Sunday, April 03, 2011

The end is near: Arizona Legislature week in review and the coming week

When both of the weekly legislative posts, both review and preview, can be combined, it's clear that the end of the legislative session is nigh.

- The biggest news last week was the railroading of a budget through the House on minimal notice.

Utilizing a lack of notice (nobody outside of the Speaker and Republican leadership seemed to know what was in the budget bills before the start of committee consideration) and an all-night session, they effectively forestalled public response to a budget that -

     - Cuts over $270 million from higher education

     - Tuition at the state's universities has already increased by 18% - 20% since FY08, with more large hikes on tap this year

     - Eliminates the requirement that the legislature provide a "match" for university financial aid monies raised from students
     - Cuts $180 million from K-12 education, leading to a likely increase in average class size to 40+

     - Increases funding support for charter schools

     - Shifts more than $130 million in costs to cities and counties, likely forcing cities and counties to raise taxes (unless the lege passes one of its proposals to bar cities and counties from doing just that

     -  Eliminates child care for poor working families

     - Reduces the time limit for temporary assistance to needy families to 24 months, a 33% reduction, and makes that time limit retroactive.  Families who have already received 24 months of assistance are immediately cut off

     - Balances the budget by drastically cutting AHCCCS and imposing some illegal copays on poor patients.  Arizona has tried this in the past, and the courts have struck down the move

     - Devastates Arizona's hospitals with cuts to reimbursement rates and cuts to "Prop 204" eligibility (covering people with an income of up to 100% of the federal property level - FPL).  On average, rural hospitals will lose more than 2/3 of their revenue ( "rural" = "outside of Maricopa and Pima counties)

     - Eliminates state General Fund support of the state's Water Protection Fund, pushing the costs for that to cities and towns

     - Eliminates the Arizona Department of Housing

     - Allows the director of the department of corrections to impose a fee/tax on deposits made to "prisoner spendable accounts"

     - Allows the director of the department of corrections to impose a fee for background checks for people visiting prisons (yes, this means that people are going to have to pay to visit imprisoned family members)

     - And more.  They wreaked a LOT of devastation upon Arizona in that one long session.

The budget bills were passed by both the House and Senate on party line votes and it now sits on the Governor's desk, awaiting her signature.

Other "highlight" -

- Jan Brewer signed the latest anti-abortion measure into law in a celebration/ceremony at the Center for Arizona Theocracy's Policy's annual fundraising dinner.  Among other things,  HB2416  compels a woman who seeks an abortion to view an ultrasound of her fetus and to listen to a heartbeat before an abortion procedure can be performed.

Things to look forward to in the coming week -

- Sine die, or the end of the legislative session.

There's no specific day set aside for that but with the passage of the budget and temperatures in Phoenix already hitting triple digits (the the growing Fiesta Bowl junkets/campaign contributions scandal), the legislative types want to get out of town ASAP.  Speculation is running that it will happen this week, possibly by Thursday.

Which leads to...

Long COW (Committee of the Whole) and Third Read (final approval) calendars in both chambers as things devolve into a mad scramble to pass a few more pieces of legislation before they all head for the hills.

Monday's House Third Read calendar is here; Tuesday's House COW calendars are here and here.

The House Rules Committee will meet Monday at 1 p.m. in HHR4.  Very long agenda of bills to be rubberstamped for floor consideration later in the week.

Monday's Senate COW calendar is here.

The Senate's Healthcare and Medical Liability Reform Committee will meet Wednesday at 2 p.m. in SHR1 to consider the appointment of Susan C. Stevens to the Psychiatric Security Review Board.

From the Governor's office's description of the Board -
"The Board maintains jurisdiction over persons who are committed to a secure state mental health facility; holds hearings to determine if a person committed to a secure state mental health facility is eligible for release or conditional release; devises a plan for the conditional release of a person in conjunction with the secure mental health facility and other appropriate community agencies or persons; confidentially maintains all medical, social, and criminal history records of persons who are committed to its jurisdiction; holds a hearing to determine if the conditions of release should be continued, modified, or terminated..."
Ms. Stevens appears to be an attorney/professional lobbyist, though a name like that makes for a lot of search results.

The Legislature's Events Calendar for the week is here.

The Arizona Capitol Times' Capitol Events Calendar is here.


Rene said...

Do we know if the Rules committee will be meeting again after Monday (4/4/11)? I'm hoping not.

just jen said...

has the governor signed the AZ death, budget yet? no word, right? i ask because some of the folks i hear from say she MAY line item veto cuts to K-12/higher ed. i doubt it...because that throws the whole "we balanced the budget on your kids bone marrow" call to glory and such right out the window.

and i do trust that we all agree upon the irony of Cathy Herrod's celebration of Brewer's signature on the anti-women's freedom, yet not a peep from the "amen to life" chorus over the failure of Brewer/AZGOP death posse to restore funding to transplant services, nor the cuts to agencies that benefit the lives of AZ's children already out of the womb, freed from the clenchy jaws of an abortionist's grasp. Oh. that's right. find a nonprofit to see to those sorts of things. not the public teet. just ask Sen. Yarbrough to set up a little somethin-somethin and take your 10% kick-back a la Jesus Christ. right?!

sorry. snarky comment from a snarky bitch who is just a little fed up with the assclowns at the wheel. and also a little tired of seeing Arizonans lay down and take it. it was degrees below human comfort in WI and folks slept on marble floors in the name of saving their right to negotiate their wages. Arizona has balmy near-tropic temps and folks sleep under apathy, while our schools grow in size, if not close, and lives hang in a desperate balance.

Steve Raymond said...
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cpmaz said...

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