Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Coming Week, Legislative Edition - Chapter 2: The AZ House

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

Like last week, the committee schedules for the coming week are so full (and so *bad*) that this will be a split post. In addition, committee agendas are so full, that I could easily have missed something important. If a committee covers an area of interest to you, check out the agenda to make certain nothing is slipping through.

The House's schedule is up now; it seems quieter than the Senate's, but there are still a number of bad bills up this week.

Note: there are a number of "strike-everything" amendments (aka - "strikers") on this week's agendas, but no text is available for many of them as of this writing. I'll note where one is on the agenda, even if the exact nature of the amendment isn't yet known.

Note2 - an "HHR" designation on a meeting room indicates a "House Hearing Room."

In House committee activity this week -

- Rules will meet on Monday at 10 a.m. in HHR4.  Long agenda, rubber stamp.

- Ways and Means will meet Monday at 2 p.m. in HHR1.  As with Senate Finance, most of the bills are so subtle it would take someone with more time and knowledge than I have to properly summarize them here.  However a couple of the measures do stand out - a striker to HB2166, relating to the property tax classification of low income multifamily housing; HB2597, a bill to reduce the corporate tax rate to 5.4%, paid for by repealing corporate tax credits.  This one is sponsored by Democrats, hence it is fiscally responsible and has almost no chance of passing; a striker to HB2279, relating to "insurance tax credit; renewable energy"; a striker to HB2289, relating to "municipal taxes; real property rental".

Let me be clear on this agenda - there are a *lot* of bad bills here, but they are the kind that damage the state's fiscal stability for years, not the kind that get coverage on MSNBC or Dailykos.  Watch these bills.

- Energy and Natural Resources will meet Monday at 2 p.m. in HHR4.  On the agenda:  HB2006, Jack Harper's plan to allow firearms within game refuges; a striker to HB2485, relating to "government land; private land; study"; HCM2002, a postcard to the feds asking them to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list.

- Education will meet on Monday at 2 p.m. in HHR3.  On the agenda:  HB2002, barring school districts from expending money to join an organization that attempts to influence the outcome of an election or advocates for/against proposed legislation (aimed squarely at the Arizona School Boards Association); a striker to HB2219, relating to "study committee; unification; consolidation" (creating a committee to reduce the number of school districts and/or schools in those districts); HB2301, mandating that school districts use at least half of their "maintenance and operations" funding for classroom employee salaries and allows districts to use "soft capital" money for "any lawful purpose" ("soft capital" is things like books and desks and such and is the first thing that is cut in any down year); HB2419 and HB2420, related bills requiring school districts to hire and retain phonics-certified reading teachers for K-3 (aka - micromanaging schools); HB2710, creating a committee to study ways to implement an "outcome-based" system of funding education in Arizona.

- Banking and Insurance will meet on Monday at 2 p.m. in HHR5.  On the agenda: HB2221, creating the Bank of Arizona, backed by taxpayer monies.

- Government will meet on Tuesday at 2 p.m. in HHR4.  Long agenda.  Highlights/lowlights:  a striker to HB2064, relating to "dilapidated building; definition"; HB2140, limiting the ability of landlords to put firearms-related clauses in leases/rental agreements; a striker to HB2204, allowing municipalities to engage in regulated gambling without entering into a tribal-state gaming compact, and that any municipality that does so won't receive any revenue sharing money; a striker to HB2308, making February 14, 2012 a legal holiday called "Arizona Centennial Statehood Day"; a striker to HB2500, relating to "political signs; public right of way"; HB2644. barring municipalities, counties, or state agencies from accepting money for a construction project if those funds are conditioned on giving a preference to union labor for the project; a striker to HB2720 relating to "classification; vicious animal assault'.

Environment will meet on Tuesday at 2 p.m. in HHR5.  On the agenda:  a striker to HB2136, establishing a state agency fee commission to study, you know, fees assessed by state agencies; a striker to HB2538, barring prevailing wage (Davis-Bacon) policies for public works projects; HB2665, weakening enforcement of environmental regulations.

- Employment and Regulatory Affairs will meet on Tuesday at 2 p.m. in HHR3.  On the agenda: a striker to HB2165, reducing the length of time folks are eligible for unemployment benefits (from 26 weeks to 16 weeks);  a striker to HB2423 relating to the AZ Attorney General's Office entering into contingency fee contracts with private attorneys; a striker to HB2541, relating to "medical marijuana; employer monitoring"; and the big one, HB2726, Speaker Kirk Adams' "reform" of the state's public employee pension plans (legislative staff-written summary here, proposed amendments here, here, and here).

- Military Affairs and Public Safety will meet on Wednesday at 9 a.m. in HHR3.  On the agenda: HB2077, requiring any federal agency to register with a county's sheriff and pay a fee before operating in that county; HB2583, stating that if someone commits an act of violence and then calls for emergency services, their statements (in the 9-1-1 calls) aren't admissable in court or are public records subject to release; HB2677, imposing a fee/tax on money transfers to locations outside of the country.  It's aimed at Mexican nationals sending money to their families in Mexico, but it's written so broadly that the corporate business lobby may weigh in against this one.

- Health and Human Services will meet on Wednesday at 9 a.m. in HHR4.  On the agenda: a striker from HB2099, relating to "hospice care; restoration" to AHCCCS (from Rep. Matt Heinz); a striker to HB2210, relating to "information; health insurance claims; disclosure" (no text available); a striker to HB2211, relating to "inpatient evaluation or treatment" (no text available).

- Commerce will meet on Wednesday at 9 a.m. in HHR5.  On the agenda:  HB2080, regulating "high volume internet sellers".  Aimed at users of EBay and similar sites.  Probably pushed by lobbyists from "bricks and mortar" retailed, sponsored by Jim Weiers; HB2191, also from Jim Weiers, lowering the education requirements for someone to receive a cosmetologist's licence; HB2550, Weiers' scheme to bring back payday loans by another name ("small installment loans); HB2584, removing the legal prohibition barring an employer or insurer from requiring that a patient be treated by a specific provider (titled "workers' compensation; directed care").

- Appropriations will meet on Wednesday at 2 p.m. in HHR1.  On the agenda:  HB2577, allowing the legislature to "sweep" and reappropriate "non-custodial" federal monies; HB2707, relating to "general fund revenue limit".  Seems designed to encourage the transfer of state functions to other levels of government, but this one is wordy and should be studied by people with more expertise in this area.

- Transportation will meet on Thursday at 9 a.m. in HHR3.  On the agenda: HB2555, removing the ability of municipalities and other political subdivisions to regulate taxis within their jurisdictions.  Soon-to-be breaking news: SpikeTV announces their newest 'reality' TV show - "Demolition Derby: Sky Harbor Airport".

- Technology and Infrastructure will meet on Thursday at 9 a.m. in HHR1.  On the agenda:  a striker to HB2114, relating to "large scale computing study" (no text available).

- Judiciary will meet on Thursday at 9 a.m. in HHR4.  Looks quiet so far, but there are a couple of bills where I'm not entirely certain about their intent.

- Agriculture and Water will meet on Thursday at 9 a.m. in HHR5.  Looks quiet so far, but bills like HB2312 and HB2314 could be sneaky bad and may warrant examination later in the week.


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