Warren Petersen, Shawnna Bolick Top Republican Liberty Caucus of Arizona’s 2021 Scorecard

Warren Petersen and Shawnna Bolick

The Republican Liberty Caucus of Arizona released its 2021 scorecard rating Arizona legislators this session, with just two legislators receiving perfect scores — and one of them actually scored 102 due to bonus points. Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) received an extra two points for his efforts on SCR 1001, a Senate Concurrent Resolution to terminate Governor Doug Ducey’s declaration of emergency on COVID-19. The resolution was highly critical of Ducey, observing that “Governor Ducey has subjected individual citizens to criminal sanctions for noncompliance with the stay-at-home orders.” It did not make it through the legislature.

Rep. Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), who is running for Arizona Secretary of State, was the only representative to receive a perfect 100. Rep. Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa) received the Rookie of the Year award as the highest scoring freshman legislator, with 94. Petersen, Bolick and Parker were among seven legislators to receive perfect scores earlier this month from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club for their voting. 

Read More

Arizona’s Gov. Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich Join SCOTUS Suit to Overturn Roe v. Wade

Both Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich joined separate amicus curiae briefs with other governors and attorneys general in an abortion case out of Missouri that would gut Roe v. Wade by banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Ducey joined 11 other governors led by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to demand that the Supreme Court uphold the state law and undo Roe v. Wade. Brnovich signed on with 23 other attorneys general led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to ask that the court overrule Roe v. Wade because it is “erroneous, inconsistent, uneven, and unreliable.”

Ducey said in a statement, “The Constitution preserves the rights of the states by specifically enumerating the authority granted to the federal government. Unfortunately, almost 50 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to ignore the Constitution and created policy which has led to the over-politicization of this issue for decades.” 

Read More

Arizona’s U.S. Senator Mark Kelly Proposes Legislation to Fund Local Mainstream Media

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) joined U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) to co-sponsor legislation that indirectly funds local media. The Local Journalism Sustainability Act establishes tax credits that give consumers a huge deduction on media subscriptions, subsidizes journalists’ salaries, and funds news outlets by paying for businesses to advertise.

Read More

Lawsuit Filed Against Referendums That Attempt to Reverse Arizona’s Historic Tax Cuts

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club filed a lawsuit recently against Invest in Arizona over the organization’s attempt to get three referendums on the Arizona ballot that would reverse Arizona’s recently passed tax cuts. The lawsuit contends that since the tax cuts “provide for, and directly relate to, the generation of revenues that are remitted to the general fund and appropriated to various agencies, departments and instrumentalities of the state government,” they cannot be the subject of a referendum and are unconstitutional.

AFEC President Scot Mussi, who is one of the plaintiffs, said, “All three bills directly provide for the support and maintenance of the state, were key aspects of the state’s budget, and therefore are not referable by Invest in Arizona.”

Read More

Four People Indicted for Fraud at Higley Unified School District in Gilbert

After an investigation by the Arizona Auditor General into alleged financial mismanagement at Higley Unified School District in Gilbert, a grand jury indicted four people for fraud. Dr. Denise Birdwell, a former superintendent of both Higley and Scottsdale Unified School Districts, was indicted on 18 felony counts related to reportedly misusing $6 million of public monies, including conspiring to get around school district rules in order to make sure Higley’s $2,557,125 contract went to a certain vendor. Birdwell’s domestic partner, Hartwell Hunnicutt, and two men from the vendor, Gary Aller and Steven Nielsen, were indicted on related felonies. 

State Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), who served on the Higley school board from 2013-2015 while much of this took place under Birdwell, said he was attacked and stonewalled by district administrators as he and another board member fought to get to the bottom of serious concerns and suspicions that many people had at the time.

Read More

COVID-19 Cases Barely Pass 1,000 Per Day in Arizona

Despite fears that COVID-19 cases are surging in Arizona due to the state’s low vaccination rate and the emergence of the delta variant, new cases barely exceed 1,000 per day. The most recent data from Worldometer, which is cited by reputable organizations and governments around the world, shows the number of new daily cases was 1,043 on July 21. The number of new cases has stayed generally between 500 and 1,000 since the beginning of March.

Read More

Criminal Justice Reform Champion Rep. Walt Blackman Jumps into Arizona Congressional Race

Rep. Walt Blackman (R-Snowflake) is running for Congress in Arizona’s first Congressional district. The seat, which encompasses much of the northeast part of the state, is currently held by Tom O’Halleran, a former Republican turned moderate Democrat.

