• Arizona House Democrats

PRESS RELEASE: Statement on Move to End 2020 Session so AZ Leg Can Focus on COVID-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 19, 2020


PHOENIX – Democratic Leader Representative Charlene Fernandez delivered the following remarks on the Arizona House floor today regarding a Democratic motion to adjourn the legislative session sine die (the Senate approved the same motion on May 8) and urge the Governor to call a special session to further address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Republicans voted down the motion on a party-line 31-29 vote, meaning COVID-19 relief must wait.

Leader Fernandez remarks

“I understand that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have been instructed to paint Democrats as – quote unquote – “turds” who are stalling and keeping Arizona society from getting back to normal as needed.

I just want to point out that there is nothing on the agenda here that is keeping Arizona from re-opening. For better or worse, Governor Ducey has made that call. But pretending things are normal will not make them normal. And being confident that you won't get a virus, or believing it to be a hoax, will not prevent you from getting sick if someone who has it sneezes near you or touches the door handle ahead of you and you've taken no precautions.

This isn't a game. This isn't a hoax. This virus doesn't discriminate. The precautions we have taken for the past several weeks by working from home weren't just to protect ourselves, they were to protect people we love. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends and children who might have some underlying condition that makes this deadly disease even more deadly.

We appreciate the many precautions the Speaker has outlined, but what we are doing here today is still a tremendous risk.

It's a risk that we as legislators are willing to take. But for what? As we have been saying for weeks, if we are going to risk lives by being here, it should be for legislation related to this crisis, which is still happening. There are those who want to pretend it isn't, but it is – 14,170 known cases, 686 Arizona residents who have lost their lives, leaving families and loved ones devastated.

Our highest priority is to help hard-working families and small businesses who have been impacted make it through this crisis. The best way to do that is to stop pretending we can do business as usual right now, stop trying to lure the Senate back into regular session with these Trojan Horse bills, and get ready to work in a COVID-19 special session.

If our members vote no, it's not about these bills. We know this is all about a strategy to get the Senate to reverse a 24-6 vote to Sine Die and a hope they will then pass House Bills that are in limbo, a limbo that can wait until next year.

It's insulting that members of this body have suggested we lack courage. A member of the Senate likened adjourning sine die to deserting the battlefield in war, which he pointed out is punishable by execution. Some have cheered the armed protestors who like to film themselves getting in the faces of members, while not wearing masks, and while DPS stood and watched. No one is deserting, we're ready to work. And this is a legislative session not a war. If you think it is, I urge you to get a grip.

We are here. We are ready to work. But we know what our priorities should be, we know how this pandemic revealed deep problems in our state's ability to respond and cope with a crisis. Our email boxes are filled with stories from desperate members of our community asking for our help, highlighting problems that we have the ability to address.

Who has the courage to set aside business as usual and get to work on the what Arizona really needs right now? I know the members of our caucus are ready. Let's run toward the crisis. It's the right thing to do.”

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