Week #6: 55th Legislature, 1st Session

 

Week #6: 55th Legislature, 1st Session

 

Senate Education Committee -- Marilyn Duerbeck

 

February 16, 2021: Two of the thirteen bills heard in the Senate Education Committee are particularly notable. SCR1044, (Senate Concurrent Resolution) would allow all students who attend an Arizona high school for two years and who graduate, to be eligible for in-state tuition. It also exempts postsecondary education from the definition of a state or local public benefit – which those without lawful immigration status can’t currently access. Because voters barred undocumented immigrants from receiving in-state tuition and taxpayer-funded financial aid when they supported Prop 300 in 2006, voters must also approve any changes. Prop 300 also included prohibiting undocumented immigrants from receiving childcare assistance, family literacy programs and adult education classes, in addition to the in-state tuition and financial aid. Sen Gonzales, D-Tucson, said that while SCR1044 would cover undocumented youth, Dreamers, it would leave out their parents from accessing other state public benefits. Sen Marsh also said she had reservations about the proposal because it’s not a full repeal of Prop. 300. Gonzales and Marsh voted to pass SCR1044 in committee, but said they reserve their support of the measure when it goes to a vote by the full Senate. The bill passed 6-2 (Barto and Gray were nay votes).

 

SB1456 will modify the requirements and prohibitions relating to sex education instruction, including approval of curricula and parental notification and requiring written permission (parents would need to “opt in” instead of “opting out” which is current practice). It also prohibits sex education instruction for students K-4. The bill stipulates that parents be notified in advance of any learning materials or presentations regarding sexuality, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in courses other than formal sex education curricula (this could include literature, the arts, social issues in government etc.).  Many people testified for and against the bill, among them: AZ School Board Association, ACLU, parents and the Human Rights Campaign (against) and Protect Arizona Children and parents (for). Sen Gonzalez brought up the “Arizona Parents Bill of Rights” and questioned the need for new legislation. Sen Marsh agreed and also expressed concern for the unintended consequences of the bill  (“Some parts of the bill terrified me, does it rule out great literature?”) and also, the needs of LGBTQ students (Jeff Esposito, ACLU “you can’t erase LGBTQ kids”) Christine wanted an amendment to address the many concerns expressed but no amendment was offered. The bill passed 5-3 along party lines.

 

All the other bills passed, including: SB1420 (allows the acceptance of a consular card ID as valid ID for colleges and universities), SB1508 (Arizona Promise program for low income students), SB1717 (Teachers Academy), SB1114 (requires schools to post the abuse hotline), SB1236 (name change for college savings plan), SB1279 (accessibility of student data), SB1404 (technical fix due to COVID for issuing the State Seal of Biliteracy), SB1684 (a strike everything bill which provides funding for Dyslexia screening and teacher training which has already passed), SB1296 (compensating collegiate athletes when their image is used commercially), SB1308 (changes in the Student Recovery Program), and SB1572 (requires a literacy endorsement for teachers of kindergarten through grade 5). 

 

Senate Transportation and Technology: Laura Terech

February 15, 2021

Party line votes

SB1687: Governmental entities; social media; prohibition

Prohibits government entities from conducting business on social media. Concern from Dems about PSAs and Amber Alerts, other pertinent information (as demonstrated by the pandemic). Sponsor Ugenti-Rita says there are concerns standards are not applied uniformly, “Twitter has an agenda when it comes to Covid-19” (whatever the means!). Christine shared some of Senator Ugenti-Rita’s concerns but made an excellent point about agencies not being able to reach people in a timely manner (ADOT, school closures, etc). Ugenti-Rita says the freeway signs touch more people than social media. Pace agreed some agencies use this for crucial functions, but feels it’s unfair we’re forcing constituents to sign up for social media platforms (thus compromising their privacy or personal values) to get the full experience of government. Shope said he wouldn’t vote for this bill in its current form on the floor.

5 yeas, 4 nays

 

Bi-Partisan Votes

SB1419: S/E, prohibition; photo radar

Prevents Arizona from using photo radar. This would take away all red light and stoplight cameras. The bill sponsor Wendy Rogers says this is a 4th amendment issue regarding privacy. She said while cities support these cameras but citizens don’t, says it’s not a “transparent way to enforce the law”. City of Mesa/Mesa PD, Paradise Valley PD, City of Phoenix PD, and Scottsdale PD spoke against the bill because they believe in the public safety aspects. There were also concerns that this could lead to banning cameras outright and increased speeding in school zones. Christine pointed out this bill undermines the concept of local control.

4 yeas, 5 nays

 

SB1650: Held

 

Unanimous Votes

SB1291: S/E, vehicles and loads; gross weight

Shope said this is a bill designed to accommodate emerging tech, i.e. EVs with higher weight. Gray expressed concern about the potential damage to the roads. 

8 yeas, 0 nays, 1 not voting

 

SB1533: Obstructing highways, racing; assessment; impoundment

This would raise the penalties for highway racing. Any fines collected would go to the newly-formed “Drag Racing Prevention Fund” for disbursement to law enforcement agencies. Christine brought up the fact that this bill would also apply to those who press the crosswalk button. Boyer was unaware of this issue and said he could add a floor amendment to address it - but Christine came prepared with one already! She and Boyer are going to work together to prep it for the floor.

8 yeas, 0 nays, 1 not voting

 

House Health and Human Services Committee:  Jane McNamara

 

Feb. 15, 2021: Sixteen bills considered.  All passed, some unanimously, some with one or two votes against.  Six bills addressed the use of medical or recreational marijuana; one, HCR2024, would require warning labels on medical marijuana referencing potential mental health issues, including, “the relationship between marijuana use and schizophrenia,” and “the correlation between marijuana use and violent behavior, considering factors such as mental illness and the tetrahydrocannabinol concentration in marijuana.”  Reps Butler and Friese voted no; Reps. Shah and Alma Hernandez voted present.  The resolution, which will be referred to voters if it passes the legislature, passed 5-2-2.

 

Disappointing to see HB2291, held three weeks ago, due to questions about possible costs, higher, perhaps than the $3 million original estimate, taken off today's House Health and Human Services agenda.  As Rep Bulter said, other bills sail through House HHS, including HB2404, a so-called family pilot health program that would provide $3 million over two years to an anti-choice, faith-based crisis pregnancy center for the purpose of persuading women against having an abortion.  Rep Butler has championed dental care for pregnant women on AHCCCS for five years -- it would provide cost effective services leading to fewer low-birth weight babies and better, healthier outcomes for mothers and their newborns.  Pregnant women deserve quality healthcare, not mis-information based on bad science.  

 

HB2489 is worth noting.  It would appropriate $25 million to the Housing Trust Fund, in an effort to prevent evictions and combat the affordable housing crisis.  Bill passed 6-2-1 with Reps Chaplik and Parker opposed.  (They don’t like to spend money that helps people.)   

 

House Government and Elections:  Laura Terech and Devin Bansal

 

February 17, 2021: 

HB2378: Ranked choice voting - Held

 

HB2590: Day of racial healing; observed - Held

This would make the third Tuesday in January every year the day of racial healing and stipulates this day is not a legal holiday.

 

Party line votes

HCR2015: Article V convention; term limits

A formal application from Arizona to the US Congress to call a convention to propose a constitutional amendment for US House and Senate term limits.

7 yeas, 6 nays

 

HCR2016: Initiatives; Supermajority Vote Requirement

This bill requires that ballot measures such as citizen initiatives receive 60% of the vote instead of a simple majority in order to pass. The Democrats voted against the bill, because citizen initiatives are an important check on the Legislature and allow citizens to make policy changes if the Legislature does not take action. They argued that it is ironic that this bill would only require a simple majority in order to be passed. If this bill passes, Arizona would be the only state to have a 60% requirement for citizen initiatives to be passed. One reason the Republicans supported the bill is because they think it is too difficult to overturn a citizen initiative if there are issues or unintended consequences due to it. The Democrats disagreed and said that this bill sets an unfair double standard on citizens that are not put on lawmakers themselves.  

7 yeas, 6 nays

 

HB2554: Strike everything; party representative; resident; violation

This bill makes it a Class 6 felony if somebody “knowingly impersonates” an election board member, challenger, election official, party representative or other poll worker at polling locations. It also states that these election workers have to be residents of Arizona and registered to vote in Arizona. The Democrats voted against the bill because they believe that a Class 6 felony is too harsh a penalty given that the phrase “knowingly impersonates” is vague and could be interpreted in different ways. 

7 yeas, 6 nays

 

HB2543: State permitting dashboard

The mirror bill left the Senate committee unanimously. This would create a pilot program for a Permit Director and permitting dashboard under the Governor. The system would be opt-in, designed to help companies project timelines. Kelli was concerned about the dispute process this bill sets up. The governor appoints the director and the members of the regulatory review council. She wanted to make sure companies wouldn’t be advantaged or disadvantaged in the process as the director would be in a position of power/influence. Republicans say the dashboard will create transparency. A director and an IT dashboard are needed, yet the bill has no appropriation. Kelli also asked if the position will go through the Senate confirmation process (unknown). 

