Arizona legislature week in review and preview of the upcoming week

By Craig McDermott, cross-posted from Random Musings

This is a long post, so grab a beer (or your favorite beverage of choice) before settling down to read this one… 🙂

As the legislative session enters its (expected) final days, they're getting ever more creative in the ways they push through their favored bits of legislation.

From this week's Farley Report, courtesy State. Rep. Steve Farley (courtesy Blog for Arizona):

Let me review for you some of the many ways bills can pass during the dramatic last couple of weeks of our session. All of these methods can happen all at once, creating a dizzying array of dangerous bills coming at us from all angles at blazing speed with virtually no public input. We may not be fully aware of what happened during this crazy time until weeks later. Here's just four bill enactment strategies being used right now:

1) The "simple" old fashioned way — a bill is introduced in the House by a House member, heard in committee, passed through Rules and Committee of the Whole (COW) on the floor, and voted on in Third Read. Then that process starts over in the Senate. If it gets through the Senate unamended, it travels to the Governor for her signature or veto.

2) As a striker in committee — The bill in example #1 can be replaced by an entirely different bill in a committee hearing — often one that had stalled somewhere else in the process. This can be a shortcut to get around a certain legislator who may stand in the way. These can sneak up on you with little warning.

3) As an amendment to a germane bill on the floor in COW — If a bill with an appropriate subject can be found in COW, a member can amend a bill of a similar topic to that bill so they both travel along their journey together. This happens with much greater frequency in the last couple of weeks as legislators frantically try to save bills that are otherwise on life support. Floor amendments are sometimes not available until a half hour before they are debated in floor, and can get lost in the competing noise of other amendments, so they can slip by nearly unnoticed.

4) As a conference committee amendment — If that bill in example #1 gets amended in the Senate, it has to come back over to the House for the sponsor to either concur or refuse the amendments. If the sponsor concurs, the bill goes to Final Read and is sent to the Governor. If the sponsor refuses, however, the bill goes to a Conference Committee wherein much mischief can happen. Conference Committees have no notice requirements, and are made up of four Republicans and two Democrats. The deal is already done by the four Republicans before the gavel comes down, and the voting happens with little discussion and less testimony.

This past week, #3, the floor amendment in COW, was used a number of times.

SB1080 passed the House almost unanimously – 55 in favor, 1 opposed (Democrat  Daniel Patterson) and 4 absent.  Relatiing to statutes regarding custodial interference, it was amended twice on the floor of the House, by Republican Reps. Eddie Farnsworth and Terri Proud.  It looks relatively non-controversial, but because of the late amendments, it will need to return to the Senate for final approval.

SB1195 passed the House 53 – 1 (Republican Judy Burges), 6 absent.  Relating to service companies, it was amended on the floor by Republican Nancy McLain.  It was also have to return to the Senate.

SB1303 passed the House unanimously.  Relating to school dropout recovery, it was amended on the floor by Republican Nancy McLain and will need to return to the Senate.

SB1186 passed the House unanimously after it was amended by Republicans Andy Tobin and Jack Harper.  It's basically a "technical corrections" bill relating to tax laws, though whenever Republicans are involved, we should all be a little leery.  It now goes to a conference committee as the original sponsor of the measure, Sen. Steve Yarbrough, didn't sign off on the changes made by the House.

HB2237 passed the Senate unanimously after it was amended by Republican Rich Crandall.  It relates to joint technical educational districts (JTEDs) and determining student counts.  It returns to the House for final approval.

The above bills were pretty non-controversial and the amendments to them pretty much furthered the intent of the underlying measure.

For the following bills, that's not so true –

HB2067 passed the Senate almost unanimously (3 Ds opposed) after it was amended by Republican Andy Biggs.  As originally crafted, it served to limit the ability of county boards of supervisors to form and run non-profit entities.  Biggs' amendment turned it into an attack on the Arizona Board of Regents' control of University Medical Center in Tucson.  Yup, Andy Biggs wants to take control of the hospital that saved the lives of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and many of the other victims of Jared Loughner's mass shooting and give it over to a bunch of political hacks.  It now goes to a conference committee to iron out differences.

