I realize things are crazy in Wisconsin and other states as I write but, please, a little respect, for we are Arizona, lord of the idiots. Tonight the Arizona Republic provided its take on tomorrow's showdown at the legislature:
A bill introduced Monday would toughen the state's mandate that employers check the eligibility of new hires, tighten identification requirements for school enrollment and other public services, and make it a crime for someone in the United States unlawfully to drive a vehicle in Arizona. The bill sponsored by Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, is to be considered Tuesday by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
That committee is already scheduled to consider other legislation on illegal immigration, including bills to challenge automatic citizenship for U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants and to require hospitals to confirm whether nonemergency patients are in the country legally.
As the state sinks further into an economic abyss, tomorrow the Arizona Appropriations Committee -- the committee in charge of budgetary issues that spur economic development -- takes up a gaggle of hateful, bigoted, and stupid bills that do nothing to address the fiscal crisis. In fact, these policies will do little more than further the state's lunatic reputation, resulting in an even deeper financial hell hole. Leading the charge, of course, is Senate President Russell Pearce, hater in chief.
Stephen Lemons' article in tonight's New Times captures the lunacy of tomorrow's proceedings. Titled Russell Pearce's 'Hate Humanity Tuesday,' his piece reads like a forced march into the deepest circle of Dante's Hell.
So shall it be in the state Senate Appropriations Committee tomorrow, Tuesday, February 22, when a slew of anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican, anti-student, anti-education, anti-brown, anti-poor, anti-humanity bills will be heard.
Can it possibly get any worse here? Well, take a gander at what's on tap tomorrow:
First up, a few weeks ago the proponents of the Birther Bill had to withdraw it because, even in Looney Tunes Arizona, they didn't have the votes to get this nativist bunk out of committee. But, as Lemons points out tonight,
... the wingnuts have enough votes to give a "do-pass" recommendation to this illegal, unconstitutional and un-American effort, one guaranteed to convince the world, if it's not convinced already, that Arizona in 2011 is equivalent to Alabama circa 1960.
The bill, SB 1308, will require all presidential candidates to produce a long-form, original birth certificate, which also includes doctors' and witnesses' signatures, before their name will appear on the Arizona ballot. I don't know about you, but I couldn't produce that; I have an original, but it includes no signatures.
Attached at the racist hip to this bill is SB 1309, legislation that challenges the birthright clause of the 14th Amendment. That bill also failed a few weeks ago but, like the Birther Bill, it'll be considered tomorrow ... and likely pass. Pearce and Brewer have said they realize both bills will cost millions to fight the Feds in court but, hey, it's not like Arizona has any economic challenges.
Then there's SB 1405, which mandates that all hospital employees verify the citizenship of patients before rendering care. This is part of Pearce's agenda to enlist everyone in his immigration war, to turn everyone into an immigration cop. Proposition 200, which he supported a couple years ago, requires all city and state employees to check citizenship status before providing any service.
Along the same lines, tomorrow the committee will consider SB 1407, which mandates that teachers check the immigration status of students. Pearce tried to push this piece of crap through last year, when there was a speck of sanity remaining in the legislature and it failed. Enough elected officials realized one of the bill's effects will be that undocumented parents will keep their kids out of school. Now there's a formula for success -- more uneducated children! That's not likely to stop the 2:1 Republican-dominated Senate of Know-Nothings from passing the bill tomorrow.
Also on the docket tomorrow is Pearce's omnibus immigration bill, SB 1611, which includes, as Democratic Senator Krysten Sinema says, every piece of failed anti-Mexican legislation that Pearce has tried to push through before, from driving illegally to mandatory incarcerations that override judges' sentences.
The nation has heard about the drastic cuts to AHCCCS, the state's Medicaid system, which resulted in nearly 100 people awaiting transplants being tossed off the rolls after they had been promised the life-saving operations (several have died since). More than 280,000 other Arizonans will be without care and, in the wake of Jared Loughner, the AHCCCS cuts have also resulted in severe reductions to the state's mental health program. Tomorrow Pearce's pals will consider SB 1519, which will eliminate Arizona's Medicaid program, and create a severely underfunded version within the Department of Health Services. Quoting Sinema again, Lemons points out the insanity of this policy, not that any of these bills make economic or humane sense:
According to state Senator Kyrsten Sinema, this will result in "savings" to the state of $900 million, and a resulting loss of $7.6 billion in federal aid.
Not to leave out the universities, which were cut another $170 million this year, on top of $400 million in cuts since Jan Brewer became Governor, they will be voting on SB 1115, which eliminates the Arizona Board of Regents, replacing it with regional boards of "trustees" at each university. How much you wanna bet these trustees represent business more than education? How much you wanna bet they push more cuts and less investments?
This move parallels Governor Brewer's recent change at the Department of Commerce. She scrapped it and created an underfunded public-private agency called the Arizona Commerce Authority -- a bunch of CEOs. Surprise! Surprise! Rather than advocate investment to spur economic development, this group's recommendation is ... wait for it ... more corporate tax cuts! Because that worked so well these last ten years!
Oh, and of great importance tomorrow, the Appropriations Committee will consider SB 1610, which declares:
The colt single action army revolver is the official state firearm.
Here I thought it would be the AK47, since anyone in Arizona can buy as many as they want, day in and day out, as long as you say they're for personal use. Well, I guess the colt is more fitting for High Noon tomorrow. Arizona really does need Gary Cooper to stand up to these criminals.