By Asha Devineni

Legislative Recap – 2018

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.

By Laura Franco French

Legislative Update Week of March 2

Committees have resumed hearing bills this week. March 23rd will be the last day for House consideration of Senate bills and Senate consideration of House bills.

In the House Caucus on Tuesday (2/27), there was a JLBC presentation of the JLBC Baseline and Executive Budget Comparison. A link to this presentation can be found here: https://www.azleg.gov/calendar/0227201807.01H.pdf

The following bills are of note:

  • HB2126: government property; abatement; slum; blight. Modifies the size of the geographical area for a central business district. The bill also modifies the requirements for leases between a prime lessee and a government lessor for which tax is abated. This bill passed the House 58-0 and is ready for the Senate.
  • SB1147: county excise tax for transportation will be heard in the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee on Wednesday (3/7). This bill would allow the board of supervisors of a county with a population of 400,000 persons or less, on a majority vote, to submit to the voters a transportation plan funded by an excise tax that is in addition to a county transportation excise tax.

By Asha Devineni

Legislative Update Week of February 19

March 23rd will be the last day for House consideration of Senate bills and Senate consideration of House bills.

The following bills are of note:

  • HB2005: municipal economic development; sale; lease. Municipal governing bodies are authorized to sell or lease for “economic development activities” land or buildings owned by or under the control of the municipality if specified conditions are met, including that the lease term cannot exceed 25 years, that the land or building is appraised by an experienced appraiser, and that the land is sold or leased at a public auction to the highest responsible bidder after public notice of the sale or lease is given. This bill passed out of the House 32-26 and was referred to the Senate.
  • HB2090: tax credit review; evaluation standard. The standards used by the Joint Legislative Income Tax Review Committee to evaluate tax credits may include whether adequate protections are in place to ensure that the fiscal impact of the credit in future years does not increase substantially beyond the current projections. This bill passed out of the House 57-0 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.
  • HB2116: limitations of actions; dedicated property. Municipalities and counties are prohibited from instituting or maintaining an action or arbitration based on a required permit against a person who develops or develops and sells real property that is dedicated to the municipality or county more than eight years after “substantial completion”of the improvement. This bill passed out of the House 39-21 following the addition of amendments #4028 and #4437
  • HB2126: government property; abatement; slum; blight. Modifies the size of the geographical area for a central business district. The bill also modifies the requirements for leases between a prime lessee and a government lessor for which tax is abated.This bill was heard in the House Ways and Means Committee and there were references to a possible floor amendment that all parties agreed on. This bill was retained on the House COW calendar.
  • HB2158: TPT; additional rate; education. Beginning July 1, 2021, an additional transaction privilege tax (TPT) rate increment is levied at the rate of 0.6 percent of the tax base of the list of business classifications. The State Treasurer is required to distribute the revenues for various public education purposes according to a specified formula, including $86.3 million annually to the Department of Education for increased basic state aid. This legislation effectively makes permanent the additional TPT rate for education approved by the voters as Proposition 301 in November 2000, which will expire June 30, 2021. Amendment #4184 was added to this bill.
  • HB2165: county excise tax for transportation. The board of supervisors of any county is permitted to submit to the voters a transportation plan funded by an excise tax. If approved by the voters, the county is required to levy and the Department of Revenue is required to collect the tax beginning January 1 or July 1, whichever occurs first after voter approval, on the same tax base that applies to other excise taxes in the county.
  • HB2280: universities; lease-back financing. Prohibits ABOR or a corporation formed by a university from entering into a development agreement unless the property improvement is primarily for an academic purpose or student housing. This bill passed out of the committee with a vote of 5-4 and amendment #4071.
  • HB2330: one percent property tax limit; gplet. If a school district qualifies for additional state aid for education in the fiscal year and if all or part of an affected school district is located in a municipality or stadium district in which any government property improvement is located, the Property Tax Oversight Commission is required to determine the full amount of primary property tax that would have been assessed for the tax year by the affected school district against each government property improvement. The State Treasurer must pay the amount computed for each government property improvement to each appropriate school district. The maximum amount of additional state aid for education funded by the state of $1 million per county is deleted. This bill was retained on the House COW calendar.
  • HB2377: teachers’ school supplies; tax credit. Retroactive to January 1, 2018, an individual income tax credit of up to $400 per teacher is established for expenses incurred by a “qualified schoolteacher” (defined as a teacher in kindergarten or grades 1 through 12) for educational supplies and materials purchased by the teacher and used in the teacher’s classroom. If the allowable credit exceeds taxes due, the unclaimed amount of the credit may be carried forward for up to five consecutive tax years. This bill failed to pass 23-31. It will be reconsidered within 14 days.
  • SB1014: municipal zoning; zoning protests. Clarifies that the group of persons authorized to file a protest in writing against a municipal rezoning, which triggers a requirement for the rezoning to obtain a 3/4 vote of the municipal governing body for passage, is the owners of 20 percent or more of the property. This bill passed out of the the Senate with a vote of 23-7 and was referred to the House Local & International Affairs Committee.
  • SB1147: county excise tax for transportation. Permits the board of supervisors of any county to submit to the voters a transportation plan funded by an excise tax. This passed out of the Senate with a vote of 24-6 and is ready for the House.
    • The identical bill (HB2165) listed above, was reconsidered in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday (2/7).

  • SB1499: community facilities districts; directors. A resolution ordering the formation of a district must state whether the district will be governed by a district board consisting of members of the governing body, ex officio, with two additional members who are initially designated by the owner who owns the largest amount of privately owned acreage in the district and who are appointed by the governing body, or, at the option of the governing body, five directors appointed by the governing body. This bill passed out of the Senate with a vote of 30-0 and is ready for the House.

By azvoicesadmin

JTED Funding Restored, Arizona Voices Joins Forces with Greater Phoenix Leadership

This week marks the first week of the Arizona Voices partnership with Greater Phoenix Leadership. Joining the collaboration to increase statewide civic engagement and participation in the initiative are Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance and Southern Arizona Leadership Council. Listen to the NPR news story covering the partnership and read more about this effort here on the Arizona Voices blog.

On the legislative front, Governor Ducey signed the bill restoring virtually all the Joint Technical Education District (JTED) cut from last year’s budget. A win for education as his signature restores $30 million dollars for career and technical education programs.

A few other bills received his signature this week as well including SB1428 (PSPRS modifications) and SB1429 (public retirement systems; special election), both of which he signed on Tuesday. Two others—SCR1019 (public retirement system benefits) and HCM2001 (health insurance tax; repeal)—were transmitted to the Secretary of State. The pension bill(s) now go to the voters in the May 17 special election, along with Prop 123.
Among bills discussed this week was SB1330 (Parent-child relationship; termination; petition). It would allow counties to provide free legal aid to terminate absent parents’ legal rights so adoptions can proceed. In some cases, foster children remain stuck in the system despite their foster parent’s wishes to adopt, because their biological parents can’t be located. Legal fees to seek termination of the biological parents’ rights can be expensive. This bill would make it easier for adoptions to take place. An amended version of SB1330 passed the Senate committee vote and is awaiting full Senate vote.

Two bills concerning abortion were passed by committee on Wednesday. SB1324 (abortion clinics; medication abortions) and SB1474 (human fetus; embryo; prohibited actions) were both referred to the Senate Rules Committee after receiving the “do pass” vote from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

One of the top 10 most voted and commented on bills on Arizona Voices made progress this week. The House Federalism and States’ Rights Committee voted to pass an amended version of HB2024 (sovereign authority; federal actions). It will now proceed to the House Rules Committee.
Keep letting us know what you think of this bill and others at azvoices.gov. Arizona Voices is your place to speak up. Weigh in on a bill, post an idea or comment on one of the governor’s proposals. Sign up on our home page at AZVoices.gov to join conversations with citizens across the state, and share on social media platforms to encourage others to share their views.

By azvoicesadmin

Arizona Voices Joins Forces with Greater Phoenix Leadership

Southern Arizona Leadership Council and Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance join collaboration

The Arizona Voices Institute is conveying its innovative online collaboration platform, azvoices.gov, to be an initiative of Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL). Joining GPL as collaborating organizations in the effort to expand the initiative’s statewide footprint are Southern Arizona Leadership Council and Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance.

“This is a very exciting development for both GPL and the Arizona Voices Institute, with the three statewide leadership organizations coming together to advance this impressive platform to promote civic and public policy engagement of our citizens across our state,” says Greater Phoenix Leadership President and CEO Neil Giuliano. “We want to encourage more open dialog and input from Arizonans about the future of our State as we tackle the important issues of education, job creation, fiscal stability, transportation infrastructure and growing of our economy.

