health clinics, one of few victories for Cathi Herrod this year. In the last hours of the session, the Legislature also passed a bill that erodes the authority of the Clean Elections Commission to investigate and enforce campaign violations by privately funded candidates (SB1344).

“There is still time for Gov. Brewer to do the right thing with her veto stamp,” Sherwood said.