This was the crossover week, which is the week when legislative bills must finalize action in their respective chamber of origin. As a result, we have witnessed a mad rush to advance as many bills as possible. Surviving bills in one chamber are moving to the other chamber to begin the process all over again.
As regular readers of this column know by now, we at AZ Peoples Lobbyists concentrate almost exclusively on tracking bills that have a profound impact on people’s lives and/or are controversial.
This session, the main players among bills we are tracking have been those dealing with the pandemic, elections, and education. The first two were quite predictable, but the interest in education issues was surprising, given the fact that so much was done with education in the two previous sessions. This week is no different in that we saw action in all three of the major categories we are tracking.
There were several bills dealing with what is often referred to as The Pandemic
Grants taxpayer money in the amount of $5,000 to some small businesses that closed because of COVID. This measure is a joke, and not a funny one at that. The governor’s executive order causes business to close. Now the government comes to the rescue with $5,000 of your money. How long will that money last? How many businesses, no matter how small, can survive longer than one week on $5,000? If we really wanted to help small businesses we should have, in addition to handing out a pittance, removed the oppressive restrictions that have made it impossible for small businesses to survive. Still, an argument, albeit weak, could be made that this is better than nothing. This is apparent because it cleared both the Commerce and the Appropriations committees unanimously.
This bill calls for a constitutional amendment. If it clears both chambers, it will go to the voters for an up or down vote via a ballot measure. The aim here is to create or enhance a balance of power between the executive and legislative branches. It does so by requiring the opening of a special session of the legislature following a declaration of emergency by the governor, to deal with the situation jointly. It passed the Appropriations Committee 8-5.
Establishes, retroactive to March 11, 2020, civil liability standards for specified acts or omissions during a state of emergency for a public health pandemic. The list of items covered is large, but most significant is the elevation of the standard of proof from preponderance of evidence to clear and convincing evidence. It cleared the whole senate 18-12. All Republicans voted for this, and were joined by two Democrats, Bowie and Marsh. The rest of the Democrats voted NO.
The elections issue was well represented, as indicated by these two bills
SB1485 – elections; voting center tabulation UGENTI-RITA – Strike everything amended
As amended: Removes a voter from the EVL if the voter fails to vote by early ballot in both the primary election and the general election for two consecutive primary and general elections Passed Appropriations 8-5-0
Establishes 10 provisions aimed at improving ballot security and proper handling. Read the list by going to https://bit.ly/3bvMkaO It passed Appropriations 5-4
In the education field, there was only one major player this week, but it was a huge one.
In a way, this bill is quite unique in that it could be one of the worst bills introduced this session, but it is quite popular with the legislators. It provides that, subject to voter approval, statutorily repeals the requirement that all Arizona public school students be taught in English and the requirement that children who are English language learners (ELLs) be taught using structured English immersion (SEI). Requires each public school to ensure ELLs receive high quality education and programing, and master the English language. In other words, it totally repeals Prop 203, enacted by voters in 2000. The proponents of this bill either have no clue as to what constitutes a solid foreign language learning program, or have a more sinister agenda in mind.
The absolute best way for a person to learn a foreign language in a foreign land is to engage in total immersion in that language. The most important hurdle for a learner of English, or any other foreign language, is learning to think in that language. It is absolutely, positively impossible to do that using bilingual education.
Ever since Prop 203 was approved, the unions and the educrats have been fighting it tooth and nail, and have enlisted the assistance of most if not all legislators. This came to a head in 2019 when Boyer’s bill SB1014 passed unanimously. It reduced the amount of English immersion to a ridiculously low level. Then in 2020, Fillmore’s HCR2001 would have done away with Prop 203, but thankfully this bill was held in the Rules Committee and died there. There is well-founded speculation that this was a major component in committee chairman Kern’s loss of his seat.
This brings us to 2021 with Shope’s HCR1020, which passed in the senate with a solid 23-7. Only a miracle will keep this garbage-can worthy bill from passing and going to the voters. Hopefully, voters will see through the propaganda again and do what is best for students trying to be fluent in English. Failing to do so will condemn these students to a lifetime of menial, low-paying jobs.
Those readers who wish to view complete reports on what activity has taken place, or will be taking place next week, with the bills we are tracking, may do so by going to: https://www.facebook.com/AZRRT or https://mewe.com/i/joseborrajero
Both sites provide opportunities for readers to make comments, including suggestions for bills to add to our tracking list.
Those not participating in social media may view the report by clicking on 2021-REPORT