Twelve Gen-X Republicans Who Will Have Some Explaining To Do Some Day Soon

Dirty_DozenThe worst day of my six years in the legislature was also the last day of my last session: June 27, 2008.

This was the day that the Senate passed SCR 1042, which referred to the ballot a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The change was unnecessary and strictly political. Arizona law already forbade such marriages, so the referendum ultimately had little practical effect other than to poison the public dialogue to advance the agenda of some sick and cynical people.

I could go on for a while about the ugliness that led up to 1042’s passage, like the promises that leadership and rank-and-file Republicans broke with the legislation’s opponents so that the bill could advance, the bizarre glee of the measure’s supporters (this did not include lobbyist Cathi Herrod, who continually bore her permanently sour countenance as she watched from her command post in the gallery), and the overall bigotry behind the whole thing. Suffice it to say, supporters of the bill went through a lot of trouble to get this passed. One could admire the parliamentary skill at play here if only it was about something useful like fixing potholes or building a hospital.

The bill got the votes of every single Republican present save two: Representatives Jennifer Burns and Pete Hershberger, both of Tucson. Burns had already announced that she was not running for reelection. Hershberger went on to lose a Republican Senate primary to the famously grumpy Al Melvin. If this issue was a factor, it was only one of many as Melvin had beaten another well-regarded moderate Republican in a primary for the same seat 2 years before. Based on my subsequent conversations with him, I think I can safely say that Pete has few if any regrets about any of this.

It would be easy to dismiss the passage of this as the act of a bunch of frightened old people who were intimidated by a modern world that they no longer understood were it not for the fact that twelve legislators under the age of 40, all Republicans, three in the Senate and nine in the House, enough to change the final outcome, were among those who voted for this. In other words, people who should have had an eye to the future rather than the past supported this even though they knew better.

At the time, I remember saying that the folks under 40 who voted for 1042 were all going to live to feel foolish about their vote. Society was moving in the opposite direction, and the future would not look kindly upon those who stood in the way of progress. We were people who all grew up around folks of our parents and grandparents’ generation who lived through the days of legal segregation. We would hear the lame excuses of older people who told us that while they all knew that the way that African-Americans were treated was wrong, they just had to go along with it in the name of expedience. As usual, evil triumphed because so many ostensibly good people found excuses to do nothing. The fact that the older generation was still (and is still) making excuses many years later indicates that they were embarrassed by their part in allowing it to continue.

Despite the court decision, the debate over same sex-marriage in Arizona is by no means over. Opponents have made it clear that they will continue to fight, but they are rapidly looking more like the Japanese holdouts who were still waging war from caves in the Marianas years after the surrender. It is clear where the issue is going, and it is happening much faster than even the most hopeful among us ever thought it would.

This was a very different issue than most of what we dealt with in the legislature. Unlike our arguments about taxation or whatever, this was one where, as what happened with SB1070 two years later, the legislature singled out one constituency for stigmatization, as the folks to blame for the problems the rest of us were having. They targeted our fellow human beings for crass, cynical and craven reasons. They all knew exactly what they were doing.

This is the part where someone says “Hey Tom, that was 6 years ago. Why still hold a grudge?” The reason is simple. I have seen nothing in the intervening time that shows that any of these folks have regret over their vote in 2008. Based on the fact that three of these individuals: Senators Adam Driggs, Rick Murphy and Michele Reagan, recently voted for the clearly anti-gay SB1062, it is safe to say that they still think that political considerations trump the dignity of our neighbors. So far, none of these individuals has had a George Wallace moment where they admit that they were wrong.

Now that it is clear that they are on the wrong side of history, they all better start thinking up what lame excuses they are going to be making. Their grand-children’s generation is sure to ask questions.

Three Sonorans Might Actually Have A Point Here

So, anyway, last week, David “Three Sonorans” Morales posted this on his Facebook page:

Morales_Feb_21

At first, I saw this and wanted to respond by pointing out that David’s memory seems to be too short for him to recall the Democratic opposition to SB1070 and HB2281. But then, I realized that, though his comments about Democrats are unfair and not based in historical fact, he may have stumbled upon an ugly truth regarding the outrage over SB1062, the latest manifestation of ugly bigotry from the legislature.

