Our 100 day Legislative Session has now gone over 131 days, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, since the House finally adopted the budget late Friday night. However, the Senate is still experiencing problems with three Republican holdouts who refuse to go along with the budget unless their demands are met. They are Boyer (LD20), Carter (LD15), and Mesnard (LD17).
Boyer and Carter are threatening voting NO on the budget unless Boyer’s bill SB1255 is advanced. This bill was “held” in the Senate Judiciary Committee early in the session for good reason. It deals with monetary compensation for victims of sexual abuse. It increases the statute of limitation from 2 to 7 years, but this is only a smoke screen. The real problem is that it also redefines when the cause of action accrues to when, “THE PLAINTIFF FIRST DISCLOSES THE SEXUAL ASSAULT TO A LICENSED MEDICAL OR MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IN THE CONTEXT OF RECEIVING HEALTH CARE FROM THE PROVIDER.” This means that there would be no limit to when a law suit may be brought, regardless of the 7 year statute of limitation, which would be a great bonanza for lawyers of the ambulance chaser variety.
The Mesnard objection is valid in terms of content, but ill-advised in terms of timing. It has to do with conforming the AZ income tax code to the US code as a result of the Trump tax cuts. The governor’s budget still does not provide full revenue neutrality, meaning that many taxpayers will be paying more in taxes, which is in effect a tax increase, contrary to the governor’s insistence that it is not. But this is where the validity of Mesnard’s argument ends and the bad timing begins. Way back in early 2018 it became evident that this problem existed and it should have been dealt with then, but it was not until the 2019 session that Mesnard introduced SB1143, a bill to do this. Predictably, Ducey vetoed this bill. All along there should have been an information campaign calling for public support for the bill and putting pressure on the governor to sign it. But the 11th hour of budget negotiations is not the time to do this.
It is possible that by the time you read this, the issue will have been resolved, but if it was not, you may want to contact the main players and express your opinion.
Paul Boyer PBOYER@azleg.gov, 926-4173
Heather Carter HCARTER@azleg.gov, 926-5503
J.D. Mesnard JMESNARD@azleg.gov, 926-4481
Phoenix 602.542.4331 Tucson 520.628.6580
Links to legislative bills mentioned: