Sunday, February 10, 2013

Arizona legislature: The coming week

As usual, all committee agendas, floor calendars, and event schedules are subject to change without notice. Call ahead to confirm plans before travelling to the Capitol based on an agenda, calendar, or schedule cited here.

Notes:

If an agenda is summarized with "looks harmless so far" that only means that nothing on the agenda set of bat-shit crazy alarm bells; if the committee in question covers an area of interest to you, check out the full agenda yourself. And if I missed something significant, please leave a comment letting me know.

A hearing room designation of "SHR" means it is a hearing room in the Senate building; "HHR" means that the hearing room is in the House building.

Lastly, this summary is not, nor is it intended to be, comprehensive. Many bills have been covered, but not all of them. Again, if a committee covers an area of interest to you, check out the full agenda yourself.

Floor activity:

The House has posted Monday's Third Read (final passage) calendar here and Tuesday's Committee of the Whole, or COW, calendar, here.  COW is where committee amendments to bills are approved and floor amendments can be proposed.  Also, actual debate can take place here. 

Committee activity:
On the House side of the Capitol complex -

Rules, Monday, 1 p.m., HHR4.  This is an exercise in rubberstamping, but serves as a preview of upcoming floor activity.

Ways and Means, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  "Highlight" of the agenda: HB2544.  Complete text of bill:

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
Section 1. Title 9, chapter 4, article 8, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 9-499.17, to read:
START_STATUTE9-499.17. Prohibited municipal taxes and fees
Except as provided in titles 35 and 42, a municipality shall not levy or assess a municipal-wide tax or fee against property owners based on the parcel or on the size or value of the owner's real property or improvements to real property, for any public service provided by the MUNICIPALITY.

Alarm bells, loud alarm bells, here.

Financial Institutions, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR5.  On the agenda: HB2489, allowing certain corporations to issue bonds to finance student loans.  Rep. Jeff Dial (R-financial scammers) is the lead sponsor on this one.  'Nuff said...

Education, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR3.  On the agenda: Many bills, but the one that inspires the most head-scratching is HB2217, creating an "Extraordinary Educators Special License Plate", proceeds from which will go to an "Extraordinary Educators Trust Fund".  Dial is fronting this one too; apparently it's a "feel good" substitute for adequately funding education in Arizona.

For the record, there are more than 60 "special" license plates in AZ (partial list here); another one isn't needed.  Authentic support for education is.

Insurance and Retirement, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR3.  Mostly bad.  Example:  HB2238, proposing a backdoor way of limiting the damages that can be collected in a civil action by the victims of bodily injury or wrongful death.

Government, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR4.  Looks harmless, but I'm not sure what the tea party types are trying to do with HB2235, requiring "that upon wage payment, state employees must receive a summary of the employee’s earnings, withholdings and employer paid taxes and benefits."  Seems redundant with current paycheck wage statements.

Federalism and Fiscal Responsibility, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  Looks to be basically harmless so far.

Agriculture and Water, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR5.  Looks harmless, but some of these impact very specific areas, areas with which I am not overly familiar (wastewater districts, flood control districts, etc.)

Public Safety, Military, and Regulatory Affairs, Wednesday, 9 a.m, HHR3.  Looks relatively quiet, but keep an eye on HB2392, making all but the name and address of the defendants subject to orders of protection or injunction confidential and not subject to public disclosure, unless ordered by a court; HB2389, a bill with the subject of "peace officers; omnibus".  Looks harmless, but with the lege, the word "omnibus" is sometimes synonymous with "ominous"; HB2459, a large bill that looks to be a cleanup of law regarding justice courts.  I've been told it was requested by the justice courts themselves and it looks harmless.

Health, Wednesday, 10 a.m., HHR4.  Looks harmless so far.

Higher Education and Workforce Development, Wednesday, 10 a.m., HHR1.  On the agenda:  HB2333, Rep. Steve Montenegro's proposal to bar student or university organizations who receive funds from tuition or fees from contributing any money to political committees; a striker to HB2419, subject "financial aid study; public university" (no text available as of this writing); and HB2489 (if it makes it out of Financial Institutions above), allowing corporations to issue bonds to finance student loans.

Commerce, Wednesday, 10 a.m., HHR5.  On the agenda: HB2532, Rep. JD Mesnard's proposal to bar the Arizona Corporation Commission from ever enacting any regulation of internet services.

Appropriations, Wednesday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  On the agenda: HB2285, trying to sneak some of the fiscal limitations of the already thoroughly discredited TABOR movement through the backdoor.

Transportation, Thursday, 9 a.m., HHR3.  On the agenda: HB2032, a measure sponsored by Democratic representatives Catherine Miranda, Lupe Contreras, and Lydia Hernandez that would specify that a federal work authorization document constitutes proof of legal US residency for applicants for Arizona driver's licenses (good bill, but my prediction: it fails on a 2 - 4 party-line vote); a striker to HB2183, subject "third party vendors" (text not available as of this writing); and HB2477, a tea party proposal to all but completely bar photo radar enforcement on any state highway, even the smaller ones that frequently do double duty as the main surface street through various municipalities in rural AZ.

