Arizona House Leaders Demand Action On Border

Arizona House Leaders Demand Action On Border

By Daniel Stefanski |

As the border crisis continues to worsen after the end of Title 42, Arizona House Republicans are crying out for action and assistance.

Last week, Arizona House Republicans used the Title 42 news from the border to highlight the need for more federal and state efforts to enforce the nation’s laws and defend innocent American families and communities. The House Republican Majority issued a statement demanding that “federal leaders end the border crisis and protect states.” Then five Representatives sent a letter to Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs, “urging her to take immediate action and activate all available state resources to keep communities safe from the dangerous and unprecedented threats presented by an unsecure southern border.”

In the statement to the federal government, the House Majority leaders shared what Arizona had enacted to secure the border over the past three fiscal years:

“In 2021, House Republicans passed a Border Security Fund, which was used to help prevent human trafficking and illegal entry into the country, to solidify infrastructure, aid local prosecution efforts, and other necessary activities to protect Arizona citizens.

Last year we put over $500 million into the fund and allocated over $209 million for a variety of state and local border enforcement activities. About $240 million remains in the fund, which the state can use to counteract the federal government’s negligence on the border and the harm it has in our communities.

In the new state budget passed this week, we included:

– Maintaining a $30 million program that provides additional support to local law enforcement facing border-related crimes. (Border Drug and Interdiction Fund; Local Border Support – formerly known as the Border Strike Force)

– Adding $10 million to human trafficking prevention efforts.

– Adding $3 million for additional fentanyl prosecution efforts.”

In the letter to Governor Hobbs, the state representatives (Gail Griffin, Tim Dunn, Lupe Diaz, Michael Carbone, and Michele Peña) referenced former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s legal opinion on “the federal government’s failure to uphold its duty to defend the States from invasion;” and a May 2022 Arizona House Legislative Proclamation, declaring that “an uncontrolled border is a security and humanitarian crisis,” and that “the smuggling of illegal drugs, weapons, and human beings poses a direct threat to our communities and innocent Americans.”

The five lawmakers wrote that “the State of Emergency in Arizona’s border counties that former Governor Ducey declared on April 20, 2021, is still in effect and continues as long as these conditions exist. And over $240 million remains in the Border Security Fund, which the Legislature established to prevent illegal entry into the country, solidify infrastructure, and combat other harms at the border.” They requested the governor “take immediate action and activate all available state resources to keep our communities safe from these dangerous and unprecedented threats.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

TikTok Ban Passes Arizona House Committee

TikTok Ban Passes Arizona House Committee

By Corinne Murdock |

TikTok may soon be banned from Arizona’s government devices, according to a proposed bill that passed out of committee on Wednesday. The House Government Committee passed the legislation unanimously. 

State Rep. Matt Gress (R-LD04) introduced the ban through a strike-everything amendment rewriting HB2416. Gress coordinated with House Government Committee Chairman Tim Dunn (R-LD25) to craft the legislation. 

During the committee hearing, Gress relayed remarks from FBI Director Christopher Wray issued last year concerning national security concerns on government devices with TikTok. Wray warned that the Chinese government is capable of controlling recommendation algorithms to implement influence operations, or control software on devices with the option to possibly compromise personal devices. 

Gress reminded the committee that other bad actors rely on TikTok besides the Chinese government, such as the Mexican cartels. The ban would include specific carveouts for law enforcement addressing cartels relying on the app.

“The cartels use TikTok to recruit many of their contractors to wreak havoc in the United States,” said Gress.

In a Tuesday press release ahead of the committee approval of the legislation, Gress reminded Arizonans that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which controls TikTok, is capable of gathering data on American citizens’ internet activity through the app. 

“When I was sworn into office, I took an oath to defend my constituents and all Arizonans from enemies both foreign and domestic,” said Gress. “This legislation fulfills this promise as the security risks associated with the use of TikTok — an application owned and operated by the Chinese Communist Party with the capabilities of gathering crucial details about personal, private internet activity — can’t be ignored.”

The legislation would require the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) to remove TikTok from all information technology devices used for state business and public services within 30 days after enactment.

25 states have banned TikTok on all state devices, with three states banning the app from certain state devices. The states that have banned the app from all state devices are Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Florida, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia banned the app from certain state devices. 

Last November, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee that the parent company of TikTok, ByteDance, could monitor Americans through the app.

“There’s a number of concerns there as to what is actually happening and actually being done,” said Wray. “That’s probably something that would be better addressed in a closed, classified setting, and I could see what information we might be able to share that way, but that’s probably not much more than I could add to that, other than to say it is certainly something that’s on our radar, and we share your concerns.”

ByteDance also revealed to U.S. reporters last year that it had planned to use TikTok to monitor the physical location of specific Americans for surveillance purposes.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Arizona House Passes $15.8 Billion Budget

Arizona House Passes $15.8 Billion Budget

By Daniel Stefanski |

Two weeks after the Arizona Senate passed the state’s budget for 2023-2024, the House followed suit, setting the stage for another early legislative session showdown with Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs’ office.

Last week, the Arizona House attempted to pass a budget, but Republican Liz Harris voted with Democrats to stop progress on this front in a narrowly divided chamber. Rep. Harris tweeted after her February 9 vote that she “will reject this budget until we right size and restore it to a level that is commensurate with our economic growth.”

Time was ultimately on Speaker Ben Toma’s side, and this week, all House Republicans came together to join their Senate colleagues in passing the $15.8 billion budget. According to the communication from the Arizona Senate Republican Caucus on February 1, this budget is “$2.3 billion less than the state budget that was approved last year and $1.3 billion less than the Governor’s proposed budget.”

Also, “to absorb any revenue loss, this approved budget leaves $1.8 billion in cash available by the end of fiscal year 2024, in addition to the $1.4 billion available in the state’s Rainy-Day Fund.”

In a release sent out by the Arizona House Republicans touting the passage of this budget, Speaker Toma proclaimed victory and challenged the governor to sign the legislation for the good of all Arizonans:

“House Republicans have acted today to pass a responsible state budget. It’s one that was crafted with the needs of the state, and of Arizona’s families in mind, families who are struggling during this economic recession caused by reckless federal overspending and far-left priorities….This budget passed today continues the same budget which was approved less than a year ago with a bipartisan majority and was cheered at the time by Governor Hobbs and Democratic Minority Leader Cano.”

Speaker Toma’s reference to then-Secretary of State Hobbs supporting the last budget was highlighted by Rep. Jacqueline Parker, who shared a tweet from Hobbs from the conclusion of last year’s process:

Arizona Senate Republicans also cheered this week’s action by the House:

Other House Republicans celebrated the budget passage after their votes on the floor. Rep. Austin Smith tweeted, “I voted YES on the budget today to keep the government running so no Arizonan is held hostage to special interests. Democrats keep threatening a veto from Katie Hobbs. They are willing to shutdown the government to protect special interests. SAD!”

Rep. David Livingston wrote, “Great news, the Arizona House just passed the 2023-2024 Budget! Now we transfer the budget bills to Governor Hobbs.”

House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci stated, “Arizona House passes budget to avoid Arizona shutdown. Will Governor Hobbs Veto this bipartisan budget or will she do what’s right for every resident of Arizona?”

Arizona House Democrats were much less complimentary of this week’s action to pass the budget and transmit to the governor’s office.

Rep. Laura Terech tweeted, “This is a budget that is destined for a veto. Hopefully, we will be sitting down together soon to do the real work of finding meaningful bipartisan solutions for Arizonans.”

Minority Whip Marcelino Quiñonez said, “The dynamics in Arizona politics changed in November 2022, & this rushed budget headed to the Governor’s desk ignores that reality. The final budget we pass as a body this session must be bipartisan, everything until then is only a distraction. The work starts after the veto.”

The Republican-led budget is dead on arrival at the Ninth Floor. Governor Hobbs released a statement in opposition to the incoming budget, saying, “The issues Arizonans are facing require more than business as usual. I will not sign a budget that is just more of the same and does nothing to demonstrate a desire to move our state forward.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Rep. Bliss Confident Gun Safety Course Bill Will Head to Governor

Rep. Bliss Confident Gun Safety Course Bill Will Head to Governor

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona is one of the nation’s top Second Amendment states, and legislators are working to augment those constitutional protections – even though these new policies are highly likely to be vetoed by Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs should the bills clear both the House and Senate.

One of those pieces of legislation, HB2332, sponsored by freshman Representative Selina Bliss, deals with firearms safety training in Arizona schools. According to the House summary of the bill, HB2332 “requires school districts and charter schools to provide one or more firearms safety training sessions.”

The Arizona House also revealed that “statute currently states that the Arizona Game and Fish Department may provide training in the safe handling and use of bows or firearms for schools that request this instruction….In addition to voluntary training in the use of bows and firearms, statute allows any school district or charter school to offer a one semester, one credit elective course in firearm marksmanship designated as the Arizona Gun Safety Program Course.”

