Thursday, January 15, 2009

$62,163.29 A DAY - By Mark R. Kerr

Since the creation of this column more than 20 years ago, this time of the year has always been one of trepidation for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Arizonans since it marks the beginning of the session of Arizona’s Legislature at 1700 West Washington.

Arizona’s 49th Legislature began its current session on Monday, January 12, in the midst of an economic downturn in the state and across the country with the result of a multibillion dollar budget shortfall facing the state government and its officials.

So with that bleak picture needing to be faced and responsibly dealt with, one would that the Arizona Legislature’s sole focus would be on the budget and putting the state’s economic affairs in order in a timely manner, within 100 days as session’s are supposed to last but as this column has reported in prior editions, that won’t happen, because the Republican controlled Legislature will let proposed legislation, restricting the rights of individuals, such as LGBT and those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS to divert the attention away from the real problems Arizona’s state government is facing in this burgeoning economic crisis, resulting in six or so months of trepidation.

Arizonans, LGBT, HIV+ or otherwise, should live in trepidation but instead be one of anger during the session of the Arizona Legislature since the 90 (89 with the resignation of Phoenix state Representative Steve Gallardo as of press time) individuals at the State Capitol, 1700 West Washington, in the Arizona House and Senate work for the taxpayer, to the tune, according to the current year’s state budget, of $13,653,400 for the operations and salaries for the elected officials and staff in the Arizona House of Representatives and $9,036,200 for the same in the Arizona Senate, or $62,163.29 each and every day of the year.

Budget deficits and the state’s economic downturn must be dealt with swiftly, responsibly and accordingly, with communication, input and dialogue involving all citizens and elected officials involved, regardless of political affiliation so that a plan or solution can be reached and with the remaining time in the session, if any, then other measures, important, should then be considered only if the state’s economic “ducks are in order.”

As in year’s past though, Arizona’s Republican controlled state government, won’t follow any of this, since the last time a session ended within the mandated 100 days, was 1994 and each session has wasted taxpayers time and most important, money considering such proposals, ranging from: regulating the size of sex toys, defining “nipples,” restricting what a woman and her doctor can talk about, HIV testing, prohibiting the extension of domestic partner benefits, tripping horses, taxing breast implants, the distribution of medically accurate information on HIV in Arizona’s schools, prohibiting license plate frames (and now considering repealing that law they pass), Proposition 102 on last year’s ballot (despite state law, court precedent and the lack of challenge to the then 12 year old law) to this year’s HB 2053, dealing with surrogate parenting and contracts, introduced by the conservative homophobic Republican and new Speaker of the Arizona House, Kirk Adams of Mesa, just to name a few of the too-numerous examples to list.

This column, as well as the Observer’s new blog, will let readers know of the goings on at 1700 West Washington and the need to take action since to paraphrase the author and playwright, Larry Kramer and ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), our silence would equal the death of the rights movement. Online, Arizona’s Legislature can be found at

No comments: