By Stephanie Holland

53rd Arizona Legislative Session Wrap Up

The 53rd Arizona Legislative Session adjourned Sine Die on May 10th. 1,079 bills were introduced. Of those, 352 were passed onto Governor Ducey’s desk and 300 were signed into law. The Governor has until May 22nd to take action on the remaining bills on his desk. If Governor Ducey does not take action on a bill, it automatically becomes law.

This session was the third for Governor Ducey and the first for 23 legislators, mostly members of the House. Representative Ben Toma, Arizona’s newest lawmaker, took over for Phil Lovas who left the Arizona State Legislature due to an appointment from the Trump administration as the Western States liaison to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Education was a dominant topic during the session. Probably the most contentious of the bills passed was SB 1431/HB 2394, which expanded Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program (ESA) to all Arizona K-12 students.

$27 million was approved to be appropriated to the state’s’ public universities starting in 2019 through 2043. The money is to be used for capital project debt service or construction costs. The budget will also establish a Capital Infrastructure Fund (CIF) where the annual appropriation will be deposited along with a 1:1 match from the university.

The Legislature also took action to tighten the rules around Arizona’s citizen-initiative process. HB2404 prohibits people or organizations from paying people to obtain ballot initiative signatures.

Thank you for choosing Arizona Voices to help you navigate the 2017 Arizona Legislative Session. Stay involved over the summer and we’ll see you back for the next legislative session!

 

By Stephanie Holland

Legislative Update Week of May 8th

The FY 2018 state budget was dropped last Thursday, and debated on through last Friday. Several budget bills were amended on the floor. We can expect the Legislature to adjourn sometime this week. Below we have some highlights of what was approved in the budget bills last week.

In general appropriations, legislators approved removing the 500 student requirement in rural schools to qualify for funding. They also approved a 1% teacher pay raise, with an additional 1% pay raise to be included in FY 19’s state budget.

In university infrastructure, $27 million was approved to be appropriated to the state’s public universities starting in 2019 through 2043. The money is to be used for capital project debt service or construction costs. The budget will also establish a Capital Infrastructure Fund (CIF) where the annual appropriation will be deposited along with a 1:1 match from the university.

In K-12 education, the budget will continue to fund Joint Technical Education Districts (JTED’s). It will also establish a “results-based” funding program to provide per-pupil funding to district or charter schools that have AzMerit scores in the 10% of the state. Schools with 60% or more students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch will also qualify for this funding if their AzMerit scores are within the top 10% of similar schools. The budget will also integrate an A through F rating system, beginning in FY 2019. Once implemented, schools will be required to have an “A” rating in order to receive the results-based funding.

In criminal justice, allocation of any money towards the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM) was prohibited for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, which takes away about $1.6 million in funding. About $400,000 was allocated from GIITEM for the Pima County Sheriff’s Office.
Thanks for stopping by for your weekly Legislative update! Check back next week for more or visit www.arizonavoices.org.  

By Stephanie Holland

Legislative Update Week of May 1

Last week both houses voted to extend the legislative session an additional seven days. Budget negotiations continued last week and bill decisions came slowly. This week we will remain on the lookout for the state budget. Once the budget is dropped, we can expect the legislative session to end shortly after.

HB 2229 passed the Senate after a floor amendment that made additional clarifications and specifications. This bill, related to JTED programs, would allow JTED credits to be earned from any career and technical education (CTE) course. The bill will now go back to the House for approval of Senate action.

SB 1042 passed the Senate Final Read last Tuesday after an amendment that made additional clarifications. The bill now moves to Governor Ducey for final approval. This bill doubles the initial length of teaching certifications from 6 years to 12 years, and makes some changes to alternative preparation programs, proficiency examination exemptions and reciprocity.

HB 2395 passed the Senate by a vote of 27-0 and will now move back to the House. This bill requires schools to notify the Arizona Department of Education about the number of suspensions and expulsions that involve illegal substances. It also allows schools to develop college and career prep programs for “at-risk” students.
Thanks for stopping by for your weekly Legislative update! Check back next week for more or visit www.arizonavoices.org.

By Stephanie Holland

Legislative Update Week of April 24

Last week leadership decided to extend the Legislative session by seven days. After this Saturday, the Legislative session can only be extended through a majority vote in both houses.

SB1080, the bill that would prevent new drivers from texting and driving, now only needs a signature from Governor Ducey to become law. The House gave their final approval with a vote of 32-24 last Thursday. The bill would prevent any driver with a learners permit from making calls or texting while driving up to the first 6 months of having their Class G license.

SB1114, a bill that would open areas of Mohave County to electronic billboards, passed the House last Thursday with a vote of 35-18. If signed into law, SB1114 would be the first major change in a deal between the astronomy community and the billboard industry, which created “dark zones” in order to protect areas surrounding telescopes.

