Our legislature’s 100 day session is in its 124th day with no end in sight. Rumor has it that the current adjournment target date is May 25th, but it would not be wise to bet on it.
The culprit seems to be the lack of agreement on the budget, particularly what to do about all the extra money available resulting from a booming U. S. economy. It seems that everyone wants a larger piece of the pie to fund their favorite project. No one in a position of power is remotely considering issuing taxpayer refunds. The governor has been adamantly opposed to conforming AZ tax code to the U. S. code in a manner that it does not result in a tax increase for AZ taxpayers.
In the meantime, many important bills are not receiving the attention they deserve. This struggle has been documented by the AZ Central and may be viewed by going to http://bit.ly/2DXnW1F.
Among the bills we are tracking, those dealing with two subjects, petition signature gatherers and teachers as psychologists, saw action this week.
SB1451 – LEACH: Adds some restrictions to initiative and referendum signature gatherers who are paid and/or are out of state. This bill does not affect volunteer signatures gatherers who are AZ residents. It passed in the House along party lines and was sent back to the Senate for a final vote.
HCR2005 – KAVANAUGH: Would require the minimum number of signatures to be collected from each legislative district, not just overall state. Currently it does not matter where the signatures come from as long as the minimum is met. This means that potentially a measure can get on the ballot with signatures only from Maricopa and Pima counties, thereby leaving rural AZ without a voice in the matter. However, high density AZ need not worry about losing their monopolistic power. This bill, aiming at correcting that inequality, is going nowhere. It is still in the House, its chamber of origin, and it did not clear the House COW. It was retained on the calendar, but that means very little at this late hour in the session.
SC1468 – BOWIE: Requires that all district and charter school personnel that deal with 6th-12th grade students undergo suicide prevention training. It includes teachers, principals, and counselors. Some folks are yearning for the day when schools go back to teaching subjects useful for obtaining gainful employment and leave the social work to others. Reaching that day has taken a major setback, as this is a significant step toward advancing the nanny state by forcing school personnel to act as psychologists. SC1468 was signed into law by Ducey, with a great deal of fanfare.
Links to bills mentioned in this report: