If it’s Tuesday, this must be the Giving Tree Café.
Could there be a more fitting name for one of my stops along the way during Hell Week, the moniker for the series of state candidate fundraisers held just before the gavel drops to signal the start of new session at the Legislature. When the business of the people begins, the fundraising ends until the session wraps up.
I got a real sense of what the name for the week means. I set out every day to show support of the Arizona Technology Council State Political Action Committee by zig-zagging through Phoenix rush hour traffic to make it to as many as four events in as many hours. Like the planning for D-Day, I carefully plotted my course before even thinking of climbing behind the wheel.
In the course of the week, I made stops at such places as the Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen, the Phoenix Country Club, the Thunderbird Lounge (twice!), the Phoenix Public Market and Southern Rail Restaurant. Oh, and the Giving Tree Café, where Sen. Heather Carter held her event. Other lawmakers receiving donations from my organization included Sen. Lupe Contreras, the assistant minority leader, and Reps. Aaron Lieberman, Walter Blackman and Becky Nutt, majority whip in the House, to name just a few.
So why do any of this? Public policy—the process and the players—are critical components of the Council’s mission to support Arizona’s technology community. In determining who to get behind, members of our Public Policy Committee that meets twice monthly look to the legislators who have either a record of supporting the technology agenda or serve on important committees that we may go before over the course of the year.
We also get input—especially when it comes to deciding which candidates to support—from our lobbyists at Public Policy Partners since they are on the front line. None of this is about trying to generate favor through dollars. c
Sometimes a bonus is being in the right place at the right time, especially away from the Capitol. For example, while waiting for Rep. Tony Rivero to appear at the Phoenix Country Club, I had the chance to spend about 20 minutes talking with House Speaker Rusty Bowers. While I never did spot Rivero while I was there, it still was a good use of time by my having a thorough conversation with Bowers.
Another special moment came on Friday at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Legislative Forecast Luncheon at the Arizona Biltmore. Gov. Doug Ducey gave a preview of his State of the State address before Senate President Karen Fann, Senate Minority Leader David Bradley and House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez joined Bowers on the stage to share expectations for the 2020 legislative session. Bradley delivered a strong message about working collaboratively. Even the governor mentioned getting the group on the same stage was something no one would see in Washington. This all gave me hope for some level of collaboration in the upcoming session!
But wait. There’s definitely more.
I was invited to be Rep. Daniel Hernandez’s guest at the State of the State. You might recall Hernandez was an intern for then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was credited with helping keep her alive after she was shot at an event in Tucson that claimed the lives of six and injured the congresswoman and 14 others. On Monday, I waited in my seat on the House floor before Hernandez introduced me to the filled chamber. A magic moment!
Now that the session is underway, I’m more than a little anxious to see what happens at the Legislature. Will we see the crafting of legislation to make Arizona the talk of the nation? Or was the talk of collaboration just that: talk?