On Friday, Democrats stood up for women with the introduction of Rep. Pam Powers Hannley’s Equal Right Amendment bill only to be blocked by procedural move by Republican Speaker of the House J.D. Mesnard. Earlier in the year, Mesnard had maneuvered to ensure that the bill would never receive a hearing by a House committee.
Because of Mesnard’s earlier efforts, Powers Hannley was forced to offer the bill during floor debate on Friday. Despite this, it was Republican lawmakers, who complained about the process and Powers Hannley’s disruption of it.
After Powers Hannley offered the Amendment, Mesnard made a motion to recess. Mesnard’s motion set-off a floor debate.
Democrat lawmakers repeatedly told Republicans that a vote in favor of Mesnard’s recess motion was a vote against women. Yet Republican lawmakers ignored their statements and voted against equal rights for women.
“Mr. Speaker, I move that a temporary rule be adopted, effective until the end of the Fifty-Third Legislature, First Regular Session, that notwithstanding any other House Rule or committee assignments, HCR2012 ratification; equal rights amendment be brought immediately for Third Reading and if the measure garners the requisite thirty-one votes, the Speaker or the Speaker Pro Tempore is directed to immediately sign the measure in open session and the Clerk is directed to immediately transmit the measure to the Senate,” said Powers Hannley when introducing the amendment. “Mr. Speaker, I call for a roll call vote.”
In response, Mesnard moved a substitute amendment to recess in order to avoid an up or down vote on the ERA.
“Mr. Speaker Pro Tempore, I wanted to explain my vote. I wanted to clarify that a vote for this substitute amendment to recess is really an up or down vote on the Equal Rights Amendment,” responded Powers Hannley.
“The Equal Rights Amendment is a simple, one-sentence statement,” said Powers Hannley. “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.”
After asking her fellow lawmakers if women deserve equality including equal pay for equal work and equal protection under the US Constitution, Powers Hannley said, “I think they do.”
“Members, let’s join together today to tell the women of Arizona that we value their work and that they deserve equality.” Power Hannley concluded, “Let’s make history and become the next state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Nevada ratified the ERA in March. The Illinois Legislature has been debating it this week.
There’s no time limit on equality. The time is now for the Equal Rights Amendment.”
Rather than overtly coming out against equal rights for women, Republicans like Rep. Kelly Townsend complained about process. “I don’t appreciate this being sprung on us at lunchtime. I would have loved to have had time to discuss this with you. I just think this is not the right time.”
At the end of the lengthy debate, Mesnard, not known for his keen intellect, spoke. He claimed that there are “a lot of questions that remain unanswered on this, equal pay for one. There are no two people that are identical. It’s a very interesting notion, equal pay for the same job. I truly don’t know what that means.”
Today House Speaker refused to let body debate Dems motion to have AZ become 37th state (38 needed) to ratify Equal Rights Amendment. Without an ERA we are subject to the Justice's interpretation of the scope of the 14th Amendment. Justice Scalia, at least did not think it guaranteed women equal rights!