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May 31, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Employer Sanctions

  |   Video
  • Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, shares his views about Arizona’s employer sanctions law which was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Glenn Hamer - President and CEO,Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Keywords: employer, sanctions, commerce,

View Transcript

Ted Simons: The United States Supreme Court last week upheld Arizona's employer sanctions law. Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona chamber of commerce and industry, is here to talk about how the high court's decision impacts Arizona businesses. Thanks for joining us on "Horizon."

Glenn Hamer: Great to be back.

Ted Simons: Before we get to how it impacts business, your thoughts on the Supreme Court decision.

Glenn Hamer: We were disappointed. From the get-go, we didn't feel it right to have one set of laws for Arizona employers and another for employers in 49 other states. With that said, we've been living under this law for almost four years. The Supreme Court decision doesn't change that. The same law in effect the day before the decision remains in effect. And the -- a good story that is important to get out there, Arizona employers have been use the e-verify program at a greater percentage than employers in any other state. The real story here is what the Supreme Court's decision is going to do for the 49 states that doesn't have the tough employer sanctions law.

Ted Simons: A real story because you could have other states implementing laws so unfriendly to business, they could move to Arizona or perhaps they make more sense to some, than Arizona’s law, you could have Arizona businesses nosing around there. The whole dynamic changes.

Glenn Hamer: It does. And I would bet the house you will see a number of states next year going down the road of a Arizona-style employer sanctions law. On some of the immigration issues it's possible the spotlight may move to some other states.

Ted Simons: What were your concerns regarding the impact to business, A and B, are we talking big business or mom and pops?

Glenn Hamer: It's across the board. When this law came about, we have to go back about four years, this was the first of its kind and we have to remember that the penalties in the law are very severe. A loss of a business license. The business death penalty upon a second conviction. In terms of companies knowingly breaking the law and hiring illegal workers, they should be punished and it should be severe. We’ve always felt that the right place do those punishments are on the federal level. The Supreme Court has ruled otherwise. And Arizona companies will continue to respect and abide by the elements of the Legal Arizona's Workers Act.

Ted Simons: Ruled otherwise, but only in the sense of licensing. Seems like the court's decision almost -- and some are trying to figure out how 1070 will apply here. But it was a narrow decision, wasn't it?

Glenn Hamer: It's narrow, it's certainly an open season for all types of immigration-type laws and seems that the Supreme Court felt that this was a case where the state truly was using a federal system and federal definitions and in a sense was furthering federal law. And another point I would point out: Republicans, Democrats in the U.S. Congress, the Administration, all support a strong E-verify system. My prediction within the next several years, either by itself or part of a larger packet, we'll see a system in place where employers in the United States, wherever they're located will have to use the E-verify system.

Ted Simons: Since we've had this employer sanctions law, we've had three prosecutions, why so few? Some thought this would be a huge tsunami of cases. Hasn't turned out that way.

Glenn Hamer: To me, the real story, there's been incredible compliance among the Arizona employer community with all of the aspects of the law. The law requires the use of E-verify. At the Arizona Chamber we've hosted a number webinars over the course of the last four years with the Department of Homeland Security to explain to businesses across the state how to comply with the law. To me, the story is that businesses using E-verify in good faith are basically do not need to worry about being prosecuted under the law and the prosecutors have been very responsible in terms of how they've implemented this.

Ted Simons: You've called for a workable temporary visa program. What does that mean?

Glenn Hamer: Even though this is the toughest economy since the Great Depression, there are areas where we need additional labor. I don't believe anyone is arguing all of our labor needs in, say, the agricultural community are being met. The -- we have H2A program, the program that exists for agricultural workers that's badly broken. In fact, unfortunately the Bush administration made a few modest improvements to the program. The current administration has blocked it. We also need an easier way it get higher skilled workers in this country as well and that's popularly known as H1B. One of the great gifts of this state and country, is that the smartest and hardest working people from around the world want to come here and want to work and we need to figure out a way to take advantage of that and unfortunately, our visa programs are in poor shape.

