/ Modified dec 20, 2013 7:16 p.m.

AZ Illustrated Politics: Friday, December 20, 2013

Immigration reform update; Brewer's Medicaid expansion; a look back at Obamacare rollout; Arizona election law changes.

Play the video above to see these stories on AZ Illustrated Politics for Friday, Dec. 13 with guests Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Lea Marquez-Peterson, former state lawmaker Jonathan Paton and Jeff Rogers, the former chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party:

IMMIGRATION REFORM: The U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration-reform package, but the legislation stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives. Marquez-Peterson said she had spent time this year lobbying members of Congress on immigration reform and the biggest roadblock in the House centered on the question of a path to citizenship for undocumented people now in theU.S. Paton dismissed the political argument made by Sen. John McCain that Republicans need to normalize the status of undocumented people now in the country before the Republican Party could appeal to Latinos, saying that President Barack Obama’s approval ratings were on the decline with Hispanic voters.

BREWER’S MEDICAID EXPANSION: Marquez-Peterson said that the business community supported Gov. Jan Brewer’s expansion of Medicaid to anyone below 133 percent of the federal poverty level because it made fiscal sense to get additional healthcare dollars from the federal government. Paton said some the business community’s split with the conservative Republicans, who opposed the expansion, was not as dramatic as it may have appeared. Rogers predicted that the GOP-controlled states who rejected the expansion would soon be asking for the additional federal dollars because many of the working poor would be without health insurance.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT ROLLOUT: Rogers said the rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplace was a disaster, but predicted that once the glitches were ironed out, Democrats would run on the advantages of the healthcare legislation. Paton said that the ACA would present big problems for Democrats in the midterms elections, including the three competitive congressional seats in Arizona. Marquez-Peterson said that the business organizations she talks with are confused and concerned about the new laws.

ELECTION LAW CHANGES: The Arizona Legislature passed an overhaul of Arizona’s election laws last year, which included limits on the collection of early ballots by political activists, more stringent requirements for citizens wishing to put an initiative on the ballot, a higher threshold for third-party candidates to appear on the ballot and other changes. Opponents of the law gathered enough signatures to require voters to approve the law on the November 2014 ballot. Paton, who lobbied on behalf of the changes, said they were reasonable steps to prevent fraud. Rogers said that there was no evidence of fraud as a result of the collection of early ballots and predicted that voters would reject the changes at the ballot box. Marquez-Peterson, who had worked with groups collecting early ballots to increase Latino voter turnout, said that she was concerned that the law would reverse gains made in getting more Hispanic voters to the polls.

AZ Illustrated Politics is produced by Jim Nintzel. Contact him at jnintzel@azpm.org.

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