Sunday, January 26, 2014

Arizona Legislature: The Coming Week

Reading tea leaves time ("tea leaves" means "Wild-Ass Guess" based limited information):

Committee activity is ramping up early at the lege, lending credence to the theory that they are planning on/working toward a short session this year.  Most years, committee activity doesn't truly ramp up until two or so weeks before the deadlines to consider bills (this year, the 21st of February for consideration of same-chamber proposals and the 21st of March for bills from the other chamber).

This year, however, things are speeding up.  It's still January but the committee schedule is already packed.


All committees meetings and agendas are subject to change without notice, and frequently do.  If you plan to travel to the Capitol to observe or weigh in on the consideration of a particular measure, check with the lege ahead of time to confirm that the meeting that you are interesting in is still on schedule and your item(s) of interest is still on the agenda for that meeting.

Meeting rooms designated "HHR" are in the House of Representatives building.

Meeting rooms designated "SHR" are in the Senate building.

Some agendas are summarized as "looks harmless", but if they cover an area of interest to you, examine the agenda and the bills on it.  If I missed something significant, please leave a comment letting me know.

All House committee agendas can be found here.

All Senate committee agendas can be found here.

On the House side of the Capitol this week -

- Rules, Monday, 1 p.m., HHR4.  Rubber-stamp of what appear to be non-controversial bills (based on their unanimous or near-unanimous committee passage).

- Ways and Means, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  Relatively short agenda: HB2288, changing the frequency that businesses that collect and pay low amounts of sales tax (this one looks reasonable; the others on the agenda, not so much); HB2379, limiting taxes imposed to pay for county libraries, jails and health districts (looks like incremental TABOR); HCR2022, a proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution to raise the amount of business personal property that is exempt from taxation from $50,000 to $2.4 million (a close variant of this was put before voters in 2012.  It failed.  That one would have cost the state $8.2 million in revenue per year).

- Financial Institutions, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR5.  Seems harmless so far.

- Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR4.  Item of interest: HB2226, weakening the state's vehicle emissions testing program.

- Education, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR3.  One item on the agenda: HB2039, allowing charter schools sponsored by a state university or community college district(s) to participate in the state's retirement system.

- Joint Transportation (both the House and Senate Transportation committees meeting together), Tuesday, 9 a.m., HHR1.  On the agenda: a presentation from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).

- Insurance and Retirement, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR3.  Fairly long agenda, and almost all items look to be bad ones.  Probably the least bad: HB2121, easing the licensure/relicensure of non-resident insurance "producers".  The rest are attacks on public employees' pensions or consumer protections related to insurance companies.  The agenda includes Rep. John Kavanagh's (R) move to place limits on the amount of compensation that state pension recipients can receive.

- Government, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR4.  A long agenda, primarily filled with items that could be categorized as "micromanaging" cities and towns.  One item of interest: HB2378, placing a limit on taxes/fees that can be imposed by municipalities for public services.

- Federalism and Fiscal Responsibility, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  One item on the agenda: HB2380, making a change to the state's law regarding the priority of tax liens.

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

- Public Safety, Military, and Regulatory Affairs, Wednesday, 10 a.m., HHR3.  On the agenda:  HB2127, removing the clause in current law that limits "wildlife guides" to carrying pistols; and HB2133, creating a requirement that applicants for peace officer positions present proof at the time of application that they are US citizens.  HB2133 probably stems from the recent situation where a long-time DPS detective had to resign when it came to light that she was brought to the US as a small child and therefore was not a US citizen.

- Higher Education and Workforce Development, Wednesday, 10 a.m., HHR1.  Hearing a presentation from the state's university-level higher education hierarchy.  No bills on the agenda at this time.

- Commerce, Wednesday, 10 a.m., HHR4.  Looks harmless so far.

- Appropriations, Wednesday 2 p.m., HHR1.  One item on the agenda: HB2366, appropriating funds for nativist legislators and former legislators whose emails have been subpoenaed in a lawsuit over the infamous (and mostly overturned by court decisions) SB1070.

- Transportation, Thursday, 9 a.m., HHR3.  Harmless, so far - the agenda's all about "special" license plates.

- Technology and Infrastructure, Thursday, 9 a.m., HHR5.  One item on the agenda: HB2408, mandating that public officer financial disclosure forms be filed electronically rather than in paper form.

- Reform and Human Services, Thursday, 9 a.m., HHR1.  No bills on the agenda.  They are scheduled to hear a presentation on the Office of Child Welfare Investigations (OCWI).