Ted Simons: Senate president Russell Pearce says it was a huge victory for the American worker and that mindset basically says these folks have been taking jobs from the American workers. You're suggesting in agriculture, that's not the case. You don't see this as a huge victory for American workers?

Glenn Hamer: I see it as the writing has been on the wall in terms of where the use of E-verify going. In terms of American workers, generally speaking, immigrants who come in, whether it's for agricultural or higher skilled workers, are filling gaps in the workplace. This decision in our view is narrow and probably will expedite the use of E-verify in other states and ultimately federally.

Ted Simons: What do you think the impact on 1070 would be?

Glenn Hamer: It's -- it's tough to say. I wouldn't read too much into this case in this terms of 1070.

Ted Simons: Last question: Among those who applauded this decision, the phrase "profits over patriotism," that's how your group and a certain mindset is described. Profits over patriotism. Obviously, an emotional debate. When you hear that said, how do you respond?

Glenn Hamer: Our members are very patriotic and want to earn a profit. Businesses can only survive if they earn a profit. I will tell you, all of the companies at the chamber want to play by the rules, they want a workable -- excuse me -- a workable employee verification system and we believe it's very patriotic to have successful businesses that can create jobs particularly in a state that's lost 250,000 plus jobs since the depression began.

Ted Simons: Alright, Glenn great to have you here.

Glenn Hamer: Great to be on the show.

Medical Marijuana Lawsuit

  |   Video
  • Arizona’s Governor and Attorney General have filed a lawsuit to determine if Arizona’s medical marijuana system violates federal law. Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services talks about how the lawsuit will impact the medical marijuana program.
  • Will Humble - Director, Arizona Department of Health Services
Keywords: marijuana,

View Transcript

Ted Simons: Governor Brewer and state attorney general Tom Horne filed suit last week to see if Arizona's new medical marijuana law violates federal law. Both the governor and attorney general were against the law from the start, but they now say that their concern is if state workers who implement the program are safe from federal prosecution. Here to talk about where the state's medical marijuana program now stands is Arizona department of health services director Will Humble. Thanks for joining us.

Will Humble: Thanks.

Ted Simons: Where do we stand with implementing this law?

Will Humble: Well, we've -- you know, we have 120 days, we talked about this last time I was on. 120 days to get the program up and running and so we did that. We have all of the administrative code, basically the rule book set. We've been accepting qualified patient registration cards for the last six weeks or so, got about 4,000 qualified patients at this point that have cards in their wallet. Tomorrow, we were supposed to begin accepting dispensary applications for those folks that wanted to run dispensaries and because of the lawsuit, we've suspended accepting those applications at least for now.

Ted Simons: Okay, so that's been suspended and because it was supposed to start tomorrow, no one has been accepted yet?

Will Humble: Right, we haven't even posted the application form up on our website, there's no real application to fill out. It’s just that there were folks that were expecting to be able to put in those applications starting tomorrow and, of course, that opportunity won't be there.

Ted Simons: So what are you telling these applications or prospective applicants?

Will Humble: The bottom line, we're telling them when and whether we accept applications for dispensaries will be dependent on the outcome of the legal case. And so what the time frame is on that, I don't know. I mean, there's a lot of factors that go into when courts schedule hearings, preliminary hearings or actual -- the case itself. So I just don't know when that will be.

Ted Simons: As far as now the medical marijuana I.D. cards, are you still processing those?

Will Humble: Right, so we're going to continue to process the qualified patient registration cards in the meantime and one of the reasons we thought that important, because there were self-activating pieces inside the voter initiative that said, look, if of the department doesn't take action to process these cards then a person could just go to the doctor and come out with a slip of paper, get it notarized and that would become a qualified patient registration cared, but there'd be no central registry, we wouldn't know how many certifications physicians were writing. Law enforcement would really have no way of knowing if the sheet of paper they’re looking at was valid or not. So we thought it important to continue issuing the qualified patient cards because it does at least provide some basic structure to the program.

Ted Simons: So there's no caveat for legal problems or something along those lines. If it doesn't work, this happens. If A, then B, in other words.

Will Humble: For dispensaries?

Ted Simons: For the I.D.

Will Humble: For the qualified patient registration cards the statute says if the department doesn't take action, the cards get self-generated in the community and we thought that was compelling in order to -- to keep at least so we've got some oversight with these qualified patient registration cards.

Ted Simons: What are you telling folks applying for the cards? For the dispensary folks you’r sayin, we don’t know, keep an eye out. What are you telling the patients?

Will Humble: One the things that the patients are asking on my blog and other places, we were expecting to be able to buy from a dispensary and what we're saying now is there are two options open to patients. Number one, to -- two legal options open to patients. One is each qualified patient is authorized to grow up to 12 plants for their own medical use. So, that’s option one. Number two, patients can designate a caregiver and that caregiver can grow the marijuana for that patient. Those are the two legal options for patients to get the marijuana. You know, when the -- I don't know whether or when the dispensaries will come online.

Ted Simons: But those options still exist despite the legal wrangles.

Will Humble: Yes, those were written, hardwired right into the initiative language.

Ted Simons: The concern with the governor and attorney general is that state workers could be liable in some way, shape or form. In terms of being prosecuted.

Will Humble: Right.

Ted Simons: How many state workers do you know would be involved in the program, is there a lot?

Will Humble: That's a good question. We've got about four people that are -- they're processing the qualified patient registration cards and they're TEMPs not, not even employees of the state department. We have temps processing the cards, under our oversight, and then for the dispensary piece, we were expecting between three to maybe five or six employees that would be actually doing the field work inspecting the cultivation facilities and the like. We hadn't hired them yet because we have no dispensaries so it's temporary workers at this point.

Ted Simons: Maybe a dozen or so?

Will Humble: The right, and the ultimate question, a larger one, which is -- I'm involved, all right.

Ted Simons: Sure.

Will Humble: So we've got sort of our leadership staff. And I think the idea behind the lawsuit is to definitively answer this one way or the other. I don't know the answer. I'm a public health guy, not a lawyer.

Ted Simons: Right.

Will Humble: And our culture, the way we resolve these kinds of disputes and questions is in the courts and so that's ultimately this will be decided there.

Ted Simons: Until it's decided, what are you saying to your workers? Keep doing what we're mandated to do and until the courts tell us otherwise?

Will Humble: Exactly. Do your job. You’re processing the cards. Keep doing that. We'll answer this question in the court, one way or the other, somehow, some day. But in the meantime, just not going to do the dispensary part and when you look across the country at the U.S. attorney letters that have been going to the various jurisdictions, the focus on the letters has been on the dispensary part of those state laws rather than the patient part of those state laws.

Ted Simons: I was going to ask, are you aware of the states that have medical marijuana programs up and operational, have state workers in any of those states been targeted so far, to your knowledge.

Will Humble: Not that I know of.

Ted Simons: Yeah, so we can leave it there and figure out where we go from here.

Will Humble: Right, I don't know what else to do.

Ted Simons: But it's got to be confusing. It’s got to be a situation where you've got things coming at you from all different directions.

Will Humble: But you know what, that's the life of a agency director. [Laughter] There's a thousand things that happen every week and things come at you from all different directions, and if you can't adjust to things, you won't be able to survive in this kind of job.

Ted Simons: Last question, it’s a big story, and we’re glad you came on to at least tell us a little bit about how the agency is handling this. But, where were these concerns during the campaign for this initiative once things were up and operational, I mean uou had so many meetings and community hearings and such. Didn't anyone stand up and say, hey, this is against federal law?

Will Humble: Well, you know, there’s been this, you know the Japanese have a word that is the unspoken truth and that's sort of the -- there's been a layer of this dichotomy -- federal and state law in conflict and that's been throughout the whole process. It hasn't been during the implementation phase, a major issue of dispute, you know, but the things we had really seen more clearly were sort of conflicts between people who just fundamentally disagree with this concept, not the fact it's against federal law but they don't like the fact that people would be able to smoke marijuana through this program and then other people who passionately believe that this is medication. And so really, that has been the primary conflict. Really, your -- your in a way, your world view, rather than is it against federal law?

