Senate Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor and House Minority Leader Chad Campbell will discuss the legislative session from the perspective of the Democratic Party, which is in the minority at the state house.
Ted Simons: Democratic lawmakers are still in the minority at the state Capitol, but their increased numbers may prove key in helping Governor Brewer pass Medicaid expansion. Joining us now is Senate minority leader Leah Landrum Taylor and house minority leader Chad Campbell. Good to have you here. Let's talk about this idea that are Democrats entirely on board, gung-ho with the Governor's plan?
Leah Landrum Taylor: One of the things that's really important to understand about the Medicaid is the fact that as Democrats, of course, we want to make sure that we have something in place and soon and very soon. It's a time frame we have to be cognizant of. At the same time depending on how this is tied into the budget, we certainly would not want to have something where it would hurt populations where there's various poison pills in the budget bill. So in one thing, one way to prevent that is to be able to work together on a budget. It would be nice to have that occur but certainly we would not want anything that jeopardize and be harmful to communities.
Ted Simons: Where that is measure? Where is that metric begin and end?
Chad Campbell: That's a good question and I am not sure if we have the answer right now. I think unfortunately, I think Leah would agree with me, we would have hoped to have seen the Medicaid issue be a standalone issue, been voted on already. Moved forward on this. It was such an important issue both for the economy of Arizona as well as the , people who need health care that it should not have been used as a political football. I think it's been caught up in some other issues going on down there. So we need to put aside the politics on this one. Get the job done. Work in a nonpartisan way and get this thing done so we can move on to the budget and other key issues.
Ted Simons: Is there a chance of Democrats splintering off if things get too far afield?
Chad Campbell: Well, I think at Leah said you put too many poison pills into something we need to reevaluate. We are not going to vote for Medicaid simply to vote for Medicaid but at the same time it's going to hurt another population throughout or going to have a massive corporate tax cut package attached to it, something like that. I don't like to deal in hypotheticals but we are going to look at final package and do what's best for our constituent s and state.
Leah Landrum Taylor: And time is ticking for the legislative session. The reality, the vast reality is we have not yet even started having true budget conversations. And we are getting late in the game. So we really need to start moving in that direction. Again, would have been great it was stand alone. Not quite sure what can happen with that. It could always be a special session, anything called just to deal with the Medicaid.
Ted Simons: Real quickly, last point on this. I heard something that president Biggs was going to allow a vote, was always going to allow a vote, might -- what are you hearing on that?
Leah Landrum Taylor: There's a couple of different things going around. Quite frankly, if it's going forward as a vote, I am not quite sure if it's going to be tied in with at this point, looks like it's tied in with the budget. If that's the case you have to have the whole budget, no, going forward or maybe it's something we don't know that's going on. There's lots of conversation about having it Tied into a prop 8 . That can be very difficult moving something like this forward. Certainly it needs to stand alone. There are individuals that truly need this Medicaid expansion to go forward.
Ted Simons: Let's shift gears here. HB 2147 puts the burden of proof on the unemployed for benefits. What's wrong with that idea?
Chad Campbell: Horrible idea. For multiple reasons. Oftentimes, a person who has lost their job is not going to be able to get that proof. For different factors. One example would be a small business that goes out of business. They let go of their employees. How that is employee supposed to be able to track down that employer and get that proof? We could not be putting the burden of proof on the people needing the help. There's no problem with our current system. We have heard that time and time again. It works just fine. If anything the abuses are on the corporate side of it, not on the side for the people looking for help while they are trying to find a new job.
Ted Simons: We are hearing that businesses could get hit with higher unemployment insurance premiums, and have to jump through hoops and hurdles when folks abandon jobs and they have to, it's difficult for them to prove these people are unemployed.
Leah Landrum Taylor: There is a process that is in place right now. And if there is an employer and they lay off or let go of an employee, there is a true process where you can go through an appeals process, the whole nine yards. Plus there's paperwork that is sent in. As an employer, you can be able to fill that paperwork out and say, if you agree or not, that this employee can get the unemployment insurance. The point of the 2147 was to try to move towards preventing this fraud. Well if that's the case then there are other mechanism that is can be set up there's been a long trail of unemployment bills that are out here really truly to hurt those that have paid into the unemployment benefit, whether it's drug testing, having to have this random drug testing and now we are moving over here to have the burden of proof on the employee? But there's not a requirement for the employer to give anyone a letter or proof.
Ted Simons: So when folks who support this say there's too many hoops, too many hurdles for businesses to jump through when people abandon jobs and these sorts of things and there is fraud out there, you say --
Chad Campbell: It's not true. Again, there may be some things we have to correct, minor things, minor tweaks to the system to help out businesses but the bottom line is overall the system works very efficiently and we should not put that burden of proof on the former employee. The person who is trying to get back on their feet, trying to make sure they are finding a new job. They need the help that we should offer them. They need to get back on their feet. But again, overall the system has worked just fine. There's a few cases here and there. We may need to make minor tweaks but this is an overhaul unwarranted.
Ted Simons: The exemptions for teachers and child care workers.
Chad Campbell: I think that actually shows some of the problems. Why are you exempting one group of people? If the law needs to exempt certain groups of people that probably needs it's not constructed properly.
Ted Simons: Guns in small and/or remote schools, this was an interesting situation. Got minutes or miles away from the nearest law enforcement. First of all, your thoughts. And secondly, the idea of adding, was this the one, amendments were attempted to add?
Leah Landrum Taylor: Absolutely.
Ted Simons: What was that all about?
Leah Landrum Taylor: We had amendments we wanted to add on this piece of legislation to further promote safety to be able to make sure that, say, for instance, if there was a gun misplaced on a campus, there would be notification sent out to parents. As a parent myself, I have children that are in school. It wand to know if there was a gun misplaced on their campus not to mention the fact it's the board that's given this authorization to an employee. Any employee, whether a cafeteria worker, whoever it is to say they could carry these concealed weapons. And truly, that sounds like a lot of legality that can fall, liability, what gives that board the authority or the knowledge to be able to go forward and say who can carry these weapons? In the military, as well as the police department, there's a academies you have to go through. There's boot camps in the military. Training. Now we are saying as it relates to anyone, registrar, cafeteria worker, go for it. We will say you can, you are deemed responsible.
Chad Campbell: There are so many problems with this bill. And I was on the show a few months ago with Rich Crandall, who is a sponsor, and we dated our different proposals. That was very different. Obviously. The one question he can't get an answer to and I asked Tom horn this a couple months back on a town hall panel we sat on. What happens the first time a teacher accidentally shoots a kid or another teacher or parents? And nobody has given me an answer to that because there is no answer for that question. The liability issues alone make this unreasonable. And we debated this bill in appropriations two weeks ago. We had the AZ post come in and talking about the training requirements and they require hours of training for this. Everybody no, sir that's not enough. You are talking about putting somebody in a complex environment with a lack of training and making things more dangerous, not safer.
Leah Landrum Taylor: This happened in Texas, actually. Where an individual, they tried this. And a teacher accidentally shot themselves. Throughout the training.
Ted Simons: I think the other side would say basically this is a safety net for a worst case scenario, in small town in remote schools. Why not for that kind of scenario?
Leah Landrum Taylor: There's a couple of things. First of all when we were debating this bill there can be the temptation for expansion. You go from rural and then what next? Now you are going to go into urban? But secondly, there are law enforcement entities that have a jurisdiction that are by the schools. So whether it's dealing with --
Ted Simons: If it's 30 minutes or 20 miles away, what do you do?
Chad Campbell: We put school resource officers back in the schools. That's my plan would have done. We allowed the schools to make their own choices. Quite honestly, not just with this issue, I am tired of hearing from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, this is the best we can do or it's a stop gap measure. That's not a real solution. We have the ability to do this. We have the resources. We can do it. My plan proves we can do it. We have to step up and make sure our schools are safe and our kids are safe and if we don't do that, then we are fabling everybody in the state.
Leah Landrum Taylor: None of those bills were heard, by the way. We had bills for school resource officers to make sure we could look at strategic plans of how schools can better protect from how they look esthetically, make sure setting these. And nor did we sit down at a table altogether and really come up with something that can protect them.
Ted Simons: We have about seconds. I want to ask about that. All of those amendments, nothing really much came of it. Was -- I understand that these were unheard bills and presented as amendments. Busy webcast this a wise tactic, do you think.
Leah Landrum Taylor: You know, any time you are talking about having a possibility of putting a child or a teacher or any individual that's out of school or wherever there's children and harm ordaining, I never look at that as being wise. We talk about school resource officers. To me that's a wise choice.
Ted Simons: OK. We have to stop it right there. Good to have you both.
Leah Landrum Taylor: You are very welcome.
Leah Landrum Taylor:Minority Leader, Arizona Senate; Chad Campbell:Minority Leader, Arizona House;