Members are starting to slow down and so are the schedules. There’s only one reason for that: the Capitol is approaching Sine Die.
The week started off with last week’s big news: Governor Ducey’s school safety proposal. S1519 (protective orders; schools; approp) seems to be struggling, it reportedly doesn’t have the necessary votes in either chamber to move to the Governor’s desk. A five-hour hearing on Monday resulted in a party-line vote, but even the Republicans who voted for it didn’t do so happily.
The bill received the NRA’s endorsement late in the week, essentially confirming that not a single Democrat will vote for the measure.
With no definitive source for funding higher teacher salaries, reporters and staffers are grasping for an understanding of where the money might be coming from. As of now, the Governor’s initial budget counts $79 million in “efficiency savings” and reallocation from employee vacancies and the Dept of Tourism’s marketing and advertising budget.
And it isn’t just the public who’s confused, Representative Udall discussed funding methods with Reps. Carter, Coleman, and Brophy McGee and left their meeting without a workable plan because “We had one plan after another that didn’t work because we couldn’t get the money.”
Ducey’s proposal would reallocate $8 million from universities’ capital and operational needs, $10 million from debt reduction, among 20 other items.
By the Tuesday’s end, Representative Allen revealed the budget proposal had been finalized last week, but it is being reworked to adjust for Ducey’s 20% raise for teachers. Although the GOP seems mostly supportive of the plan, they have acknowledged the challenge in finding sources for more education funding. In response, Rep. Allen expressed interest in utilizing the $79 million Ducey earmarked for his initiatives.
One point to highlight is the communication, or lack thereof, between some teacher groups and the governor. Ducey scheduled a meeting with teachers at 3 PM today, but the Arizona Educators United (AEU) was not invited. After receiving word of this, other teachers unions and the AEU sent a second letter requesting a meeting to the governor.
Wednesday: Although he supports raising teacher pay, Representative Finchem believes that the lack of clarity from the state government is a signal that local school boards should be leading the solution to finding appropriate sources for funding. But Finchem also wants to discuss whether its more sustainable to raise taxes or to reallocate within current education funds, eventually referring to the possibility of a ballot initiative being the ultimate decision-maker. On the other side of the aisle, Representative Clark concurred in a similar manner on Thursday, “Why would the teachers want us to vote for something that very well could be taken away a year-and-a-half or two years from now?”
By Friday, word was out: The state-wide teacher walk-out is scheduled for Thursday, April 26, leaving many Republican lawmakers dismayed and cautious about future backlash. Speaker Mesnard explained, “The governor has put a plan on the table. The Legislature is working through the plan and making it a reality,” he said. “This strike is not going to make the teacher pay proposal any greater of a priority than it already is for the Legislature.” And the Arizona Education Association was not willing to take any hits; the President told reporters on Friday morning that the walk-out date could be moved to an earlier date if legislators behave “recklessly.”
The League of Arizona Cities and Towns is offering an amendment to H2479 (TPT; digital goods & services). The amendment will clarify the tax law that lost $48 million in state revenue. But the bill’s progress through the legislature has come to a halt since the League quoted a potential revenue dent to municipalities to be around $120 million.
Tracking Report Updates
H2266 (Electrical Bicycles)
The Department of Transportation is required to issue dark sky lighting special license plates if a person pays $32,000 in start-up costs by December 31, 2018. Of the $25 annual fee, $8 is an administrative fee and $17 is an annual donation to be deposited in the State Highway Fund. The Dept is required to use donations from the dark sky lighting special license plates to install “dark sky lighting” (defined) along each right-of-way. Additionally, all special license plates are required to have a standard design with a three-inch square on the plate that is set aside for a logo or message and an area on the bottom of the plate that is set aside for a message. The Dept is required to determine the standard design of the special license plate. Applies to all special license plates authorized after the effective date of this legislation.
- 4/20: Governor vetoed!
- 4/17: House concurred Senate amendments, 48-10. Ready for governor.
H2471 (Electronic Wills and Trusts)
Statutes regulating wills are applied to “electronic wills” (defined). A person who is 18 years of age or older and who is of sound mind may make an electronic will, and requirements for electronic wills are specified, including requirements for a “qualified custodian” (defined) of the electronic will. Establishes requirements for “electronic trust instruments” (defined), including to meet statutory requirements for a valid trust.
- 4/20: Governor vetoed!
- 4/17: House concurred Senate amendments, 58-1. Ready for governor.