Ted Simons: Yeah.

Will Humble: But that layer was always there.

Ted Simons: Kind of the elephant in the corner of the room there.

Will Humble: Right.

Ted Simons: All right. Well, good luck to the elephant and good luck to you. Thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.

Will Humble: Thanks.

Senator Russell Pearce Recall

  |   Video
  • “Citizens for a Better Arizona” has filed more than 18-thousand petition signatures in an attempt to force a recall election for State Senate President Russell Pearce. The group’s leader, Randy Parraz, discusses the campaign.
  • Randy Parraz - Citizens for a Better Arizona
Keywords: Senator, Pearce, Recall,

View Transcript
Senator Russell Pearce Recall Effort

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Over 18,000 signatures were filed this afternoon by Citizens for a Better Arizona. That's a group looking to recall senate president Russell Pearce. The group needs just under 8,000 signatures to force a recall election. Joining us to talk about the recall effort is Randy Parraz of Citizens for a Better Arizona. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Randy Parraz: Good to be here.

Ted Simons: Did I get those numbers right, that many were filed and you’re looking for just right, You're looking for just under 8,000 or so?

Randy Parraz: It’s actually 7,756.

Ted Simons: What expectations do you have for how many are going to be ok.

Randy Parraz: We’re pretty confident, we had about 6% validity rate and checked with the county recorder and we also checked on our own voter action network we maintain. We're going through and checking and verifying and making sure we have a significant amount so we can make this happen.

Ted Simons: Talk to us about the timetable. I recall haring the Arizona elections director gave you guys wrong information. What's going on here?

Randy Parraz: Back in April, getting closer to the number we need and basically asked them, can you please tell us the deadline for us. If you want to guarantee based on the statutory authority and limits, November election, what would be the deadline? Even though the 120-day deadline was May 31st, they said if we turned it in by may 25th we’d qualify and that turned out not to be the case, it was actually was May 10th.

Ted Simons: So, is a November election out. Or is it still a possibility?

Randy Parraz: It's no longer guaranteed it's a possibility. Depends on how long they take.

Ted Simons: Either November or next March?

Randy Parraz: Yes. All determined by statute.

Ted Simons: It’s all determined, I guess as well,on how quickly the signatures are figured out and how quickly the governor calls for the election if they all pan out?

Randy Parraz: Absolutely, there's a 90-day process starts today, with the 10-day checking period with the Secretary of State and then it goes back to the County Recorder’s office for up to 60 days and back to the Secretary of Wtate for five more days and the governor's desk and she has 15 days to make -- declare an election within 15 days. It doesn't get to her desk unless there's a recall.

Ted Simons: What's the deadline for the fall election as opposed to having it come up in March?

Randy Parraz: My sense is they have to verify the signatures by the end of July, the first week of August.

Ted Simons: Ok. Let's -- talk to us about pros and cons of a November election, or a March election. I mean, November election, I guess is what you were aiming for -- what? -- to prevent him from returning to the legislature.

Randy Parraz: Exactly, so he couldn't do more damage to Arizona, right. I think one -- the cons for the November election, we have a tremendous amount of momentum right now. At no time in the history of the United States of America has any sitting senate president been recalled and we did more than double the signatures necessary and didn't do it in Tucson or Tempe, we did it in Mesa. Where people say it's so conservative and extreme and would never contemplate something like this -- there's a lot of folks who are tired what they've been seeing happening.
Ted Simons: Back to the election aspect of this. There are some who suggest a March election would be better for your group because -- at least those against Pearce, because the Senate President would be having to campaign while in session.

Randy Parraz: Absolutely, not only that, given the situation, no real candidate was viable can come out until probably mid August so it's difficult to ramp up in two months in November. This way, they have more lead time for a campaign in March, and at the same time, if that was to happen, if he was recalled, I doubt very much the Republican caucus would give him the title of the president of the senate. That would be another public embarrassment.

