Friday, March 19, 2021
PRESENT? AMERICA ONLY?: AZ Reps. Biggs and Gosar Among 15 Refusing To Pass Resolution Condemning Military Coup In Burma (READ Resolution)
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
NEW, "BEHAVE LIKE GROWN-UPS": AZ Rep. Andy Biggs Leads Band of Disruptive GOP Reps In House (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
JUST MEET US IN THE MIDDLE: Sens. Sinema and Kelly Part Of Mega-Block Of Bipartisan Centrists Meeting Tomorrow On Minimum Wage, Immigration, More
Thursday, March 11, 2021
$1.9T Relief Package Signed Into Law Today Includes Sinema's Long-Touted Restaurant Rescue Aid ( (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)
Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Arizona Should Prioritize People with Disabilities for COVID Vaccines - Like Other States (GUEST COLUMN)
(This Guest Column is contributed by Kara Karlson, disability advocate and election law attorney.)
Arizona has administered over 2 million COVID-19 vaccines. This is a huge milestone and great news. Unfortunately, despite promises from that the most vulnerable would be prioritized, pleas from multiple disability advocacy organizations have so far fallen on deaf ears. The failure to vaccinate our most vulnerable should (and can) be rectified immediately. It is the morally right thing to do, it saves taxpayer dollars, and would be simple to administer.
COVID-19 Disproportionately Affects People with Disabilities
COVID-19 poses a disproportionate burden on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. People with disabilities may be more likely to be infected with COVID-19 because many require care from people outside the home, use mass transit, or work jobs without a telework option. We know that (0-17 years old) with intellectual and developmental disabilities (“I/DD”) are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than other children.
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are also much more likely to suffer adverse outcomes than people without disabilities. Evidence early in the pandemic indicated that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities were more likely to die from COVID-19. This early finding has been confirmed by research. Arizona recently prioritized vaccination for people with Down’s Syndrome, who are more likely to die from COVID-19. This is a step in the right direction, but it leaves many others in the disabled community unprotected.
The increased risk of death is most marked in with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who are ten times more likely to die from COVID-19 than other children. The increased likelihood of death for children, who can’t yet get vaccinated, makes it very important that their caretakers are prioritized. Despite the clear and urgent need to prioritize people with I/DD, they are not currently a priority for state health officials.
Savings to the State
In addition to being the right thing to do for people with disabilities, it is also the right thing to do for Arizona’s taxpayers. Care for people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 is , and often includes long-term . This care is more expensive if complicated by other health conditions that many people with I/DD have. On the other hand, COVID-19 vaccines between $10 and $30 per dose. A of have recognized the value of prioritizing people with I/DD for COVID-19 vaccines, and Arizona should join their ranks.
A simple way to verify eligibility for vaccination would be to allow people 16 years of age and older (or caregivers to younger DDD members) use their Division of Developmental Disabilities (“DDD”) insurance card to be vaccinated.
To be a DDD member, a person must be diagnosed with at least one of the following : cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, or intellectual disabilities. In addition to the diagnosis, a member must have “significant limitations in daily life skills” such as an inability to communicate, requiring significant help with bathing, and needing daily supervision for their safety. DDD members are significantly more likely to have multiple comorbidities that make them more susceptible to COVID-19.
The state vaccine portal already requires anyone who is registering for an appointment to provide their insurance information. DDD Members have unique Member IDs, and the group name “AZDDD” on their insurance card immediately identifies them as a DDD Member. The state portal should recognize DDD Members and allow them to make an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination. Alternatively, the member could show their insurance card at the vaccination site.
Call to Action
Under the current vaccination schedule, thousands of Arizona’s most vulnerable people remain susceptible to a virus that could kill them or add health complications to a population already coping with significant, chronic health conditions. The new age-based approach taken by the state in some ways exacerbates this disparity. There is no scientifically-based reason a healthy middle-aged person should qualify for vaccination before a person with severe developmental disabilities. Given the increased risk of hospitalization and death DDD Members face as a result of their disabilities—and the fact that the infrastructure exists to allow the state to reserve these vaccines for those who qualify—there is no excuse to not prioritize DDD members for COVID-19 vaccines.
If you want to help make a difference for people with I/DD, please join the community. We need everyone involved, and contacting their government health and elected officials, to make a difference.
BREAKING: Shooter Can't Butt In As AZ Supreme Court Considers Whether Mesnard Had Legislative Immunity In Discussing Sexual Harassment Investigation
Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter tried to supplement his counsel's arguments to the Arizona Supreme Court, but was rebuffed. The brief interaction occurred after the Justices grilled both sides about whether former House Speaker J.D. Mesnard had immunity while expelling Shooter for sexual harassment charges.
Shooter claims that Mesnard defamed him and lost his legislative immunity when he edited and released the investigative report in 2018, and when he then issued a press release explaining his actions to expel. Mesnard's counsel told the Justices that "he was Speaker and he was doing something that is immediate" and therefore the absolute immunity should apply to both the report and the release.
The one thing that both attorneys seemed to agree on, albeit for different reasons, is that Mesnard did not get special immunity coverage because of his role as Speaker. Several of the Justices pressed the idea, and Justice Bill Montgomery finally told a very hesitant Stephen Tully (representing the Mesnards) that "these aren't gotcha questions".
Philip Byler represented Shooter and tried to emphasize that Mesnard was "making it up (as he goes along) and that's why he should not be having immunity." Justices seemed equally frustrated with many of his responses, and Byler closed by warning the Court that "the facts of this case are pretty ugly - do you want that absolutely immune?"
Justice Ann Timmer repeatedly asked why the press release should not be covered by the Arizona Constitution's immunity provisions, and mused whether Shooter's position would force Arizonans to watching hours of ACTV (Arizona Capitol Television) to know what their lawmakers were doing.
Chief Justice Robert Brutinel thanked the attorneys at the close of arguments. Shooter then started speaking up, although it was not audible on the livestream. Brutinel shut him down, saying we are not hearing from you, Mr. Shooter, this argument is done. (Shooter can be seen moving down to the front row during Tully's arguments, above.)
Shooter is primarily represented by Tom Horne, a former Arizona Attorney General. Tully also presently represents state Senate Republicans in the November election audit wars with Maricopa County.
There was no decision below on whether Mesnard actually defamed Shooter in his characterization of the report. This appeal is strictly on the immunity issue. The decision will be made by five of Arizona's seven Justices, as both Andrew Gould and James Beene did not participate.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
NEW: GOP Election Audit Wars Continue, Maricopa Supervisors Hold Emergency Meeting After GOP Lawmakers Ask Them To KEEP Ballots At County Facility... For Now
"The subpoena commands the Board produce documents and equipment and deliver them to 1700 W. Washington. There has never been a discussion or agreement to conduct another audit on Maricopa County property and that is not what the subpoena compels. Maricopa County invited legislative leaders to participate in the two forensic audits conducted this year. The chairman also invited them to tour the facility, view the equipment, and learn more about the processes during the 2020 election season. The Board has serious concerns about allowing anyone other than Election Department and County Recorder staff into sensitive areas during the current Goodyear election and other municipal elections scheduled during 2021."
The Supervisors did not take any formal action after the 1 1/2 hour emergency meeting (in Executive Session, of course), but likely discussed with their attorneys on how to proceed. (Both the County and the Senate Republicans are represented by outside, private counsel.)