Sunday, March 17, 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.


If an agenda is summarized with "looks harmless so far" that only means that nothing on the agenda set off "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, please check out the full agenda yourself.

Floor activity:
Monday's House Third Read Calendar is here (one item, reconsideration of HB2533, allowing counties and municipalities to forego publishing public notices in newspapers in lieu of posting them on a website) and House COW calendar is here.

Monday's Senate Third Read Calendar is here; Monday's Senate COW Calendar is here.

Committee Activity:

House side of the Capitol -

Rules, Monday, 1 p.m., HHR4.

Ways and Means, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  Some very technical bills, as is the norm for this committee.  Two measures to keep an eye on:  a striker to SB1171, relating to tax law affecting multistate service providers (in this case, education providers) with more than 2000 students residing on campus in AZ.  As it is written, I think it mostly affects Grand Canyon University in Phoenix (roughly 10,000 students living on campus, and I can't think of another private college in AZ that has even 2000 students living in AZ, much less 2000 living on campus), but even if it only helps GCU right now, it can be amended by a future lege to expand the scope of its tax breaks.  Proposed the Rep. Debbie Lesko, ALEC's water-carrier-in-chief in AZ; a striker to SB1470, relating to barring or at least restricting the ability of municipalities to levy property taxes to fund police, fire, and other services.

Financial Institutions, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR5.  One item on the agenda: the neo-secessionist SB1439, expanding the definition of "legal tender" to include "specie" (mineral-backed or -based currency) and gold and silver bullion.

Education, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR3.  On the agenda: SB1293, creating a "pay for performance" pilot program for funding education (aka - punishing already underfunded schools in poor districts and rewarding the already well-funded schools in wealthier districts).

Insurance and Retirement, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR3.  On the agenda:  SB1173 and SB1174, making changes to the state employees' and state elected officials' retirement plans; and SB1243, Sen. Al Melvin's proposal to exempt military service aid organizations that provide insurance products from insurance regulations.

Government, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR4.  On the agenda: SB1371, placing requirements municipal bond and tax elections in an attempt to make it more likely that such elections fail.

Agriculture and Water, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR5.  Looks harmless so far.

Health, Wednesday, 9 a.m., HHR4.  On the agenda: SB1115, an anti-healthcare reform measure masquerading as a transparency measure.

Public Safety, Military, and Regulatory Affairs, Wednesday, 10 a.m., HHR3.  One item on the agenda so far:  Melvin's SB1243 again (it's on the agenda for Insurance and Retirement on Tuesday).

Higher Education and Workforce Development, Wednesday, 10 a.m., HHR1.  Looks harmless so far, though they are scheduled to see presentations from a number of profit-motivated education businesses.

Commerce, Wednesday, 10 a.m., HHR5.  Looks harmless so far.

Appropriations, Wednesday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  The bills on the agenda look harmless, but this should be an interesting, and long, meeting - the committee will be hearing a presentation about and taking public testimony on Governor Jan Brewer's proposal to restore AHCCCS (AZ Medicaid) eligibility to previous levels (133% of the federal poverty level).

Transportation, Thursday, 9 a.m., HHR3.  Looks harmless so far.

Technology and Infrastructure, Thursday, 9 a.m., HHR5.  Looks harmless so far.

Judiciary, Thursday, 9 a.m., HHR4.  Not harmless, not by a long shot.  On the agenda: SB1264, Sen. Michelle Reagan's proposal to make it more difficult for citizens to put a referendum question on the ballot; and SCR1019, also making it more difficult for citizens to put a referendum question on the ballot, also from Reagan.

Reform and Human Services, Thursday, 9:30 a.m., HHR1.  Looks harmless so far.

Senate side of the Capitol -

Rules, Monday, 1 p.m., Senate Caucus Room 1.  Looonnnng agenda.  May take all of 10 minutes to rubberstamp.

Judiciary, Monday, upon adjournment of the floor, SHR1.  On the agenda: a striker to HB2387, proposing to make it more difficult for voters to be on the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) and easier to remove voters from the PEVL list.

Government and Environment, Monday, upon adjournment of the floor, SHR3.  On the agenda: HB2233, directing the legislature's Auditor General to conduct a "special audit" of all "voter protected" measures that have been enacted by the voters.

Transportation, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR3.  Looks relatively harmless.

Elections, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  On the agenda: A striker to HB2306, similar to the neo-secessionist specie/bullion as currency bill above.  As written, HB2306 would double the amount of money that candidate for office could raise and spend; a striker to HB2527, changing it into changes to the law regarding flood control districts.  As written, HB2527 would make a number of revisions to election law, most of the changes being bad.  Both strikers being offered are from Sen. Michelle Reagan (R-wants to be AZ Secretary of State) who has been leading the Republican efforts to legislatively disenfranchise voters.  The strikers may be a signal that she, and they, have decided to focus their efforts on other measures, or they may just be a distraction, perhaps trying to minimize the turnout of opponents of the measures.  Also on the agenda: HB2518, changing municipal elections so that the primary/first election becomes a "vote for every candidate you want" affair, with the top two vote getters moving on to the general/second election; and HCR2026, trying to convince the voters to undermine Clean Elections by putting a smiley face on it by redirecting CE monies to fund education.

Appropriations, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR109.  On the agenda:  HB2169, affecting fees collected at state universities, making sure that funds so collected cannot be transferred to non-university recognized organizations (essentially, the lege is still thoroughly pissed over university student organizations that have lobbied hard against legislative attacks on education).

Natural Resources and Rural Affairs, Wednesday, 9 a.m., SHR109.  Looks harmless so far.

Commerce, Energy, and Military, Wednesday, 9 a.m., SHR1.  On the agenda; HB2173, innocuously titled "unemployment insurance; omnibus".  If the lege was subject to a truth-in-advertising law, this would be titled "screwing the unemployed"; HB2280, declaring the state lege's supreme authority over employee benefits in the state; HB2645, expanding "religious" organizations' exemption to unemployment insurance (UI) laws.

Public Safety, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR109.  On the agenda: HB2326, barring municipalities, under most circumstances, from keeping any records pertaining to the possession, ownership, sales, purchases, or transfers of firearms; HB2455, mandating that agencies (mostly law enforcement), rather than the courts, must sell unclaimed or forfeited firearms.  Oh, and the measure would completely set aside any remaining local ordinances and regulations pertaining to firearms.

Health and Human Services, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  On the agenda: HB2239, allowing corporations and other defendants in personal injury, wrongful death, or similar lawsuits to reduce their financial liability by introducing evidence that the plaintiffs have received or could receive financial compensation from other sources.

Finance, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR3.  As with the House Ways and Means Committee, some of the bills are very technical in nature, and as with that committee, some of the bills are very bad in nature.  On the agenda:  a striker to HB2111 relating to changes in the transaction privilege tax, also known as the sales tax (no text available yet); a striker to HB2125 relating to "property tax levy; community colleges" (no text available yet); HB2446, expanding property tax breaks for "religious" institutions; HB2608, ending the Elected Officials Retirement Plan (EORP) and replacing it with a 401K-style plan.  While it does impact legislators, most of the people affected by this measure are in the judicial branch...and the lege's disdain for the judiciary is well-known; HB2617, expanding school tuition tax credits.

Education, Thursday, 8:30 a.m., SHR1.  A lot of bills designed to screw public education in AZ.  Example:  HB2318, exempting schools that don't receive federal funds from certain federal and state regulations.

Government and Environment, Thursday, upon adjournment of the floor, SHR3.  On the agenda:  HB2282, seeking to weaken the state's recall election provisions by adding a primary election.  Probably unconstitutional (it contradicts specific clauses in the state constitution), but the lege is still upset over the 2011 recall of former senate president Russell Pearce and wants to reduce the ability of voters to remove elected officials from office.  Actually, they want to keep it from ever happening again, so they've included a retroactivity clause to protect Pearce's nativist saddle partner, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is the subject of an ongoing recall petition drive.

Capitol Activity:

The lege's calendar of Capitol events is here.

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