Ted Simons: You mentioned candidates, are they starting to line up?

Randy Parraz: I think people have identified people who fit the profile of the district. Republican but probably more moderate, someone who’s a member of the LDS church, a Mormon who can really represent that community, who’s got deep roots there. So, I think those folks exist but they’re not going to necessarily surface until it's almost certain that Russell Pearce will, in fact, be recalled.

Ted Simons: Why are you pushing for this? Why do you think the voters in that district should have a do-over? They just voted him in. They’ve voted him in over and over for the past 10 years or so. Why?

Randy Parraz: People have to understand, this is not the Russell Pearce of April 2010 ofof November 2010. This is the Russell Pearce of 2011. He just had a four to five month run -- he was extreme on so many issues. Put the immigration issue aside, let's talk about guns on campus, let’s talk about dismantling healthcare for poor people and taking hundreds of millions of dollars out of our K-12 education and another $200 million out of the university state system, I have universities wanting to get involved. This is a person who has become too extreme for Arizona. People who are waiting for a transplant do not get the funding, these are people who have actually died, so this is Russell Pearce as leader and president of the Senate and we feel his policies impact us all.

Ted Simons: Are you saying that Russell Pearce now is more extreme than Russell Pearce has been? Because a lot of political observers would say no big surprise. The senate presidency gives him a bigger platform. But this is the same Russell Pearce we’ve known for years.

Randy Parraz: But a lot of observers don't understand that most voters in Mesa, there's significant number of voters -- have never heard of Russell Pearce. We've been knocking on the door since January and we’ll say, "How do you feel about Russell Pearce being president of the Senate?" And they would respond, "Who is Russell Pearce?" So, it’s not as if though everybody knows who this person is, so we do a lot of education. We also know that folks, we just had a Republican couple come to the library a couple of weeks ago, we know the Republicans they self-identify middle aged, about 65 or older, white couple and Mormon and they said basically he's too extreme now for us. So, he’s really gone further to the right. Now because his issue, He hasn't been a leader in the sense of driving something as president of the Senate. He's now -- he has a major player in terms of the budget and I think people see that agenda is too extreme for where they are.

Ted Simons: The door knocking, the information campaign, letting people know who this guy was, why didn't that happen last year? Why not wait for another year for it to happen? I think the critics against this move are saying you got -- basically another election is coming up, they've already voted him in - 56 some odd percent as far as winning the campaign. Why are we going through this when the voters get another chance next year?

Randy Parraz: We felt it’s too long to wait. We’re impatient, we don’t want to wait and we feel he’s done some things now - what better time to use the statutory authority to recall someone based on his record this legislative session. Lot of people thought it was an embarrassment. See those going on record if we knew what we know now, we wouldn't have invested in this state. Look at what’s happening in education. Where’s the leadership of Russell Pearce? So I think this someone who attacks teachers and attacks their pensions, attacks things rather than bringing people together. So, we as citizens, For me personally, it became a point in November when he became president of the senate, I just said no more. Not on my watch is he going to be president of the Senate without us trying to hold him accountable.

Ted Simons: So, when the other side says this is an abuse of the recall process. That, he's not done anything illegal, according to a lot of folks that he’s not done anything that would really surprise or done anything that would really surprise observers, you say --

Randy Parraz: Absolutely not. He's done a lot of things that surprise people. People thought he was going to focus on job creation. That was his number one issue. This is a man who when 60 CEOs wrote a letter when he was trying to put forward an omnibus immigration bill, they weren't even for or against it, they just said basically let's not do this alone any more because we get hurt financially. He said he didn’t care and he pushed it through and he was interested in his own personal agenda. This is the type of political extremism we’re talking about. There's been thousands of legislators in the 100-year history of Arizona, but no president has ever been recalled, so how extreme must you be, we can’t go out and manufacture these signatures, you can't force someone to sign. So, when you reach this level of signature gathering, there's something going on out there.

Ted Simons: Randy, thank you very much for joining us.

Randy Parraz: Thank you very much.