Monthly Archives: July 2015

Get to know our new Public Affairs Chair, Jaime Molera!

Jaime Molera, co-founder of Phoenix-based government relations and public affairs firm Molera Alvarez, is the new Chair of the Chamber’s Public Affairs Committee. Molera succeeds Cox Communications’ Susan Anable, who served as Chair for six years.

For the last couple of decades Molera has been involved with public policy in one shape or form in Arizona.  He worked in the Symington administration in the mid-90’s, kicking off his professional career in Arizona.  From 1997-2001 he worked for Governor Hull and then transitioned to the position of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in addition to serving as Arizona State Board of Education under Governor Jan Brewer.

Here are some highlights of the Q&A Jaime did with the Chamber:

What are your objectives as the Chamber’s public affairs efforts begin again in September?  To continue to create a strong business climate in Greater Phoenix. The Chamber has been a very big champion of is making sure that the regulatory and tax environments are such that businesses can continue to thrive and grow. Other focus areas are a strong education system, from K-12 all the way to higher education, and making sure that there are components of our education system that lead to a strong workforce. So combined with a good business climate, low taxes and low regulations, that mix of objectives can have a pretty powerful impact.

What do you see as the biggest priorities? How do education standards fall into that list of priorities?  It’s not just about having higher education standards, but making sure that we have a meaningful accountability system at all levels. It has to mean that academically, Arizona’s education system is truly preparing students to graduate from high school without the need for remediation as they head to college. Unfortunately, that’s not the case right now. So I think the Chamber is well positioned to help push for a really strong, meaningful accountability system.

What measures do you predict will resurface for the 2016 legislative session? It’s an election year, so yes…I predict a lot of measures resurfacing in the upcoming legislative session, but I think they are things we can deal with. The repeal of Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards will likely resurface. I hope that Arizona can move forward in implementing the restoration of its Medicaid program. I know our hospitals will go crazy and our health care system will go nuts for that. I also predict various social issues might be coming down the pike again. Again, being an election year, we have to anticipate that.

Why should member businesses get more involved in public affairs and engage in dialogue? It’s simple: if the Chamber did not do the great job of being an advocate and being aggressive and ensuring that policies lead to a strong business climate, then we’d always be dealing with mediocrity. And I think mediocrity is not where we need to be at this point in the state. We need to be aggressive in focusing on the issues that make a difference for our members and local businesses. Education is just one of those hot-button issues. Having a reasonable and sound healthcare system is another hot issue. More importantly…it’s our job to make sure that bills are not going to harm businesses, but rather enable them to grow and prosper. That’s ultimately where the success in Arizona lies — in our ability to build a stronger workforce. A stronger workforce is going to go a long way towards Arizona’s betterment.

You can find the full Q&A with Jaime Molera here:

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GPCC PAC Endorsements

The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s Political Action Committee (GPCC PAC) announced its endorsement of candidates in the upcoming Mayoral and City Council Election. GPCC PAC, an independent Board of the Chamber, was established to support the Chamber’s mission of advocacy in state and local policy. “Our Political Action Committee is vital to the Chamber’s mission of supporting and sustaining member businesses,” said Todd Sanders, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. “We heard from many qualified candidates and endorsed those who had the clearest understanding of the challenges facing businesses in Phoenix and those whose policies align with our strategic initiatives to fosters a pro-business environment focused on the creation of quality jobs, robust business retention and expansion efforts.”

After thoughtful consideration and review of voting records, accessibility to Chamber Members, survey responses, and personal interviews, the GPCC PAC endorsed the following:

  • Incumbent Mayor Greg Stanton
  • District 1 Incumbent, Councilwoman Thelda Williams
  • District 3 Incumbent, Councilman Bill Gates
  • District 5 Incumbent, Councilman Daniel Valenzuela

“The Chamber’s Political Action Committee is excited to endorse candidates who demonstrate accessibility and collaboration in support of promoting the interests most important to our local businesses,” said Greater Phoenix Chamber PAC Chairman John Moody, partner in the Phoenix law firm of Peters, Cannata & Moody PLC. “The Chamber continues to build strong relationships and looks forward to working further with the Mayor and City Council on a number of issues to help our businesses and our economy further grow and prosper.”

