Emergency preparedness and public health are core functions of government. When significant public safety issues confront us — whether catastrophic wildfire or a public health emergency — we need to be prepared and to clearly understand our roles.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit Coconino County, our Public Health Services District responded. It played a frontline role in mobilizing Arizona’s first drive-up testing facility. It was the first to open a facility for housing insecure and homeless people who needed to quarantine and self-isolate. It coordinated the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline health care workers. Local government did its job.
The Arizona Legislature, at the most critical time of the pandemic and when leadership was most required, went into recess for over a month. There were “no objections” to this recess in the House of Representatives.
The Legislature could have met digitally, or it could have easily figured out how to meet while socially distancing. But they chose to simply not show up for work.
Instead of moving key initiatives forward like providing greater flexibility and waiving fees and penalties for late property tax payments, they went home.
Instead of waiving interest and penalty payments for late sales tax payments for struggling small businesses, they turned out the lights.
Instead of taking action to allow a full vote by mail for the August and November elections, they went on recess.
Instead of engaging in policy discussions about using the “rainy day” fund to help businesses, laid off workers and taxpayers who are literally struggling to stay alive, they decided to stop working.
In difficult times, citizens look to elected officials to provide leadership. The taxpayers and small business owners who pay legislators salaries rightfully expect that when the going gets tough, you show up for work and do your job.