Welcome one and all to the second regular session of the 54th AZ legislature. The session opened Monday, January 13th with a lot of fanfare. Most of our readers know, or should know, that conservative talk radio host James T. Harris has his conservative circus. Not to be outdone, the AZ legislature has its own circus, not nearly as conservative, and complete with magicians, comedians, clowns, and even some animals, mostly of the jackass persuasion.
There were speeches, posturing, and politics, including the obligatory State of the State speech by our governor.
The governor gave a great speech, consisting of a series of promises, pausing after each for the obligatory applause. Most of those promises entailed the expenditure of money. In fact, it would have been quite appropriate for the governor to wear a Santa Claus outfit. Gifts for everyone. But hey, we can afford it. The state is flush with money, created mostly by three sources. First, we have a booming economy as a result of the policies put in place by President Trump. Second, we have an influx of wealthy, liberal, mostly Californians that have brought with them their money, but also their socialist mindset that created the problems in their home state. Third, we had a large state income tax increase for tax year 2018. This was not the result of action by our state government, but rather the result of inaction. The planned, intentional, and well-orchestrated failure to properly reconcile the state code to the federal code resulted in most of the Trump income tax break ending up in the state coffers.
There were only one or two minor references to reducing our state debt or giving some of that money back to those who earned it. No matter, some of us are in the habit of ignoring rhetoric and concentrating instead on action. We will wait and see what actually happens.
Speaking of action, the House extended its legislative vacation by another week, as it remained inactive. The Senate did schedule 36 bills for committee hearings, most of which were harmless housekeeping bills. We pay attention only to those bills that appear to be most controversial and/or may have the greatest effect on our lives. It was a challenge to find any such bills this week, but here is the result.
- SB1061 – ALLEN, S – Directs the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) to post a statutory handbook of parental rights on its website and requires schools to provide a link on their websites. Makes sense. Parents should know their rights.
- SB1082 – ALLEN, S – Modifies requirements and prohibitions relating to sex education instruction including approval of curricula and parental notification and permission. Prohibits sex education instruction for pupils in kindergarten through grade 6. This bill was strangely removed from the agenda and did not get a hearing. Highly unusual for a bill introduced by the committee chairman not to be considered. Maybe it failed to gather enough support.
- SB1099 – MESNARD – In tax lien land sales, after all the government agencies are paid their due, the balance goes back to the property owner. Another common sense bill.
Pretty mild stuff overall, but do not fret. Next week promises to be quite a bit more interesting. Bills scheduled for hearings include arming of school employees, mandatory sentencing, the border wall, and, of course, education. Stay tuned.
Jose Borrajero is the director of the Arizona’s People’s Lobbyist, which strives to inform citizens about upcoming legislative activity, encourage them to participate in the process, and facilitate participation. Find him via his Facebook page www.facebook.com/AZRRT/ and his website www.azpeopleslobbyist.com.