SB1313 passed the House by a 38 – 18 – 4 vote that was mostly party line (2 Rs crossed over, 4 Ds absent).  As originally crafted, it requires the voters of a county to approve the establishment of a public health district in that county.  Currently laws allows the county's board of supervisors to do so by a unanimous vote.  Republican Jack Harper, long a favorite of mine (for those readers unfamiliar with the concept, that last bit was sarcasm 🙂 ) however, has amended the bill to mandate what sort of procurement procedures public health districts utilize.

Other bills that passed one or both chambers last week:

HB2177, Arizona's "birther" bill, passed both the House and the Senate on party line votes.  It now sits on Jan Brewer's desk.  Expectations are that the state is going to need to issue an RFP for all of the pens she will use to sign it into law.

HB2191, barring the award of punitive damages to undocumented immigrants for any reason, passed the House on a nearly party line vote (1 D crossed over).  It's on the governor's desk awaiting her signature.

HB2002, barring school districts from expending money to join organizations that "attempt to influence the outcome of an election" passed the House on a party line vote after being amended in the Senate to remove an exemption for joining a chamber of commerce.  On the governor's desk.

SB1169, taking the Board of Nursing's authority to decide scope of practice matters regarding abortion and giving it to the lege itself, gained final approval in the Senate on a party line vote.  On the governor's desk.

SB1188, granting a perference in adoption to married heterosexual couples; single people have to jump through serious hoops, and same sex couples need not apply, passed the Senate on a party line vote.  Governor's desk.

SB1453, creating a set of "rights" saying that parents have almost absolute authority* to control their children's school work – call it the "Algebra is the Devil's Work" bill – passed the Senate on a party line vote.  Signed by the governor on Friday.  * = This is a little over the top.  It allows parents to censor any course material they consider to be too profane, vulgar, sexual, or violent.  On the other hand, you'd be surprised by how many people consider basic math or science to be objectionable.

HB2565, creating a similar set of rights for post-secondary students, passed the Senate on a party line vote.  Back to the House for final approval.

HB2193, relating to municipal wastewater charges, passed the Senate on a mostly party line vote (1 R and 2 Ds crossed over).  Back to the House for approval of Senate changes.

HB2006, allowing firearms within game refuges, passed the Senate on a mostly party line vote (1 D crossing over, 1 D and 1 R absent).  Back to the House for approval of Senate changes.

HB2102, barring the issuance of professional licenses or fingerprint clearance cards , passed the Senate on a party line vote.  Back to the House for a conference committee.  Republican nativist John Kavanagh is part of the conference, so there is a distinct possibility of serious mayhem here.

SB1116, barring the state's universities from establishing or participating in institutes that advocate specific public policies, passed the Senate on a party line vote.  Looks to be targeted at ASU's Morrison Institute for Public Policy and U of A's Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy.  On the governor's desk.

SB1521, relating to the establishment of head injury and concussion policies for scholastic athletes, passed the Senate unanimously.  On the governor's desk.  Originally pushed by Democratic State Rep. Ben Arredondo, his proposal died because the Republicans liked it (mostly) but refused to move any measure that made a Democrat look good.  The Republicans in the Senate demanded that any version passed by them feature a Republican name as the primary sponsor.  Hence, SB1521 passed with Republican Rich Crandall as the lead sponsor.  On the governor's desk.

SB1167, placing all sort of restrictions on legal challenges to the ballot status of measures referred to the ballot by the legislature, passed the Senate by a party line vote.  On the governor's desk.

SB1201, a "firearms omnibus" bill, passed the Senate on a party line vote.  Ugly, and on the governor's desk.

SB1472, mandating certain information be included in judicial retention election publicity pamphlets, passed the Senate on a party line vote.  On the governor's desk.

