We begin this week’s review with a shameless plug for our YouTube AZ Bill Watch channel. Have you ever wanted to take the wise advice that you should read legislative bills before formulating an opinion, but found the task either too daunting or too boring? We now have an answer to your predicament. Learn all about it by reading the notices at the end of this article.
At the state legislature, this week appears to have been the busiest one yet. Not all activity was for the better, as we shall see shortly.
There were bills dealing with every imaginable subject under the sun. They included, among others, elections, law enforcement, the pandemic, education, and taxes. The number one subject in terms of activity was elections. Numbers two and three were the pandemic and education. Let us take a peek at some of the highlights.
Elections. This subject had no less than eight active bills this week. Here are two examples
This bill changes from “may” to “shall” the provision that voter rolls be cleaned up of those no longer eligible, including dead people. Astute observers may notice that, as defined in reputable legal dictionaries, the term “shall” is not that much more powerful that the term “may”. Also, this bill suffers from the same malady as most bills. It does not make clear what the penalty is for failing to comply. But passing this bill is still a step in the right direction. It had nearly unanimous support on both sides of the isle, and was signed by the governor.
This bill, if approved by the voters, will require a super majority in order to enact tax increases via propositions. It makes sense. If it takes a super majority for the legislature to enact tax increases, the rule should also apply to increases via propositions. It has been moving along, but strictly along party lines. It is shameful, but it seems that current day Democrats have never met a tax increase they did not like, as evidenced by their opposition to SCR1024.
Pandemic. Representing the pandemic section of legislative activity were these two bills.
What we really need in Arizona is substantial tort reform, but until that happens, which could be never, we have to settle for band-aid solutions like that offered by SB1377. This bill mandates that, for civil suits resulting from damages during a pandemic related state of emergency, the burden of proof is elevated from the customary preponderance of evidence, to clear and convincing evidence. This bill has been advancing with very modest support from Democrats.
This bill should not be necessary. A governor should not be able to, unilaterally and arbitrarily, determine what businesses are essential and which are not. But again, unless or until a more general solution may be found, this bill is a step in the right direction. It had been moving along party lines until it hit a wall at the House Judiciary Committee, where it was HELD. We do not know the reason, and are not sure what will happen with SB1383.
Education. In the education front, we are featuring two bills that advanced, one pretty decent, and one rather awful.
This is actually a pretty good bill, even though it was introduced by Boyer. Until we have full and complete school choice in Arizona, this modest bill will have to do. The main feature of this bill is that it deems students receiving Title I services or free or reduced-price lunches (FRPLs) eligible for the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program. In other words, it adds two poverty categories to the small handful of eligible categories. It has been moving along with 100% opposition from Democrats.
This bill is quite popular on both sides of the political spectrum, as evidenced by the 46-14 vote in the full house and 6-1 in the senate education committee. But popularity does not make it good. Here is a key feature of this bill:
Allows a school district or charter school to provide the following percentages of its total instructional time in a remote setting without any impact on the school’s funding:
- a) up to 50 percent during the 2021-2022 school year; and
- b) up to 40 percent beginning in the 2022-2023 school year and each school year thereafter.
In other words, less education, more funding. It is great for education personnel, but not so much for students. This bill needs to be defeated, but the most likely scenario is that it will be sent to the governor and he will sign it with great fanfare.
Stay tuned in, because next week another large number of important and controversial bills are scheduled to be considered.
NOTICE #1: Free videos are available dealing with a selected number of bills we are tracking. Each video deals with a single bill, averages about 5 minutes in length, and contains a very detailed discussion of both the positive and the negative features of each bill. You may access this feature by going to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-9WHy-ADLD5RXycOOmU3_w
Once there, you may search by entering, in the search box, the bill number or key word(s). If a bill you are interested in is not there, you may leave a message requesting that it be added.
NOTICE #2: 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
The report that comes up has all the bills we are tracking, sorted alphanumerically. Searching for a specific bill or subject is very easy, by entering the bill number or key word in the search box.
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