Sunday, February 07, 2010

The coming week...legislative edition

As usual, all info gathered from the website of the Arizona legislature, except where noted, and subject to change without notice...

A busy week ahead, marked by proposed encroachments on the availability of safe and legal abortion services, messing with teachers' ability to plan for their professional future, requiring the federal government to prove the constitutionality of its mandates before the state will accept them, a move to shield Joe Arpaio and Andy Thomas from any sort of fiscal oversight and accountability, and more.

In special session activity, there is a House COW calendar posted for Monday, as is a Third Read calendar. Neither calendar includes SB1002 or SB1003, so my guess is that there is still some arm-twisting going on by the House leadership to try to "encourage" Senate President Bob Burns to push thru their corporate tax cut bill before a balanced budget is passed.

In non-Capitol based lege activity this week, on Monday, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to appoint a replacement for the recently-resigned Sen. Pam Gorman (R-LD6). Not scheduled as yet but likely to come this week will be a meeting to appoint someone to fill the LD-7 Senate seat vacated by Jim Waring, who like Gorman has resigned to run for Congress. Monday evening, the Rep PCs of LD6 will be meeting to nominate three candidates to fill Sam Crump's seat in the House, who also vacated it in order to run for Congress. The supes could fill that seat this week or early next week.

On to the regular session of the lege -

In House committee activities this week...

- Rules will meet on Monday at 1 p.m. in HHR4. Long agenda, but they have the rubber stamp big enough to cover it.

- Ways and Means is meeting on Monday at 2 p.m. in HHR1. Highlights/lowlights: There are five bills on this agenda, all of which are significant - HB2160 (tax credit review committee recommendations, summary here); HB2496 (changing which tax year school tuition tax credits can be taken); HB2512 (barring municipalities from using third parties to collect municipal sales taxes); HB2663 (changing STOs' corporate tax credit requirements, summary here); and HB2664 (changing STOs/tax credit requirements in general, summary here.)

- Education is meeting on Monday at 2 p.m. in HHR3. The agenda is long, and every bill on it is written by a Republican. There may be some real gold mixed in with the iron pyrite, but most of the bills are like HB2227, cutting the amount of time teachers have to accept a contract for the next school year from 30 days to 10.

- Banking and Insurance will meet on Monday at 2 p.m. in HHR5. Looks quiet so far.

- Public Employees, Retirement, and Entitlement Reform will meet on Tuesday at 2 p.m. in HHR3. Quiet so far.

- Government is meeting on Tuesday at 2 p.m. in HHR4. Winger election year posturing alert: HB2538.

From the bill -
The legislature shall not enact any statute that appropriates state monies pursuant to a federal mandate or that complies with a federal mandate unless the federal mandate contains a report or document prescribing reasonable and logical arguments based on United States constitutional law that the federal mandate is a function of the federal government and will pass a constitutional challenge if contested in a court of law.

- Environment will meet on Tuesday at 2 p.m. in HHR5. Looks quiet so far.

- Military Affairs and Public Safety is meeting on Wednesday at 9 a.m. in HHR3. Looks pretty quiet so far, though HB2526, exempting from taxation trap and skeet shooting clubs that are "educational" in purpose and use, definitely has a whiff of "winger special" wafting from it.

- Health and Human Services is meeting on Wednesday at 9 a.m. in HHR4. This one has globs of ugly awaiting Arizona.

HB2649 seeks to inhibit the accessibility of legal abortions by burying medical providers under overly onerous reporting requirements.

HB2650 would enact a six-month waiting period for getting a divorce (current requirement: 60 days) and adds an unfunded mandate on the state's court system by requiring that the courts establish an "educational" program on the effects of divorce.

- Commerce will meet on Wednesday at 9 a.m. in HHR5. Looks quiet thus far, but I don't understand some of this stuff.

- Water and Energy is scheduled to meet on Thursday at 9 a.m. in HHR5. Quiet thus far.

- Transportation and Infrastructure will meet Thursday at 9 a.m. in HHR3. Also quiet thus far.

- Judiciary will meet on Thursday at 9 a.m. in HHR4. Looks quiet thus far, though a striker may be offered regarding "guardianship of foreign citizens." No text available yet.

Over on the Senate side...

- Rules will meet on Monday upon adjournment of the Senate's floor session in Caucus Room 1 (aka the old press room). Rubber stamp time.

