Sunday, February 16, 2014

Arizona Legislature: The Coming Week - part 1

Well, they've reached the first "deadline" week of the session, and that is reflected in the length of committee agendas.

Friday is the last day for bills introduced in a particular chamber to be heard in that chamber's committees.  There are exceptions (bills can still be considered by the Appropriations committees) or exceptions can be made (schmooze the Senate President/House Speaker), but for the most part, proposals that don't pass committee by the end of the week are dead.

...Unless they are revived by a strike-everything amendment (striker) and pasted into the frame of another bill that *did* pass committee.  But that's another post...

This week, because the agendas are so long, and so fluid, this post will be presented in two parts -

Monday and Tuesday's schedules will be in this part, while the agendas for Wednesday and Thursday will be analyzed on Tuesday evening.


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 Senate side of the Capitol -

- Rules, Monday, 1 p.m., Caucus Room 1.  Long agenda (37 items); might take them all of 15 minutes to rubber stamp it.

- Judiciary, Monday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  On the agenda:  A same-subject striker to SB1122, related to industrial hemp.  It's from Sen. Rick Murphy, so it probably isn't good policy, but it is more technical than I understand, so it should be looked at by folks with more knowledge of the topic; SB1249, another technical measure that seems to expand the definition of someone who can be indefinitely committed to a mental hospital/prison to include anyone who is charged with a serious or violent crime (again, this one should be examined by folks with more subject knowledge); SB1390, creating a legal presumption that, in the event of conflicting health care directives from someone holding a health care power of attorney and health care providers, the one issued under the color of power of attorney represents the wishes of the patient; competing? measures, a striker to SB1364 and a striker to SB1052, that appear to do the same thing (relating to "equivalent cost-sharing requirements" for insurance); SB1266, exempting judicial officers from certain weapons violations; SB1409, expanding the kind of cases that can be handled by, and the fees that can be paid to, outside law firms contracted by Arizona Attorney General's office to handle certain matters; and SB1479, a "breathing while brown" bill, this one expanding the definition of "criminal trespass" to include "entering or remaining on any real property if the person is violating any other federal or state law."

- Government and Environment, Monday, 2 p.m., SHR3.  On the agenda: SB1354 and SB1355, attacking public employees and public employee unions by attacking the ability of employees to pay union dues, and unions to collect those dues, via payroll deduction; SB1333, allowing industry lobbying organizations to be part of air quality studies; SB1405, Sen. Rick Murphy's self-serving proposal to inhibit investigations of allegations of domestic violence or child abuse by holding a public employee personally liable for any damages that someone else may suffer as a result of the employee's actions, even those conducted in the normal course of the employee's duties, if the actions were "grossly negligent", "malicious", or show a "reckless disregard of damages that could occur"; SB1291, telling the federal government that certain laws relating to national defense don't apply to Arizona; SCR1016, a resolution from "Atomic" Al Melvin stating that the lege supports designating one week of each legislative session as "Limiting Government Week"; SB1478, a "trees cause drought" bill that would bar the use of funds from the state's Water Protection Fund to plant tamarisk, mesquite, or other "high water use trees", but would allow the use of the Fund's funds to pay for the removal of such trees; and SB1106, appropriating $30 million to build some kind of a fence along the border with Mexico.  I say "some kind" because while the original bill says the money is for a "virtual" fence, there's a proposed amendment to make the appropriation for a physical or virtual fence.  And since the amendment is proposed by the chair of the committee, it's probably going to pass.

- Transportation, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR3.  Looks harmless so far.  There are a couple of bills that seem suspicious based on their sources (Sens. Chester Crandell and Don Shooter), but other than their sponsors being consistently bad elected officials, I couldn't identify specific clauses to be concerned about.

But just because I couldn't find them doesn't mean that they aren't there.

