Friday, March 24, 2017

Rep. Schweikert of House Freedom Caucus explains why he's supporting GOP's Obamacare replacement

The lamestream media is furiously reporting that the House Freedom Caucus opposes the Republican's replacement for Obamacare, but that's simply not true. Rep. Schweikert, perhaps the wonkiest member of the caucus, is supporting the bill because it is desperately needed and probably as good as it's going to get due to problems it will run into in the Senate.

He explained to NPR that the quibbling is mostly over changes to the individual purchasing market - but that's only 2 percent of Schweikert's district; most people purchase their healthcare through their employer. The key is lowering premiums, that's the biggest problem facing most Americans. We're not doing enough to deal with the cost drivers.

Arizona have seen 116% premium increases in some counties, and there's only one healthcare provider to choose from under Obamacare in Arizona.

Once the bill gets to the Senate, it becomes a strangled mechanism. There's reconciliation, dealing with regulatory side, and 51 vote mechanics limits the types of language you can put in the legislation.

The fight over Obamacare was Republicans vs. Democrats, and it's still Republicans vs. Democrats, but there also regional variances; some locations within Medicaid populations are receiving lots of subsidies.

The majority of the 24 million without healthcare are those who chose not to purchase healthcare - they have the right not to purchase it. There needs to be enough optionality so people can choose which parts of healthcare they want to purchase, not everyone needs a Cadillac plan.

Listen to the NPR interview

What the heck happened to kill the AZ State Bar reform bill in the Senate??!!!!

DEAR COLLEAGUES:
Thank you for answering the bell and responding with your strong efforts to get HB2295 heard in Senator Debbie Lesko's Appropriations Committee. Unfortunately, Senator Lesko chose not to hear the bill in her committee.
HB 2295 was originally assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 28, 2017 but inexplicably, Judiciary Chair Sen. Judy Burges never put the bill on the committee agenda, despite sponsor Rep. Anthony Kern's urging to hear the bill.
Therefore, a hearing in Senate Appropriations was the final opportunity to have the bill heard and passed so it could reach the floor for a vote. Without any committee hearing, this means state bar reform has ended this legislative -- without either a hearing or a vote in the Arizona Senate.
Although we were confident HB2295 would get out of committee, make no mistake; the final floor vote in the Senate would have been difficult with the opportunity margin even narrower than last year. Just the same, we were ready to fight for every vote.
Although disappointing, do not be deterred or defeated. Each session, further incremental progress is made. This was never a one, two or three session campaign. Change of this kind is never easy, especially when the opposing forces are so well-entrenched.
With the addition of two new staunch pro-reform Arizona lawyer lawmakers, Rep. Maria Syms and Rep. David Stringer in the Arizona House, the prospects for the future are still bright. Stay the course. Rep. Anthony Kern remains committed to keep championing our fight. We can do it. We will do it.




SUPREME COURT RULE AMENDMENT PETITION TO REFORM STATE BAR.  




THE WORK TO REFORM THE STATE BAR OF ARIZONA WAS NOT LIMITED SOLELY TO THE ARIZONA LEGISLATURE THIS YEAR.
THERE IS A PENDING RULE AMENDMENT PETITION BEFORE THE ARIZONA SUPREME COURT THAT CLOSELY MODELS HB2295.
THE PROPOSED RULE CHANGE WOULD AMEND RULES 32(C) AND (D), RULES OF THE SUPREME COURT, TO MAINTAIN THE CURRENT MANDATORY MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENT FOR ALL LAWYERS BUT (1) ELIMINATE MANDATORY MEMBERSHIP DUES FOR NON-REGULATORY FUNCTIONS AND (2) ALLOW VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTIONS FOR ALL NON-REGULATORY FUNCTIONS. IT WAS FILED JAN. 10, 2017 AND COMMENTS ARE DUE BY MAY 22, 2017. 

GO TO http://www.azcourts.gov/Rules-Forum/aft/681 AND REGISTER YOUR COMMENTS FOR R-17-0022 Petition to Amend Rules 32(c) and (d), Rules of the Supreme Court.



