The best thing we can say about this week is that it was not as bad as last week. Even though we had our share of adversity, it was moderated by some modest gains. Here are some examples.
ELECTIONS. Two steps forward and one step backward.
Mandates that ballot envelopes must be unable to show party affiliation. This would make it more difficult to do mischief. It passed the House third reading 41-18-1 and it is headed for the Senate for a final vote.
Increases the amount of information required in the affidavit, and the affidavit must be inserted inside the return envelope. It passed the full Senate along party lines, 16-14-0
SB1485 – (NOW: early voting list; eligibility) UGENTI-RITA
It requires removal from the early voting list if the voter has not voted by mail for two consecutive cycles (4 years). It does not in any way affect the ability of the voter to vote, but they would have to vote in person unless they renew their membership on the early vote list. But voter suppression has been the pretext used by opponents of this bill. They apparently succeeded because this bill was held in the House Government and Elections Committee, and its future is uncertain.
EDUCATION. Another case of some gains and one reverse
SB1041 – STOs; aggregate cap increase LIVINGSTON
These two bills are treated as a unit here because they are similar in scope and had the same result in the House Ways and Means Committee. They both passed 6-4-0.
STO’s are School Tuition Organizations. They are the vehicles used to carry out voluntary contributions by taxpayers in connection with state income tax credits. There are limits to what can be done, and both bills increase those limits.
SB1041 increases the aggregate dollar amount of the cap on the Credit for Contributions to School Tuition Organizations, but only for Displaced or Disabled Students.
SB1118 increases the eligibility and cap for low-income recipients.
This is a very bad bill, but a very popular one as evidenced by the votes so far. In the House it passed the third reading 35-25 when four Republicans joined all Democrats in voting YES. They were Bowers, Udall, Pratt, and Osborne. In the Senate Education Committee, it passed 8-0.
What this bill at first glance appears to be may be best shown by a direct quote from the House Summary, “Directs the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) to conduct a five-year resource and service consolidation grant program (Grant Program). Appropriates $10,000,000 from the state General Fund (GF) in FY 2022 for the Grant Program. Exempt from the provisions of section 35-190, Arizona Revised Statutes, relating to lapsing of appropriations.”
Generally, consolidation is done to save taxpayer money, but not here. We are going to spend initially ten million dollars, with possibly more being appropriated later. On top of that, this project is exempt from ARS 15-190, which means that if they do not spend all the money appropriated, they get to keep the rest instead of returning it to the general fund.
But there is more. A thorough reading of the bill reveals that neatly hidden in the deep bowls of this bill there is the following language:
“consolidate resources and develop new services for all school districts, charter schools, county free library districts, municipal libraries, nonprofit and public libraries, tribal libraries, private schools, tribal schools, juvenile detention centers and jails within the jurisdiction of the county school superintendent or superintendents. This paragraph does not prevent the county school superintendent or group of superintendents from providing services to school districts outside of the superintendent’s or superintendents’ jurisdiction.”
So, we see that consolidation of services for the purpose of saving taxpayer money is the least of the worries of the crafters of this bill. It is more like a laundry list of “new services”. Furthermore, what do detention centers, jails, private schools, libraries, etc. have to do with school services and resources?
As an aside, it should be noted that the language in HB2022 is all new language that did not exist before in the ARS. As such, it should be shown in BLUE UPPER CASE. However, it is shown as normal black print, as if it were old, untouched language. That, plus the misleading short title raises some questions as to the possibility of intentional misleading. Most casual readers would most likely regard this as a good thing. In depth reading reveals something else.
Hopefully, someone in the Senate will blow the whistle on this monstrosity of a bill.
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