- Elections, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  On the agenda: SB1415, changing the way that "majority" of votes is calculated in municipal race.  It looks like the bill will all but end runoff elections for city council seats and increase the influence of "single-shotting" candidates (voting for only one candidate in a multiple-seat race to increase the likelihood of that candidate winning one of the contested seats); and SCR1003, proposing a change to the Arizona constitution that would require that any voter initiatives or referenda that affect state revenues or expenditure has to be reauthorized every eight years.

- Appropriations, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR109.  On the agenda: SB1400, establishing the Public Safety Officers Assistance Fund, a commission to manage the Fund, and takes $50 out of every $150 administrative towing charge (from municipalities, counties, and anyone else that assesses such a fee) to fund the Fund.

On the House side of the Capitol -

- Rules, Monday, 1 p.m., HHR4.  Long agenda, rubber stamp. 20 minutes, tops.

- Ways and Means, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  On the agenda: HB2272, loosening requirements for a business tax credit program; a striker to HB2379, affecting taxes levied by county library, healthcare, and jail districts.  This bill was already passed by this committee on a party line vote, but it is coming back for some reason.  In its original form, it limited taxes for those districts in such a way as to all but force such districts to shut down; HB2389, amending transaction privilege tax provisions (many that will impact the amount of revenue collected by cities and towns); HB2413, reducing school district bonding level limits; and HB2595, making some changes to tax and appraisal rules for home renewable energy systems.

- Financial Institutions, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR5.  On the agenda:  HB2264, creating something called "Arizona Job Finance Bonds".  This would authorize the creation of industrial development authorities that would be allowed to issue bonds to finance private projects that would create private sector jobs.  The beneficiaries of these bonds would be able to self-certify (by submitting a business plan) that jobs would be created by the financed project; HB2526, raising interest and fees on "consumer lender loans" (the next time this bunch proposes something to protect consumers, rather than exploit them, will be the first time).

- Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR4.  On the agenda:  HB2623, direct the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to establish performance standards for coal-fired and natural gas-fired electrical generating units.  And then tells them what the standards will be.  I don't know where the original bill documents are located now, but I'm pretty sure that if a police forensics unit examined them, they'd find the fingerprints of industry lobbyists all over the docs.

- Education, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR3.  On the agenda:  HB2036, expanding school vouchers "Empowerment Scholarship Accounts; HB2316, a sneaky bill.  The working title is "schools; local control; student privacy" but the actual title should be "federal education standards; AZ don' need no stinkin' education standards"; HB2485, requiring the Arizona Department of Education to "award a contract to an educational technology provider for language development and literacy software".  There's a proposed amendment to the bill which would modify the proposal into a "pilot program", but the price tag remains the same - $36 million over three fiscal years.  Maybe I've gotten to be too cynical from my years of lege-watching, but this one looks to have requirements that are so specific that only one provider is going to qualify for the contract.

- Insurance and Retirement, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR3.  On the agenda: HB2560, making documents related to insurance company self-evaluation compliance audits exempt from all disclosure, including in court cases.  Most of the bills on this agenda, including HB2560, are a little too technical for me to completely understand the effects of them.

- Government, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR4.  On the agenda: a same-subject striker to HB2386, limiting the bonding ability of special taxing districts, and other changes; HB2476, another proposal to attack public employee unions through limitations on payroll deductions for union dues; HB2528, limiting the ability of municipalities to regulate signwalkers within their jurisdictions; HB2640, mandating that if a municipality, a county, or the state calls for an investigation of itself or a subdivision of the same, it must contract with a third party to conduct that investigation, and the the auditor general select the third party.  The auditor general works directly for the legislature.  Any questions about what they're really trying to do here?

- Federalism and Fiscal Responsibility, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  On the agenda: HB2188, appropriating $20 million to by communication equipment related to border security; HCR2035, a proposal to change the state's constitution to require a balanced budget.  Lots of words, looks like TABOR without using that specific word; HCR2036, imposing some debt limits that seem to be part of HCR2035's TABOR-like provisions.

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

Legislative floor calendars can be found here.
The lege's calendar of events for the week is here.
AZ Department of Administration meeting public notices are here.

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