PRESS RELEASE: House Democrats respond to GOP rule change to reject emergency COVID-19 management
Updated: Mar 23, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mar 17, 2020
PHOENIX – Democratic Leader Representative Charlene Fernandez released the following statement regarding the Republican majority's decision today to suspend House rules to allow remote voting to keep their majority intact and to pass a pared-down state budget with no emergency measures to contend with the growing COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic. In addition to a so-called "skinny budget," Democrats have requested that the Legislature also pass a handful of emergency measures to help vulnerable Arizonans contend with the growing healthcare and economic crisis. Republicans instead chose to waive the rules to allow up to six members to vote from home, reject any COVID-19 aid, and keep the Legislature in session indefinitely.
“Instead of a dedicated and reasonable response to this crisis, the majority have instead resorted to partisan politics rather than protecting the people of Arizona," said Fernandez, D-Yuma. "We asked our colleagues to set aside differences and consider some much-needed emergency measures as part of a proposed ‘skinny budget.’ But now the plan is to rig the rules to allow remote voting for enough members to avoid passing any additional COVID-19 crisis relief package, while keeping staff and other members at work.
Democrats understand the need for a pared-down budget and a quick end to the session. For the safety of the public, our staff and members, we must finish our work and bring this session to an end this week. But this crisis also demands a specific emergency response that includes an eviction moratorium, 90-day supplies of medicines for AHCCCS recipients, paid sick leave, relief for small businesses and streamlined unemployment and food assistance benefits. The Republican response to these requests was to change the rules to hold onto their majority so that no COVID-19 response can pass. It’s shameful and irresponsible. We were elected to lead and be there for our constituents — especially during tough times. Well, the tough times are here. Our constituents are crying out for help. We can finish our work, help our constituents navigate this crisis and shut down now. Empowering a virtual legislature that operates in a vacuum with the public shut out sets a dangerous precedent.”