First, we have to realize that, though bigotry is inherently evil, the way that this evil manifests itself against any given community is unique and rooted in a particular history. The bigotry against Mexicans and Mexican-Americans that drove SB1070 has its roots in, among other things, economic anxiety, misconceptions about this region’s history, a fear of the loss of political power and concerns about crime. The “facts” upon which these are based are often spurious, exaggerated or out of context, but at least there is some sort of negligible substance there to argue.

Bigotry against homosexuals, which is what is behind SB1062, is different. It is largely about squeamishness over what other people might be doing. There can be no pretense that this is about anything as important as preserving jobs for good Americans or combating brutal gangs because it clearly is not.

Anti-gay rhetoric is obsessed with sex. Though we certainly hear this less often than we did in the 1980s and 90s, conservatives still have a habit of making graphic, sometimes scatological references to what they imagine gays might be doing in the privacy of their bedrooms. During my time in the legislature, one Mesa Republican notoriously kept a stash of gay porn in her desk, ready to deploy as props during floor debate as an illustration of what she viewed as the depravity of homosexuality. Notwithstanding the number of ostensibly tough, macho dudes who live in fear of being buggered, its called homophobia for a reason, after all, even the most eloquent anti-gay activist is basically arguing, in the words of political philosopher Joe Bob Briggs, “we heard what you gays are doing, and we don’t like it.”

In other words, while the bigotry behind SB1070 was ignorant, the bigotry behind SB1062 is irrational. It can be argued that this is a distinction without a difference, and that it is not simply coincidental that movement conservatives embrace both, but it does begin to explain why the reaction to the two bills has been different.

Anti-gay bigotry is largely about what other people are doing, so it is easy to argue against legislation like SB1062 from a live and let live perspective, particularly in an age when gay culture is being mainstreamed and the case for legalized discrimination starts looking a little silly. In contrast, the case against sB1070 is in some ways harder to make. Anglo suburban anxiety about immigration is reenforced by largely stereotypical and negative portrayals of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the media, and cross-border crime is a very real problem, so the hate behind legislation like SB1070 becomes all too easy to rationalize.

Of course, this does not fully explain the differences between the reactions to the two bills. In 2010, the organized business community expressed misgivings about the substance of SB1070 and the bill’s possible negative effects on the political debate and Arizona’s image as a state, but were unwilling to press the issue any further. In contrast, most business organizations (with the notable exception, as of this writing, of The Tucson Metro Chamber) as well as many prominent Republicans, are calling for a veto of SB1062, and this seems an active possibility. Four years ago, Governor Brewer was facing what seemed to be a tough re-election fight, and the possibility that the Executive Tower would again be occupied by a Democrat seemed too much for the chambers and the Republican establishment to stomach, and dabbling in apartheid was seen as an acceptable price to keep her in office. Now, Brewer is not up for re-election, and everybody, still smarting from the bad press that SB1070 brought us, is concerned about the damage to Arizona’s image and the Republican “brand” that such clearly bigoted legislation will bring. Or perhaps, they have finally decided that this has all gone too far, in which case, this seems too little, too late.

But then again, if this were truly driven by a desire to turn the corner and shake our image as a haven for bigotry, one would suspect that they would be willing to do something to reverse the damage that SB1070 did to our state, but we have no such luck. An effort by Senator Steve Gallardo (D-Phoenix) to repeal SB1070 has received no support from Republicans or the business community, and has been met with the same dismissive ridicule from the press that the law’s opponents were subjected to four years ago, when the state’s major newspapers were more willing to rail against 1070’s critics than the bill itself. By the same token, the silence from these quarters regarding efforts to require taxpayers to pay the legal bills of SB1070’s sponsors seems to imply that they are still okay with the law.

There are welcome signs that SB1062 will vetoed. The widespread public outrage over this evil bill is heartening, and gives great hope to those of us who have been fighting for change for years. Unfortunately, there remain troublesome signs that some bigotry remains acceptable.

If I was in the legislature…

I know it’s already been passed by both houses, but here is my suggested amendment to SB 1062. I think all right thinking people will find it an improvement:

A. A person exercising rights under this section must post a sign that clearly prohibits certain persons on their premises. The sign shall conform to the following requirements:
1. Be posted in a conspicuous location accessible to the general public.
2. Contain a pictogram that details what persons are not allowed within a red circle and a diagonal red line across a representation of such persons.
3. Contain the words, “no (description of persons not allowed) allowed pursuant to state law”.
B. A so-described person shall not be on the premises of a retailer if the owner has posted the notice prescribed in subsection A of this section.
C. It is an affirmative defense to a violation of subsection B of this section if:
1. The person was not informed of the notice prescribed in subsection A of this section before the violation.
2. Any one or more of the following apply:
(a) At the time of the violation the notice prescribed in subsection A of this section had fallen down.
(b) At the time of the violation the person was not a resident of this state.
(c) The retailer had posted the notice prescribed in subsection A of this section not more than thirty days before the violation.
D. An appropriate state agency shall prepare signs at no cost to retailers.
E. The signs required by this section shall be composed of block, capital letters printed in black on white laminated paper at a minimum weight of one hundred ten pound index. The lettering and pictogram shall consume a space at least six inches by nine inches. The letters comprising the words “no (description of persons not) allowed” shall be at least three-fourths of a vertical inch and all other letters shall be at least one-half of a vertical inch. Nothing shall prohibit a retailer from posting additional signs at one or more locations on the premises.

-RRR-

Rule #1 of satire is that you never rip off the mask. You let your readers poke around and figure things out for themselves. Jonathan Swift didn’t have an an epilogue to A Modest Proposal saying “Hey, I was kidding about that…” Still, I want to explain a bit of what I did here. What I have above is ARS 4-229, the law that says that bar owners who don’t want guns in their establishments must post a sign. When the law was debated, there was a suggestion for even a larger sign. Then-Senator Randy Graf suggested a sign that would have been about half the size of the front door of most bars. Firearms are so protected and important that everyone has to know what place won’t welcome them.

No such provision is in SB 1062. Our guns are important to us; our gay neighbors aren’t.

Senator Melvin Courageously Stands Up For Ignorance

There is actually a pretty vigorous debate over Common Core Standards and many legitimate questions over to what extent, or even if, they should be implemented. It is a debate that needs to happen, and one that should be conducted with rigor, integrity, and an eye toward our future needs as a community, state, and nation.

Cotton HillOf course, this is not the sort of debate that is happening in the Arizona Legislature, thanks largely to Senator Al Melvin (R-Segregated Gated Retirement Community North of Town). Melvin’s SB 1310, which passed a Senate Committee yesterday, bans the implementation of Common Core in Arizona. The Senator’s stated reason for his opposition cited no specifics, merely that the standards were a good idea from “the private sector and the governors” that got “hijacked by Washington.” In other words, the merits of the standards are less of an issue than the fact that they are being championed by The Big Bad Black Man.

He also, as usual, said something about Ronald Reagan, which made even less sense.

In fairness, conservatives who supported the legislation did have some substantial complaints, though these were largely about boogiemen. Howie Fischer’s story in the Star quoted a woman who testified in front of the committee about her concern that the use of computers would lead to indoctrination into “the concepts of global warming, evolution, defaming the founders.” The connection is unclear, but it is certain she does not want her world view challenged by study of science or history. Likely this is a minority view, but, unfortunately, this pride in ignorance is what is guiding our educational policy around here.

Senator David Bradley (D-Tucson), did what he does best by calling out Melvin on his bullshit. Here is Fischer’s account:

Melvin’s opposition led Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson, to question him as to whether he’s actually read the Common Core standards that have been adopted by 45 states.

“I’ve been exposed to them,” Melvin responded.

Pressed by Bradley for specifics, Melvin said he understands that “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

Melvin actually should be familiar with “fuzzy math” that substitutes letters for numbers. It has been a well established part of mathematics curricula for hundreds of years, including, no doubt, his own academic program at the Merchant Marine Academy. It is called algebra.

On the other hand, Melvin may be on to something.

Modern algebra has its roots in the work of Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, a Persian scholar working in Baghdad in the 9th century. In fact, much of modern mathematics, even our number system itself, owes a substantial debt to scholars who spoke Arabic and prayed toward Mecca five times a day. Even the word “algebra” is Arabic in origin.

That’s right. Common Core is just a back door way of imposing Sharia Law.

John Kavanagh Does Not Want People Like Himself To Go To College

State Representative John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) is an ex-cop from a working class background who earned a PhD at a public university and teaches at a community college. This should be considered in light of his recent comments attacking financial aid for allowing “too many” Arizonans to attend our state’s universities.

I am not going to pretend that I know exactly what programs Kavanagh may or may not have benefited from during what must have been a remarkable academic career. Though I served with him for two years, I really know little about his story. Suffice it to say, I made many Republican friends while I was at the capitol and he was not one of them.

However, during my college career, I knew many people from backgrounds very similar to Kavanagh’s. Most of them were helped directly by financial aid in one way or another. More importantly they were helped by the fact that the college experience is very different than it was in previous decades because legislation like the GI Bill (the brainchild of Arizona’s own Senator Ernest “Mac” McFarland) and the Higher Education Act of 1965 made college accessible to more people. As a result, colleges have been forced over the years to accommodate so-called “non-traditional students,” including working people, older students and students with families by altering their schedules, loosening stuffy traditions, and providing services on campus for a population with different and diverse needs. The once-elite experience of college has been democratized, and financial aid has been a big part of this.

Kavanagh points out, correctly, that there are people who should not be in college. He is right. Not everyone is college material, and there are plenty of students who do not take their education seriously. However, his rhetoric implies that he believes that academic merit has something to do with one’s ability to pay. This is insulting bunk, and we can all think of mediocre students who were able to attend elite colleges based solely on their family’s reputation and money. There were plenty of undeserving students in college before the era of financial aid, and there will still be without it. The problem is that too many talented students will be unable to go to college without it.

But more than this, financial aid has been integral to the general opening of the college experience to folks beyond the sons and daughters of wealth and privilege. Without it, campuses would be less diverse and eventually less welcoming to students from different backgrounds, including working class transit cops.

Kavanagh speaks of a halcyon time when only deserving people attended college. What he ignores is that in his perfect world he would probably not have been considered one of them.

Legislative Immunity and The Things Man Was Not Meant To Know

Most folks here have already heard that former State Representative Daniel Patterson (D-Tucson) has filed a suit against the City of Tucson and The Pima County Sheriff, alleging that they violated his legislative immunity back in 2012.

It needs to be pointed out that legislative immunity, which is spelled out in the State Constitution, is hardly unique to Arizona. There is similar language in many, if not most, constitutions. In fact, it was such a matter of course that the article was the subject of little or no discussion at the 1910 Constitutional Convention.

Everybody who has worked with or in the legislature has at least one story about someone embarrassing themselves with regard to legislative immunity, usually these have something to do with some arrogant boob being obnoxious to a cop. There are also a number of urban legends about what immunity is and how it works, but the fact is that it has never been tested in court and most law enforcement agencies have no clear policy to deal with it.

Of course, there is a good purpose behind it. Such language is there to prevent police harassment of legislators during the session. One can easily imagine, given what happened to the owners of the Phoenix New Times at the hands of Sheriff Arpaio’s office in 2007, how a megalomaniacal  and politically motivated law enforcement agency could attempt to use their power to influence legislation by threatening lawmakers.

Staff counsel at the legislature tends to tell legislators not to cite immunity. If one gets pulled over for a traffic violation, for example, they say to simply pay the ticket and let it go. They also tend to point out that immunity does not extend outside the session, and police can simply choose to sit on a complaint and wait to serve the legislator. Making an issue about immunity potentially makes a routine stop for a broken tail-light into a headline story about an obnoxious and entitled Representative or Senator getting out of a ticket. This would mean attention that was unwanted not only because it could be embarrassing, but also because it would mean that people would be talking about legislative immunity. Generally, folks at the capitol do not want to see this becoming a political issue.

I will not be surprised if Patterson’s lawsuit does not go far, but if it does, a good result might be some clarification of how legislative immunity is supposed to work, either by court precedent or through policy. However, it also draws unwanted attention to an easily misunderstood and abused, though necessary, protection of the integrity of the legislative process, placing it in political jeopardy. It remains to be seen if Patterson has thought through the long-term constitutional consequences of his suit.

Beware of Democrats Cutting Unproductive Deals

Rumor has it that Senate President Andy Biggs (R-Atlas Shrugged) will be unveiling a “Tea Party” budget later today. Among other things, it reportedly includes a petulant $15 million cut to the Universities, and does not include the Governor’s proposed Medicaid expansion, despite the fact that it has bipartisan support.

The proposed budget was apparently drafted largely without the participation of his own Republican caucus. Even Majority Leader John McComish (R-Ahwatukee) was apparently kept in the dark, and reportedly members of the Governor’s staff were calling Democrats to find out what was up. Given all this, it should come as some surprise that a handful of Senate Democrats are rumored to be supporting this thing.