“Civic engagement by the citizens of Arizona is a key to our state’s future,” said Ron Shoopman, president and CEO of Southern Arizona Leadership Council. “SALC is proud to partner on the Arizona Voices project because it provides the people of Arizona easy access to pending legislation and an opportunity to share their opinion directly with Arizona’s legislators and Governor.” Shoopman says Arizona Voices makes greater involvement in the process easy and impactful and encourages everyone to get involved at azvoices.gov.

NALA CEO T. Paul Thomas agrees. “Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance feels it is important to make sure that Arizona voters are engaged with the lawmaking process. That’s why we are proud to be partnering with the Greater Phoenix Leadership and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council to provide this service.”

The initiative has received bi-partisan praise for advancing civic dialog and involvement across the state. “Hearing and understanding the views of my constituents is important to me as their representative here at the Capitol,” says Rep. Jeff Weninger from District 17 in Chandler and vice chairman of the Banking and Financial Services Committee. Arizona Voices gives voters a direct way to keep me informed on their views and also gives me a way to easily aggregate and see how votes are trending for or against a bill.”

“I chose to be an early adopter for Arizona Voices to allow my constituents to have their voice heard at the Legislature without travelling to Phoenix,” says Senator Andrea Dalassandro from District 2 in Pinal County. “I represent Legislative District 2 which is part of Pima County and all of Santa Cruz County. It takes between two and three hours for my constituents to travel by car to the travel to the Capitol. The fact that the platform is multi-lingual is a big plus because many of my constituents are more comfortable using Spanish. When I speak to constituents and groups, I recommend that they sign up for azvoices.gov to have their voices heard at the Legislature for both Bills and ideas on what policies the Legislature should be working.”

Arizona Voices is the first civic engagement platform of its kind, where voters can rate pending legislation, discuss the issues and policies that impact our state with fellow Arizonans and propose innovative ideas to the elected officials. The site lets Arizona registered voters follow, discuss and instantly rate active legislation on a six-degree scale from “strongly oppose” to “strongly agree.” Senator Bob Worsley from District 25 in Mesa, came up with the idea for the platform as a way to streamline, consolidate and automate constituent input which tends to be surprisingly messy and disorganized because it comes from such random sources as email, regular mail, fax, phone, social media, in-person meetings, and formal Senate hearings on bills. He believes this would help legislators get a better picture of their constituents’ concerns and encourage broader participation both by registered voters and the public in the legislative process. The site is now a part of the Arizona Voices Institute, which is joining GPL, SALC and NALA to expand its use statewide.

“It’s high time that we are providing an electronic, 24/7 forum for rural Arizona citizens to voice their opinion on what we do down here at the Capitol,” said Senator Steve Pierce from District 1 in Prescott. It’s hard to participate and voice your concerns with bills when you live several hours away from Phoenix. I fully support AZ Voices and its new partnership with NALA, GPL and SALC.”

In addition to indicating their support or opposition on current bills, registered users can post ideas on various topics and begin dialogs about how to improve the state and address issues confronting the state. Upgrades to the system include a weekly summary of all bills and votes sent to legislators, and the Request to Speak system is now integrated on the site as a resource to help facilitate placing comments and opinions on the official record of the State Legislature.

The Greater Phoenix Leadership (gplinc.org) mission is to align leadership and resources at the intersection of the business, government, philanthropy and education communities to improve economic vitality and quality of life.

The Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance (naleaders.org) is a coalition of business, education and non-profit executives dedicated to addressing the critical needs of the region. Its membership generates $1 billion annually in gross revenues in the region and is responsible for more than 7,000 jobs in the area.

The Southern Arizona Leadership Council (salc.org) is a private-sector organization comprised of 137 senior business and community leaders in the Tucson region. The mission of SALC is to improve greater Tucson and Arizona by bringing together resources and leadership to create action to enhance the economic climate and quality of life in our communities to attract, retain, and grow high-quality, high-wage jobs.

Arizona Voices (azvoices.gov) is a community engagement opportunity provided as a public service by Greater Phoenix Leadership, Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance and Southern Arizona Leadership Council. Advocacy and constituent organizations are invited to collaborate with us; please email us at info@azvoicesinstitute.org for more information on how to become involved.

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As of Dec. 31, 2018, the Arizona Voices website will no longer be available. Thank you to all who have been active users. We encourage you to remain engaged in the legislative process.

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Legislative Recap – 2018
Legislative Update Week of March 2
Legislative Update Week of February 19