“We need to get back to the rule of law of Arizona to protect its people,” the Arizona legislator said in a video discussing his run on July 18.

Read More

Maricopa County Official Known for ‘Sharpiegate’ Donated to Democrat Mark Kelly’s U.S. Senate Campaign

Kelly Dixon, assistant director for the Maricopa County Election Department’s recruitment and training division, who admitted she knew there were “issues and concerns” with voters marking ballots with Sharpies, donated to Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ). She earmarked a $100 contribution to him through a donation she gave to the Democratic campaign fundraising organization ActBlue, Headline USA reported on Monday. 

Maricopa County voters complained about poll workers handing them Sharpies on election day that bled through the ballots. Dixon knew ahead of election day that using sharpies to mark a ballot was an issue. In an email dated October 22, she wrote “Starting tomorrow, 10/23, and through 11/2, we are asking the Clerks hand voters BALLPOINT PENS rather than markers.” However, she then said “We NEED to use markers on Election Day.” She did not explain why. Republicans voted on election day in huge numbers last year, driven by fears of voter fraud. A Gallup survey found that 62% of Democrats said they would vote early last fall, compared to only 28% of Republicans. 

Read More

Kari Lake Calls for Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs to Recuse Herself from Overseeing Gubernatorial Race

Kari Lake AZ

Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is calling for “the most partisan Secretary of State in the history of Arizona,” Democrat Katie Hobbs, to recuse herself from overseeing the governor’s race. Hobbs is also running for governor. Lake cited Hobbs’ behavior during the 2020 election and aftermath, her “history of irrational bias and disdain toward Republicans in addition to what election investigators have reported to the public about serious issues affecting tens-of-thousands of ballots and voters.” She said, “Arizona voters have lost confidence in Katie Hobbs to run another election.”

Lake is concerned that Hobbs will not conduct the election fairly for Republicans like herself in the race. She asked other candidates to join her demand. She cited a tweet from Hobbs in 2017, where Hobbs said, “[email protected] has made it abundantly clear he’s more interested in pandering to his neo-nazi base than being @POTUS for all Americans.” Hobbs did not delete the tweet.

Read More

Seven State Legislators Score 100 Percent in Arizona Free Enterprise Club Rankings

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club gathered in a conference room

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club completed its rankings of how Arizona legislators performed during the 2021 legislative session, and one Senator and six House members scored a perfect 100%. AFEC ranked them based on election integrity, income tax policy, “regulatory relief and ongoing government overreach from the covid-19 pandemic, banning critical race theory in our taxpayer-funded institutions and school choice.”

The seven legislators with a perfect score are Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) and Reps. Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa), Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction), Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), and Travis Grantham (R-Gilbert). 

Read More

In a Reversal, Gov. Ducey Tells Two School Districts Their Quarantine Policy for Unvaccinated Students is Illegal

An advisor for Governor Doug Ducey sent letters Wednesday to two Arizona school superintendents letting them know their policies of requiring unvaccinated students exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine is illegal. Education policy advisor Kairlin Harrier told the superintendents of Peoria Unified School District and Catalina Foothills School District their policies violate a new law, HB 2898, which states, “A school district or charter school may not require a student or teacher to receive a vaccine for covid-19 or to wear a face covering to participate in in-person instruction.” 

Harrier went on, “The policy must be rescinded immediately.” She pointed out that children under age 12 haven’t even received approval from the federal government to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Children ages 12-15 only received approval for the vaccine in May.

Read More

Karen Fann: Audit Numbers Don’t Match Maricopa County’s Numbers

Karen Fann Election Portrait

The audit of Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 election ordered by the Arizona Legislature finished last month, and State Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) said Tuesday the ballot totals don’t match the county’s official results. She told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show, “They haven’t released a number yet, if you will, however we do know that those numbers do not match with Maricopa County at this point.”

When asked about the degree of the discrepancy in the audit versus the official county tallies, Fann said, “I do not know. They have not told me the number;” adding that the auditors are “finishing up.”

Read More

Phoenix Ranked 40th Best Place to Live of 150 Biggest Metropolitan Areas

U.S. News & World Report issued its list this week of the annual best places to live, and Phoenix came in at No. 40 of the 150 most populous metro areas. The city jumped up 13 places from last year. The report emphasized Phoenix’s relatively low cost of living, warm weather, and thriving job market. The rankings are based on quality of life, job market, value of living, and desire of people to live there. 

Phoenix may have scored well this year due to a stable economy. Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News, said in a news release, “It shouldn’t be a surprise that many metro areas that saw unemployment levels skyrocket in 2020 fell in the rankings, but those with greater employment stability tended to fare well.”

Read More

Hobbs’ Campaign Manager Calls Vietnamese-American State Legislator a ‘White Nationalist’ for Opposing CRT

Arizona State Rep. Martin Quezada (D-Maryvale), who is also the campaign manager for Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, tweeted on July 9 that fellow legislator, Vietnamese-American Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott), is a “white nationalist” for tweeting Governor Doug Ducey’s announcement of Arizona’s new law banning critical race theory. Nguyen, who is Vietnamese, fled Vietnam with his brother during the Vietnam War as a refugee, living in refugee camps until they were reunited with their parents four months later. 

Nguyen tweeted a news release from the governor’s website, “Governor Ducey, Legislature Take Strong Action to Stop Critical Race Theory” with a link. Quezada copied the tweet and wrote, “This is what #WhiteNationalism looks like,” with an arrow pointing at Nguyen’s tweet. 

Read More

Arizona Gov. Ducey Signs Bill Banning Critical Race Theory in Government

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2906 on Friday, banning government agencies from requiring critical race theory, known as CRT. The budget bill he signed last week, HB 2898, banned critical race theory in schools. Ducey also signed 22 other bills, including one restricting sex education in schools, HB 2035. He has until Monday to sign or veto 11 remaining bills. 

“I am not going to waste public dollars on lessons that imply the superiority of any race and hinder free speech,” Ducey declared. The law prohibits the state, cities and counties from requiring employees to participate in orientation, training or therapy that suggests an employee is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously. 

Read More

Five Voting-Related Ballot Proposals Seek to Make Arizona 2022 Ballot

Five ballot proposals addressing voting may be on this fall’s ballot if their sponsors collect enough signatures. Three of them, known as referendums, seek to stop legislation from becoming law, requiring 118,823 signatures each. The other ballot initiatives need 237,645 signatures each. Even if all the signatures are collected, a successful legal challenge could keep them off the ballot.

Read More

Legal Issues May Arise as Tucson Ignores Arizona’s ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary’ Law

The city of Tucson passed a resolution recently declaring that it will defy Arizona’s “Second Amendment Sanctuary” law, which says the state will not comply with federal laws and regulations that violate the Second Amendment. Arizona’s law prohibits the police and sheriffs from enforcing those laws. The state passed the 2nd Amendment Firearm Freedom Act into law in April. 

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik introduced the resolution last month. Democratic Mayor Regina Romero and the City Council unanimously passed the resolution on June 22, which they labeled an emergency.

Read More

New Arizona Law Aims to Improve Civilian Review Boards on Police Misconduct

One of the bills passed this year in the Arizona Legislature and signed by the governor, HB 2567, adds rules for independent community oversight of Arizona police departments. Although Arizona isn’t plagued like some states by high-profile incidents involving law enforcement, overall community concern led to the legislation.

John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who comes from a law enforcement background and sponsored the bill, said, “I’m not throwing cops to the wolves, especially politically motivated wolves.

Read More

Gubernatorial Hopeful Kari Lake Rallies to a Raucous Standing-Room-Only Crowd in Scottsdale

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona – A gubernatorial rally in Scottsdale for Kari Lake Monday night featured a long list of celebrities leading up to the former newscaster, who all spoke along her theme of “stand for freedom.” Lake’s plain-talking style had the audience standing and cheering as she declared, “We’re going to finish the wall!”

She hammered California, vowing to never let Arizona become a “California 2.0.” She said California “is the leftists’ dream.” “California was once heaven and now it’s hell.” She declared, “Keep that California crap away from me!” to roaring applause. Lake lamented how the Democrats’ “dead-end policies have brought blue states to their knees.” She warned that “the left wants to rip us to shreds.” 

Read More

Court Issues Mixed Opinion on Former State Rep Shooter’s Defamation Suit: Mesnard Immunity Does Not Cover the Press Release

Don Shooter

The Arizona Supreme Court issued an opinion Wednesday dismissing part of a defamation lawsuit by expelled Arizona legislator Don Shooter against Sen. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) on Wednesday, while allowing the remaining part of the case to proceed.

Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale) complained in 2017 when she was in the state House that Shooter, a Republican from Litchfield Park, sexually harassed her, resulting in the legislature removing him in 2018. He sued then-House speaker Mesnard, who introduced a bill to remove Shooter, over a press release and 82-page investigative report Mesnard issued about the expulsion. Shooter accused him of defamation and materially altering the investigative report.

Read More

Arizona Legislature Wraps up Session for the Year

The Arizona Legislature wrapped up this year on Wednesday with a nearly record-long session, reaching 171 days. Lawmakers came to an agreement on most of the budget last Friday that contained historic tax cuts. Governor Doug Ducey signed that bill, HB 2900, also on Wednesday.

During the last few hours, the legislature approved the education budget bill, HB 2898, which included an expansion of the school voucher program. It reduces the length of time children must attend a public school before they are eligible for vouchers to use at a private school. Low-income children who live near poorly-rated schools will be eligible immediately, and others will only have to spend 45 days in the school, down from 100 days.

Read More

Arizona House Passes Sentencing Reform Bill, But Passage in the Senate Remains Uncertain

The Arizona House of Representatives passed a sentencing reform bill on Monday, but due to a Senate committee chair failing to bring a similar bill up for a vote in the Senate earlier this year, SB 1064, it’s not clear whether it will make it through the Senate. SB 1064 would relax sentencing laws, which are some of the strictest in the nation. According to Arizona Prison & Sentencing Reform, the state has the fourth highest incarceration rate. Inmates are currently required to serve 85% of their sentences, but the bill would reduce that to as little as one third of their sentences. Inmates who complete self-improvement programs such as substance abuse treatment and maintain good behavior while in prison can receive time off their sentences.

The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, with legislators voting 50-8 in favor. The previous version of the bill, HB 2173, didn’t get very far in the Senate, since Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) declined to hear the legislation in his committee. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Walt Blackman (R-Snowfake), decided to get around Petersen with the new legislation by using a strike-everything amendment. He amended a bill that had already passed out of the Senate, so it can go straight to the Senate floor for a vote. However, it is up to Sen. President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) to bring it up for a vote. There is little time left, since the legislative session will likely end this week, according to the AZ Mirror. 

Read More

Historic Income Tax Overhaul Reduces Burden by 13 Percent for Most Arizonans

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is expected to sign a budget bill the Arizona Legislature sent to him on Friday that includes a historic tax reform package. HB 2900 implements the lowest flat tax in the country, 2.5%. The average Arizona family will see a 13% income tax reduction, about $350 per year. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, Arizona previously had one of the highest marginal income tax rates in the country. 

The budget bill also eliminates taxes on veterans’ retirement pay and prevents a 77% increase on small business taxes. It reduces property taxes by 10% on small businesses and job creators by 10%, capping the maximum tax rate on businesses at 4.5% and reducing commercial property taxes. According to a report by Ducey, 43% of Arizonans in the private sector work for small businesses. HB 2900 increases the homeowner’s rebate so the state covers half of homeowners’ primary property taxes.

Read More

Arizona Legislature Overrides Ducey’s Veto

Doug Ducey

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 25-5 Thursday to override Governor Doug Ducey’s veto of a bill that made technical corrections to previously enacted laws. Ducey vetoed SB1635 along with 21 other bills a month ago, following through on a threat he’d made in May over the legislature’s failing to send him a budget. It was the first time in 40 years, the Arizona Senate has overruled the governor.

Read More

Arizona Attorney General Brnovich Leads Challenge at SCOTUS Related to Hobbs

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed an amicus curiae brief Monday in the U.S. Supreme Court with 22 states signing on, demanding the court overrule a decision by the Sixth Circuit allowing state officials to surrender in lawsuits challenging state laws they don’t want to defend.  The move comes as Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, is refusing to appeal adverse decisions striking down Arizona’s elections laws.

The brief relates to Kentucky v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, where Democratic Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear failed to appeal a court decision striking down a Kentucky law banning dismemberment abortions during the second trimester of pregnancy. Kentucky’s Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron is trying to intervene in order to defend the law.

Read More

Status Update: The Maricopa County Ballot Audit

The ballot audit in Maricopa County is winding down, and as details leak out from the counting and analysis, it is becoming clear what many of the problems are that will need addressing. Some could be honest mistakes, such as voters marking their ballots incorrectly, but others could be far more serious.

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) listed off several discrepancies in a letter to the Maricopa County Supervisors on May 12, such as different numbers of ballots in the boxes than the numbers listed on the pink sheets inside the boxes. She cited several examples, including one box that contained an alarming 35 fewer ballots than the number on the pink slip.

Read More