Arizona Democrats say hours-long poll lines suppressed vote – Times Union

PHOENIX (AP) — Hours-long waits for some Arizona residents wanting to vote in the presidential primary have led to accusations of voter suppression from Democrats and civil rights proponents who cite a decision by elections officials to slash the number of polling places this year. Residents in metro Phoenix have been bristling for years over a perception that state leaders want to make it harder for them to vote, and the mess at the polls Tuesday only heightened their frustration. Republican lawmakers passed a series of measures in recent years aimed at cracking down on voter fraud, but opponents believe the changes were merely ploys to stifle Democratic turnout. Those battles are being waged again after people waited in line for five hours to vote in some places. “Let’s be clear — voter suppression happened,” U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego said at a news conference Thursday, adding it might not have been intentional, but it happened nonetheless.

Source: Arizona Democrats say hours-long poll lines suppressed vote – Times Union

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MoveOn Petitions – Dept. of Justice: Investigate Arizona voter suppression

In Maricopa County Arizona, the number of polling places was reduced from 200 during the 2012 primary election, to just 60 for 2016. Some predominantly Latino areas only got one or no polling places at all. People had to wait in 5+ hour lines to vote. Please investigate and put a stop to the voter suppression before the general election.

Source: MoveOn Petitions – Dept. of Justice: Investigate Arizona voter suppression

Arizona House approves 204-percent ‘flex’ loans

Arizona representatives OK’d a bill to allow flexible-credit loans, with interest rates of 204 percent, as an option for people who need quick cash but have no borrowing options

A bill authorizing short-term loans at an annual interest rate of 204 percent squeaked through the Arizona House of Representatives Monday after intense lobbying to lift the 36-percent cap on the state’s usury statutes.

The 31-26 vote moves the debate to the Senate, where the bill died last month in a committee but was revived as a strike-everything amendment.

Senate Bill 1316 would permit flexible-credit loans of up to $2,500 for a maximum two-year period. It proposes a 17-percent monthly interest rate for unsecured loans, which works out to 204 percent annual interest. Secured loans would carry a slightly lower rate: 15 percent per month, or 180 percent annually.

Supporters say the loans would provide a way for people facing emergencies but who have poor credit and no savings a way to get quick cash. Critics say the bill only opens an already vulnerable population up to predatory lending.

Rep. Brenda Barton, R-Payson, kicked off the debate by contradicting supporters who say there is no other place for a person to get quick cash.

“It is not true,” she said, pointing to a “payday loan alternative” promoted by the National Credit Union Association.

“This legislation is moving across the nation by a group of investors to make changes in all states,” Barton said.  It has already failed in four states, she said, but is still alive in Arizona and Mississippi.

Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, said the focus on triple-digit interest rates obscures the needs flex loans fill. It could be someone facing a medical emergency, he said.

“There’s that one little person sitting there saying where am I going to go? What am I going to do?” Lawrence said, as he voted for the bill.

The debate echoed the discussion in the House last week when it first reviewed the bill.

Rep. Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, was viewed as undecided going into Monday’s vote. He gave a winding speech about his personal financial philosophy to carry no debt, and spoke of a friend who lost a $3 million life-insurance policy because he had to sign it over to collateralize a debt.

He concluded by observing he has seen no hand-wringing over the national debt and voted for the bill.

“I vote aye to give another option,” Bowers said.

Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix, said lawmakers spend a lot of time talking about the need to avoid debt as they manage the state’s finances.

The 204-percent rate the bill would authorize will only put more people into debt, she said. Student loans carry rates of 7 to 9 percent.

“I talk to young people every day who are crushed by that rate,” McCune Davis said. “We somehow think we’re going to do a favor by creating a new kind of lending, a new option?” She voted no.

Arizona voters outlawed payday loans in 2008, sending the lending industry on a search for other products that can be marketed to people with immediate needs and poor credit. The ban led to the creation of auto title loans, which require a loan to be secured by the title a borrower holds on his or her vehicle.

Reach the reporter at maryjo.pitzl@arizonarepublic.com and follow her on Twitter@maryjpitzl.

How they voted

The House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 1316 Monday after more than two hours of comments. Here’s how the vote breaks down:

