Legislative roundup: Women, fake news and money

Christianna Silva / Arizona Sonora News Service

PHOENIX – Wednesday was International Women’s Day and it was clear across the capitol who supported it and who didn’t. Some women across the world took the day to strike, wear red and blue, or not buy anything, while others kept their nose to the ground. Women packed both the House and Senate galleries.

The strike was labeled “A Day Without Women” and plenty of protestors shared their stories .

Fake News

On Monday, the House Education Committee met to vote on Senate Bill 1384. The bill passed through the Senate, committees included, without a single vote against it. And then it went to the House.

Discussion got pretty heated as a bill aimed to expand Freedom of the Press protections for student journalists at public schools, community colleges and universities across Arizona, quickly turned focus to the paranoia of “fake news.”

“My concern is … that there could be an unintended consequence here,” Rep. David Stringer, R-Cave Creek, said. “We all know that there is a tremendous amount of bias in journalism. Journalism does not have a very high reputation. You talk about the ethical standards and these ethical standards have been in place for a long time now but they don’t seem to have done a lot of good in terms of protecting us from fake news and false news and biased news.”

“I’m not in the professional world, I can’t speak to that,” Lori Hart, the newspaper advisor at Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek, said. “But in education, I think we feel we’re teaching students to fight against that bias.”

Rep. Don Shooter, R-Goodyear, agreed with Rep. Stringer, and when David Cuillier, director of the University of Arizona School of Journalism, made a comment about quality journalists, Shooter joked: “Where are they?”

The bill passed through the committee with a 10-1 vote, but not before about an hour of debate on the unexpectedly hot-button topic.

Money, Money, Money

Former U.S. Representative from Texas and libertarian Ron Paul visited the state on Wednesday to talk to the Senate Finance Committee about legal tender.

Paul urged members of the Senate Finance Committee and other Arizona lawmakers to back Arizoan House Bill 2014. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Casa Grande, would allow a tax deduction for the capital gains received from the exchange of one kind of legal tender, like paper money, for another, like gold coins.

Paul said he doesn’t believe it’s fair (or legal) for the government to involve itself whatsoever when a citizen wants to sell their gold money. For instance, Paul said if someone buys a gold coin at $200 and later sells it for $1,200, that person should be able to keep all of that revenue.

Legal tender has consistently been a big topic at the state legislature, but the futile attempts to pass these bills is nothing new.

A Challenger Appears 

It feels like we’re all still trying to digest the insanity that was the 2016 elections, but it’s already time to change your focus to 2018.

Sen. Katie Hobbs, D-District 24, announced on Wednesday morning that she’ll challenge Republican incumbent Michele Reagan for secretary of state in 2018.

Hobbs is the first declared Democratic candidate for statewide office. Keep your eyes out for more candidacy announcements in the coming weeks. Once again, it’s election season.
You Can’t Park Here
A feel-good bill to make it easier for wheelchair-bound Arizonans turned contentious when those in the disabled community who aren’t wheelchair-bound spoke up.

Rep. David Stringer, R-District 1, introduced HB2408, which designates specified van accessible parking as wheelchair only spaces and outlines requirements to park in those wheelchair only spaces.

The problem with the bill is that HB2408 would make it illegal for anyone else — even someone with a valid placard or license plate showing disability — to park in these spots. The bill wouldn’t increase the number of disabled parking spaces, but would specify that the larger spots are given to a specific group of people.

The bill passed through the House and is now working its way through the Senate.

Christianna Silva is the Don Bolles Fellow covering the Legislature for Arizona Sonora News, a service provided by the school of journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach her at christiannaj@email.arizona.edu.

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