The legislation requires the district or charter school to inform the parents of the students two weeks prior to the training and provides an allowance for the students to be excused from the training should the parents request it.

HB2332 cleared the House Military Affairs & Public Safety Committee on Monday, February 6, with a party-line 8-7 vote. Republicans Payne (Chairman), Jones (Vice Chairman), Gillette, Harris, Hendrix, Marshall, Nguyen, and Wilmeth voted in favor of the bill. Democrats Blattman, Longdon, Peshlakai, Quiñonez, Sun, Travers, and Tsosie voted to table the bill.

In an exclusive interview with AZ Free News, Representative Bliss explained why she introduced this bill:

“I introduced this bill to empower our youth to gain respect for and to be safe around firearms. The problem this bill is trying to solve is firearm accident prevention through education, so that kids are safe from firearm injuries and death. Most children are harmed by firearms when visiting a friend’s house and become curious about an unattended firearm. This one-time education in grades 6 through 12 is a small start, but will open dialogue between teachers, parents, and children on the safe handling and storage of firearms. I also introduced this bill because of my personal experience as a Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) instructor as well as my experience as the Safety and EMS Director of the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association. In these roles I have come to see first-hand the value of education when it comes to empowering our youth.”

House Democrats vehemently opposed this legislation before and during committee debate. The Arizona House Democrats’ Twitter account tweeted “It’s back! BAD BILL ALERT” and bemoaned the failed amendment from Rep. Longdon “to make the firearms training opt-in instead of requiring students and parents to opt out.” Rep. Travers also stated, “If you want your Second Amendment rights then you take ownership of it. Don’t put the burden on somebody else.”

Representative Bliss told AZ Free News that Arizonans should support this legislation because “this is a non-controversial safety subject that uses age-appropriate curriculum to teach middle and high school children what to do if they come across an unattended firearm…. firearm safety should be viewed as a life skills course important for all kids, similar to mechanics, wood shop, or cooking courses.”

During last year’s legislative session, a similar bill was introduced by Representative Bliss’s current seatmate, Representative Nguyen. HB 2448 was co-sponsored by Representatives Blackman, Bolick, Fillmore, Hoffman, and Senator Boyer. On February 24, 2022, this legislation passed the Arizona House by a vote of 31-28, with one member not voting. It passed the Senate Education Committee with a party-line vote of 5-3 before being held from final passage and transmission to then-Governor Doug Ducey’s desk.

Representative Bliss has confidence that “this bill will be considered, thoughtfully discussed, and passed through both chambers.” She hopes “both chambers can work together to keep our children safe!”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Dem. Rep Loses Labor Endorsement After Insulting Female State Lawmaker

Dem. Rep Loses Labor Endorsement After Insulting Female State Lawmaker

By Terri Jo Neff |

State Rep. Brian S. Fernandez (D-Yuma) has reportedly lost a key labor endorsement in the upcoming election after being accused by a fellow Democratic lawmaker of calling her a “Fat Fu**” to other elected officials and lobbyists.

Arizona Rep. Alma Hernandez tweeted Friday that SMART—the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers—Local 359 pulled its support for Fernandez as a result of his alleged comments about Hernandez, who represents parts of the greater Tucson area.

Fernandez, who is also accused of telling people he “hates” Hernandez, is running against Republican nominee Gary Snyder in the upcoming Nov. 8 General Election to represent Legislative District 23 in southwest Arizona.

On Friday morning Hernandez released a letter calling on Fernandez to take part in sensitivity training and to apologize “to every single woman” in the Democratic Party. She also wants party leadership to “seek a punishment” against Fernandez, who was appointed to the Legislature last year to fill the seat his mother Charlene vacated after several years.

Hernandez has also demanded the entire Democratic Legislative Caucus “take a pledge to not engage in this type of behavior against women.” Minority Leader Rep. Reginald Bolding issued a response Friday which noted the leadership team “is aware” of Hernandez’s letter.

“The House of Representatives has a clear policy on Workplace Harassment that gives zero tolerance to this type of behavior,” Bolding noted. “Pursuant to this policy, these allegations will be taken seriously, properly investigated and have been referred to the Rules Office.”

Very few other Democratic state lawmakers weighed in on the controversy. One is Rep. Cesar Chavez (Phoenix), who lost in the August primary election to Anna Hernandez, sister of Alma.