by Asha Devineni

The 53rd Second Regular Legislative Session lasted 117 days. The Legislature adjourned sine die on May 4, at 12:26 am. Of the 1,279 bills introduced this session, 345 bills were signed by the Governor and 23 were vetoed. 10 of the vetoed bills were on the basis that there was not a budget being produced that included the teachers pay increase as well as restoration of additional assistance.

Governor Ducey announced a teacher pay increase early in April. The Governor’s plan would include a 20% increase overall by fiscal year 2020 which will amount to an average teacher pay of $58,130, up from the current $48,723. Teachers went on strike for six days starting on April 25th after there had been no legislation introduced to address the teacher pay increase. This lasted through the entire budget process and almost until sine die night. This year’s general appropriation budget bill, HB2665 general appropriations act; 2018-2019, includes provisions regarding the teachers pay increase such as the legislative intent that the increase of $273,706,100 in GF monies for basic state aid in FY2019 be used for teacher salary increases.

In June of 2017, Governor Ducey  issued a Declaration of Emergency and an Enhanced Surveillance Advisory in response to the opioid overdose epidemic in Arizona. In the Governor’s State of the State address, he addressed this issue and expressed the need to find a solution. As a product of the 53rd First Special Session beginning January 23rd, SB1001 controlled substances; regulation; appropriation was passed. The bill established a good Samaritan system that would prohibit a person from being criminally charged in regard to drug possession, if the person was seeking medical assistance for an individual experiencing a drug-related overdose. It puts further regulations on dentists, physician assistants, osteopathic physicians and more for dispensing schedule II controlled substances. The bill also appropriates $10,000,000 from the state in FY18 to establish the Substance Abuse Disorder Fund.

SB1519 school safety; protective orders; appropriations was introduced this session in response to the amount of school shootings occurring. This bill addressed suicide prevention training, school safety emergency response plans, mental and behavioral health services for schools, public safety training and reporting and also create a Severe Threat Order Protection system, This bill was very controversial and had lengthy debate in the Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee as well as Committee of the Whole. This bill passed out of the Senate with a vote of 17-13. This bill was never given a hearing in the House probably due to the teachers pay increase issue.

Another issue that Governor Ducey mentioned in his State of the State address was Arizona’s water. There were several bills introduced throughout session such as SB1507/2512 water program amendments, HB2553 adequate water supply; county review and SB1509 water; interstate sales. While there were bills that had some legislative action on them, the issue of water did not receive much attention due to the other pertinent issues going on.

Thank you for tuning in to Arizona Voices; see you back here next year.

About Asha

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Legislative Recap – 2018