PHOENIX – This past week at the Arizona Legislature was the final week committees met to hear and discuss bills, which fueled long hearings and late nights. As of March 20, there were 103 House bills and 79 Aenate bills awaiting hearings – and as of the end of the day on March 23, they were all heard. When does the session end? Officially, the end of April. But folks are still placing their bets.
The sine-die pool is now open. Dive in by April 6 to predict when the Legislature wraps it up pic.twitter.com/SJ3oZ5wvy4
— Mary Jo Pitzl (@maryjpitzl) March 22, 2017
What’s Up, Gov?
Gov. Doug Ducey got busy this week signing bills. On Monday, he signed House Bill 2268, introduced by Rep. Maria Syms, R-Phoenix, which requires all rape kits to be tested. The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously.
Ducey also signed HB2092, HB2326, HB2371, HB2483, HB2536, SB1091 and SB1211, among other bills, this week. Possibly the most noteworthy of these bills is HB2092, which made wulfenite the state mineral of Arizona.
Show Me the Money
Gov. Ducey called for a minuscule proposed teacher pay raise in his budget a few weeks ago, and Republican lawmakers have continued to point toward Proposition 123, which passed in November, as a source for salary increases, saying that adding another pay raise would be redundant.
Amid this discussion, a bill was introduced to have Senate track how schools spend the funds they receive from Prop 123. Senate Bill 1178 was introduced by Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, and made it through the House committees on Monday.
That Won’t Cost You
The Arizona Senate just barely passed House Bill 2402 on a 17-13 party line vote. The bill, introduced by Rep. Vince Leach, R-Casa Grande, would prohibit paying folks to gather signatures based on the number of signatures collected and outlines actions a person can take to challenge an initiative or referendum. Basically, HB2402 is a pay-by-signature ban.
Democrats in the state say the bill will make it more difficult for citizens to change laws and have their voices heard. Members of the Republicans party say fraudulent signatures is a problem that needs a serious solution.
Trust Fund Kids
Remember those students in college who lived off their trust funds? Now the entire Arizona Highway Patrol will too (kind of). Senate Bill 1146, introduced by Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, will take various fees from motor vehicles and deposit into a new trust fund, including a newly imposed tax on natural gas.
The bill was fairly contentious. The Arizona State Senate did end up passing it though, with a 16-14 vote. Now, onto the House of Representatives.
Christianna Silva is the Don Bolles Fellow covering the Legislature for Arizona Sonora News, a service provided by the school of journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.