Week #8: 55th Legislature, 1st Session
Committee agendas were short and bills considered were mostly non-controversial. House Appropriations did not meet and House Natural Resources considered just one bill, passing it unanimously. Most of the action was on the House and Senate floor. Although we were told any bill that did not “cross over” by the end of last week was “dead,” that obviously was not true; floor agendas were long, both for Committee of the Whole (COW) and 3rd Read.
Senate Education Committee -- Marilyn Duerbeck
March 2, 2021 The Senate Education Committee had a light schedule, hearing 4 House bills and passing them with little or no discussion. (HB2020, reduce fees for child care provided by schools, HB2021 dual enrollment college credits can be earned by high school freshmen and sophomores, HB2055 permits CTE project fund to pay students for services related to skills they’re learning and HB2705 which permits native students to wear tribal regalia for their graduation ceremony) The committee also recommended candidates for the State Board of Education and AZ Board of Regents.
I heard some of the floor session; many Democrats passionately spoke out against bad bills, but they were passed 16-14. SB1456, which the education committee passed 5-3 last week, will give parents rights regarding sex education (properly called Human Growth and Development). Democrats brought up the facts that the bill will affect all classes in all classrooms, including literature and history, and will require parents to “opt in” if they want their students to be in the classes (which will not begin before grade 5). Also, the bill can isolate populations and can be very damaging to LGBTQ youth. (Parents must be notified in advance of any learning materials dealing with sexuallity, sexual orientation, gender identification or gender expression). The Bill passed the senate (parents will be “back in the driver’s seat” -Nancy Barto, the bill’s sponsor) and will be sent to the House.
Senate Transportation and Technology -- Laura Terech
March 1, 2021
HB2046: Disability license plates, minors
Allows a parent or guardian to obtain a disability plate to transport their minor child.
HB2159: School bus drivers; license requirements
When applying for a school bus certification, the applicant can use a certification from an adjacent state.
HB2143: ADOT revisions
Currently allows ADOT to release personal information obtained from motor vehicle records for marketing purposes if ADOT is given express consent and follows federal guidelines. This bill removes ADOT’s ability to release this information. Also mandates additional disclosures about a salvage title sale and other revisions about towing, etc, aimed at agency efficiency. Prevents someone with a commercial DL who was involved in sex trafficking from holding a commercial license again. Christine questioned whether or not someone who had been convicted of sex/human trafficking but didn’t use a commercial vehicle could then apply for a commercial license in the future. The ADOT liaison said that’s covered under a different statue. However, if they’re using their commercial vehicle it’s a permanent disqualification.
HB2187: DUI; administrative suspension; license revocation
Aggravated DUI violations will be grounds for a license revocation.
HB2006: Speed limits; roadway turn off
If someone drives at a speed that blocks traffic and 5 vehicles are lined up behind them, the lead vehicle must pull over at the nearest turn off.
HB2173: Commercial driver licenses; renewal time
Allows a commercial DL holder to renew every 8 years rather than every 5.
HB2396: Online dating fraud; member notice
Requires an online dating service to notify members if they interact with someone who has been suspended for fraud.
House Health and Human Services -- Jane McNamara
Monday, March 1, 2021
One bill of note: SB1096. Rep Butler made a valiant effort to attach an amendment to SB1096, a strike-all bill introduced as an amended version of the original bill on a different topic, passed in the Senate and transferred to the House. She didn’t succeed, as her amendment to add 30,000 children to the number eligible for KidsCare -- our version of the federal health insurance program for children of the working poor, called CHIP -- was defeated on a party-line vote, 5-4. The strike-all, introduced by Rep Cobb, gives the state the authority to spend $3 billion in federal funds to reimburse Arizona’s providers of AHCCCS services. This authority was inadvertently left out of the “skinny” budget last spring, necessitating an emergency clause on this strike-all as funds are needed in 30 days.
Cobb accused Rep Butler of bringing in politics and said she was risking the healthcare of the 50,000 children currently covered by KidsCare, assuming Kelli’s amendment created a situation whereby the underlying bill didn’t pass. Cobb said the “timing wasn’t right,” before voting no, and Chair Osborne, before voting no, committed to dealing with the issue at a later time. Rep. Wilmeth, a newbie on the R side said, “brilliantly,” that it seemed to him that the amendment should be a stand-alone bill (before voting no). Hmm. Kelli introduced it as a bill last year and this year, but it never made an agenda so was never discussed. This was a courageous legislative maneuver, and whatever happens on the floor, at least in committee this week, Kelli managed to bring some attention to an issue that otherwise would have never seen the light of day. Dr Friese was helpful, saying that it was his experience that if something needed to get done at the capitol, it would get done, that there were other ways to authorize the spending of these designated federal funds, and then he voted present on the strike-all, as did Rep Powers Hanley (filling in for Rep Alma Hernandez) and Kelli. Note that Dr Shah, who voted for Kelli’s amendment, but never added anything to the debate, later voted for the strike-all -- and it was clear to me that he wasn't a team player for the D’s. Sometimes that happens, as legislators in the minority party want to ensure their bills on less controversial issues are heard and perhaps earn bipartisan support.
House Government and Elections -- Laura Terech
March 3, 2021
Party line votes
SB1104: Campaign finance; contributions; disclosures; itemization
Requires in-state campaign contributions that exceed $50 to be included in campaign finance reports and identify each subsequent individual after receiving a combined total of $5,000 dollars who each contributed an aggregate of $50 or less. Also adds out-of-state contributions to the campaign finance report, including their occupation and employer. Rep Pawlik questioned how this bill fits with another that was recently passed raising the combined donation limit to $200. Kavanaugh suggested he and Mesnard should have a duel in the courtyard to see whose bill should pass. Bolding says he thinks this is a statement bill because campaign finance reports currently list individuals’ occupation and employer. Kelli was dismayed that the bill sponsor Mesnard wasn’t present to explain what the bill is supposed to do. She also referenced the many people signed in “against” on RTS. Pawlik echoed Kelli’s concern, even holding up a list of questions she had for the bill sponsor.
7 yeas, 6 nays
SB1002: Early voting envelopes; party affiliation
Prohibits an early voting envelope from revealing party affiliation. Apparently party affiliation was revealed on Yuma County ballots via glitch, but no other counties show party on the envelopes. There are no penalties attached to this bill. Rep Salman voted no because she said we shouldn’t be putting things into statute if it’s not an issue to begin with. Pawlik acknowledged this isn’t a problem but voted yes in the interest of “making people feel better, safer.”
8 yeas, 5 nays