While headlines sometimes focus on controversial education bills that draw sharp divisions among both political parties at the Arizona Capitol like the out of state voucher expansion bills or the restrictions on transgender athletic participation, there are several less contentious measures making their way through the legislative process with considerable bipartisan support.
One example of this is Senate Bill (SB) 1284 which passed the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee on a unanimous seven to zero vote on February 10, 2020.
This measure, primarily sponsored by Senators Sean Bowie, had several Democratic and Republican cosponsors including Senators Paul Boyer, David Bradley, Kate Brophy McGee, Andrea Dalessandro, Juan Mendez, Javan Mesnard, and Victoria Steele. It also had several House sponsors like Lela Alston, Heather Carter, Jennifer Jermaine, and Jennifer Pawlik.
If the bill makes it through the legislature and is signed by Governor Ducey, qualifying college students may apply for Career and Technical Education Grants to be applied fully or partially (depending on what funds are available) to their tuition and fees. Students may reapply for additional grants if they maintain a grade point average of 2.5.
Another example of bipartisan efforts is SB 1444. Another bill primarily sponsored by Senator Bowie, this bill also shared many of the same cosponsors with the additions of Mitzi Epstein and Aaron Lieberman.
It passed the Senate Education Committee on a unanimous nine to zero vote on February 11, 2020.
If it becomes law, parents and guardians will be able to excuse their child’s absence if they are ill for a mental or behavioral health issue.
Finally, the Education Committee, on another uncontested vote, passed the bipartisan SB 1445 which would mandate school employees (teachers, school counselors, and social workers) training in the areas of evidence-based suicide prevention instruction. This preparation would focus on:
- “Training in suicide prevention.”
- “Training to identify the warning signs of suicidal behavior in adolescents and teens.”
- “Appropriate intervention and referral techniques.”
Many of the cosponsors were the same legislators who had advocated the SB 1284 and SB 1445.
This is what good government is supposed to be about with both sides coming together and passing legislation that will help the community and move society forward.
This is what the people expect out of their public servants.
If members of both parties can forge a consensus on these important matters, there really is no reason why they cannot bridge their differences, compromise, and find common ground on most other legislative matters that can make Arizona a better place for everyone.
There is no telling the good that can come if both sides realize that.