There were a few bright spots this session, for example that the Governor signed four of my bills into law. My other bill to fund a homeless shelter for seniors was also enacted.
With regard to the State budget that just passed, I was ultimately disappointed. By altering the tax structure, the legislature went against the will of the voters and reduced funding for infrastructure, health care, and especially education from where it would have been otherwise. Several bills that create obstacles to voting also passed despite our best efforts.
Though some of my bills did not pass, I will continue my effort next year to:
- Allow cities and towns to prohibit fireworks during overnight hours
- Improve teacher salaries and per-pupil expenditures for our children
- Fund expanded mental health and dental care, especially for pregnant women
- Expand KidsCare to provide more children with health insurance
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a great deal of heartbreak and turmoil, new cases have significantly decreased. I have seen this firsthand in the Emergency Room. In the meantime, families and small businesses continue to face economic uncertainty. Unemployment and housing insecurity remain top worries for people in our district. Federal funds are on the way, but we must ensure that people do not slip through the cracks.
The Arizona legislature continues to work through a backlog of bills left over from last year’s abbreviated session. In 2021, I sponsored 28 bills and co-sponsored another 58 bills to deliver on the priorities that I discussed with many of you at your door. Several of these bills began with a meeting with one of you in response to a specific situation, and I am proud to report significant progress on so many of our initiatives.
My health care bills have focused on expanding access to quality affordable health care, lowering pharmaceutical costs, improving family and medical leave for working parents, and addressing special issues such as Arizona’s nursing shortage, opioid deaths, mental health, postpartum care, and diabetes management. I am thrilled to let you know that two of my bills were signed into law this week: HB2621, reforming prior authorization to reduce health care delays and costs for patients, and HB2622, protecting health care workers against whistleblower retaliation.
I have also supported Rep. Longdon’s groundbreaking work to protect Arizona’s vulnerable adults. Her bills will hopefully reach the Governor’s desk soon.
To support our children, educators, and school support staff, I have been working to fully fund K-12 public education through the budget process. My education proposals would launch comprehensive pre-K education throughout the state and bolster our community colleges through student scholarships. My bill to provide rehabilitative education to youth in county jails passed out of both chambers with broad bipartisan support.
Democracy and civil rights
Through several bills, I have advocated for the removal of obstacles to voting and direct citizen participation in democracy. I supported the elimination of dark money from Arizona elections. Other priorities include the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution, criminal justice reform for non-violent offenders, provision of body cameras to all of our State Troopers, and enactment of statewide housing and employment non-discrimination for the LGBTQ community.
In response to local concerns, I have promoted measures to prohibit fireworks during overnight hours, fund a senior homeless shelter in Western Maricopa County, replenish the Housing Trust Fund to reduce homelessness and housing insecurity, and address neighborhood concerns about short-term rentals (e.g., Airbnb).
Animal advocacy and the environment
To protect our furry family members, I have authored legislation to stop pet stores from sourcing dogs from abusive puppy mills and ban the declaw procedure for cats. To protect our environment, I backed the development of a State Plan to address climate change.
At the same time, I remain in steadfast opposition to several measures that I believe would be detrimental to the people of Arizona, including those that:
- Obstruct ease of voting or deny access to the ballot box
- Curtail voters’ ability to enact laws through the initiative process
- Create public health hazards or do not follow science with regard to the pandemic
- Circumvent the recently-passed Proposition 208 and deny education funding
- Expand legislative branch power at the expense of other branches
With every bill that I support or oppose, I strive to understand the practical impact on you and your family to guide my actions. I am honored that you continue to share your stories with me and join in our effort to better our world.