AZ Legislature Week In Review – Week Ending January 31, 2020

Arizona capitol

Another week that saw a huge influx of new bills introduced. The count now is just around 1,200. Most of those bills were never intended to be enacted. They include bills introduced for posturing purposes, to satisfy constituencies. Other bills are introduced for the purpose of being available to be amended with the infamous strike everything amendments Arizona is known for. For those who are not familiar with strike all amendments, they are simply amendments attached to bills whereby the whole text of the host bill is replaced with the whole text of another bill. This is a common practice for getting another chance at passing bills that were failing, under a different name, hoping that they will sneak through. A third type of bill consists of serious bills that Democrats introduce as a means of testing the waters, in anticipation of the day when they will hold a majority. Many Democrats are convinced that they will gain control of both chambers in 2020.

This week there were several controversial bills, but they did not see much action

HCR2001 – FILLMORE: If passed by the legislature, the language of this bill will be submitted as a referendum for the registered voters of AZ to vote on. If approved by the voters by a simple majority, it will become a voter protected measure that cannot be amended or repealed except by another vote of the people. HCR2001 is intended to gut a previous measure, proposition 203, adopted in 2000. Under Prop 203, English Language Learners were taught English via structured immersion, which entailed a significant part of instruction would be conducted in English. The key language in HCR2002 is as follows:

EACH PUBLIC SCHOOL IN THIS STATE SHALL ENSURE THAT ALL ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS:

  1. RECEIVE THE HIGHEST QUALITY OF EDUCATION.
  2. MASTER THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
  3. ACCESS HIGH QUALITY, INNOVATIVE RESEARCH-BASED LANGUAGE PROGRAMS.

In other words, the vague language gives school boards great latitude. But is this what is best for English Learners? Ask anyone who has successfully learned a foreign language in a foreign country, and the answer is almost unanimous that total immersion is the only way to go. Why so many in the education industry think otherwise is anyone’s guess.

The bill cleared the House Education Committee handily 10-1-0. To her credit, Nancy Barto of district 15 was the only NO vote.

HB2252 – BLACKMAN: When it comes to dumb legislation, this one may take the cake. If passed, it would essentially make the state of Arizona a sanctuary state with respect to federal regulations, by proclaiming that they are, “void and of no effect in this state”. Some of the people supporting this are the people up in arms about cities becoming sanctuaries with respect to immigration laws. If HB2252 were to be enacted, there will be a mad race to the federal courts to see who can challenge it first. Fortunately, nothing happened. Apparently it was scratched from the House Federal Relations Committee, where it was scheduled for a hearing.

HB2304 – TOWNSEND: Because of a law suit and subsequent compromise, Arizona has a two tier voter registration system. Voters may register using the federal form that does not require proof of citizenship to vote, or they may use the Arizona form for which proof of citizenship is required. As a result, those registered with the federal form are eligible to vote on federal elections, but not in local or statewide elections. Those registered with the Arizona form may vote in all elections. HB2304 would require that ballots cast under the federal form be visibly different, as a means of tabulating those ballots. It is a good bill, but highly controversial. It was held in the House Elections Committee.

Next week promises to be another interesting week if all the bills scheduled get a hearing. For example:

HB2359 – CRIMINAL CODE

HB2268, SB1031 – ELECTIONS

SB1357, SB1122 – EDUCATION

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.