Week 9: 55th Legislature, 1st Session

Week #9: 55th Legislature, 1st Session

 

Senate Education Committee -- Marilyn Duerbeck

 

March 9, 2021  The Senate Education Committee had a small number of bills to consider and most of them were given a unanimous due pass. One exception, HB2175 which directs school districts, private and charter schools to follow policies for verifiable documentation of residency for school enrollment as established by the State Board of Education (SBE), rather than guidelines from the Arizona Department of Education (ADE).The bill was given a due pass 4-3-1 on a party line vote. HB 2024 (restoring funding for internships at CTEDs), HB2124 (reworking CTEDs average daily membership), HB2210 (allows food and beverages provided by school districts at school functions to conform to current laws) and HB2022 (allows the ADE to award grants to study ways to consolidate resources and services between schools) had bipartisan support. HB2241 (requiring Holocaust and other genocides be taught in schools) had many speakers for the bill and for an amendment including the Armenian Genocide by name, also. Senators were supportive and encouraged the inclusion of indigenous people’s genocide to the group. Chairman Boyer was responsive and said he would add an amendment to his bill SB1452, a bill which would expand empowerment accounts and is now in the House. The bill passed 7-0-1. The remainder of executive nominations for State Board for Charter Schools, State Board for Private Postsecondary Education and AZ Board of Regents were also recommended.

 

Monday, March 8:  Senate Transportation and Technology -- Laura Terech

 

Unanimous Votes

HB2132: Wishes; critically ill children; plates

The issue of standardized plates came up again with Pace emphasizing it will be dealt with in a subsequent bill. 

 

HB2134: Commercial driver licenses; third parties

Allows third party MVD facilities to perform administrative and testing functions.

 

HB2424: Electronic certificates of title

Allows ADOT to contract with an association of new motor vehicle dealers to manage a lean system at no cost to Arizona.

 

HB2485: Violent or disorderly assembly; penalties (now: urban air mobility study committee)

The sponsor said this is “the Jetson’s bill” because it establishes a study committee on flying car transportation. Senator Steele sang part of the Jetson’s song while explaining her vote, which made everyone laugh.

 

HB2522: Graduated driver licenses; education program

Allows a person to apply if they’ve completed a defensive driving class with other requirements (such as total number of hours, some at night, etc).

 

HB2293: Vehicle impoundment; exceptions; storage charges

Increases the daily storage fee from $15 to $25 and decreases the required impoundment storage period from 30 days to 20. Adds driving on a suspended license to offenses that result in impoundment (unless it’s due to failure to appear for a scheduled court date or failure to pay a related fine). Prohibits towing in a DUI arrest if there is another person there capable of driving the vehicle. Transporting an undocumented person is removed as a reason to tow or impound a vehicle. An abandoned vehicle report is required after 5 days rather than 30. 

 

HB2313: Information technology; authorization; state treasurer

Stipulates that the State Treasurer is not included in the definition of a budget unit for technology functions that are overseen by the ADOA.

 

HB2365: Minimum vehicle speed; left lane (now S/E: Political candidates; address confidentiality)

Current statute allows eligible persons such as former public officials and peace officers to request that the public be prohibited from accessing their personal identifying information in their voter registration record. The striker allows a political candidate to use a P.O. Box when filing candidate paperwork in place of their address. This would only apply to a person who has their address sealed by the courts, so this wouldn’t impact members of the State Legislature. Senator Steele would like this extended to lawmakers as well, though that is not in place at this time.

 

HB2813: Autonomous vehicles

This codifies into law many provisions of an executive order governing autonomous vehicles. The bill outlines enforcement procedures by ADOT. 

 

Monday, March 8, 2021:  House Health and Human Services -- Jane McNamara

Eleven bills considered.  Most passed unanimously.  After Dr Shah expressed concern about SB1016, which would permit a pharmacist to dispense a self-administered hormonal contraceptive under a standing prescription drug order without a doctor’s visit, and voted present, Chair Osborne and Vice-Chair Cobb joined Rep. Nutt in voting no.  SCR1009 produced the only party-line vote, 5-4, with all Democrats opposed.  It “supports the enactment of the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act and the Ensuring Accurate and Complete Abortion Data Reporting Act of 2019,” and would require the SOS to transmit copies of the resolution to the Governor, President, Speaker of the U.S. House, and each member of Congress from Arizona.   