7 yeas, 5 nays, 1 present

 

HB2373: S/E: Voter registration groups; forms; identifiers

This amendment directs a person or group who submits 25 or more voter registration forms in a calendar year to have a unique identifier from the county and place that on each voter registration form. This amendment raises the limit from 10 to 25. The League of Women Voters objected. LUCHA also objected, feels this is an attack on the voter registration groups that have come together since SB1070. Randy was also worried this opens voters up to liability issues. Sierra Club also objected.

7 yeas, 6 nays

 

HB2060: Schools; pledge; quiet reflection

This bill mandates that students in grades k-4 are required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance unless excused by a parent. It also states that a specific time needs to be set each day for students in grades 4-12 to “engage in quiet reflection and moral reasoning for at least 1 minute.” The Democrats had concerns that this bill would infringe upon the 1st amendment rights of students who do not wish to recite the pledge and that it was unnecessary due to the fact that the pledge is already recited in many schools.

7 yeas, 6 nays

 

HB2308: Recall petitions and elections; revisions

Makes modifications to statutes relating to recalls, outlines requirements of circulators, prescribes recall signature fraud and the removal of ineligible signatures. Kelli added an amendment to modify the definition of “paid circulator”. Kavanaugh urged members not to vote for Kelli’s amendment since he hadn’t seen it. 

7 yeas, 5 nays, 1 absent

 

HB2792: Early ballots, request required

Prohibits a county recorder or election official from mailing or delivering an early ballot to someone who has not requested one. This bill provides a Class 5 felony for a violation.

7 yeas, 5 nays, 1 absent

 

HCR2020: Lieutenant governor; joint candidacy

Establishes the office of lieutenant governor and outlines the line of succession. This would be submitted to the voters in the next general election.

7 yeas, 5 nays, 1 absent



Bi-Partisan Votes

HCM2005: Restoration; Cherrybell mail processing center

Expresses the legislature’s desire that the US Congress restore the Cherrybell mail processing center in Tucson, which would bring back the Tucson postmark. Currently all mail goes through Phoenix. 

8 yeas, 5 nays

 

HB2455: Fire districts; pension liability; financing

Authorizes a fire district to lease, lease-purchase, or grant a lien on its property to pay pensions or create reserves. The districts will collatorize their property and refinance the debt (holding it for the loan), but the property belongs to the fire district. The lenders only hold it for collateral on the loan. 

10 yeas, 1 nay, 2 absent



Unanimous Votes

HB2457: Lobbyists; conflicts of interest; disclosure

Prohibits a person from lobbying if there’s a conflict of interest.

13 yeas, 0 nays 




HB2373: S/E: Voter registration groups; forms; identifiers

This amendment directs a person or group who submits 25 or more voter registration forms in a calendar year to have a unique identifier from the county and place that on each voter registration form. This amendment raises the limit from 10 to 25. The League of Women Voters objected. LUCHA also objected, feels this is an attack on the voter registration groups that have come together since SB1070. Randy was also worried this opens voters up to liability issues. Sierra Club also objected.

7 yeas, 6 nays

 

HB2060: schools; pledge; quiet reflection

This bill mandates that students in grades k-4 are required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance unless excused by a parent. It also states that a specific time needs to be set each day for students in grades 4-12 to “engage in quiet reflection and moral reasoning for at least 1 minute.” The Democrats had concerns that this bill would infringe upon the 1st amendment rights of students who do not wish to recite the pledge and that it was unnecessary due to the fact that the pledge is already recited in many schools.

7 yeas, 6 nays

 

HB2308: Recall petitions and elections; revisions

Makes modifications to statutes relating to recalls, outlines requirements of circulators, prescribes recall signature fraud and the removal of ineligible signatures. Kelli added an amendment to modify the definition of “paid circulator”. Kavanaugh urged members not to vote for Kelli’s amendment since he hadn’t seen it. 

7 yeas, 5 nays, 1 absent

 

HB2792: Early ballots, request required

Prohibits a county recorder or election official from mailing or delivering an early ballot to someone who has not requested one. This bill provides a Class 5 felony for a violation.

7 yeas, 5 nays, 1 absent

 

HCR2020: Lieutenant governor; joint candidacy

Establishes the office of lieutenant governor and outlines the line of succession. This would be submitted to the voters in the next general election.

7 yeas, 5 nays, 1 absent



Bi-Partisan Votes

HCM2005: Restoration; Cherrybell mail processing center

Expresses the legislature’s desire that the US Congress restore the Cherrybell mail processing center in Tucson, which would bring back the Tucson postmark. Currently all mail goes through Phoenix. 