HB2134, a bill that would allow students to have sunscreen at school without a note or prescription, has moved onto the Governor. The bill passed the House with a vote of 48-9 last Thursday. Currently many school policies do not allow sunscreen without a doctor’s note because it is regulated by the FDA. If signed into law, Arizona would be the fourth state to pass legislation making an exception to use sunscreen in schools.

This week we will be looking for the state budget to be dropped. Once the budget is passed, we can expect the Legislative session to end shortly after.

Thanks for stopping by for your weekly Legislative update! Check back next week for more or visit www.arizonavoices.org.

By Stephanie Holland

Legislative Update Week of April 17

Tomorrow, April 18th, will be the 100th day of the session. Without an extension, the legislative session is required to end this Saturday. Leadership is able to extend the session by 7 days, and past that a majority vote is required in both houses.

Last Wednesday the Senate passed HB 2244 by a vote of 16-14, which requires judges to void citizen ballot initiatives if they are not in “strict compliance” with Arizona election law. Before approval, an amendment was made to require the Secretary of State to publish a handbook for each election cycle with a sample initiative that follows strict compliance.

SB 1042 was approved in the House Committee of the Whole after an amendment that made quite a few changes, including removing automatic approval for alternative preparation program providers that meet specified requirements and increasing the full-time teaching requirements to qualify for an exemption from a proficiency examination from two to three years. SB 1042 attempts to simplify the teacher certification process. It is scheduled for the House Third Read today.

SB 1406 was approved in the House Committee of the Whole last Thursday. The bill has changed from a juvenile corrections bill (passed by the Senate) to one concerning the litigation processes for potential violations under the Arizona Americans with Disability Act (Arizona ADA). Before approval a floor amendment was accepted that expanded the notice and resolution time period for parking lot violations, made clear that websites are not subject to Arizona ADA, and some other technical changes.

This week we can expect more budget negotiations and action on bills. More budget details are expected to be dropped this week. Check back next Monday for more details!
Thanks for stopping by for your weekly Legislative update! Check back next week for more or visit www.arizonavoices.org.

By Stephanie Holland

Legislative Update Week of April 10

Final bill negotiations and budget discussions will continue this upcoming week. Last week we saw decisions on some key bills.

Last week the chairman of the House Rules committee, Rep. Phil Lovas, refused to hear SB 1080, the bill that would prevent new drivers from texting and driving. According to the Arizona Capitol Times, Lovas reason for doing so was to prevent opening up Arizona to additional driving restrictions.

Another popular event in the Legislature was SB 1431-HB 2394 being signed into law last Thursday. The bills passed 16-14 in the Senate and 31-29 in the House, the minimal margin required in both chambers.

The law will phase in an expansion of the Empowerment Scholarship Account, which allows students to take advantage of funding from the Arizona Department of Education to pay for private-school tuition or other school expenses.
Arizona is the first state in the nation to provide such expansion. Sen. Bob Worsley (R-Mesa) offered the amendments in the Senate that include extending the temporary cap until 2022 and adding accountability measures for private schools that enroll at least 50 ESA students. While a very disappointing policy loss for public education supporters, the original bill would have been even more drastic. Proponents say that the expansion would allow more parents to choose a school that best fits their child’s needs.

SB 1366 was passed last week in the House with a vote of 34-25. The bill equates aggravated assault of an off-duty police officer the same as the assault of an on-duty officer. The bill will be cited as the “Blue Lives Matter Law.” The bill will now head back to the Senate for final approval before it goes to the Governor’s desk.
Thanks for stopping by for your weekly Legislative update! Check back next week for more or visit www.arizonavoices.org.  

By Stephanie Holland

Legislative Update Week of April 3

The Legislature wrapped up hearing bills last week, however they will continue to take action on bills until the end of the semester. Budget negotiations are picking up this week.

The House constructed an outline of their initial budget proposal, which contains some differences from the proposal Governor Ducey revealed at the beginning of the session. Some notable changes were a 1% teacher pay raise to be implemented in FY 2018. Ducey proposed a 2% teacher pay raise that would be implemented over five years. The House proposed to allocate $63 million to the School Facilities Board for new construction versus Ducey proposing to allocate $17.2 million. The House also added in $7.3 million to the Department of Education for IT needs; Ducey’s budget did not provide for this funding.

Plastic or film license plate covers are now illegal as of last Tuesday. Governor Ducey signed SB1073 into law, which states it “prohibits persons from covering or altering their license plate in any way that obscures the numbers, letters, year validating tags or issuing jurisdiction.” The law will go into effect 90 days past the end of the legislative session.

Last Friday SB1098 was amended in the House Committee of the Whole to define terms used within the bill language. SB1098 pertains to schools and statewide assessment. The bill particularly focuses on delaying a piece of legislation passed in 2016 that established a menu of assessments for local education agencies. The bill passed as amended 29 – 0, and now will go on to the Governor’s office.

