Sunday, April 20, 2014

Waning days of the 2014 AZ legislature: Lobbyists practicing their check writing skills

Full disclosure: This post is all about bad bills that are still alive or dead bills that could be resurrected, not just the start of lobbyist shakedown season. 

Two of the truisms about the legislature in AZ are:

1.  Some crazy s--- goes down during the final hours of any session (Alt-fuels, anyone?)

2.  The members of the lege will be reaching out to put the touch on lobbyists before the echo of the final gavel fades from the chambers of the legislature.

The coming week is looking to be the final one of the session.

Not written in stone, but the budget is passed (an ugly budget, to be sure, but it has been passed) and the members of the lege want to get on with campaigning for this year's elections...and, perhaps not so coincidentally, once the session ends, they can officially start collecting "campaign contributions" from lobbyists.

ARS 41-1234.01 states:
A. While registered under this article, a principal, public body, lobbyist, designated public lobbyist or authorized public lobbyist shall not make or promise to make a campaign contribution to or solicit or promise to solicit campaign contributions for:
1. A member of the legislature when the legislature is in regular session.

As soon as the legislative session ends, expect the money train to leave the station.

It's something to keep an eye on when the legislative session ends, but between now and that finale (speculation: Thursday evening) there are a number of ugly, crazy, and just plain bad bills still alive.

And that's not even allowing for the resurrection of already-killed bills.  As they say at the lege, and observers know from long experience, "it ain't over until Sine Die".

Note: all schedules and agendas are subject to change without notice, and given the chaos that is a fundamental part of the end of any session of the legislature, expect changes.

For now, however, we know a few things that are coming -

Monday's House COW calendar includes:

SB1237, expanding school vouchers "empowerment scholarship accounts"

SB1344, "clarifying" that the Citizens' Clean Election Committee has not jurisdiction whatsoever over campaign finance violations committed by non-Clean Elections candidates.

SB1366, further weakening the state's already weak firearms laws by expanding the definition of "firearm" that is (not) regulated by state laws

Monday's Senate COW calendar includes:

HB2163, allowing a "space flight entity" to enter into liability release agreements with "space flight participants".  The measure is being pushed by a company that has entered the business of commercial space flight (the fact that there isn't any viable commercial spaceflight at this point, or even in the foreseeable future, is irrelevant - they want a liability waiver)

HB2403, creating rules and procedures for taking depreciation on equipment related to renewable energy.  This bill started its life as a bill to give disabled veterans lifetime passes to Arizona state parks.

HB2448, creating a tax credit for property owners who claim that the value of their property has been diminished by a municipality's land use rule, and withholding the amount of that credit from any funds distributed to that municipality by the state.

Third Read (final approval) calendars for Monday and later in the week have not been posted as yet, nor have other COW calendars.

Channel 12's Sunday Square Off had segments devoted to the the lege's (likely) last week of the session, segments that featured Capitol reporters Alia Rau (Arizona Republic) and Howard Fischer (Capital Media Services).  Their summary/prediction:

Lots of bills will be considered this week, most won't be fully vetted by legislators, and at some point, a defeated measure to expand school vouchers "empowerment scholarship accounts" (not the measure above).

Video of the segments here and here.

Take away:  This is going to be one of those weeks where no matter how closely one keeps tab on the activities of the lege, stuff is going to be missed.  But that's better than ignoring them and then next week looking looking back and wondering -


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