By Elisha Dorfsmith
Last year the Flagstaff City Council voted to reject a ban on texting while driving. Many expected the Coconino County Board of Supervisors to try to override the City vote with a ban on texting at the County level. Today it was reported that the County wants to go a step further and actually ban cellphones while driving. If approved, this law would also apply to the City of Flagstaff unless the Flagstaff City Council voted to opt out.
While the move to ban cellphones is not surprising, it does bring up some legitimate concerns.
Talking on a cellphone will now be considered a more serious offense than not wearing a seat belt. Currently, if you are not wearing a seat belt in Arizona a police officer will have to find a different reason to pull you over before they can ticket you. The new County cellphone law will make talking on the phone while driving a primary offense and that means anyone who even looks like they may be talking on a cell phone can be pulled over and charged.
Giving police the power to pull people over for the suspicion of cellphone use should be a concern to anyone who has experienced police harassment or racial profiling. The way this law is written makes it ripe for abuse. If a cop doesn’t like the way someone looks, if they don’t like someone’s bumper stickers, if they don’t like whatever they now have another tool they can use to pull you over and harass you or search your car. When you finally get before a judge to try to prove that you were not using your cellphone at the time you were pulled over the damage has already been done.
Some would argue that the police already have enough excuses to pull people over and adding one more to the list won’t change things much. I would argue that every excuse to harass and fine people who are driving safely and not breaking traffic laws is another opportunity for injustice.
Law enforcement considers this law to be a great opportunity for more revenue and I’m sure the County Board has dollar signs in their eyes too. I hope those making the decision will at least consider the negative implications before giving it their stamp of approval.
4-25-2014 UPDATE: Coconino County approved the cell phone ban earlier this week. More information on that vote HERE.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Arizona is once again making national headlines and pushing into emotionally charged territory with what many feel is an unnecessary, very poorly timed pro discrimination bill titled SB1062. Much like the debate over the world famous SB1070, this bill is creating a swell of protests and threats by countless groups and individuals to boycott Arizona.
Republicans in the legislature are standing by their reasoning that this bill is needed. They cite cases in New Mexico and Colorado where small business owners were forced to provide services against their religious beliefs to same sex couples.
There have not been any legal cases in Arizona but Republicans say they are taking a preemptive step in case it happens here. In reality, they seem to be looking for a fight that does not exist and that could come with unintended consequences. If the goal was to give Democrats something to really rally behind and opportunity after opportunity to campaign and network during this election cycle, they are certainly doing a wonderful job.
Barry Hess, Libertarian candidate for Governor in Arizona recently posted the following statement regarding SB1062 on Facebook. I think he sums it up perfectly:
“Statement regarding whether, as Governor, I would sign SB1062.
No. While all individuals, and non-government businesses retain an absolute right to refuse to do business with anyone (including government), for any reason; proposing a law to that effect is not only redundant, but unnecessarily incites argument. Worse yet, it is an invitation and encouragement for businesses to discriminate against a specific group, for purely political reasons.
The ‘bread and butter’ for the kind of politicians who would propose such legislation is the division of the masses. They seek only to divide us (the American People) up into groups, pit them against one another, and then offer to referee.
I happen to be of the opinion that here, in America (Arizona included), all individuals are absolutely equal, without regard to the usual attempts to divide us based on spiritual beliefs, sex, sexual preferences, skin color, mental capabilities or national or ethnic origins. Our strength as a nation depends only upon our common beliefs as a free People, and the protection of our inherent, God-given rights as individuals, and as Governor, I intend to uphold those beliefs, without exception.”
In other SB1062 related news, one of many free market solutions to business discrimination in Arizona has sprung up on Facebook. We Do Not Discriminate — AZ is a great page created to highlight and support Arizona businesses that DON’T discriminate.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Thanks to Mike Shipley and Thane Eichenauer for inviting me to be part of their Freedom Caucus AZ show tonight. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion. We covered a wide variety of liberty issues including the 29-1 passage in the Arizona Senate of SB1151 (Homegrown Freedom Act).