Find the press release on GPCC PAC’s Endorsements here.

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Upcoming Phoenix Elections- Don’t forget to Vote!

This year’s City of Phoenix elections present less drama than perhaps any in the last decade. Three of four incumbent City Council members are running unopposed, and Mayor Greg Stanton faces just two challengers, both of whom lag well behind him in fundraising.

The 2013 City Council race had 16 candidates running, but still drew only 23.4 percent of registered voters to the polls.  With a much less eventful campaign this year, even lower voter turnout is likely. While it is no secret that Presidential elections draw the highest voter turnout (2012 saw 74.3 percent of voters participate), Phoenix is making a push to increase voter participation, especially in City elections.

Early voting remains highly popular among Phoenicians, with early ballots routinely making up between 88 and 96 percent of votes cast. To receive an early ballot, you may sign up to be included on the Permanent Early Voter List (PEVL), which means you will automatically receive an Early Voting Ballot for each election without needing to request one for each election. Registering to vote online, or signing up to place your name on the PEVL, is a simple process which can be done here.  Other options include mailing in the registration form found through the online link or filling out a registration form in person at the County Recorder’s office.

Important Dates:

  • July 27, 2015: Deadline to Register to Vote in the Phoenix General Election
  • August 25, 2015: Elections for Mayor and Council Members in Districts 1, 3, 5, and 7

Candidates for Mayor

  • Anna Maria Brennan
  • Matthew Jette
  • Greg Stanton (Incumbent)

Candidates for District 1

  • Thelda Williams (Incumbent)

Candidates for District 3

  • Bill Gates (Incumbent)

Candidates for District 5

  • Felix Garcia
  • Daniel Valenzuela (Incumbent)

Candidates for District 7

  • Michael Nowakowski (Incumbent)

The Chamber reminds you that voting is vitally important, and that the business community can make major impacts on policies that affect us all. Get out and vote!

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SCOTUS In Action

The US Supreme Court has been in the spotlight recently, and among its rulings on several landmark cases were two – King v. Burwell and Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commissionwith direct impacts on our state 

King v. Burwell

The Court took on deciding whether the IRS was allowed to extend tax-credit subsidies to coverage purchased through exchanges established by the federal government under Section 1321 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Arizona is one of the 34 states that rely on premium tax credits through, the federal government’s health care insurance exchange, to comply with the Affordable Care Act, as there is no state exchange in place.

The case hinged on language of the statute that the petitioners argued provided eligibility for tax credits only to those persons in states with state-operated exchanges.  The Court ultimately found this claim to be invalid as the language is ambiguous and stated in the majority opinion that “Congress made the guaranteed issue and community rating requirements applicable in every State in the Nation, but those requirements only work when combined with coverage requirements and tax credits.”  Had the court not upheld the Affordable Care Act, nearly 127,000 Arizonans would have been left in limbo with no access to health insurance, potentially shifting the costs to business.

Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

Until 2000, the Arizona State Constitution granted the State Legislature the ability to draw congressional districts, but when voters passed Proposition 106 to address gerrymandering concerns that same year, the constitution was amended.  The Congressional Redistricting power was removed and instead given to the newly created Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC). 

In 2012 the legislature sued the AIRC and argued Proposition 106 violated the Elections Clause of the federal Constitution which gives state legislatures the authority of planning the “times, places, and manner of holding elections.” In the majority opinion, Justice Ginsburg stated that banning the initiative process of lawmaking would do more than stymie the attempts to curb gerrymandering, it would also cast doubt on the other laws that have been adopted by the initiative process.  The Court ruled in favor of the AIRC, thus upholding the existing political boundaries.

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