PHOENIX— House Democratic Leader Reginald Bolding and Senate Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios released the following statements regarding Gov. Ducey's executive order requiring schools to return to in-person learning by March 15.

"This sudden executive order on school reopening raises numerous questions. Many school districts have already meticulously crafted reopening plans that work best for their students and parents, and this Executive Order callously throws those plans into disarray," said Senator Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios. "Our top priority regarding schools reopening must be community health and safety and ensuring that our schools have the funding and PPE they need to keep students, teachers and staff safe, via adequate ventilation and social distancing. We shouldn't have to choose between public health and public schools. We all know that school is the best place for our students to learn, but we need to make decisions that protect our communities, children, teachers, support staff and parents. Arizona is finally seeing our COVID cases go down and now is not the time to relax our guard. We must remain vigilant and cautious to protect the lives of our children."

"Everybody wants schools to return to in-person learning. But the decision should not be taken away from locally elected governing boards and the staff, students and communities they serve – following guidance from their local health departments and public health experts," said Leader Bolding. "The fact remains that people are still contracting COVID-19 and dying in large numbers. Arizona is moving in the right direction, but when this year began we were seeing over 10,000 cases a day. Since that time less than 20 percent of our state has gotten vaccinated. Whenever Arizona puts itself in position to finally bend the COVID-19 curve, there has been an overreaction that creates new opportunities for the pandemic to re-emerge and spread. We don't want to relive one of those moments by mandating schools return to in-person learning in less than two weeks without providing resources, PPE and sufficient vaccinations to do so safely."

PHOENIX-- Senator Martin Quezada and Representative Athena Salman, working with Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, have introduced a package of pro-democracy bills to expand voting access, streamline election administration and enhance election security. After months of anti-democracy sentiment and false claims of election fraud from the former President and even Arizona Legislators, these bills will expand access to our Democracy for all Arizonans.

“Voting is at the core of American Democracy and we should be fighting to protect it, not attack it," Senator Quezada said. “While Republicans continue casting doubt onto a free and fair election, our slate of bills aim to expand access to democracy and remove hurdles Republicans have placed in front of voters.”

"During Black History month, Republicans are dead set on making it harder to participate in an election for any eligible voter they perceive to be not worthy," Representative Salman said. "Elections should be a contest of ideas, not a test of how creatively one side can hold onto power without majority support. Our plan ensures that our government will still depend on the consent of the governed."

“Some of the election bills proposed by Republicans have no intended benefits and create burdens on election officials’ ability to make voting as accessible as possible and make it more difficult for Arizonans to register and vote, added Secretary Hobbs. "Senator Quezada and Representative Salman worked with my office to find ways to reassure voters that elections in Arizona are secure and accurate. This is exactly what SB1667 and HB2797 are designed to do. It’s time to take the lessons we learned and pass reforms that streamline election administration, expand voting rights, and enhance election security.”

See below for the list of pro-democracy bills that have been introduced:

· HB2797 election laws; revisions; appropriation and SB1667 election laws revisions. These Election Reform Omnibus Bills are mirror bills developed with the Arizona Secretary of State to improve election administration and security while expanding voter access.

· SCR1042 conduct of elections; voters; rights. Asks voters to enact an AZ Voters’ Bill of Rights to allow registration without unnecessary barriers; Fair districts where voters choose candidates rather than candidates choosing voters; assurance that all Vote By Mail votes will count; Equal access to the ballot box; preserved power of the initiative; and a requirement that elected officials will serve voters, not special interests.

· SB1669 voter registration; youth pre-registration. Allows 16-year old voters to pre-register to vote. The registration becomes effective once they turn 18.

· SB1668 presidential preference caucuses; independent voters. Changes Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election to a Caucus Election.

· SB1670 and HB2750 automatic voter registration; same day. Enacts a same day and automatic voter registration programs in Arizona.

· SB1671 early ballot collection; limitations; repeal. Repeals Arizona’s unconstitutional ban on assisting fellow voters engage in the democratic process by ensuring their vote is counted.

· SB1672 early voting locations. Allows counties to operate early voting locations up until election day.

· SB1673 polling places; drop boxes; campuses. Requires polling place drop boxes at higher education campuses.

· HB2344 early voting; weekend hours. Keeps early voting locations open until 7 p.m. on the weekend and Monday before Election Day.

· HB2736 presidential preference election; independent voters. Allows voters without a political party to participate in the presidential preference election of their choice.

· HB2343 voting centers; board of supervisors. Allows counties to use voting centers as polling places, and to stay open during the weekend before Election Day.


PHOENIX, State Capitol – Senate Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios and House Democratic Leader Reginald Bolding released the following statements on Gov. Ducey's budget proposal issued today:

Senate Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix:

“While we appreciate seeing the Governor invest in several Democratic proposals, such as additional money for the opioid treatment program and fully funding DPS body cameras, we are disappointed to see him prioritize more tax cuts that won’t help Arizona. The last thing Arizona needs right now is more tax cuts. What Arizonans need is a Governor who takes the COVID-19 pandemic seriously and has a plan to get more aid and relief to working families and our small businesses. This budget fails to do that. We need to focus on a plan that streamlines Arizona’s ineffective unemployment insurance program, fixes inaccessible housing assistance programs, expands access to childcare subsidies and food programs, and helps small businesses stay afloat until our economy stabilizes. We must also provide better protection for frontline workers, children and teachers as Arizona reopens its economy. Arizonans are struggling and it’s our job as their elected leaders to help. Senate and House Democrats are ready with immediate common-sense solutions to help Arizonans navigate the final months of the pandemic.”

House Democratic Leader Reginald Bolding, D-Laveen:

"We are pleased to see several Democratic proposals in the plan – including expanded opioid addiction treatment and body cameras for all DPS officers – and will work with the Governor to make those happen. We clearly have the resources right now to make a real difference for Arizona families and small businesses impacted by COVID-19 -- as well as our schools and social safety net. Given those resources, the Governor's budget could have far more impact than what we saw. This is not the time to propose $1.2 billion in tax cuts over the next three years when Arizonans are still hurting, the pandemic is not under control and the vaccine rollout has been slower than expected. Arizona voters just approved Proposition 208 to increase investment in our schools, and this plan looks like a backdoor way to keep that revenue out of the budget. When emergency federal pandemic relief goes away, our schools will still need to be funded. The best thing we can do to stimulate our economy is get COVID-19 under control and invest in infrastructure."

Democrats will provide more detailed analysis and questions as we spend more time with the Governor's plan, but initial takeaways include:

  • K-12 – A one-time infusion of federal money has been helpful, but is not an excuse to skip out on our obligation to invest in our underfunded K-12 school system or pre-k. The voters spoke loud and clear when they approved Invest in Ed (Proposition 208), and a $1.2 billion tax cut over three years directly undermines their will.

  • Body Cameras – Democrats have long pushed for all DPS officers to wear body cameras. This budget outfits all 2,400 troopers.

  • Broadband – Expanding broadband access along I-40 makes sense, but it should also extend from Flagstaff to the New Mexico, not just west to California, to improve connectivity for the Navajo Nation and other rural communities.

  • Private Prisons – Closing Florence Prison just to fill a nearby private for-profit prison does not save the state money. We should work to pass comprehensive criminal justice reform to reduce our incarceration rate and recidivism rather than lining the pockets of private prison companies.

  • Opioid Treatment – In 2018 Democrats negotiated $10 million into an opioid epidemic plan to help underinsured Arizonans seek treatment. That investment has since helped more than 33,000 people. The Governor's budget adds an additional $6 million.