You can find the entire interview HERE.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
The last few months have been very busy and I’m sorry that I have not been able to find much time to write on my blog. I have been posting a lot of updates and action alerts on twitter though and I encourage my readers to follow me there to get the latest on important liberty issues. You can find my twitter page HERE.
I will try to post more consistent updates on the Flag Liberty Blog in the coming months to keep you all in the loop. Below are a few things that I’ve been focused on lately…
Say No To An Article V Convention
I had a great time helping out at the Liberty booth at January’s Arizona Republican state meeting. One of the big issues we focused on was the potential danger of an Article V convention. Campaign For Liberty recently sent out a letter articulating these concerns. You can find that letter HERE. C4L is also circulating a petition against Arizona’s bill for an Article V convention. You can sign that petition HERE.
Since we are starting a new legislative session, there has been some confusion with the Article V bill. It’s titled HB2305 just like last session’s voter law that was passed in part to keep Libertarian candidates off the ballot.
The word on the street is that the legislature is considering a full repeal of last year’s HB2305 bill because they don’t want voters to reject it when it goes on the ballot in November. The thought process is if they repeal it now they can bring back all or part of the bill later on.
I see this as just another underhanded trick to keep the voters out of the equation. Let’s let the voters decide in November and leave it at that.
Stop the TPP
A little snow couldn’t keep us from taking part in the International Day Of Action Against the Trans Pacific Partnership. Several downtown local businesses took extra literature to hand out to their customers. Flagstaff Liberty Alliance created a handout for those who would like to educate their friends and family about the TPP. You can find the PDF HERE.
Support NSA Nullification In Arizona
The 4th Amendment Protection Act is scheduled for a committee hearing and vote on February 3rd. Please consider contacting the committee members ASAP and urge them to vote YES on SB1156. You can find their contact information HERE. We have a great opportunity to stand up and fight for our right to privacy here in Arizona and I’d hate to see an opportunity like this missed. Our elected officials need to see that there is overwhelming support for this bill.
Folks, This Ain’t Normal
A friend recently recommended that I read Folks, This Ain’t Normal by libertarian activist and farmer Joel Salatin. Now I get to highly recommend it to you. There has been a lot of talk lately about what solutions libertarians have to offer for environmental and sustainable living issues. Salatin focuses as much energy on realistic effective solutions as he does pointing out the concerns. It’s a well rounded book that people across the political spectrum should enjoy. Read more about Joel Salatin HERE.
FLA Offering Sustainable Living Workshops
Flagstaff Liberty Alliance will be holding their first Sustainable Living Workshop on February 3rd at 6:30 pm. This event will be held at the Hirsch Center Highlands Fire Station 23 at 3350 Old Munds Highway in Mountainaire. At this class, Neil Wilson of Freedom’s Garden will be teaching the group how to make aluminum can alcohol burning stoves. He will also be discussing what to include in your emergency kit.
This event is free and open to the public. Please invite your friends.
Future Sustainable Living classes will include everything from gardening to canning to emergency preparedness. If you have a skill you would like to teach the group at an upcoming class please let them know. These workshops are a fun way to share your ideas and sustainable living experience.
You can find contact information for Flagstaff Liberty Alliance at: www.flagstafflibertyalliance.com
Flagstaff Earth Day
(LD6 State Rep. Bob Thorpe, Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours, and Flagstaff City Councilman Jeff Oravits take time out for a picture with Cindy Dorfsmith, President of Flagstaff Liberty Alliance at last year’s Earth Day event.)
On Tuesday, February 4th I will be meeting with City of Flasgstaff staff to start planning this year’s Earth Day event. Flagstaff Liberty Alliance will once again have a booth at this event and they will be handing out hundreds and hundreds of free books about gardening and urban farming.
While the food freedom resolution that we fought so hard for only received the support of three council members, we have seen some very encouraging progress in changes to the Animal Keeping part of the City Code and there are proposals at the state level that could give you more freedom to raise food for your family. The food freedom movement is gaining momentum and we expect to win some big local battles in the near future. Keep up the good fight!
Be sure to visit the new Flagstaff Liberty Alliance website: www.flagstafflibertyalliance.com