This is not the first time that something like this has happened. In 2007, a group of House Democrats mutinied against their own leadership, nearly scuttling a deal between legislative Democrats, a Democratic Governor, and Republican leadership in the Senate. It was a useless venture, as the House budget was not going to pass the Senate, and was certainly not going to be signed by the Governor. In her own defense, one of the mutineers said that she agreed to the budget because it was important that her “fingerprints” be on what passed, even though neither she nor her constituents got anything out of the deal. It was a deal for the sake of a deal, the sort of thing that gets one praised in the Arizona Republic as “effective” even though it accomplishes nothing.

The media will try to portray this as some sort of ideological fight among Democrats, pitting radical left-wingers against sensible moderates, even though it is no such thing. The truth is that, even though we have not seen the Biggs budget, we know enough about his priorities that we can assume that it targets the constituencies who depend on Democrats to fight for them. This is not about making deals or a debate about left and right, it is about real people who will, by neglect and design, suffer under this budget. Unfortunately, making friends is more important to some people than making good policy.

The tragic thing is that there are enough Republicans uncomfortable with his priorities that Biggs would not have the votes to pass this budget without the help of these Democrats. A little more solidarity among the Democratic Caucus would make it possible to pass a truly bipartisan budget reflecting a broader set of values and priorities.

Of course, this is all just rumors, reliable rumors, but rumors nonetheless. I have some suspicion about who the dissident Democrats are, but it would be irresponsible to name names. Lets just say that I suggest that folks in Tucson call their Senators.

Elections Are Expensive. Let’s Just Not Have Them.

It was only a few weeks ago when City Councilman Kozachik announced that he was leaving the Republican Party to become a Democrat. Among the things that led to his split with the Republicans were the Legislature’s consistent attacks on local governance, in Tucson in particular. So, it may come as some surprise that, in his newsletter, the Councilman calls for the city to abide by SB 2826. Passed in 2012, this partisan attack on local control was opposed by the city and is currently being challenged in court:

One way we could save about $2M this year has to do with the State and their Consolidated Elections bill – the one that places all elections in even numbered years. They have to go back and fix the language this session since we are due to have an election this fall. There are options they can consider, some of which include having us run for 1 or 3 year terms this fall, or skipping this year’s election altogether and synchronizing us in a 2014 election. If left to me, I’d certainly opt for that. I believe people are just suffering election cycle fatigue.

Skipping this year’s election could save us $2M if we also didn’t put on the ballot three items: a request for Mayor and Council raises (being considered by the City Manager’s office,) a request for us to increase our spending limit (Home Rule,) and the Plan Tucson document that I’ve reported on before. We don’t have to have that approved until 2014. So, skipping any ballot measures this year would save funding the election, and would allow us to defer upgrading our election equipment until next year.

It’s not a structural fix, but it would help with this year’s deficit.

First, this proposal is at the very least, mildly offensive to the legislators, lobbyists and lawyers who have expended considerable sweat and toil fighting legislation like this on behalf of Tucson. While talk like this does not necessarily undermine their efforts, such mixed signals from the elected leadership of the city shows a certain lack of respect for all the work that has been done.

Second, and much more importantly, is an all to common attitude regarding elections. The relevant paragraphs are quoted in full above to show that sound bytes about “election cycle fatigue” and “skipping this year’s election” do not improve in their original context. Too frequently in this state, there are those who lament that elections are too messy and costly. Evan Mecham once famously lamented that there was “too much democracy” in the United States, and similar sentiments seem to have been somewhere behind the Southern Arizona Leadership Council’s failed 2010 effort to amend the  city charter to shift power from elected officials to unelected bureaucrats.

The argument about cost was made with SB2826 as well, though this was somewhat disingenuous. Even the Arizona Republic recognized that the motives for the bill were strictly partisan, namely having to do with the fact that both Tucson and Phoenix elected Democratic mayors in 2011. If cost were really the only issue, then replacing elections with a system of primogeniture  would save even more money, and selecting city officials through trial-by-combat would actually present opportunities for cost recovery by offering pay-per-view.

Strangely, in the Councilman’s case, it is worth pointing out that cancelling the 2013 election would save him the trouble of a reelection campaign.

As with “Paton’s Law,” the only problem that SB2826 was meant to address was that the wrong people were getting elected. And, of course, like that law, which was overturned by the State Supreme Court even as this measure was being debated in the Legislature, this one is likely to be thrown out as unconstitutional for the same reasons. This is another legacy of the Harrison Act of 1886, which was discussed in a previous post. As has been mentioned, Tucson is part of a coalition of cities who are fighting this, and hopefully the Councilman will allow them to continue to do so.