SB1153 passed the House Appropriations committee last Wednesday with a vote of 11 – 0. This bill pertains to Joint Technical Education District courses and programs and what can qualify for credit.

Thanks for stopping by for your weekly Legislative update! Check back next week for more or visit www.arizonavoices.org.

By Stephanie Holland

Legislative Update Week of March 27

Standing committees had until the end of last week to hear bills. Appropriation committees, who get an extension, will finishing bill hearings this week. After this week we can expect state budget negotiations to pick up.

SB1311 passed the House on Third Read with a vote of 47 – 10. It also passed the Senate final read by 29 – 1. This bill will now move on to the Governor. SB1131 would make changes to the K-3 reading program that concerns program administration, retention policies, intervention strategies and reporting requirements.

HB2404 passed Senate on Third Read by a vote of 17 – 13. The bill also passed the House final read by a vote of 34 – 22. Governor Ducey signed the bill into law last Thursday. This bill concerns paid circulators that gather signatures for ballot initiatives, and would prohibit people or organizations from paying people to obtain signatures.

SB1439 was sent to the Governor’s desk last Wednesday. This bill, if signed into law, would make it illegal to discriminate against a health care entity because it does not provide, assist in providing, or facilitate in providing any service that results in the death of an individual. This bill would be an extension onto already existing legislation that protects providers from going against their conscience despite a patient’s request.

This Tuesday we will see HB2229 on the Senate Appropriations committee agenda. This bill related to JTED programs would allow credits earned to be awarded towards the minimum course of study. The bill makes a few other provisions for course specialized materials and assessments.

On Wednesday the House Appropriations committee will hear SB1406. The bill, if passed, would establish a juvenile corrections and justice reform study committee.

Thanks for stopping by for your weekly Legislative update! Check back next week for more or visit www.arizonavoices.org.

By Stephanie Holland

Legislative Update Week of March 20

Time is running short to hear bills in the Arizona Legislature. After the next couple of weeks, there will only be caucus meetings, floor sessions and conference committees until the session ends. We can also expect to start hearing state budget negotiations soon.

SB1038 passed the House Education Committee by a vote of 9 – 0 last Monday. It also passed the House Appropriations Committee last Wednesday by a vote of 9 – 2. The bill, if passed, would appropriate $300,000 for a professional development program for teachers established by the Arizona Department of Education.

HB2163 was approved in the Senate Committee of the Whole last Monday. This bill concerns the simplification of the teacher certification process to make it easier to become a teacher.

HB2404 was amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee to replace the legislative findings section as session law, instead of a state statute. This bill concerns paid circulators that gather signatures for ballot initiatives.  The bill passed after being amended by a vote of 4 – 3.

Next week the Senate Finance Committee will hear HB2191 on 3/22. This bill focuses on information exchanged between insurance companies and the Arizona Department of Economic Security in reference to child support payments. The bill, if passed, would allow information to be exchanged between the two entities to help resolve overdue child support payments.
Thanks for stopping by for your weekly Legislative update! Check back next week for more or visit www.arizonavoices.org.

By Stephanie Holland

Legislative Update Week of March 13 – Student Journalism; Gold; Initiatives

The past week in the Legislature was filled with more hearings in standing committees. There are only two more weeks to hear bills in standing committees (except for the Appropriations Committees, who get an extra week).

A House panel voted 10-1 last Monday on SB1384, a bill that would provide additional freedom of speech protections for student journalists in public schools, community colleges, and universities. The part of this bill that concerns high school students has been quite contentious. Members have cited concerns over giving “children” too much power, meaning they believe minors still should receive some discretion in what is written from school administrators.

HB2229 was passed the Senate Education Committee by a vote of 6-0 last Thursday. This bill, related to JTED programs, would allow JTED credits to be earned from any career and technical education (CTE) course.

HB2014 was heard by the Senate Finance Committee last Wednesday. This bill serves as the yearly attempt to legitimize gold and silver as legal tender in Arizona. It would eliminate the tax attached to the sale of gold. Lawmakers say this is the first step in the process of legitimizing gold and silver.

HB2404 is back on the agenda this week. It will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. This bill pertains to paid circulators of state referendum and initiative measures, and says that any signatures collected by someone who received compensation are considered void and classifies the act as a misdemeanor.

HB2218 will also be heard in the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. This bill proposes to expand public school tax credits to include meal programs and health supplies.

1 2 3 5
53rd Arizona Legislative Session Wrap Up
Legislative Update Week of May 8th
Legislative Update Week of May 1
Legislative Update Week of April 24
Legislative Update Week of April 17
Legislative Update Week of April 10
Legislative Update Week of April 3
Legislative Update Week of March 27
Legislative Update Week of March 20
Legislative Update Week of March 13 – Student Journalism; Gold; Initiatives