SB1593, allowing out of state insurers to sell health insurance in Arizona and not be subject to Arizona regulations (what few there are), passed the Senate on a party line vote.  On the governor's desk.

SB1598, restricting the ability of municipalities and counties to regulate within their jurisdictions, passed the Senate by a mostly party line vote (1 D crossed over).

SB1166, exempting corporate self-leases from sales tax, passed the House on a mostly party line vote (1 R crossed over).  On the governor's desk.

SB1171, mandating that Pima County transfer any county-owned and operated sewage facilities located in Marana to Marana , passed the House by a mostly party line vote (4 Rs crossed over).  On the governor's desk.

SB1326,  making the Gadsden flag, the "Don't Tread On Me" flag commandeered by the tea party movement as its symbol, exempt from HOA regulations, passed the House on a mostly party line vote (1 D crossed over).  On the governor's desk.

SB1592, directing the governor to enter into a new Confederacy alliance/interstate compact regarding health care, passed the House on a party line vote.

That's a lot of [insert your own perjorative term here], and the coming week should be even crazier –

On Monday's House Third Read (final passage) Calendar

SB1088, amended in House COW to become a new Confederacy alliance/interstate compact act related to health care.  Will need to return to the Senate when passed by the House.

SB1200, serving to reduce the use of ignition interlock systems for drivers convicted on DUI.  Amended on the House floor by Republican Vic Williams here and here, so it will need to return to the Senate when passed by the House.

SB1226, limiting the ability of municipalities to levy secondary property taxes.  This was part of a committee striker in the House, so it will need to return to the Senate for them to approve the changes.

SB1334, allowing hunting within city limits and barring municipalities from regulating it.  Amended on the House floor by Republicans Eddie Farnsworth and Amanda Reeve, so it will need to return to the Senate after passage by the House.

SB1357, creating a $25 fee that must be paid by AHCCCS patients for missed appointments before they can make another appointment with a doctor/health care provider.  Also, there's a provision that would allow political subdivisions (counties, municipalities, etc.) to pony up the necessary money for health care to qualify for federal matching funds.  There's nothing in it to say where those subdivisions will find the money, but that's just a minor detail, right?

SB1365, barring, under most circumstances, payroll deductions for political purposes.  Aimed at unions.  Amended on the House floor by Republican Andy Tobin, so it will need to return to the Senate for approval of the changes.

SB1406, relating to a new Confederacy alliance/interstate compact relating to the construction of a fence across the border with Mexico.  Amended on the House floor by Republican Russ Jones to create a border security commission designed only to include nativist sheriffs such as Joe Arpaio and Paul Babeu.  When passed by the House, will need to return to the Senate.

SB1465, barring the acceptance of consular-issued cards as valid identification.  Doesn't look to have been amended, so it will go to the governor upon passage.

SB1495, establishing an armed military force separate from the national guard, answerable only to the Governor of Arizona, and funded by money siphoned from the national guard.  Goes to the governor upon passage.

The Senate's Third Read Calendar for Monday is here.

The Senate Rules Committee will meet on Monday at 11:15 a.m. in Caucus Room 1.  They'll be seeking permission for the late introduction of a bill relating to "Arizona Ombudsman-Citizens' Aide."  Has a similar basic title as HB2382, which never moved forward.  It was sponsored by Democrats.  However, the text of the late bill hasn't been posted as yet, so it may be a totally different measure.

If the measure is introduced, it will be heard in Senate Government Reform on Monday at 4 p.m or upon adjournment of the floor session, in SHR1.

Other events this week: 

The Legislature's Capitol Events calendar is here.  Tone-deaf highlight of the week:  Just a few weeks after the revelations that Fiesta Bowl lobbyists plied legislators with laundered campaign contributions and junkets to college football games, legislators and lobbyists are getting together Monday to party play a game of softball in honor of a late lobbyist.

The Arizona Capitol Times' Capitol Calendar is here.

Whew!

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