- Judiciary, Thursday, 10 a.m., HHR4.  Three bills on the agenda: HB2091, relating to "just compensation; tolling; time limitation"; in quotes because I truly don't understand the effect of this one, though it seems to apply to situations where the value or utility of a piece of land was negatively impacted by a new law, ordinance, or rule and the owner of the property can sue for financial relief; HB2153, legalizing discrimination (and other bad behaviors) if the person behaving badly can cite their religious beliefs for engaging in the bad behavior; and HB2196, an attempt to do an end run around the voters.  In 2013, the Republicans in the legislature passed HB2305, a bill with a slew of voter suppression provisions.  There was then a successful petition to force the measure on to the 2014 ballot for the voters to consider.  The Rs plan to repeal HB2305, obviating the ballot question, and then pass the voter suppression measures one by one.  Opponents will then have to run multiple petition drives in order to force the measures to the ballot.

Both HB2153 and HB2196 were on the agenda for last week's House Judiciary meeting, but were held in the face of the presence of a strong level of public opposition.

On the Senate side of the Capitol -

- Rules, Monday, 1 p.m., Senate Caucus Room 1.  Unlike House Rules, they will be considering a couple of controversial measures; like House Rules, it's a rubberstamp.

- Judiciary, Monday, upon adjournment of the floor session, SHR1.  One item: SB1122, slightly changing the legal definition of marijuana.

- Government and Environment, Monday, upon adjourment of the floor session, SHR3.  On the agenda: SB1094, attacking teachers unions by outlawing third-party payroll deductions for school district employees unless those deductions are each authorized annually; SB1161, usurping municipal authority to self-govern in any way, if a municipality accepts it, voluntarily (for now).  Seriously.  If SB1161 is ultimately enacted into law, municipalities will be severely constrained in the laws, ordinances, by-laws, and rules that they can enact.

- Joint Transportation (both the House and Senate Transportation committees meeting together), Tuesday, 9 a.m., HHR1.  On the agenda: a presentation from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).

- Appropriations, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR109.  On the agenda: SB1159, appropriating funds for nativist legislators and former legislators whose emails have been subpoenaed in a lawsuit over the infamous (and mostly overturned by court decisions) SB1070.; SB1219, appropriating $150K to the state's Navigable Stream Commission for outside legal counsel; SB1220, appropriating $1.462 million to the Independent Redistricting Commission for ongoing activities; SB1221, authorizing the AZ Attorney General to represent for legislators who have been subpoenaed over SB1070; and SB1224, appropriating nearly $7 million to pay for new caseworkers, in response to the CPS scandal where they ignored more than 6000 reports of child abuse.

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

- Commerce, Energy, and Military, Wednesday, 9 a.m., SHR1.  A schmoozefest with presentation by Freeport McMoRan Copper, a bunch of executive nominations, and a few bills.  One item of interest: SB1075, limiting the amount of physician-administered medication that employers, insurers, and the Industrial Commission have to pay for in cases of employee accidents.

- Public Safety, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR109.  Some executive nominations and one bill:  SB1093, requiring federal agencies to register with a county sheriff before operating in that county and to give half of any fines, penalties, and fees to that county (which is, in turn, required to send half of their take to the state).

I actually hope this one passes - even feds need some comic relief.

- Health and Human Services, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  Looks mostly harmless, though SB1225 relates to mammography reporting and seems to fall into the category of "micromanaging".

- Finance, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR3.  On the agenda:  three bills from Sen. Steve Yarbrough.  I don't completely understand them all, but given the source, they're probably not good news for AZ.

- Education, Thursday, 10 a.m., SHR1.  On the agenda: SB1100, mandating that public school districts sell any unused or underused buildings to private or charter schools; and SB1182, a measure from Yarbrough (that's also on the Finance agenda) that is designed to make it more difficult for public school districts to enact and maintain budget/bond overrides.

The lege's calendar of events for the week is here.
AZ Department of Administration meeting public notices are here.

Edit on 1/28 - The entries for both House and Senate Appropriations have been amended.  The original language stated that former and current legislators were being sued over their involvement in SB1070.  That was incorrect.  Those current and former legislators have had their emails subpoenaed in a lawsuit related to SB1070, but, as of this writing, they have not been named in that lawsuit.


John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

Regarding your comments on the House Appropriations Committee agenda, nobody is being sued and most of SB1070 has been upheld. Factually, you are 0 for 2.

State Rep. John Kavanagh (Approps Chair)