March 10, 2021:  House Government and Elections -- Jane McNamara

 

Watching this committee is better than watching any reality TV show.  Some drama expected, with Arizona’s attempts to restrict voting in 2022 and beyond, but there are always surprises, too.  SB1298, concerning fire districts, caused issues for three conservative Republicans, who all voted no: Hoffman, Roberts and Fillmore.  SB1719, which would add minority leaders to State Emergency Councils and require that the Council meets at a minimum of every two weeks, in public, also caused issues for Republicans.  Four voted against:  Carroll, Fillmore, Payne and Roberts.  (Hoffman supported, no doubt, because there was no fiscal impact.)

Mesnard’s bill, SB1105, increasing the word limit on ballot measures from 100 to 200 was held.  Seems like a positive move, except it may very well be another example of the cumulative effect of the onslaught of efforts to place hurdles in front of voters.  Knowing that there is another bill moving that requires petition circulators to read the description of the ballot measure to the voter in order to validate a pending signature will make it harder to obtain signatures.  (Picture listening to someone read a 200-word description, versus, “Would you like to sign a petition raising the minimum wage?”)

 

Chair Kavanagh, who made national news this week with his comments that we want “informed, quality voters,” not voter “quantity,” introduced Strike-Everything SB1485 by telling everyone to, “Fasten your seatbelts.”  This is the return of the PEVL purge that Boyer killed on the senate side, until the well-publicized maneuver by Ugenti-Rita threatened to kill his voucher expansion bill.  It passed 7-6, but not until after much testimony in opposition and valiant efforts by the Democrats to appeal to one -- any one -- Republican to oppose the bill.  Particularly disturbing were the one-minute limits for speakers that were rudely enforced, with witnesses continuing to soundlessly finish a point after their voices were muted.  Picture a woman from the League of Women Voters explaining the history of PEVL in one minute.  (“We signed up in 2007 for a PERMANENT Early Vote program,” not an “EVL program,” or “EVIL program.”)  “Mute her” was also clearly heard during Sierra Club Sandy Bahr’s testimony.

 

The bill would require county recorders to notify voters who have not used their mail-in ballots for two consecutive primary and general election cycles that they would be removed from PEVL unless they respond in writing to the notice.  The counties are opposed, and their spokesperson pointed out that the Dec. 1 deadline for sending the notice was not doable.  Voting in municipal or special elections doesn’t count and there was no answer from the sponsor, Ugenti-Rita, about the confusion over whether the bill might actually reference one election, not four.  Several speakers referenced that issue, including a second speaker from the LWV.  Kavanagh brought on much criticism over his comment that the bill saves money and eliminates voter fraud.  He answered with some crazy explanation about the “pyramid of crime,” saying the crimes we know about are the tip of the iceberg, with the crimes we don’t know about making up the much larger base.

 

The votes:

Burgess: yes

Butler: no

Fernandez: no, this is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist

Fillmore, yes, great bill, no reason “to coddle people who would destroy our very freedom.” 

Pawlik: no, this would impact Independents, seniors, military and those on missions

Payne: yes, agree with Fillmore

Roberts: yes, this is a housekeeping bill

Salman: no, bill puts Latino and natives at risk of removal

Taran: no, Arizona voters should be alarmed, key word here is permanent, restricting voting is undemocratic, we should not be punishing voters for not voting

Hoffman: yes, laughed about the grand conspiracy

Kavanagh: yes 



March 9, 2021: Natural Resources Committee -- Larry Berle

 

Three bills considered:  SB1177, concerning a tax credit for forest products, passed 7-3; SB1307, concerning county operation of water and wastewater systems, passed 10-0.  Testimony included statements that we need another tool in our toolbox for consumer safety for drinking water and wastewater, and that this bill could make it easier to challenge and eliminate “bad faith players,” or owners and operators of utility companies; SB1429, which would allow people who don’t need regular trash pick up to opt out of paying for the service, passed 10-0. 

