Rep. Mitzi Epstein Action in 2019-2020
I did the work -- leading and persisting and always collaborating with others -- to reduce the suicide rates in Arizona.
The Republican-majority leadership kept my name off the bills, but nonetheless, I got it done.
- 2017-18 We added a Statewide Suicide Prevention Coordinator to the ongoing AZ Budget.
- 2017-18 We developed a Suicide Prevention ToolKit for Schools, which is utilized and furthered by the State Suicide Prevention Coordinator
- 2019-20 We passed the Suicide Prevention Training for Teachers bill, The Mitch Warnock Act, and furthered it with Sen. Sean Bowie.
- 2019-20 I led the collaboration for Jake's Law, with Ben and Denise as the brilliant heroes who always kept going and always kept finding a way to get it done.
Know this about me: I do not sell or trade my vote.
I vote for bills that stand on their own merit to help the people of Arizona.
- I do not vote yes on a bill that's bad for the environment
in exchange for getting a bill passed with my name on it.
- I do not vote yes on a bill that cuts state revenue for schools, by giving carve-outs to a few powerful interests,
in exchange for getting a bill passed that has my name on it.
- I do not vote yes on a bill that shifts property taxes so that powerful rich conglomerates pay less and You have to pay more.
As a result, the work I've done shows up in many places to help your life, but my name might not be on the piece of legislation, in the legislature under control by the Republican majority. For example, see the story of Family Caregiver grants below, and of Jake's Law, click here.
Videos from the Floor of the Arizona House of Representatives, and Committee Meetings - 2019-2020
"Stop Revenue Cuts. Fund Education and Rural Roads. " - February 2020
As Ranking Member on the House Ways and Means Committee, I lead on protecting taxpayers from unfair tax plans, and stopping irresponsible cuts to revenue.
HB2778 cuts revenue by $161 million in the first year, and it will cut even more every year after that to a time value over $230 million. The cut is too deep, and it makes Arizona's already regressive tax structure even worse. A person who earns over $310,000 in a year may get a benefit of well over $1200, while a person of moderate income of $50k may get only about 30 bucks.
IT IS REGRESSIVE, and it cuts too much. Instead, we should fund Education and Rural Roads. We have responsibilities to the people of our state. We must not put blinders on and kick the can down the road for the next generation to figure out how to fix our infrastructure problems.
"Family Caregiver Grants " - May 2019
After working on this idea for three years, I was thrilled to see it get passed in the FY2020 budget!
Thanks to the grassroots work of AARP members, the bipartisan legislators of the Senior Caucus, and many other stakeholders, this new program will begin in January 2020.
Example: You build a wheelchair ramp in your home, and you can apply for a one-time grant for up to $1000 to pay for half the costs. Around-the-clock caregiving takes its toll physically and financially. The "Family Caregiver Grants" program from the State of Arizona will help people with the cost of remodeling to help a person to continue to live in their home, rather than move to a supportive institution.
I developed parts of the program to assure that low-income people could benefit from it, and to add accountability measures. Whenever we use tax dollars, we should be sure that we are achieving the goals we intend. In this program, our goal is to help families live in a safe, happy home.
Budget Update! Education Funding should be Fair, Adequate, ... - April 2019
Earlier this year, we expected to have $900 million in one-time funds and $200 million in ongoing funds to use for projects in the budget. Those dollars have been adjusted down to $840 m in 1-time funding, and $150 m in ongoing funding.
The budget this year must be seen only as a short-term bridge to a real solution for Arizona's future.
We cannot continue to accept the status-quo where we so many people are not paid a livable wage by the State of Arizona. Teachers are still leaving the profession and leaving the state for better pay and work conditions. Pay for direct-care workers for the developmentally disabled was cut drastically during the last recession and has not been restored. Too many state employees have not seen their pay keep up with inflation.
We need a long-term plan for education funding. It must be:
Fair - We must not make those who already carry too much of the tax burden carry any more. Our taxes in Arizona are regressive. Those who make the least income are paying about 13% of their income in state and local taxes, while those making the most pay only around 5 or 6%.
Adequate - Let's provide a high-quality education for every child.
Sustainable - Taxes that hurt the economy are not sustainable.
Transparent - Taxpayers deserve to know how their tax dollars are used, by schools and by all those who use tax dollars.
F-A-S-T! I will be calling meetings during the interim to get to work on solutions, because our students and teachers need help fast.
Local Control: "The State should not be heavy-handed with laws about your neighborhood." February 2019
HB2115 declares that rent and the purview of the Arizona Landlord Tenant Act are state concerns. That is plainly not true. If something goes wrong with your apartment or the rental home in your neighborhood, you want to be able to get it fixed in the nearest forum, and the quickest way. Near and quick are Not terms we use to describe the state legislature! But this bill would ban cities and towns from making regulations about rented homes - apartments or any leased property. Each city is unique and each city is the place to make local decisions. Let Flagstaff make regulations about snow removal and let Tempe make regulations about air conditioning maintenance. That's why I voted No on HB2115.
I stand up for your rights to Local Control!
"The Equal Rights Amendment - Women speak up, and are gaveled down." March 2019
While introducing guests in the gallery, a pattern emerged. The male legislators who introduced guests were allowed to finish their introductions, but woman after woman was interrupted and gavelled down. We're not going to take that any more.
Ironically, the guests being introduced were at the Arizona House of Representatives to support the E.R.A, the Equal Rights Amendment. Watch. The absurdity underscores the need for the ERA. Arizona will ratify it; if not this year, then next year or the year after that. Elections have consequences.
"Invest in our children, our roads, and our vulnerable populations." January 2019
HB2522 - The bill proposed a tax cut. It would have reduced income tax rates by 0.11%.
For a person making $54,000 that would have been about $35 in his pocket.
But parents have been telling me for years that they would much prefer to have great schools than $35. They have told me, "My child needs attention from a reading specialist to learn to read. I cannot buy that with $35. My child needs an air conditioner that works at school. $35 cannot buy that." Parents tell me they want to invest in Arizona and I am listening to them.
Retirees tell me that they need repairs to their homes for things like a wheelchair ramp. They want a little help from the state to build it because if they can stay in their homes longer, it saves Medicaid money in the long run, and they want to stay living independently in their own homes. A $35 tax cut won't help, but a program for wheelchair access will.
Arizonans tell me they want to invest in our state, our people, our roads, our children, to make a brighter future.