Technology and Infrastructure, Thursday, 9 a.m., HHR5.  On the agenda: HB2165, a measure that would completely bar public libraries from releasing records that might identify specific users of specific library services or materials.  In principle, not something I oppose, but the language curiously removes an exception for situations involving a court order, which potentially places library personnel in a "damned if they do, damned if they don't" situation where they could face jeopardy if they don't obey a court order, but face criminal charges if they do (the statute in question makes giving out such information a class 3 misdemeanor); HB2241, text - "Any records, proceedings, applications and permits relating to telecommunications services provided by a public service corporation and the construction and location of lines, equipment and plants used for telecommunications services on or along public streets or highways or on private property are not public records, are exempt from title 39, chapter 1 and are not subject to disclosure".  Gotta love government-sponsored business secrecy...; HB2483 and HB2533, relating to changing publication requirements for various types of public notices.  Currently, most public notices (meeting announcements for governmental bodies, legal notices, etc.) must be published in newspapers.  This would change that requirement to a website.

Reform and Human Services, Thursday, 9 a.m., HHR1.  Looks harmless so far.

Judiciary, Thursday, 9 a.m., HHR4.  On the agenda:  HB2156, a broad but not quite complete ban on the use of any "public resources" to influence an election; and HB2218, making it a class 6 felony to deliberately expose someone to an STD, including HIV.


On the Senate side of the Capitol:

Rules, Monday, 1 p.m., Caucus Room 1.  This is an exercise in rubberstamping, but serves as a preview of upcoming floor activity.

Judiciary, Monday, upon adjournment of the floor session, SHR109.  It seems to be mostly harmless so far.

Government and Environment, in a joint meeting with House Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources, Monday, upon adjournment of both of the respective floor sessions, SHR1.  They are meeting jointly to hear a raft of anti-EPA presentations.

Government and Environment, Monday, upon adjournment of the joint meeting, above, SHR1.  On the agenda: SB1302 and SB1365, making changes the rules affecting planned communities, and SCR1012, a "love letter" to the EPA telling them to butt out of efforts to fight haze and other air pollution in Arizona.

Elections, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  On the agenda:  Some very bad bills, including a striker to SB1003, making it a felony for someone other than a voter or a member of the voter's immediate family to return a voter's early ballot.  Specifically aimed at organized Democratic and Democratic-leaning efforts to collect and return the ballots of Democrat-supporting voters; and SB1264, raising the administrative barriers faced by supporters of initiative/referendum or recall movements.  Current law requires that petitions "substantially" comply with requirements, meaning that minor technical errors in form or language might not be enough to disqualify petitions.  The proposal from Sen. Michele Reagan, would specify that any petitions from citizen-based movements would have to "strictly" comply with requirements, meaning that even something as trivial as a misplaced comma could be used to disqualify petitions.

Bills that aren't so bad:  SB1335, barring an AZ Secretary of State cannot be part of a candidate's campaign (other than his/her own) if that candidate is running in an election that is under the purview of the SOS (state lege, statewide, or federal offices); and a striker to SB1336 relating to a penalty to certain large, but non-compliant, independent expenditures (from Sen. Robert Meza, a Democrat from Phoenix).  Seems hyper-specific enough to be utterly ineffectual.

Appropriations, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR109.  On the agenda: SB1285, taking money disbursed to the states from the federal government to help fund education for students from low-income families to pay for publicizing education options geared toward students from financially comfortable families.

Natural Resources and Rural Affairs, Wednesday, 9 a.m., SHR109.  On the agenda: SB1465, easing the rules somewhat on "solid waste facilities".

Commerce, Energy, and Military, Wednesday, 9 a.m., SHR1.  On the agenda:  a striker for SB1301, subject "wineries, microbreweries, licenses" (no text available as of this writing); SB1380, extending workers' compensation coverage to the volunteer members of sheriffs' posses; and SB1368 and SB1369 that make changes to employment law that seem almost technical in nature, but the bills are fronted by Sen. Gail Griffin (R-Hereford), who's not known for her interest in simple, "good-governance" proposals.

Public Safety, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR109.  On the agenda: SCR1016, a dog-whistle measure that proposes amending the state constitution to say that the people of Arizona can nullify any federal law.

Health and Human Services, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  I think it is harmless, but I don't quite understand the necessity, or impact of SB1438, allowing pharmacists to substitute one "biological product" for a prescribed "biological product", under certain conditions.  Not saying this is a bad bill; I just truly don't understand what's going on here.

Finance, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR3.  On the agenda: SB1289, allowing the formation of road improvement and maintenance districts where parcels of lands may be taxed based only on the existence of the parcels, not the size or value of the parcel; SB1243, Sen. Al Melvin's proposal to exempt some unnamed but specific insurance-providing organization from regulation; and some other bills whose effect I don't understand well enough to explain.

Education, Thursday, 8:30 a.m., SHR109.  On the agenda: lots of bad, including SB1285, again (it's on Tuesday's agenda for Senate Appropriations too), taking money disbursed to the states from the federal government to help fund education for students from low-income families to pay for publicizing education options geared toward students from financially comfortable families; and SB1363, expanding "empowerment scholarship accounts" (school vouchers by any other name).

The lege's calendar of event's at the Capitol is here.





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