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March Madness is playing out at the state legislature. Incendiary bills, set to receive party line votes, are advancing as if the governor did not have her fire extinguisher – the veto. We’ve yet to see substantial water, housing, and education bills but bills focusing on culture wars are making a full court press.

On Monday the following 2 bills will shoot for a majority vote to pass out of the senate and cross over to the house.

SB1694 prohibits the state or one of its agencies from requiring an employee to engage in a diversity, equity or inclusion program and from spending public monies on a diversity, equity or inclusion program.

It also allows an employee to bring action against the public entity if they believe they were required to attend such a program. This would include schools and police departments.

See the bill summary here.

SB1700 requires AZ Dept. of Education to establish rules and procedures for establishing and maintaining a list of books that public educational institutions in Arizona may not use or make available to students, including procedures for parents to submit books to be included on the list. SB1700 also adds changes to book review timeframe and procedures and specifies supplemental classroom materials must be approved at time of the original course approval. See the bill summary here. School/library partnerships, like Anthem’s library, will no longer be exempt from a book review list.

All three bills, SB1026, SB1028 and SB1030, targeting drag performances have passed out of the senate on party lines.

Senator Kavanagh continues to have bills passing out of the senate. All senate bills should have been sent to the house for consideration by now. Delays and suspended rules have made the session schedule into a disregarded suggestion.

Giving credit where due:

SB1032, sponsored by Sen. Kavanagh expands the definition of developmental disability to include a severe, chronic disability that is attributable to spina bifida for the purpose of receiving services through the Department of Economic Security (DES) Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). DDD is the division of DES that empowers individuals with developmental disabilities to lead self-directed, healthy and meaningful lives. The senator did not ask for an appropriation to go with his bill so, unless it is included in the budget bill, it could be an unfunded mandate. SB1032 MIGHT be his final bill to be voted. Vote scheduled for Monday, March 20.

Senator Kavanagh gets to vote on seven house elections bills on Tuesday March 21. The bills all sponsored by republicans include:

HB2415 changes the time for people to be removed from the Active Early Vote List (formerly PEVL). If a person does not vote in one election cycle (2 years) they are removed from the list as opposed to the current timeframe of 2 election cycles (4 years).

HB2592 restricts ballot drop boxes to certain hours, locations and various other restrictive conditions.

HB2552 prohibits ranked choice voting. It’s a pre-emptive strike.

HB2319 is a tricky one. The bill sponsored by Rep. Kolodin targets the Rule of Construction which pertains to policies and laws that courts use to resolve disputes. It specifies competing interpretations of the provisions of law on the conduct of elections must not be given equal weight. Transparency should be predominant. This would mean things like convenience, safety, accessibility plus other factors like privacy would take a back seat to transparency. It could tie the hands of judges in future election disputes.

Reps Kolodin and Chaplik continue to be consistent voting members of the House Freedom Caucus. They are uniform in voting down most bills requiring an appropriation or any bill sponsored by a democrat.

Just one example is HB2563 which appropriates $7,500,000 from the state General Fund in Fiscal Years 2024 through 2026 to AHCCCS. It will provide for on-call obstetrics and gynecological services to maintain service availability in low-volume obstetric delivery areas and rural communities with populations of less than 350,000. It also directs AHCCCS to convene stakeholders and staff to develop recommendations to make sure obstetrics and gynecological services are provided to low-volume, high risk and rural communities in Arizona.

(AHCCCS) = Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System = Arizona’s Medicaid program. Bill passed out of the house on a 40-17-3 vote, 40 yes, 17 no and 3 absent.

Rep. Kolodin’s water bill to target the Rio Verde Foothills area failed its house vote but talks are ongoing and it could be revived.

Rep. Kolodin will vote on senate elections bills in the house elections committee on Wednesday.

Included on the agenda are:

SB1144 prohibits the electronic duplication and adjudication of ballots.

SB1471 requires, by September 1, 2023, the officer in charge of elections in a county with a population of 400,000 persons or more to randomly select 400 ballots from the 2022 election and recount all races. ???? Bill is sponsored by Sen. Kavanagh. who may be the only one understand the real purpose of this exercise.

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