YES – Republicans 

John Allen, Scottsdale

Sonny Borrelli, Lake Havasu City

Rusty Bowers, Mesa

Paul Boyer, Glendale

Noel Campbell, Prescott

Regina Cobb, Kingman

Doug Coleman, Apache Junction

Karen Fann, Prescott

Eddie Farnsworth, Gilbert

Mark Finchem, Oro Valley

David Gowan, Sierra Vista

Rick Gray, Sun City

Anthony Kern, Glendale

Jay Lawrence, Scottsdale

Vince Leach, Tucson

David Livingston, Peoria

Phil Lovas, Peoria

J.D. Mesnard, Chandler

Darin Mitchell, Litchfield Park

Steve Montenegro, Litchfield Park

Jill Norgaard, Phoenix

Justin Olson, Mesa

Warren Petersen, Gilbert

Frank Pratt, Casa Grande

Bob Robson, Chandler

T.J. Shope, Coolidge

David Stevens, Sierra Vista

Bob Thorpe, Flagstaff

Kelly Townsend, Mesa

Michelle Ugenti-Rita, Scottsdale

Jeff Weninger, Chandler

NO – Republicans

John Ackerley, Tucson

Brenda Barton, Payson

Kate Brophy McGee, Phoenix

Tony Rivero, Peoria

NO – Democrats

Richard Andrade, Glendale

Jennifer Benally, Tuba City

Reginald Bolding, Phoenix

Mark Cardenas, Phoenix

Ken Clark, Phoenix

Diego Espinoza, Tolleson

Charlene Fernandez, Yuma

Randy Friese, Tucson

Rosanna Gabaldon, Green Valley

Sally Ann Gonzales, Tucson

Albert Hale, St. Michaels 

Matt Kopec, Tucson

Jonathan Larkin, Glendale

Stefanie Mach, Tucson

Debbie McCune Davis, Phoenix

Juan Mendez, Tempe

Eric Meyer, Paradise Valley

Lisa Otondo, Yuma

Celeste Plumlee, Tempe

Macario Saldate, Tucson

Ceci Velasquez, Litchfield Park

Bruce Wheeler, Tucson

ABSENT

Lela Alston, D-Phoenix

Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek

Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix

Source: Arizona House approves 204-percent ‘flex’ loans

10 interesting bills that likely will go nowhere

With the 2016 legislative session set to kick off Jan. 11, Arizona lawmakers have introduced just over 100 bills. Legislators can introduce bills throughout the session, but file most within the first few weeks. Typically, lawmakers introduce more than 1,000 proposed laws and pass about a quarter of them. Democratic lawmakers introduce their fair share, although as the minority party, few of their bills are ever given public hearings, much less a formal vote to become law. Here are some of the Hail Mary proposals Democrats have filed: Motorcycle helmets: House Bill 2052 would require all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet. The current law requires helmets only for riders under age 18. Sponsor: Rep. Randy Friese, D-Tucson. Portraying homosexuality: Senate Bill 1019 would overturn the current state law that prohibits public schools from teaching anything that may promote a homosexual lifestyle, portray homosexuality as a positive lifestyle or provide information on safe-sex methods for homosexuals. Sponsor: Sen. Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix. Medically accurate sex ed: Senate Bill 1020 would require public schools to provide sex education in grades K-12 that is “age appropriate” and “medically accurate.” Parents could opt students out of sex ed teaching, instead of the current requirement to opt in. Sponsor: Sen. Andrew Sherwood, D-Tempe. Legalizing and taxing marijuana: Under House Bill 2007, individuals age 21 or older could possess, consume, use, purchase or transport 1 ounce or less of marijuana legally. They may also grow up to five marijuana plants. It would still be illegal to smoke marijuana in a public place. Marijuana would be taxed at $50 per ounce, with revenue going to law enforcement, education and drug programs. Sponsor: Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix. School superintendent: House Concurrent Resolution 2002 would ask voters in November to allow the governor to appoint the superintendent of public instruction. It is currently an elected position held by Republican Diane Douglas. Sponsor: Rep. Randy Friese, D-Tucson. Arts funding: Senate Bill 1023 allocates $20 million from the general fund to the state arts endowment fund. Sponsor: Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson. Undocumented immigrant licenses: Senate Bill 1025 would repeal the current Arizona Department of Transportation practice of prohibiting undocumented immigrants from getting a driver’s license. Sponsor: Sen. Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix. Charter-school teachers: Senate Bill 1053 would require all charter school teachers and administrators to meet the same requirements as district teachers and administrators, including teaching certification and fingerprinting requirements. Sponsor: Sen. Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix. Green buildings: Senate Bill 1046 requires that, by 2021, all state agencies, universities, school districts and community colleges must get at least 10 percent of their energy from green sources. State buildings must reduce energy use in public buildings and new or larger buildings must conform to environmental building standards. Sponsor: Sen. Andrew Sherwood, D-Tempe. Automatic voter registration: Under Senate Bill 1007, everyone who obtains or renews an Arizona driver’s license and is qualified to vote would automatically be registered to vote, unless the individual elects not to register. Sponsor: Sen. Andrew Sherwood, D-Tempe.

Source: 10 interesting bills that likely will go nowhere

Romney, McCain: Trump a danger for America’s future

English: Governor Mitt Romney of MA
English: Governor Mitt Romney of MA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — In an extraordinary display of Republican chaos, the party’s most recent presidential nominees, Mitt Romney and John McCain, lambasted current front-runner Donald Trump on Thursday, calling him unfit for office and a danger for the nation and the GOP.
“His is not the temperament of a stable, thoughtful leader,” Romney declared. He called Trump “a phony” who is “playing the American public for suckers,” a man whose “imagination must not be married to real power.”
Hours later, Trump lashed back, calling Romney “a choke artist” who lost to Barack Obama four years ago only because he was such a poor candidate.
The vicious feud marked a near-unprecedented scenario pitting the Republican Party’s most prominent leaders, past and present, against each other as Democrats begin to unite around Hillary Clinton.

Romney, McCain: Trump a danger for America’s future