STOP THE PROPOSAL TO ELIMINATE TERM LIMITS FOR MEMBERS OF ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE PROBABLE CAUSE COMMITTEE.  




On January 6, 2017, Arizona Supreme Court Petition R-17-0005 was filed by the Certification and Licensing Division to amend Rule 50(b), Rules of the Supreme Court, to remove the two (2) consecutive three-year limitation on the appointment of members to the Attorney Discipline Probable Cause Committee.
This means existing members could remain entrenched without limitation -- a dangerous prospect for fairness; a recipe for habituated prosecutorial zealotry; and the alarming promise of institutionalized groupthink.

GO TO http://www.azcourts.gov/Rules-Forum/aft/664 AND REGISTER YOUR COMMENTS AGAINST R-17-0005 Petition to Amend Rules 50(b), Rules of the Supreme Court. COMMENTS ARE DUE BY MAY 22, 2017. 
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For more information about our work, visit: http://workingforabetterbar.org/

Yet another DES employee tells wrongly fired director Tim Jeffries how bad things have gotten again

Dear Director J. aka Fearless Leader,

I have been meaning to pen you an email to share the troubles and agony we continue to face day-in and day-out at what was once the Great DES.  Ever since your forced departure, things have just not been the same.  Colleagues are no longer colleagues; we are numbers and metrics of robotic lean procedures.  As much as standardization is needed to be part of production, without the humanity effect and leadership, we are just a count on the employee roster.

As you have seen, we are no longer allowed to smile, let alone have the drive to praise a “You’re Awesome” in fear of retaliation or hatred of your loving philosophy. Mr. Smiley has been slowly disappearing from our offices and have slowly been fainting into our memoirs of happiness.  The decision to rehire bullies and lairs was a huge slap in the face to those of us who suffered from their bureaucratic legacy. The lack of communication of who now calls himself our “Director”, pusillanimous hides behind his monitor and keyboard, without any intent to even interact with anyone who crosses his path.  The repaint of the bollards, along with the audacious email regarding Merit payments, seem nothing more than what I deem to be blowing hot air, as if there is actual true meaning behind the words.  I find it hilarious to be called “Stewards of taxpayer dollars” when we can’t even hold accountability to those who bought HeaPlus. The struggles we face every day with a system that doesn’t help with our numbers, let alone serve our clients.  Is absolutely embarrassing!

Well, enough about the bureaucracy of ignorance, I hope things have been great in your new endeavor. Keep fighting for the poor. We miss you!

God Bless you always!


Fellow servant in Christ.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Harvard study: Arizona #1 for political and legal corruption

An excerpt from the first in a series of articles from the Arizona Daily Independent -

The Harvard study concluded that Arizona had the highest instance of illegal corruption. Researchers define illegal corruption as:
“…the private gains in the form of cash or gifts by a government official, in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups. It is the form of corruption that attracts a great deal of public attention.”
The Harvard researchers found that Arizona did a little bit better in terms of “legal” corruption. Researchers define legal corruption as:
“… the political gains in the form of campaign contributions or endorsements by a government official, in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups, be it by explicit or implicit understanding.”
Both forms are insidious and when those “specific benefits” take the form of a get-out-of-jail-free card, or looking the other way, there is virtually no way to stop corrupt practices.