      

March 10, 2021:  House Appropriations -- Charles Lucking (and Ann Wallack)

 

COBB ISN’T WEARING HER MASK. NGUYEN SAYS HIS ASTHMA IS AGGRAVATED BY WEARING A MASK  (Cobb put hers on after Friese requested they follow the rules. But she grumbled and said she had already had her shots, so why was it necessary? Several members and speakers didn’t cover their noses.)

 

The mood at the beginning of the meeting was quite jovial.  Lots of joking around.  

 

SB1078 medical student loan fund -$2m, funding med students from low income communities, 2 years of service for one year of funding.  Funds the Board of Medical Student Loans. Removes the requirement that 50% of funds be used for students at private med schools

    Passes 12 ayes, 1 nay (Hoffman)

 

SB 1117 - $3.5m to UofA for R & D of hypersonic wind tunnel

Raytheon speaks in support - infrastructure upgrade to UofA - this is for hypersonic flight & maneuverability in speeds up to mach 10.  Infrastructure is owned by state.  Raytheon’s business will go to CA if this wind tunnel isn’t maintained.  Federal Gov’t is about to double investment into hypersonic research.  This asset will bring in Federal grant dollars and make UofA very competitive in developing engineering jobs for Arizona.  Raytheon & DOD are current users, Boeing and Lockheed are in talks. It’s run by professors - College of Engineering.  

        Passes: 11 ayes, 2 nays (Hoffman and Kaiser)  Kaiser thought that Raytheon should fund this, and implied that investing in Universities is not necessary, but Raytheon rep explained they are not the only users of the facility.  Has Kaiser decided to follow Hoffman’s lead and not vote for spending $$ on anything?

    

SB 1150 - Establishes ag workforce dev program - $500k to UofA Extension Office

Jeff Silvertooth - Director of Ag Extension speaks in favor of the bill.  The Feds and Counties also contribute $$ to the program.

        Passes: 10 ayes, 3 nays (Hoffman, Kaiser, Nguyen)

 

SB 1155 - $1m from Antitrust Enforcement Revolving Fund to AG

This is permission to spend the money they already have. AG Brnovich and other AG’s across country are pursuing tech companies they believe are in violation of antitrust laws.  Google was mentioned several times.  

    Fernandez - no (why?) Jaime Casap from Google (in phoenix) is active at the legislature and possibly has lobbied Charlene?

    Passes: 12 ayes, 1 nay 

 

SB 1172 - $25million from gen fund to veterans services for a home facility in Mojave County - US gov’t has agreed to fund 65% of total costs.  There are 4 homes/facilities in AZ -  Phoenix, Flag, Yuma and Tucson (Flag and Yuma are under construction).  There is an aged feasibility study which recommended these 5, the last one on the list is Mojave County. Kaiser asked why these residents couldn’t be “treated at home” instead of in these facilities, and why they aren’t being put in urban areas…? He seems to not understand the needs of the elderly or what long term care facilities do.  Borelli, the bill sponsor, spoke knowledgeably for quite a while on the needs of this population.  Hoffman and Kaiser don’t want to vote against veterans, so they vote yes.

    Passes: unanimous

 

SB 1410 - $3m to school facilities board to replace a building - School facilities board does not provide for this - this is an old Kirkland Elementary School.  It’s been repaired every time it has flooded - the building is unsalvageable, they’re going to demolish and rebuild in a higher location.  Built in 1919, added onto in 1979.  Small rural area so no bonding capacity.

    Passes: unanimous

 

SB 1295 - Establishes AP course access participation and success program - expands access to AP courses: $1.5m from general fund.  Establishes a fee waiver program for students who meet income guidelines: $1.2m.  HELIOS speaks - one time funding to jumpstart access to AP and a sustainable funding source.

    Passes: unanimous