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How Government Works

Disposable plastic bags are both a convenience and a blight.  Across the nation, political battles are being waged over whether single-use, plastic bags should be banned.  Environmentally concerned citizens and local governments point to the plastic bag littler in streets, bags caught on trees and bushes, and bags blowing across highways.  They talk about the glut of plastic bags in landfills, plastic litter in oceans and waterways, and injury to wildlife.  On the other side of the battle are retailers and the plastic industry.  They claim single-use bags are more sanitary than reusable bags.  They also argue that customers want the convenience of bags provided by the store. 

The Arizona State Legislature has a website that provides information to the public.  www.azleg.gov.  The website contains valuable information, including the names and districts of senate and house members, legislative calendars, the Arizona Constitution, Arizona Revised Statues, and a host of other information.  The website is moderately easy to navigate, but there are significant shortcomings.

We all use money every day. We earn U.S. dollars for our labor, deposit our money in banks, pay our bills, use credit cards, and spend cash to purchase items we want. Most of us walk around with cash in our pockets, but we don’t know very much about how the system works. What is money, and who decides how much our money is worth?

Most Americans know the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants us freedom of speech.  It states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, . . . .”  The intent of the drafters is clear.  They believed that in a free society, people must be permitted to criticize government and lobby for change.  But how far do free speech protections go?  What are the limits of free speech, and who has the authority to restrict speech?  These questions have repeatedly been addressed by the United States Supreme Court, and over the past 200 years, the definition of freedom of speech has evolved and been refined by the courts.

Fake news is everywhere. We are all used to standing in the grocery check-out line and seeing the sensationalist newspapers on the rack next to us. The papers always have wild headlines like “Alien Baby Discovered Alive in Seattle,” or “Angelina Jolie weighs 60 pounds and is dying of starvation.” The grocery store tabloids have spent the past 5 years trying to kill off Cher and Angelina Jolie, and they have discovered “credible” photos of Bigfoot at least a dozen times. Everyone knows those stories are either fake or misleading. Yet, the same people who scoff at the grocery store tabloids are often willing to believe everything they read on the internet.

Everyone who has ever watched a crime show on TV has heard and probably memorized the Miranda warnings: “You have the right to remain silent.  If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.  You have the right to an attorney.  If you cannot afford an attorney . . .”   Reading an accused his rights is now an ingrained part of law enforcement procedure and considered integral to protecting everyone’s Fifth Amendment rights, but it wasn’t always that way. History is loaded with examples of coerced confessions, dating back to the Spanish Inquisition and even earlier to the Roman Empire.  Today, we often take the protections afforded by our Bill of Rights for granted, including our Fourteenth Amendment due process rights and our Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Have you ever wondered what happens when a federal law says one thing and a state law says another? The answer to the question lies in Article 6, Paragraph 2, of the United States Constitution, which is commonly known as the “Supremacy Clause.” Under the Supremacy Clause, federal laws, which apply to the entire country, are supreme over state laws, which apply only to particular states (like Arizona).

This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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