Sunday, January 23, 2011

The coming week - legislative edition

As usual, all info gathered from the website of the Arizona Legislature or other online sources, and subject to change without notice. 

"SHR" indicates that a meeting room is a Senate Hearing Room; "HHR" indicates a House Hearing Room.

Committee hearings on the Senate side of the Capitol this week -

- Rules will meet in Caucus Room 1 on Monday upon adjournment of the floor session.  The agenda is a long one, but the meeting probably won't be, as the committee exists only as a gatekeeper/rubber stamp.  It either refuses to hear any bills that the Senate President doesn't like and to push through those he does approve of.  Lowlights this week:  SB1136 and SR1001, a bill to block a tribal casino in the West Valley and a resolution opposing that casino.  Those bills are being fast-tracked by the anti-Native nativists in the Senate.

- Natural Resources and Transportation will meet in SHR109 on Monday upon adjournment of the Rules meeting.  Not many bills on the agenda, but they will consider the first executive nominations of the session.  Most of the nominees are big R contributors.

- Education will meet in SHR3 on Monday upon adjournment of Rules.  Lowlights:  SB1116, Sen. Andy Biggs bid to make permanent "displaced pupils choice grants" (AKA "private school vouchers") and SB1053 and SB1055, Sen. Linda Gray's bills relating to "character education" ("character" is something that cost a former Arizona Treasurer his job).

- Banking and Insurance will meet in SHR3 on Tuesday at 2 p.m.  One bill on the agenda thus far:  SB1122, Sen. Nancy Barto's move to make "health care sharing ministries" tax exempt.

- Appropriations will meet in SHR109 on Tuesday at 2 p.m.  No bills on the agenda.  Budget hearings for "statewide debt, community colleges, and Department of Health Services."

- Public Safety and Human Services will meet in SHR3 on Wednesday at 9 a.m.  Likely lowight: SB1018, a measure that further privatizes certain Department of Corrections operations (in this case, prisoner transition services).

- Government Reform will meet in SHR1 on Wednesday at 9 a.m.  Interesting bill:  SB1165, a measure from Sen. Steve Yarbrough, to bar municipalities from contracting with third parties to audit sales tax transactions or for the "collection, administration or processing" of such transactions (referred to in the bill as "transaction privilege" taxes).

- Water, Land Use, and Rural Development will meet in SHR3 on Wednesday at 2 p.m.  Agenda looks quiet so far.

- Healthcare and Medical Liability Reform will meet in SHR1 on Wednesday at 2 p.m.  Short agenda.  The one interesting bill looks to be SB1176, innocuously titled "medical board: omnibus."  Among other things, it would serve to reduce public disclosure of the misdeeds of medical professionals.

- Economic Development and Jobs Creation will meet in SHR109 on Wednesday at 2 p.m.  Looks quiet so far - one bill, one executive nomination, one presentation (from a business lobbying group, the National Federation of Independent Business - Arizona..

- Finance will meet in SHR1 on Thursday at 9 a.m.  A few executive nominations and some tax- and pension-related bills, most of which I do NOT understand well enough to summarize here.  Visit the legislature's "Bill Info" page if you want to look up one or more of them.

- Border Security, Federalism, and States Sovereignty will meet in SHR109 on Thursday at 9 a.m.  This one is Sen. Sylvia Allen's committee, so it isn't surprising that while the agenda is a short one, it's colorful.  They'll start with a "presentation" from a group of anti-immigration ranchers from southern AZ, follow with consideration of SB1178, a Tenth Amendment/"federal government go away!" bill and SCR1006, a resolution supporting the aforementioned ranchers' "border security" plan (a "plan" that includes militarizing the border and roundups of immigrants). 

Nothing on the agenda indicates that the assemblage will break into a chorus of the Horst Wessel song, but with this crew, ear plugs and a barf bag might be necessary.

- Various subcommittees of Appropriations will hold budget hearings Friday morning at 9 a.m.  Agendas here, here, and here.

On the House side -

- Rules will meet in HHR4 on Monday at 1 p.m.  As with its Senate counterpart above, the agenda is long and boring, with the most contentious bills likely to be the House versions of the anti-tribal casino bills.

- Ways and Means will meet in HHR1 on Monday at 2 p.m.  As with its Senate counterpart above (Senate Finance Committee), I don't understand most of the bills.  Here however, most of the bills have been spawned by Rep. Jack Harper, and anything with his name on it is presumed to be a bad bill.  However, one I *do* understand is Harper's HCR2006, a bill to radically raise the amount raise the amount of business property (equipment, etc.) exempted from taxation from the current $50K to "an amount equal to the earnings per employee of twenty workers in this state according to a designated national measure of earnings per employee adjusted annually as provided by law."  The most current numbers for per capita income in Arizona (not an exact language match with the measure, but it will do for this post):

20 times that number: $686,700, or an increase of almost 1300%.   The real number would almost certainly be higher because I'm sure the Rs would find a "measure" that inflated employee earnings as much as possible.

- Energy and Natural Resources will meet in HHR4 on Monday at 2 p.m.  Quiet so far.

- Education will meet in HHR3 on Monday at 2 p.m or upon adjournment of the House floor session.  On the agenda:  HB2197, Rep. Debbie Lesko's bill to bar the establishment or operation of a charter school "in an age restricted community that is located in unorganized territory."  It has an emergency clause to provide for immediate enactment.

- Banking and Insurance will meet in HHR2 on Monday at 2 p.m.  Looks quiet so far - a couple of presentations, and a few bill that I mostly don't understand.

- Government will meet in HHR4 on Tuesday at 2 p.m.  Lowlight:  HB2153, Rep. Steve Montenegro's move to bar municipalities and counties from passing any new ordinances to require that newly-constructed homes have fire sprinklers.  Ordinances that were enacted before December 31, 2009 would stand, however.

- Environment will meet in HHR5 on Tuesday at 2 p.m.  Presentations only, so far.
- Employment and Regulatory Affairs will meet in HHR3 on Tuesday at 2 p.m.  Looks relatively quiet, though the one bill on the agenda is the subject of the first strike-everything amendment of the session.  It's a "same subject" amendment and doesn't look to be greatly different than the original bill.
- Higher Education, Innovation, and Reform will meet in HHR2 on Wednesday at 9 a.m. Quiet so far.
- Health and Human Services will meet in HHR4 on Wednesday at 9:45 a.m.  Looks pretty quiet so far.
- Commerce will meet in HHR5 on Wednesday at 10 a.m.  On the agenda:  Rep. John Kavanagh's HB2102, adding "fingerprint clearance card" to the list of documents that cannot be issued to/for people who cannot definitively prove their immigration status.
- Appropriations will meet in HHR1 on Wednesday at 2 p.m.  Budget hearings only, so far.
- Transportation will meet in HHR3 on Thursday at 9 a.m.  Lowlight:  HB2288, Rep. Jeff Dial's scheme to force the state's aiports to abandon the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and totally privatize their security and screening operations.
There once was an era in American history where airport security was left to the tender mercies of the profit-driven, low-bidder-seeking corporate mentality. 
That era ended on September 11, 2001.
- Technology and Infrastructure will meet in HHR1 on Thursday at 9 a.m.  Only bill on the agenda:  HB2502, Rep. Carl Seel's proposal to mandate that if a public agency advertises some sort of program for the public, the agency must declare the source of its funding.
- Judiciary will meet in HHR4 on Thursday at 9 a.m.  Only bill on the agenda:  HB2141, a bill from Rep. Jack Harper relating to county realignment.  Not sure what he's up to with this one, but it's Jack Harper - his proposals are presumed bad.
- Agriculture and Water will meet in HHR5 on Thursday at 9 a.m.  Looks quiet so far. 
Other events at or around the Capitol this week:
- It's "National School Choice Week" so in addition to a number of other events, on Wednesday, the American Federation for Children will hold a legislators-only luncheon and movie showing at the Associated General Contractors Building, 1825 W. Adams.
That's a nice sounding name for an organization, but it is dedicated to undermining public education systems by lobbying legislators to siphon more and more money away from publc ed to private schools through vouchers.
- The only event on the Governor's public schedule for the coming week is a press conference on Monday with a "special announcement regarding education reform."
Since the unwritten rules of "political theater" usually call for such events to take place among students in a school and this one will be on the 2nd floor of the Capitol's Executive Tower, it's likely that the about-to-be-proposed "reform" isn't one that is likely to benefit students or schools.
Of course, I'm a cynic of long standing. :)
- Other events can also be found here, courtesy the Arizona Capitol Times.

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