Friday, February 25, 2011

Arizona Legislature: week in review

...and a sneak peek at next week...

- Signed into law this week: HB2167, banning "Spice," a dangerous synthetic version of marijuana.  Passed both chambers and all commitees in those chambers unanimously.  Because of an "emergency" clause, this law goes into effect immediately.

- Controversial bills that passed one or the other chamber this week -

...HB2558, allowing landlords to require larger, utility-related, deposits from tenants.  Passed committee and the entire House on party line votes.  Slated for Senate committee consideration on Wednesday.

...HB2443, banning abortions intended for race or gender selection.  Passed by a mostly party line vote.  Scheduled for Senate committee consideration on Wednesday.  Arizona Capitol Times coverage here.

...SB1225, makes forgery in connection with the purchase, lease or renting of a dwelling that is used as a drop house as a class 3 felony.  All Republicans and approximately 1/2 of the Democrats in the Senate voted for this.  Not assigned to a House committee as yet.

...SB1306, relating to landlords; tenants; bedbud control.  Passed the Senate by a truly split vote - of the twelve who voted against it, six were Democrats and six were Republicans.  Not assigned to a House committee as yet.

...SB1470, the dissolution of the Mohave County Water Authority.  Barely passed the Senate (16 - 14).  All Democrats and five Republicans voted against the measure.  Not assigned to a House Committee as yet.

- Bills passing committee this week, and thus are still alive: 

...Senate Appropriations held a marathon meeting starting Tuesday afternoon and continuing into the wee hours of Wednesday morning.  They passed a number of bad bills, relating to immigration, birthright citizenship, dissolving the Arizona Board of Regents, implementing drug testing for welfare recipients and, oh year, ending AHCCCS.  Full summary of the meeting here.  One of the many lowlights was the passage of SB1611, Russell Pearce's latest anti-immigrant bill.  Summary here.

...SB1609, making extensive changes to the state''s public employee pension plans.  Passed Senate Finance 3 - 1, 3 not voting.  Scheduled for Rules Committee consideration on Monday; probable floor consideration later in the week.

...SB1167, another bill to make extensive changes to the state's public employee pension plans.  Passed House Employment and Regulatory Affairs by a 5 - 4 vote.  Next up: Rules Committee, but not scheduled as yet.

...HB2070, establishing the "state guard," an armed force outside of the National Guard that is only answerable to the governor, and funded by monies redirected from the National Guard, passed House Appropriations on a party line vote.  Next up: Rules Committee, not yet scheduled.

...HB2301, requiring school districts to spend at least 50% of their Maintenance and Operations budgets on teacher salaries, and lift the restriction on "soft capital" (books and desks and so on) money that required that such money be expended on soft capital, passed House Appropriations on a mostly party line vote.  Next up: Rules Committee on Monday.

- Other news at the legislature:

...Senate President has evidently created a "blacklist," barring from the Senate building certain critics.  This resulted in the arrest of Latino activist Sal Reza on Thursday.  He went to the Senate to meet with his Senator, Sen. Steve Gallardo.  Upon entering the building, Reza was asked to leave.  When he refused to do so, he was arrested, even after Gallardo informed the police that Reza was there to meet him.

Pearce has denied the existence of such a list, but Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira (D-LD17) tweets otherwise.

Prediction: Lots of lawsuits, most/all of which the state will lose, and all of which will be paid for by taxpayer funds.

...The four members of the new Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) met Thursday to interview candidates and select the fifth member of the AIRC.  They conducted the interviews, but delayed the selection of the fifth member, who will also serve as chair of the AIRC, until Tuesday.

Sneak peek at next week:  The agenda for Thursday's meeting of the Senate Border Security, Federalism, and States Sovereignty Committee (9 a.m., SHR109) includes the following -
4. Presentations

Attorney General Tom Horne -- Update on the Arizona Lawsuit
David & Donna Lamoreaux -- Drug & Human Smuggling Route Affecting Farmers
Richard Valdemar -- The Unholy Trinity: American Street Gangs, Mexican Drug Cartels, & Radical Islamic Terrorists
What?  David Duke wasn't available??

- New bill introduced this week: SCR1059, declaring the legislature's support for the governor of Wisconsin in his Koch-fueled quest to roll back collective bargaining rights for public employees in his state.  Not on an agenda as yet, but sure to be fast-tracked.  It'll probably pass the Senate by the end of the week.


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