As for the Councilman, it is unclear if he really feels this way, or if he is just engaged in a bit of Swiftian thinking out loud in an effort to stimulate a discussion. It remains to be seen if this will materialize into something substantial. For the time being, the sentiment is at the very least disturbing.

 

 

History Lesson For Today: Special Legislation

Today’s lesson is written as a service to Representative Steve Smith (R-Maricopa). A relatively recent arrival to our state, providence thrust poor Rep. Smith into a political career without the benefit of anything more than superficial knowledge of Arizona’s history, culture or economy. It is our duty as people who love Arizona to help him out.

The Tenth Territorial Legislature, which met at the capitol in Prescott in 1879, was known as the “Divorce Legislature” because granting divorces comprised a substantial portion of its business. In fact, many of the 65 bills it passed were strictly personal in nature, including 10 name changes and 18 divorces.

As an aside, one name change that they passed was for a man named John Smith, one of the early founders of Arizona’s Republican Party. Smith successfully appealed to the legislature to have his name changed to John Y.T. Smith, the initials standing for “Your’s Truly.” It seems that, given the fact that the Territory was full of folks who were fleeing a sordid past elsewhere, he wanted to make sure that everyone knew that his name really was John Smith. This, of course is not written to imply anything of the sort regarding any other relative newcomers named Smith.

Back in Washington D.C., this sort of pettiness was regarded as a sign of small-mindedness and political immaturity by the folks in Congress. The excesses of the so-called “Thieving Thirteenth” legislature of 1885 brought these concerns into focus and led to the passage of the Harrison Act, named for its sponsor, future United States President Benjamin Harrison, which restricted what territorial legislatures could do. Almost three decades later, Arizona’s political leaders decided that that these restrictions remained a good idea, and incorporated them into the State Constitution as Article 4, Section 19, which forbade the legislature from passing “local or special laws,” including “Granting divorces,” granting name changes, and “Granting to any corporation, association, or individual, any special or exclusive privileges, immunities, or franchises.”

Which brings us to Representative Smith, who has again introduced legislation to pay former State Senator Russell Pearce some $261,000 in reparations for losing his 2011 recall election. I say “reparations” rather than “reimbursement” because his campaign funds came from contributors rather than Pearce himself and the tone of the discussion seems to imply that Pearce was somehow wronged by the process. While, on its face, the law would seem to violate the constitution’s restrictions against special laws, Smith has gotten around this by writing it to apply generally. However, the fact that this recall was an unusual event and that this bill is written to be retroactive to November of 2011 make it clear that this is about Pearce. Sure, the bill might well stand up to judicial scrutiny, but it certainly violates the spirit of the constitution and the intent of the framers.

Smith’s bill has no co-sponsors and the leadership is unlikely to do him any favors, so this measure is likely to die as did a similar measure did last year. This in and of itself does not make it a waste of time, as there are many good reasons to introduce bills that  are unlikely to go anywhere. A legislator might want to draw attention to an issue, for example. What does not speak well for Smith is that he has chosen to use up a substantial portion of his 15 minutes of fame to harrumph his righteous outrage about a friend who lost an election. This is precisely the sort of small-mindedness that previous generations of political leaders wanted Arizona legislators to avoid.

Attention Pundits: This is What Real Bi-Partisanship Looks Like

From House Minority Leader Chad Campbell’s Facebook feed:

“Describing mine and Gov. Brewer’s relationship these past couple of years as “frosty” is definitely one way to put it… That being said, I give her credit for taking on Medicaid expansion and some school safety issues in her State of the State speech today. I sincerely hope we can put aside our differences and work together on these key issues, as well as others.”

And this, from Tucson’s own Democratic State Senator Steve Farley’s Facebook feed:

“Governor Brewer just told us she will fight to expand AHCCCS coverage to everyone below 133% of the poverty line. I haven’t been this happy with a State of the State since Gov. Napolitano! She has quite a battle against her own party now….”

Here is a statement from Bill Roe, the Arizona Democratic Party Chairman:

“I am glad that Governor Jan Brewer agrees with Democrats and is calling for full expansion of the Medicaid program under President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act. Expansion will give Arizona’s economy a much-needed boost by creating jobs. It is the right thing to do since it will provide Arizonans with adequate health care. We hope the Governor’s leadership is enough to convince members of her own party to put the needs of Arizona ahead of petty political brinkmanship.”

The opposition party in Washington D.C. could learn a lot from these people.