Sunday, January 22, 2012

The coming week...

Well, it's time to watch your civil rights and hide the children and small animals - the lege is back in town.

Actually, they've been back for a couple of weeks now, but I've been busy and the first couple of weeks are mostly dedicated to getting organized.  Most of the bills that move through committee this early in the session tend to be pretty non-controversial (though that's not always true, it's close enough for now).

So for the first schedule post of the year:

On the House side of the Capitol -

...Monday, the Rules Committee is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. in HHR4.  The agenda is a long one.  It may take them all of five minutes to approve it en bloc.  The long Rules agenda this early in the session may be an indication that the lege is planning on an early exit this year, mostly so they can ramp up their election campaigns as soon as possible.

...Monday at 2 p.m., the Ways and Means Committee will meet in HHR1.  Highlights:  HB2212, raising the revenue threshold that must be met before tax-exempt organizations are required to file a state income tax return; HB2123, Rep. Steve Court's proposal to establish a committee to study and recommend ways to end the state's income tax and go to a system where the government's revenue would be based almost totally on a regressive sales tax.

...Monday at 2 p.m., the Energy and Natural Resources Committee will meet in HHR4.  There are two bills on the agenda currently.  Both have Democrats as the lead prime, or originating, sponsor (Reps. Chad Campbell and Matt Heinz).  As such, while the measures may pass this committee, they almost certainly won't go any further.  In the AZ lege, most proposals from Democrats go nowhere fast - unless an R decides he/she likes it and proposes a duplicate proposal, with the R's name as the lead sponsor.

...Monday at 2 p.m., the Education Committee will meet in HHR3.  On the agenda:  HB2171, a plan to repeal the Public School Information Hot Line Program and the School Safety Clearinghouse Program; HB2180, creating a "pilot program" for basing school funding on student test scores and other criteria.

...Monday at 2 p.m., the Banking and Finance Committee will meet in HHR5.  Highlight:  Rep. Jack Harper's HB2079, proposing to make it easier for mortgage loan originators to obtain a mortgage broker's license.  The measure looks to be a self-serving one.  From Harper's Twitter page -

The other measures may qualify as "sneaky bad", but none are as entertaining as anything proposed by Harper.

...Tuesday at 2 p.m., Employment and Regulatory Affairs will meet in HHR3.  On the agenda:  HB2264, a proposal to return the employer/employee contribution percentages into the state government retirement fund to 50/50.  It was changed to 47/53 last year, but now the Republicans want to change it back.  Not sure why yet, but my cynicism is running wild on this one.  This would be the decent and honorable thing to do, and the majority in this legislature doesn't do "decent and honorable."  Waiting for the other shoe to drop here...

...Wednesday at 9 a.m, Military Affairs and Public Safety will meet in HHR3.  Highlight (so to speak):  HJR2001, a mish-mash of 2nd Amendment and anti-UN rhetoric from Jack Harper and Sen. Ron Gould.

...Wedneday at 9 a.m., Higher Education, Innovation will meet in HHR1.  Highlights:  HB2349, a move to add institutions of higher education to the list of places where possession and use of medical marijuana is barred.  The voter-approved (and protected) medical marijuana mandate already lists pre-K to 12 schools as places where medical marijuana is barred but does NOT list higher education facilities; HB2383, Rep. Eddie Farnsworth's Measles Protection Act proposal to bar the state's universities and community colleges from requiring that applicants receive immunizations as a condition of enrollment/admission.

...Wednesday at 9 a.m., Health and Human Services will meet in HHR4.  The agenda is fairly long and filled with items that are either non-controversial or that I don't completely understand.  If your area of interest is covered by this committee, examine the agenda and then look into an bills that interest you.

...Wednesday at 10 a.m., Commerce will meet in HHR5.

...Wednesday at 2 p.m., Appropriations will meet in HHR1.  The agenda is short.  Highlight:  HCM2007, pleading with the US Congress that they pass a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution.

...Thursday at 9 a.m., Transportation will meet in HHR3.  Highlight:  HB2512, a ban on texting while driving.

...Thursday at 9 a.m., Technology and Infrastructure will meet in HHR1.  Highlight:  HB2403, the now-annual proposal to end the requirement that public notices (articles of incorporation, etc.) be published in a newspaper by allowing the notices to be published on the internet.

...Thursday at 9 a.m., Judiciary will meet in HHR4.  On the agenda:  HB2385. a measure regarding campaign finance reporting for corporate "independent" expenditures; HB2386, a bill to limit the liability of corporations for asbestos-related claims.

...Thursday at 9 a.m., Agriculture and Water will meet in HHR5.  For some reason, HCR2007, a proposed amendment to the AZ Constitution declaring state sovereignty over pretty much everything, has been assigned to this committee; HJR2002, a resolution to allow the state's director of water resources to "forbear" Arizona's rights to a certain part of its Colorado River water allocation.  I freely admit that I don't understand this one, but given that 1) we live in a desert and need every drop of water we have and 2) legislative Republicans are behind this bill, it may be a case of Arizona's future being sacrificed in order to benefit somebody's campaign contributors.

Yes, I'm a cynic.  :)

On the Senate side of the Capitol -

It's getting late, so I will have to write up that half of the week on Monday night.  The Senate's committee schedule is here.  Monday's schedule includes meetings of the Rules, Judiciary, Education, and Natural Resources and Transportation Committees.


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