- Natural Resources, Infrastructure, and Public Debt will meet on Monday at 1:30 p.m. in SHR109. Quiet thus far.

- Judiciary is meeting on Monday at 1:30 p.m. The agenda includes SB1362, increasing the fees that may be assessed by courts in eminent domain cases; and SB1365, expanding notification requirements in eminent domain condemnation cases and deleting a clause that specifies how juries assess damages that included consideration of the benefits to uncondemned property from the underlying project.

- Commerce and Economic Development is meeting on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in SHR1. The nugget of really ugly here is SB1242, enacting all sorts of restrictions on labor unions during work actions and giving special protections to employers during the same.

- Appropriations is meeting on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in SHR109. As might be expected, the agenda of this committee chaired by Russell Pearce is possibly the worst of the week. It has -

SB1017, requiring that county boards of supervisors appropriate budget money to other county officers in lump sums and removes any kind of fiscal oversight of those officers' operations. AKA the "don't mess with mah man Joe [Arpaio]" bill.

A striker to SCR1032 that would permanently micromanage school districts with a requirement that they spend 70% of their budgets on "classroom instruction." The word "permanently" fits here because as an SCR it would have to be approved by the voters and then couldn't be adjusted by future legislatures unless the Reps succeed in their efforts to overturn the Voter Protection Act.

And this agenda could have been worse - the original agenda had a striker to SB1104 that referred to "taxpayer bill of rights." Know this now - Pearce et. al. will try to spring TABOR on the state this year, probably after the latest budget mess simmers down.

- Public Safety and Human Services will meet on Wednesday at 9 a.m. This one has some bills on photo radar (procedures, banning the use on freeways, more procedures.)

- Healthcare and Medical Liability Reform will meet Wednesday at 9 a.m. in SHR1. This one has SCM1004, a letter to Congress demanding that the federal government pay for any health care programs that are required for the states.

- Veterans and Military Affairs will meet on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in SHR2. Quiet thus far.

- Finance meets on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in SHR3. One item of interest here is SB1402, Russell Pearce's limits on the secondary property taxes imposed by special taxing districts (including fire districts, library districts, county jail districts, and/or county public health services districts). *Exactly* how it does that is a little unclear to me.

This bill should be an exhibit in the case showing why lawyers should never be allowed to write laws; English majors or journalists should.

The latter groups, by training and disposition, prefer to write sentences that actually clearly communicate information and ideas. The former?

Not so much. :)

- Education Accountability and Reform will meet on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in SHR1. Whether it's through the huge gashes inflicted by the Reps' meat-cleaver approach during the budget process or through the nicks and papercuts inflicted by the bills on this agenda, the bleeding of the state's education system continues. Some of the agendized items include:

SB1175, expanding the membership of the Governing Board of the Maricopa County Community College District by adding two members who will be elected on a county-wide basis. Aka "the keep the MCCCD Board dominated by Republicans" bill.

SB1280, making sure that home-schooled students are notified of the scholarship requirements and criteria of the Arizona Board of Regents (actually, this one doesn't seem to be too bad, but I want to see what it looks like after going through the entire legislative process before being totally at ease with it).

SB1284, messing with school financing rules. One of the highlights: language that makes cuts to funding imposed during the year, such as those we've seen from the various special sessions of the lege this year, retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year. In other words, cuts to state funding won't just impact school districts going forward, they'll force school districts to return money.

SB1286, changing the grading of schools from words like "excelling" and "highly performing" to letter grades (the traditional A thru F). Probably not a bad thing in itself, but the changes to the formula determining how that grade is arrived at may be. Somebody with more experience in this area should look at that (David Safier, that's you. :) )

- Government Institutions will meet on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in SHR1.

Nuggets here include:

SB1143, creating the ability for counties to change their borders via "local initiative." Another bill I don't completely understand as yet, but it's from Jack Harper - it's presumed to be a bad one.

SB1348, Senate President Bob Burns' proposal to slow down new regulations of business, such as requirements that specific medical procedures/conditions be covered by health insurers, and to speed up the discard of older regulations. There are other similar clauses in this bill, enough for it to be named "The Bob Burns is setting up a run for Corporation Commission and wants to secure business financing for his run" bill.

...Check back on the lege's website later in the week for any changes to committee agendas.


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