By Craig McDermott, cross-posted from Random Musings
This initial post covers the activities of Monday and Tuesday only. We're approaching the deadline for bills to be heard in committee in their originating chamber, so a few of the committee agendas are very long. I'll update with coverage of scheduled activity for Wednesday and Thursday tomorrow evening…
As usual, all committee agendas, floor calendars, and event schedules are subject to change without notice. Call ahead to confirm plans before travelling to the Capitol based on an agenda, calendar, or schedule cited here.
If an agenda is summarized with "looks harmless so far" that only means that nothing on the agenda set off "bat-shit crazy" alarm bells; if the committee in question covers an area of interest to you, check out the full agenda yourself. And if I missed something significant, please leave a comment letting me know.
A hearing room designation of "SHR" means it is a hearing room in the Senate building; "HHR" means that the hearing room is in the House building.
Lastly, this summary is not, nor is it intended to be, comprehensive. Many bills have been covered, but not all of them. Again, if a committee covers an area of interest to you, check out the full agenda yourself.
House side of the Capitol –
Rules, Monday, 1 p.m., HHR4. Long agenda (50+ bills) to be rubberstamped. Should take less than 10 minutes.
Ways and Means, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR1. Short agenda (two items) and looks harmless so far.
Financial Institutions, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR5. Short agenda (two items) and looks harmless so far. Caveat: I don't think I quite completely understand what is going on with the two measures, HB2512 and HB2619, or if they are good or bad measures.
Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR4. Looks harmless so far. Item of note: HB2584, relating to the creation of renewable energy and conservation districts. It's from freshman Democratic Representative Andrew Sherwood (LD26). It's a good measure, and it's from a Democrat, so it has a significantly uphill path to passage. If you know any of the members of EENR, or have set up a log-in ID for the lege's request to speak system, think about putting in a good word for this measure.
Education, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR3. On the agenda: A striker to HB2054, which, if enacted, would allow charter schools to offer preschool programs to children with disabilities. Also, and the cynic in me thinks that this may be the main point of the measure, it would give charter schools access to the pool of federal money that supports such programs; HB2318, exempting charter and district schools that do not accept federal funds from certain federal regulations.
Insurance and Retirement, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR3. Lots of bad bills. On the agenda: HB2006 from Rep. Michelle Ugenti (R-right hand). Under current law, employees of associations of political subdivisions, such as the Arizona League of Cities and Towns, Maricopa Assocation of Governments, and County Supervisors Association, are eligible to be part of the state employees retirement system (ASRS). Under Ugenti's proposal, new employees of those organizations would be ineligible for membership; HB2173, making changes to unemployment compensation law; a striker to HB2275, lowering the tax paid on most types of insurance (no fiscal note attached, so I don't know how much revenue is involved here); a striker to HB2294 that would make court commissioners ineligible for membership in ASRS; HB2302, making changes to law regarding the payment of premiums for workers compensation insurance; HB2562, making a number of changes to ASRS, mostly to limit membership or benefits in some way; HB2565, Rep. Jeff Dial's proposal to allow insurance companies to forego providing printed policies to their customers. Instead, they could simply publish the policies on a website; and HB2608, ending the state's Elected Officials Retirement Plan (EORP) and establishing a 401K-style defined contribution plan for electeds who enter office after July 1 of this year.
Government, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR4. Another long agenda loaded with bad bills. On the agenda: HB2320 and HB2322, a couple of anti-agency rulemaking measures; HB2533, allowing political subdivisions (cities, counties, etc.) to publish public notices on the internet instead of in newspapers; HB2343, barring public employers from paying public employees for time spent on union activities; HB2527, barring the use as polling places of any facilities that cannot allow Election Day electioneering activities. It's a way to shrink the number of schools used as polling places and increase the number of churches used as polling places; HB2599, making changes to the state's procurement code (some good, some bad).
Federalism and Fiscal Responsibility, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR1. Not as long as the other agendas, but just as bad. On the agenda: HB2233, mandating that the state's auditor general conduct a "special audit" of all voter-approved and -protected measures that have been enacted, and to give the results of that audit to the governor and leadership of the lege; HCM2005, a love letter to Congress about fiscal responsibility (apparently, they don't see the irony in a group that sold off the state capitol giving fiscal advice to anyone); HCR2021, imposing TABOR on AZ in the form of a "state expenditure limit"; HCR2033, proposing an amendment to the state constitution that would require that any measure passed by the voters that "authorizes or requires" state expenditures be reauthorized by the voters every eight years. This proposal would be applied retroactively to all voter-approved measures that authorize or require state expenditures, ever.
Agriculture and Water, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR5. On the agenda: HB2338, a measure from House Speaker Andy Tobin regarding the establishment of "regional water augmentation authorities". Pardon my cynicism, but when an ostensibly "small government" Republican pushes for the creation of another governmental entity, the first words that come to mind are "follow the money". Haven't figured out his angle on this one. Yet.
Sneak peek of Wednesday's activity: House Appropriations will be considering HB2121, appropriating $250K to put up a fence and other security barriers around the Capitol. Guess the folks who want to put up a fence along the entire border with Mexico have set their sights a little lower. If only the fence was going to be designed to keep them in, instead of keeping us out…
On the Senate side of the Capitol –
Judiciary, Monday, upon adjournment of the floor session, SHR1. On the agenda: SB1345, barring holders of liquor licenses from possessing, using, or selling synthetic marijuana on licensed premises; SCR1009, Sen. Al Melvin's annual paean to slave inmate labor.
Government and Environment, Monday, upon adjournment of the floor session, SHR3. On the agenda: SB1348, another proposal to bar compensation of public employees for union activities; SB1349, going after unions by restricting payroll deductions; SB1350, barring contract employees of governmental entitities from going on strike; and SB1403, barring the state or any of its political subdivisions from adopting or implementing "the creed, doctrine, principles or any tenet of the United Nations Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the Statement of Principles for Sustainable Development adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development"
Transportation, Tuesday, 2 p.m. SHR3. An agenda with a couple of good bills on it. SB1241, barring teenage drivers from texting or using a cell phone while driving, for their first six months as a licensed driver; SB1393, barring the use of a cell phone/wireless communications device while operating mass transit (buses, trains, etc.)
Appropriations, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR109. Nothing that stands out as really bad, at this point, anyway.