by David Safier
The Range gave Demitri Downing space to rebut my posts about the race for the two House seats in Legislative District 9. I've maintained that people who object to right wing stances against abortion rights and sensible gun regulation shouldn't be voting for self-described moderate Ethan Orr. Giving Demitri a chance to air his views is fine by me. He has the right to his opinion, and I've had this space pretty much to myself when it comes to the LD-9 race. But you know that old saying about being entitled to your own opinions, not your own facts? Well, Demitri makes one assertion as fact which is so jaw-droppingly incorrect, I can't let it go unchallenged:
The Democratic Party, acting according to their nature to sting Republicans, has focused solely on two “fear” issues, abortion and guns — issues rarely the subject of meaningful legislation. [Boldface added for emphasis]
Abortion and guns are "rarely the subject of meaningful legislation," Demitri? Seriously? Meaningful bills related to abortion and guns are staples of state legislatures across the country, especially where Republicans are in the majority, and Arizona's Tea Party-led legislature is no exception. It's possible, I suppose, that Downing doesn't know the meaning of the word "meaningful." But if he does, his wildly inaccurate statement makes me wonder if he believes the rest of what he writes about Orr's effectiveness in Phoenix, or if he really believes Orr would have any influence at all with his Republican colleagues if he were given another two years, seeing as how his patron, Jan Brewer, would be gone — face it, DuVal and Ducey just aren't that into Ethan — and he'd go up there with "RINO" stamped on his forehead because of his votes with Brewer on Medicaid and the budget.
There's simply no question about it, Arizona has seen plenty of meaningful legislation on guns and abortions over the past few years. Here are some of the highlights — or lowlights, depending on your point of view.
First, guns. In the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions, Republicans proposed nearly 20 bills to weaken gun laws. Nine passed and were sent to Governor Brewer. She signed six into law, but three others were more than she could stomach, so she vetoed them. Among the bills she signed were ones allowing people to carry guns into bars, limiting record keeping on gun possession and purchase, and prohibiting destroying firearms in government buyback programs. Brewer vetoed bills that would have allowed people to carry guns into government buildings that didn't have weapon screening devices and would have imposed civil penalties on any elected officials who attempted to pass gun-related legislation that was different from state law.
Sounds like some meaningful legislation to me. A few of the bills were so "meaningful," Brewer felt she had to pull out her veto pen to stop them from becoming law. And that's just during the two most recent legislative sessions — and just the bills that passed. Earlier years brought lots of other meaningful gun-related laws to Arizona, and some of the bills tabled over the past few sessions are waiting in the wings for next year's legislature.
The abortion-related legislation was plenty meaningful as well. During the past two sessions, when Orr was in the legislature, one significant bill was signed by Brewer. It allowed unannounced inspections of abortion clinics. But if you look back a few years, lots of other meaningful bills limiting women's right to reproductive choice became law, including: Protection for doctors who withhold information from or don't provide medical testing for a patient if they think it might lead to an abortion; Requiring physicians to have admitting privileges at the nearest hospital if they provide abortions; Prohibiting organizations from participating in the state's tax credits for the working poor if they provide, pay for, give coverage for abortions or even refer people to abortion providers; Prohibiting physicians' assistants from performing abortion by pill; and Reclassifying abortion by pill as "surgical abortion" rather than "medical abortion" to make it more difficult for women to gain access to that method.
There's no denying bills are meaningful if they make it easier for guns to fall into the hands of dangerous people and allow people to carry their guns in places where they can injure or kill others. And there's no denying bills creating roadblocks to women's access to abortion are meaningful. We've seen many of those bills make their way through the legislature over the past few years, and we're certain to see more in the next few legislative sessions.
Anyone in LD-9 who wants to be represented by someone who will support right wing bills on guns and abortion should vote for Ethan Orr. People who object to those bills should choose Randy Friese and Victoria Steele. No matter how hard Orr has tried to brush aside those issues — "Nothing to see here folks, move along" — they are critical to Arizona's future.