8 yeas, 5 nays

 

HB2455: Fire districts; pension liability; financing

Authorizes a fire district to lease, lease-purchase, or grant a lien on its property to pay pensions or create reserves. The districts will collatorize their property and refinance the debt (holding it for the loan), but the property belongs to the fire district. The lenders only hold it for collateral on the loan. 

10 yeas, 1 nay, 2 absent



Unanimous Votes

HB2457: Lobbyists; conflicts of interest; disclosure

Prohibits a person from lobbying if there’s a conflict of interest.

13 yeas, 0 nays 

 

Natural Resources Committee:  Jane McNamara

 

Nine bills considered.  Most passed unanimously, including HB2806, sponsored by Chair Griffin, in response to a request by Sierra Vista to be named the Hummingbird Capital of Arizona.  All Democrats opposed HB2691, which passed 6-4, and would allow Arizona to manage its water resources “closer to home,” without pesky interference from the federal government, apparently.  There was uniform opposition by environmental groups.  Rep. Lieberman sponsored HB2498, which was heard last and would appropriate $5 million to establish “The Arizona Battery Storage Technology Improvement Grant Program” to increase renewable energy capability in the state.  There was much discussion about the need to create a supply of the five minerals needed to build batteries in the United States, and the means to “recycle” car batteries for energy storage, something the Chinese are apparently doing, by “stacking” old car batteries.  The bill, which would create “green jobs,” passed 8-1-1, with Parker opposed (she doesn’t like to spend money) and Finchem voting present.       

 

House Appropriations Committee: Charles Lucking

 

February 17, 2021



(MISSED First 24 minutes)

 

HB2215: $35m to ADOT for the Hopi tribe & Navajo Nation for Route H60 - currently dirt road, low water crossings, utilized by school districts.  Navajo county has paid for environmental and tribal communities are potential cost-sharing funders.

    Hoffman; Nay

    Pass: 12 ays 1 nay

 

HB2320: Strike everything amendment -  process for person to petition the court for sealed sentencing records. Criminal justice reform - there is a $500k one time cost-offsetting in bill.  Excludes violent or sex crimes, and some other crimes.

    Hoffman: no

    Kavanagh: no

    Passes 11 ays 2 nays

 

HB2383: Organized retail theft task force. (Strike anything amendment).  AZ: hundreds of millions of dollars in theft/5% of retailers experience violence in these incidents - Kaiser’s amendment - 9 designated (not full-time) positions, $1.5mm - expires in 2029.  $ covers salaries, staff - amount is based on what Utah has done and what AG office.  It’s appropriated to AG’s office, and AG would enter into a memorandum of understanding with local offices.  (Aaron asks several clarifying questions).  Unclear if this is ongoing or how much of these funds would be spent first year/over 8 years

    Friese: no

    Hoffman: AG shouldn’t be AG’s top cop, so No

    Lieberman:  Yes, but work needs to be done to figure out the funds

Osborne: Worth giving it a shot but needs to be reporting prior to any additional funding, and that it’s not a dedicated force for a single large entity and it’s truly based on a hub that all city/sherrifs are in a coordinated effort

Passes 11ays 2 nays

 

HB2401 Juvenile dependency/state aid/apprprioation

    $2mm split between the counties dependent on the cases

    Hoffman is a yes!

    Passes 13 ays 0 nays

 

HB 2778 - AZ cooperative extension/natural resources, assistance to universities

    Hoffman - yes

    Passes 13 ays 0 nays

 

HB 2808 - $10m one time funding to az commerce authority for broadband

    Hoffman: Nay

    Pass: 12 ays 1 nay

 

HB 2817 - 2.2m to az dept of forestry & fire management - hazardous veg removal/Amendment (Lieberman - increase to $3m)

    Aaron - “Of my many bills I really appreciate you selecting this one” (great presentation at around 1hr 20minutes)

    This was the same amount as last year, which was fully allocated, and the same amount in the governors budget.

    Nguyen: Nay

    Nutt:  Yes but I believe this takes away from free enterprise (the pulpwood industry)

    Passes 12 ays 0 nay

 

HB 2824: Establish Adult Community College program for adult learners (this is the Goodwill one?) $3.5m to the fund and $1.3 million.

    Schweibert Amendment. - new program application requirements, and requires reporting of enrollment/completion rates

    Hoffman: this should be in the private sector: Nay

    Passes: 11 ays 1 nay

 

HB 2835 - theme parks definition expanded

    for improvement of chase field utilizing an expanded self-taxation theme-park district.

    Passes 12 ays 0 nays

 

HB 2836 21.3m to rural community colleges

    development of jobs-training centers

    Hoffman is a No

    11 ays 1 nay - Pass