Prosecutor shoves evidence of DES contractor corruption under the rug

Public Corruption In Arizona Takes All Forms

Public corruption takes all forms, and in Arizona it can be found on all levels of government. One of the most common forms of public corruption in Arizona these days is hidden under the cloak of prosecutorial discretion.
“Prosecutorial discretion refers to the fact that under American law, government prosecuting attorneys have nearly absolute powers. A prosecuting attorney has power on various matters including those relating to choosing whether or not to bring criminal charges, deciding the nature of charges, plea bargaining and sentence recommendation.” – USlegal.com
To quote 19th century British politician, Lord Acton: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Because of the nearly absolute powers they wield, candidates for county attorney and state attorney general races rake in the big bucks from very powerful special interests. Those contributions, along with old alliances and associations can, and do, influence whether or not a criminal act is prosecuted.
That is not how it is supposed to be; justice is supposed to be blind. However; too often in Arizona justice only turns a blind eye to the shenanigans of corrupt players.
For those na├»ve souls, who enter public service believing that public’s trust is to be earned and cherished, learning that justice is reserved for a few can be tough. Such was the case for Department of Economic Security director Tim Jeffries and his team.
Justice turns a blind eye
When Jeffries took over the helm at DES he was given very specific instructions to clean house and bring the Department up to the “speed of business.” He brought with him a team of professionals made up of civil servants, and business people.
Almost immediately it became apparent that the Department was in poor shape. Jeffries inherited a failing software program through which some of Arizona’s neediest residents fell. Michael Veit was the AHCCCS procurement agent for the HEA Plus project. In May 2016, Veit, and his long-time friend and co-conspirator Michael J. Cameron, were sentenced to prison for stealing $5.9 million from the State of Arizona, reported the ADI.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Legislature must investigate $142 million in waste by State’s Medicaid eligibility system

On February 15, 2017 Tim Jeffries, the former director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) revealed that the current computer software program used by DES and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) is a failed and unsustainable system. Jeffries added the software development vendor should be terminated and investigated.
In an appearance on the James T. Harris radio show on 104.1 FM, Jeffries explained some of the failures of the system known as HEA Plus. HEA Plus, the State’s Medicaid eligibility system, was launched under the purview of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) with the launch of Obamacare and subsequent expansion of Medicaid.
“The system was never intended to just be for Medicaid,” said Jeffries. “It was intended to be integrated with TANF (Temporary Cash Assistance For Needy Families aka ‘welfare’) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program aka ‘food stamps’) because in our offices across the state handle eligibility processing for all three Federal programs.” Jeffries continued by stating “Arizona DES has 77 service centers…an integrated system is needed to efficiently and cost-effectively assess eligibility of Arizonans for Medicaid, food stamps and welfare.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Jack Levine explains how the corrupt AZ State Bar needs to be reformed

Our Lawyer Disciplinary System – Is It Again Time For A Change?

In 2011, in response to a lack of uniformity in the way our disciplinary system functioned, the Arizona Supreme Court adopted substantial changes which removed decision-making from the State Bar as to which disciplinary complaints should be pursued and, instead created the Attorney Discipline Probable Cause Committee. In addition, the Court did away with three-member, lawyer hearing panels, which previously decided disciplinary complaints and, substituted in its place, the Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, which heard evidence and decided all disciplinary cases against lawyers.
In 2014, statistics compiled by the American Bar Association’s Center for Professional Responsibility, revealed that Arizona had one of the highest percentage of lawyers disciplined on a per capita basis.  In that year, Arizona received 3,549 complaints and sanctioned 108 lawyers, the third highest among the states.
It is difficult to gauge the degree of dissatisfaction that may exist among members of the bar on the way our current disciplinary system functions for obvious reasons.  Those who are fortunate enough to have never been exposed to it presumably have no complaints. Those who have, are either no longer around, or would rather remain silent because of the humiliation and embarrassment that public exposure of the experience carries for its victims.

Friday, February 24, 2017

HB 2295 to split the AZ State Bar passes the House!




HB 2295 PASSES 31-29





DEAR COLLEAGUES:

Great News! House Bill 2295 passed by a vote of 31-29 Thursday afternoon. The bill now moves to the Arizona Senate for consideration. PLEASE CONTACT ALL SENATE MEMBERS RIGHT AWAY AND ASK FOR THEIR VOTES FOR HB 2295.
(SEE SENATE ROSTER LINK BELOW)

HB2295 splits the State Bar of Arizona into two subsets. One preserves the mandatory membership character to function as a regulatory public protection quasi-agency. The other subset becomes an optional, voluntary organization engaged solely in non-regulatory 'trade association' activities. The bill also remedies the State Bar of Arizona's inherent conflict of interest because it separates the Bar's current role as both a regulator of and a trade association for lawyers.  

