On Sunday, Governor Doug Ducey’s office announced Arizona’s hospitals have seen a decline in the percentage of patients with COVID-like illness for the eleventh week in a row. The news follows increased demands for the governor to fully open up the state’s economy.
Arizona’s percentage of patients with COVID-like illness seen in hospitals is at 2.2%, down from 2.8% the week before. That represents a decline for 11 consecutive weeks. 1/ pic.twitter.com/ZTIEuFZ3zX
— The 9th Floor (@9thFloorAZ) September 27, 2020
Congressman Andy Biggs once again criticized Ducey last week for his insistence on keeping Arizona businesses shuttered as hospital use declines and small businesses continue to struggle.
At the same time, Biggs offered praise for State Reps. Kelly Townsend, Warren Peterson, Travis Grantham and others for their efforts to pry the doors of the Legislature and commerce open.
Arizona is NOT open.
You know what an open society looks like?
It’s where you allow adult free people to assess risk, mitigate risk, and act like adult free people.
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) September 25, 2020
The People’s House Is Closed
Currently, the Arizona Legislature is shut down. It was bought to a screeching halt in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and by Senate President Karen Fann at the behest of Ducey.
At the time, Fann informed members that there was too much federal emergency money at stake to keep the People’s House open long enough to pass liability protections for small businesses and schools.
On Apr 30, 2020, at 6:57 AM, Karen Fann <KFann@azleg.gov<mailto:KFann@azleg.gov>> wrote:
Before everyone weighs in on this email, I would like to relay some information we found out yesterday from legal counsel. If this resolution passes, the Governor’s emergency declaration will end. That means Arizona will get to keep the Covid money we have received to date but will NOT be entitled to all the millions of FEMA or DEMA funds. In addition, all of the emergency declarations the governor has passed over the past few weeks will end immediately…. these include things like state income tax deferral to July 15th; protections for our constituents from evictions, etc., etc……etc.
Now, the only way to open the Legislature is through the governor and his authority to call a Special Session, or two-thirds of the State legislators agreeing to open it up. Given the narrow margin held by small-business friendly legislators in both the House and Senate, it will take pressure from the public to get a bipartisan group willing to call the Legislature back into session.
For her part, Townsend has recently begun circulating a petition calling for support to “Restore the Balance of Power here in Arizona!”
“Let’s bring back the Legislature so we don’t have just the Governor running things on a permanent emergency basis,” wrote Townsend promoting her petition on Facebook.
“Half of the Republican caucus signed the petition, ready to return to work,” stated Townsend. “Many of the others who have yet to sign it told me they would like to, but are waiting for the green light from leadership.”
“I predict that for as long as we are receiving federal emergency monies into the Governor’s coffers that are not being overseen and allocated by the Legislature, there will be some kind of drawn out “emergency,” explained Townsend. “It seems we are playing both sides of the coin, seeking praise for opening up the state and seeking tax dollars by keeping a remnant of it closed.”
Universities’ Hands Are Open
Ducey insisted at his news conference on Thursday that the state is open, and that he has no current plans for “dramatic changes” to be made.
“Arizona’s economy is open, Arizona’s educational institutions are open, Arizona’s tourism institutions are open,” said Ducey, who has the lowest approval rating of any governor in the country. “The expectation is that they are going to remain open.”
The truth of the matter is that restaurants are open at half-capacity and Series 6 and 7 liquor licensed businesses remain closed.
Ducey appeared with the presidents of Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University to tout their work and announce that he was giving them $14 million to fight COVID-19.
Of that $14 million, they will receive $8 million for COVID-19 testing, and wastewater testing among other things.
Ducey is giving ASU $6 million to develop a portable saliva sample test, which is supposed to provide results in minutes.
For Arizona’s small businesses the minutes are ticking away, and hope is fading.
Still In The Fight
“Business owners in my district and from around the state have shared with me how difficult this shutdown has been on them,” said Townsend. “Some will never recover, and others are still operating on a shoestring. The overarching sentiment is that the application of the Governor’s actions has been -and still is – arbitrary and capricious.”
Townsend isn’t the only one who believes the governor’s actions are arbitrary and capricious. Last week, Ducey, the Arizona Department of Health Services, and the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control received a notice of claim on behalf of 130 owners of Series 6 and Series 7 licenses, who intend to add a “regulatory takings” complaint to an ongoing lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court unless their financial demand is not settled within 60 days.
— Travis Grantham (@TravisGrantham) September 25, 2020