The Arizona legislature appears to be caught in a twilight zone circus!
Last week saw rule changes in both chambers that guarantee no republicans will be tempted to join democrats to pass helpful bills for Arizonans. The changes also allow all legislators and their staff to delete emails and calls after 90 days. The senate applied an additional allowance to delete texts whenever they wish.
While many committees continue to meet, neither chamber has scheduled a Rules committee meeting this coming week. A bill cannot make it to the Floor for a vote until it passes Rules. Therefore, there will be no Rules meetings this week plus no Floor votes!
So, what are they doing? Back room GOP meetings have been taking place. The leaks indicate that a skinny budget is in the works. This allows funds to be appropriated for existing needs with increases based only on inflation. Since the one mandated function of the state legislature is to pass a budget they may adjourn after passing the skinny budget.
What then happens to the needs of agencies and Arizonans requiring attention? Possibly nothing. Or if the 56th regular legislative session adjourns, the Governor can call special sessions on specific subjects or the legislature, with a super-majority consensus, can convene for subjects they stipulate.
On Tuesday 1/30, the Education Committee will hold it’s regular hearing session at 2:00. On the agenda is HCR2001 sponsored by Rep. David Cook, a Republican. This bill would allow the Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL) for district schools to be exceeded this year and avoid the financial cliff schools presently face on March 1. The money is appropriated and collected but the archaic AEL, or spending cap, won’t allow schools to spend it.
Enter the Legislature’s Republican Freedom Caucus. The Caucus announced they would stand united and not vote for lifting the AEL without “systemic education reform”. Our LD3 folk are members of the Caucus. The Caucus did not indicate what ‘systemic education reform’ might look like. IF the AEL bill passes committee on Tuesday it still needs to be approved in the Rules committee then scheduled for a Floor vote and requires a 2/3 vote. Not much time left for this to be resolved. Schools need to stop spending time on contingency plans and be assured they can keep their doors open and/or not cut programs.
Senator John Kavanagh continues his yearly quest to sponsor a substantial number of bills.
As of this writing he has sponsored 63 bills and co-sponsored 12 bills.
19 of his 63 bills have already been given a committee hearing and 10 of those had some degree of bi-partisan support.
Many of his bills have not yet been assigned to a committee.
Senator Kavanagh has historically concentrated on law enforcement rights laws, homeowner association laws, voting and gender issue restrictions.
SB1001 restricting school staff to use birth gender pronouns in school has passed the Ed committee and is waiting for the Rules committee to convene.
SB1022 determines that a person commits residential picketing if a reasonable person would find their actions to be harassing, annoying or alarming, regardless of whether the person committing residential picketing intended for their actions to be harassing, annoying or alarming. Bill was held up in committee as it needs a little work to make any sense!
SB1135 will be heard in the elections committee on Monday 1/30. If this bill becomes law, voters who try to return their early ballot on election day will be forced to fill out an in-person ballot. No more quick drop off on election day. It also cancels emergency voting the weekend before election day. RTS is open until 2:00 Monday.
Rep. Alexander Kolodin has sponsored 13 bills and co-sponsored 21 bills.
Out of his 13 bills, 2 have been assigned to and heard in committee. They are both waiting for the Rules committee to schedule them for a rubber stamp hearing.
HB2319 changes elections rules of construction. In laymen’s terms: a judge will know they must rule in favor of election transparency if election law needs any interpretation. While this may sound good, it could violate voter privacy circumstances with transparency outweighing privacy or safety. Bill passed committee on a partisan vote. Rep. Kolodin may consider changes before/if a Floor vote is taken.
HB2322 codifies signature verification procedures. It refers back to the 2020 Sec. of State’s procedure manual as the minimum verification requirements but adds the ability of a political party to be present at signature verification. Bill seems to have technical problems and needs a second look. The bill still passed on partisan lines. Rep. Kolodin appeared open to fixing the poorly written sections of the bill but untrained political party participation will most likely still be contained in the bill.
Out of Rep. Kolodin’s 13 bills, 6 have been assigned to a committee but not yet heard. These 6 include HCR2029, the bill to repeal state individual income tax.
Out of Rep. Kolodin’s 13 bills, 5 have not yet been assigned to a committee. These 5 include HCR2018, the bill to split up Maricopa county.
Rep. Joseph Chaplik has not yet sponsored any bills. He has co-sponsored 28 bills. That means he signed his name to a piece of paper, that’s all.
Rep. Chaplik is only assigned to one committee this year, Appropriations. What is he doing with his time?
As always, for more comprehensive information on bills and legislative happenings access The Weekly here. There are many RTS opportunities this week outlined in The Weekly.