How does our state legislature justify the introduction of over 1,600 bills? That was the number when we last checked. There may have been more since then. That number includes 817 regular house bills and 682 regular senate bills. There were also about 100 memorials and resolutions introduced in both chambers.
Whatever happened to the idea that government is best that governs least? Henry David Thoreau attributed it to Thomas Jefferson, but most scholars seem to agree that Jefferson had nothing to do with it, and it was strictly a Thoreau creation.
No matter who coined the phrase, two points are clear. It is a good idea, and the AZ legislature disagrees. Be that as it may, here are some of the highlights of the week.
HB2359 – license denial prohibited; drug convictions – TOMA: This bill mandates that government issued licenses may not be denied people who have been convicted of drug offenses. The problem with this bill is that it is too broad in scope. That was partially mitigated by the adopted amendment to exclude health profession licenses, but it still needs an even narrower scope. Maybe that will happen as the bill moves through the system. It passed House Regulatory Affairs committee unanimously, 7-0-0.
HB2268 – election complaints; attorney general – TOWNSEND: It was scheduled to be heard in the House Elections Committee, but it was held by chairman Townsend, who is the sponsor of the bill. Apparently they want to do some tweaking to the language, or maybe there is not enough support. Most likely we will see this bill in committee soon.
SB1357 – schools; access; instructional materials; review – ALLEN: S. This is a simple transparency bill that allows parents to know what their kids are being taught. Why anyone would oppose this is beyond comprehension. Yet, all Democrats voted NO and all Republicans, except one, voted YES. The one Republican that joined the Democrats was Brophy McGee, of District 28. The vote was 5-4-0
HB2604 – consular identification cards; permitted use – RIVERO: This is a poorly written bill. Its supporters claim that these ID cards may not be used for obtaining benefits, but there is nothing in this bill to address that. In fact, the original statute stated that these cards “may not be used”. What this bill does is it removes “not” so that the statute reads “may be used”. The bill also describes the type of ID that will be acceptable, namely it must use biometrics. Rivero and all Democrats voted YES. All other Republicans voted NO. The vote was 5-4-0.
HB2442 – highway safety fee repeal – BIASIUCCI: A tax, by any other name, would be just as stinky. This tax was passed disguised as a fee in order to avoid the constitutional requirement that tax increases must pass with a super majority of both chambers. It is a very recessive tax. The contention that we need this in order to fund the highway patrol is bogus. There is enough money in the state coffers to fund the highway patrol many times over. The bill passed 5-4-0, along party lines.
SB1032 – early voting; signature required; notice – UGENTI-RITA: This bill merely codifies the current practice of requiring the voter’s signature on the ballot envelope. What possible catastrophe could ensue as a result of signing the envelope, that all three Democrats in the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against it? Final vote was 4-3-0.
HB2494 – internal revenue code; conformity – TOMA. This is mostly a housekeeping bill to conform the AZ code to the US code so as to have a neutral effect. It is being tracked this year because last year it became a political football when Ducey vetoed a similar bill in order to capture, via AZ income tax, the Trump tax cuts. In fact, this underhanded tax increase is one of the reasons we have so much money in the AZ treasury. A companion bill, SB1296, is being run in the senate by Mesnard. The vote was unanimous in the House Ways and Means Committee, 7-0-0.
Next week promises to be another week full of excitement as legislators are full speed ahead, trying to finish business early and go into campaign mode for the coming elections. Among the topics occupying center stage will be two usual suspects, education and elections. Stay tuned.
For information on all the bills we are tracking, check out our weekly calls to action, found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AZRRT/ Folks who do not use Facebook can receive those alerts via e-mail by subscribing at email@example.com For general information on the workings of our state legislature, go to our website at https://azpeopleslobbyist.com/ As usual, all the information found herein may be verified by going to the legislature website, found at https://www.azleg.gov/