The Daily Agenda: Stop the clocks!
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The 100 members of the U.S. Senate finally found a single point of unanimous agreement: The rest of the country should be more like Arizona.
After the poor suckers in all those other states (minus Hawaii) had to do their semi-annual clock resetting on Sunday night, the U.S. Senate yesterday unanimously approved a measure dubbed the Sunshine Protection Act that would eliminate Daylight Saving Time (or, technically, to make it permanent — as Arizonans, we never really understand how that works).
Suffice to say that under the bill, all of America would become honorary Arizona, and the clocks would no longer spring forward or fall back anymore, starting November 2023.
But as Politico noted, the unanimity may have had something to do with the fact that senators didn’t read the amendment that Republican Sen. Marco Rubio speed-read across the floor.
“The quick and consequential move happened so fast that several senators said afterward they were unaware of what had just happened,” Politico’s Anthony Adragna, Burgess Everett and Sarah Ferris wrote.
Rubio’s home state of Florida passed a bill to be more like Arizona in 2018 (much like Arizona, the Sunshine State doesn’t really need that extra hour of sunshine), but the legislation hasn’t stopped the Floridian clocks from changing because it’s tied to a change taking place at the federal level.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who was chairing the floor during the vote, offered an eager glance around the room while asking for objections. When the amendment passed, she got more excited than when she killed a $15 federal minimum wage with a thumbs down and a curtsy. She, too, has been a longtime opponent of the kind of clock trickery and time thievery that DST employs.
“I’ve watched youth sporting events to be called in the middle or near the end of the game before it’s concluded because there aren’t enough lights,” Rubio said during the vote, arguing there’s also scientific studies showing increases in heart attacks, car accidents and pedestrian accidents in the week following the clock switcheroo. In a separate video posted last week ahead of the vote, he called DST “just dumb, there’s no other way to say it… Let’s just lock the clock once and for all and put all this stupidity behind us.”
We couldn’t agree more, Marco. While we Arizonans are privileged with the foresight to have permanently killed off DST back in 1968 (minus the Navajo Nation, which still observes DST — but not the Hopi Nation, which is completely landlocked by the Navajo Nation), we still have to keep track of what time California and New York are on right now, and we’re sick of it.
And if you’re wondering how Arizona got this issue so right so long ago, you’re in luck. We wasted an hour researching Arizona’s lavish refusal to save daylight.
A brief history from our tabs: Arizona did briefly participate in DST briefly following the The Standard Time Act of 1918, which was aimed at saving fuel during World War I (we had two time zones!), and again during World War II, as ASU history professor Calvin Schermerhorn noted. But when Congress passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966, Arizona wasn’t having it. We participated for a year, but energy consumption soared, so lawmakers decided to drop out in 1968.
There was a ballot referral ready, but lawmakers ultimately killed DST in Arizona through Senate Bill 1, which gained unanimous approval in the Arizona Senate, and passed 44-8 in the House. Governor Jack Williams even noted the proposal in his State of the State address that year.
But if the rest of America is going to try to be more like Arizona — and that’s a big if, since Rubio’s Sunshine Protection Act still needs to clear the House — a word of caution from the Washingtonian, which noted we as a country have tried that before, and people hated it.
During the 1970s energy crisis, President Richard Nixon signed into law a bill that put the whole country on permanent DST for two years as an experiment. Arizona, Idaho and Oregon were exempted, and the failed experiment was called off not long after he resigned.
An unlikely bipartisan duo of lawmakers is hosting a legislators vs. lobbyist workout session next month, and they’re charging lobbyists around $200 for the privilege of working out with them and getting drunk after.
Democratic Rep. Alma Hernandez, chair of the Legislature’s unofficial “beer caucus,” sent out an invite to lobbyists yesterday asking them to join her and Republican Rep. Leo Biasiucci, a member of the Legislature’s unofficial “#decertify caucus,” along with 30 other lawmakers, for a “fun bipartisan event” including a workout and drinks.
“Many have asked if this will be a super intense workout and I want to assure you that it will not be!” she wrote.
She said the event will have space for 35 lobbyists who can get in on the action for just $180-$200 to “help us cover the cost of members, shirts and food after.” They’re also accepting sponsorships for the event.
For the non-mathletes, 35 lobbyists at $200 a pop is $7,000, which is not a bad booze and T-shirt budget.
Hernandez told us she added a separate non-drinking portion of the “beer caucus”event “so the Mormons feel more comfortable.”
One lobbyist who was invited said the whole thing felt like an ethical “gray area” but that there are essentially no rules governing lobbyists sponsoring lawmakers’ events, and even if there are rules, they’re not enforced.
“There should be an appropriate and professional division here, and this creates a nebulous area… This isn’t a party house,” the lobbyist said, adding they would rather “crawl through glass” than pay for the privilege of working out with lawmakers.
Republican vs. Republican: Gov. Doug Ducey finally weighed in on the problems plaguing the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office under Allister Adel after the Republic reported that nearly 180 charges weren’t filed in time. Ducey said Adel needed to take responsibility and not blame others for the lapse in charges.
“My concern is really for the victims of these crimes, and for the accountability and competence of the office, and that's where the opportunity and the fix lies,” Ducey told the Republic.
Ahh, the freedom of not facing reelection: Ducey yesterday also trashed the AZGOP lawsuit that argues mail-in voting is unconstitutional, calling it “ill-conceived and poorly crafted,” the Yellow Sheet Report reports.
How many lawsuits need to happen?: PBS Newshour dives into Arizona’s long-running problems with health care in prisons, which continues to cause inmates suffering a decade after it was the subject of a class-action lawsuit. A new trial started last year could maybe, finally, bring improvements.
It’s a myth that Phoenix is a cheap city: Phoenix-area rent prices keep going up, pushing out people who can’t afford massive year-over-year increases and driving out people whose salaries can’t keep pace with their rent, the Republic’s Catherine Reagor writes. This year’s rental increases are proving to be even worse than last year’s.
“I asked my landlord if they were raising their employees’ wages by $600 a month to afford their rents,” Gilbert renter Erin Smith, whose rent increased more than 50%, told the Republic. “I didn’t get an answer.”
In other dystopian housing news: A home in Tucson sold for more than $1 million above its asking price as the demand for homes across the state reaches ridiculous levels. The home, listed at $1.9 million, was already far out of the price range for most Arizonans, yet it still received 15 offers over asking price in a day, the Arizona Daily Star’s Gabriela Rico reports. And the winning bidder offered all cash and waived contingencies, appraisals and inspections.
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The number of Arizona ties continues to grow: Jacob Zerkle of Bowie, Arizona, joins the list of Arizonans connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection. Zerkle was charged yesterday with assaulting law enforcement on the Capitol grounds, where the Justice Department alleges he “threw several punches at one officer, pushed at least one other officer, and grabbed the baton of another.”
Was the risk worth it?: In an op-ed to the Arizona Daily Star, Kerry Montaño writes that her husband, David, was an assistant principal at Pueblo High School who contracted COVID-19 in mid-January and died in early February from the disease. She said she believes kids should be in school, but that waiting to go back in person for a week or two during the height of the omicron wave could’ve saved lives like her husband’s. Instead, she wrote, it felt like schools were forced to open under threat of losing money because of Ducey’s policies.
Little Miss Somebody: The body of a girl found in the desert near Congress, Arizona, in 1960 has finally been identified as Sharon Lee Gallegos, who was abducted that year at age 4. The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office announced yesterday that DNA analysis identified the girl, known for decades as “Little Miss Nobody.”
Yucca forever: Tempe wants to revitalize Danelle Plaza, currently home to Yucca Tap Room and once a hub for the local music scene. The plaza now sits largely vacant, and the city owns part of it, the Republic’s Paulina Pineda reports. But what happens next for the area remains to be seen, and residents hope it doesn’t become another overpriced apartment building or glassy office complex.
Some bill news: Veterinary students in Arizona could get student loans forgiven if they then work here after graduation under a Senate proposal. And Arizona Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita’s bill to allow business owners and employees to kill people over property damage has failed after Sen. Sonny Borrelli voted against it after previously supporting it. Surely, it has nothing to do with Ugenti-Rita’s votes against election bills.
The flailing safety net: A transgender teen won’t get transition surgery covered by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System after a federal court ruled the coverage for male chest reconstruction surgery was not shown to be medically necessary, Cronkite News’ Camila Pedrosa writes. In other AHCCCS news, people getting coverage from the program or from KidsCare could lose coverage after the programs begin disenrollments again, which had largely stopped during the pandemic, the agency noted in a press release yesterday.
Still less than 20%: A recent auditor general report that showed many Arizona schools failed to increase teacher pay by 20% by 2020 underestimates the pay increases given to teachers in the Tucson Unified School District, the district contends. The report shows TUSD with a paltry 3.6% increase, but the district says its increase is more than 18%, the Arizona Daily Star’s Genesis Lara reports.
Talking about gas prices is the new talking about weather: Ducey doesn’t want to suspend Arizona’s gas tax to help people out at the pump. Tell everyone about it at the water cooler.
Lawmakers are planning a birthday party!
Senate Bill 1497 by Republican Sen. Vince Leach would plan ahead for a 250th birthday party for the United States, which is coming up in 2026.
And in typical legislative fashion, the bill would create an 11-person committee to plan the celebration of the occasion. The committee would be charged with conducting “extensive public engagement throughout this state to develop programs with other agencies, communities or organizations that may take place” to mark the occasion, among other duties.
The bill passed the House and is coming up for a vote before the full Senate.
Arizona Sen. Warren Petersen, who just filed a 1487 complaint against Paradise Valley over short-term rental regulations, also owns a short-term rental in Gilbert that he’s renting out on Airbnb as a “million dollar luxury home,” the Arizona Mirror’s Jerod MacDonald-Evoy reports.
It’s not a conflict of interest under the Arizona Legislature’s rules because basically nothing is considered one under our incredibly lax rules. Petersen’s listing shows what looks like an official legislative portrait, and he rents the place for more than $500 per night. We won’t hold our breath for Petersen to start tackling the state’s housing crisis.