Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Equality Focus June 30, 2009

Budget or Bust!

We are hours away from the ONE deadline the Legislature is constitutionally obligated to meet. The House republicans are still in caucus about the budget. Nothing released yet, you can watch the proceedings live at www.azleg.gov , click watch live proceedings.

Meanwhile, over in the Senate. The Senate Rules Committee rejected the measure that would refer a temporary sales-tax hike to the ballot. The 1-5 vote was a serious monkey wrench in the whole process with mere hours left before the deadline to enact
a budget for fiscal 2010.

In case you haven't been following the progress until now, last night the budget bills were all re-referred from the Senate Appropriations Committee to the Senate Education Committee. This morning Republican Senators Gould, Harper and Steve Pierce all voted against the first general appropriation bill along with the one Democrat who was present, Paula Aboud, defeating the main budget bill.

In Senate Education, the various budget bills passed along a party-line vote. The Republicans voted in support (Senators Huppenthal, Linda Gray, Paton and Sylvia Allen). The Democrats opposed the budget (Senators Aboud, Landrum-Taylor and Lopez).

There are still not enough Republican votes to pass the sales tax referral. The Governor has publically stated that if the budget gets sent to her without the sales tax referral, then she will veto the entire budget package.

Please take a moment and take our survey about the Legislature. Tell us what you think. To take the survey click here.



Issue Updates- D.P. Benefits still on the chopping block

Still sitting there quietly in the budget bills is the new definition of dependant that will take away domestic partner benefits for state employees that went into effect last October. We have been talking to legislators nonstop, and we are prepared
for possible outcomes. This includes strong legal action if necessary.

Equality Arizona will fight to protect the rights currently granted to state employees and the benefits of future employees. We are fighting for our families and our right to provide healthcare to them.

We are fighting for over 700 people just like Sarah. Here is her story:

"My partner and I moved to Arizona in the summer of 2007 for her new job at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Because we live in a rural part of the state, full-time employment in my field has been extremely difficult for me to find. As a result,
I currently have a part-time job that does not offer benefits. I am also epileptic and require regular medical care, including the lifetime use of anti-epileptic drugs. Losing my Blue Cross health insurance through the domestic partner program means that
I would first be without health care and second put into the position of hoping that I would be accepted into AHCCCS. However, given the continuing cuts of this program, I cannot count on being accepted into the program. If I am accepted, the state could conceivably pay for 100% of my health care.

If I no longer have health insurance, my partner and I will be paying 100% out-of-pocket for my necessary doctor visits, medication, and regular lab work. I can only hope that I don't have a seizure and need to see a neurologist or have a CT scan
because I simply wouldn't be able to afford it. I would be in equal fear of getting a cold, strep throat or the "normal" things that affect most of us at some point during the year. A car accident or other life-threatening disease - that no one can plan for - could literally send us into bankruptcy.

At a time when state, municipalities, counties and cities are adding domestic partner benefit programs, I continue to be baffled as to why our state senate and legislature are trying to get rid of a domestic partner program."

Political Update- Legislation of note

Some other bills have had some movement recently.

SB1209 (support) Establishes rights for children in foster care. Passed the Senate and on the house calendar today.

SB1010 (support) Resolves requirements for those seeking custody to meet criteria now under two conflicting statues. Passed the House and returned to the Senate.

SCR1022 (support) Equal Rights Amendment Ratification advanced in the Senate and assigned to Rules committee.

HB2400 (oppose) Defines and restricts Partial Birth Abortion passed the Senate and returned to the House.

HB 2564 (oppose) Requires consent of parent or guardian for a minor to have an abortion. Passed the Senate and returned to the House.

News from the Equality Arizona Education- EQAZ listed with SECC

Equality Arizona has been granted approval to be listed as a charity in the 2009 State Employees Charitable Campaign. As a charity in the SECC, our charity information will be listed in the 2009 SECC Donor Guide and on their website at

This is great news for Equality Arizona! Thank you to the SECC for your recognition of our work, and opportunities for state employees to contribute.

This week on Equality Arizona Radio

Listen up as guest host Meta Goforth-Zinn is introduced to the underground world of male impersonators, better known as drag kings, with the Emeritus Mister King of the Desert USofA Male Impersonator Anson Reign. Anson has utilized his new title to
organize Kings for a Cause, a nationwide series of drag shows from troupes all over the United States to raise funds to be divided between local and national LGBT organizations. Click here to listen up!


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