PLEASE THANK THE 31 HOUSE MEMBERS WHO VOTED FOR HB2295!
ALLEN J
Y
 BARTON
Y
BOWERS
Y
BOYER
Y
CARTER
Y
CLODFELTER
Y
COBB
Y
FARNSWORTH E
Y
FINCHEM
Y


GRANTHAM
Y


JOHN
Y


KERN
Y


LAWRENCE
Y


LEACH
Y


LIVINGSTON
Y


LOVAS
Y


MITCHELL
Y



MOSLEY
Y



NORGAARD
Y



NUTT
Y



PAYNE
Y



RIVERO
Y



SHOOTER
Y



STRINGER
Y



SYMS
Y


THORPE
Y


TOWNSEND
Y


UDALL
Y


UGENTI-RITA
Y


WENINGER
Y


MESNARD
Y

















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HB 2295 FACT SHEET
Attorneys who want to practice law in Arizona are forced to pay the State Bar of Arizona member dues.
The State Bar uses this money to regulate the practice of law and to fund other activities, including lobbying
and other political activity. HB 2295 accomplishes two important reforms. First, so long as the State Bar regulates the practice of law, HB 2295 subjects the State Bar to public records laws. Second, HB 2295 protects attorneys’ free speech rights by requiring that mandatory dues be used only for regulation. The bill allows the State Bar to continue to collect voluntary dues to pay for its other operations.

HB 2295 increases transparency of the State Bar
While the State Bar plays a large role in regulating the practice of law, it is not subject to ordinary transparency
measures such as public records laws. HB 2295 addresses this problem by subjecting the State Bar to the
normal public records requirements all other regulatory agencies in the State are subject to.

HB 2295 respects the free speech rights of attorneys
Conditioning the practice of law on bar membership violates the rights to free speech and free association guaranteed by the United States and Arizona Constitutions. HB 2295 limits the violation of the free speech rights of attorneys by requiring the State Bar only use mandatory dues for the direct regulation of the practice of law.

Limiting attorneys’ forced funding of the State Bar only to regulatory activities is not a radical proposition.
There are 18 states—ArkansasColoradoConnecticutDelawareIllinoisIndianaIowaKansasMaine,
MarylandMassachusettsMinnesotaNew JerseyNew YorkOhioPennsylvaniaTennessee, and Vermont
that already regulate attorneys without compelling membership at all. These states demonstrate that violating
attorneys’ free speech rights is unnecessary to ensure the practice of law is safely regulated.

The State Bar can lobby right now; HB 2295 does not change that
The State Bar cannot compel attorneys to fund lobbying unrelated to attorney regulation. But nothing prevents
the State Bar from collecting voluntary funds from attorneys to engage in any political activity that it wants.
The State Bar presently has a policy that it will not engage in political activities unrelated to the practice of law,
but there is nothing to stop the Bar from changing that policy tomorrow. As a result, HB 2295 does not prohibit
the State Bar’s political activities.

HB 2295 respects separation of powers and allows the Arizona Supreme Court to continue to delegate regulatory functions to the State Bar

The Arizona Supreme Court has interpreted the Arizona Constitution as giving the Court authority to regulate of
the practice of law, including the power to determine who may practice law and under what conditions. The bill does not conflict with the Court's interpretation. It allows the State Bar to receive funds related to regulatory functions.HB 2295 does not dismantle the State Bar, prevent the Supreme Court from delegating regulatory functions to the State Bar, or prevent the Court from requiring attorneys to join the State Bar to further its regulatory functions. If the Arizona Supreme Court would like to maintain the regulatory structure as it presently stands, it can.

All HB 2295 does is increase the Bar’s transparency if it continues to function as a regulator and prevent
attorneys from being forced to fund the State Bar’s activities beyond regulation. As a result, HB 2295 has no
separation of powers concerns. 
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House Bill 2300 was not voted on after sponsor Rep. Anthony Kern decided to hold the bill. HB 2300 establishes that lawyers are not required to be a member of any organization to become or remain a licensed lawyer in Arizona.
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THIS IS THE LINK TO THE ARIZONA SENATE MEMBERS ROSTER PAGE: http://www.azleg.gov/MemberRoster/?body=S










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For more information about our work, visit: http://workingforabetterbar.org/