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CEBV Weekly: March 20, 2023
We know #AllTooWell that the MAGA clown show is obscuring the real issues.
If you were anywhere near the Phoenix metro area this weekend, you doubtless saw the impacts of megastar Taylor Swift’s two sold-out stadium shows. Statistically speaking, she (like most millennials) would probably be pretty irritated with the Arizona Legislature right about now. The spectacle our state’s MAGA contingent has been putting on would rival anything happening at State Farm Stadium.
Legislators have descended on school board meetings with loudspeakers and mobile billboards, harassing unpaid school board members and demanding that they resign. They’re trying to jail teachers for recommending the wrong book. They want to ban everything from M*A*S*H to Shakespeare. They spend their time at the Capitol spouting off about “men wearing bikinis dancing weird,” showing that they’ve likely never come within a mile of an actual drag show. And their rhetoric is dangerous enough that it’s inspired bomb threats and death threats.
Voters are tired of the noise and the nonsense. Their fatigue is centered primarily on hyperpartisanship, but also the overall negative tone of political discourse in our society at large. We can’t say we blame them. Yet the MAGA contingent shows no sign of backing off.
Right-wing political consultant Chuck Coughlin has been trying to warn Republicans that their election conspiracies and culture war issues aren’t resonating with voters at large: "I've been telling Republicans that talk to us down at the legislature, if they continue in the manner they're currently behaving, they will be a minority at the end of ‘24."
All the noise obscures the real issues that our government could be addressing: issues like securing our water future, investing in our community public schools, and building more affordable housing. And it really is just noise: the divisions in the general public aren’t as deep as voters think. For example, though Democrats think the top Republican issue is election fraud, just 19% of Republicans say that’s their top priority.
Americans are eager for a departure from the “us vs. them” narratives. If you’re reading this, you’ve already taken the first step. Active citizenship (working at a polling place, volunteering for a campaign, registering people to vote) can help lift the sense of futility. More Americans becoming engaged in civic life could be good for the country — and for our collective mood.
⏰ If you have 15 minutes: Act on the Spotlight Bills, below.
⏰⏰⏰⏰ If you have 60 minutes: Join us on Zoom at 4pm on Sunday for our next CEBV Happy Hour. Our featured speakers are Michigan state lawmakers Rosemary Bayer and Laurie Pohutsky, along with CEBV volunteer Nelson Morgan.
Issue 1: Last Chance Depot for Good Bills
Once again this year, Republican legislative leadership has used their power to quash the vast majority of bills sponsored by non-Republicans. That’s more than 600 of the 1600+ bills introduced — and fewer than 50 of those have made it through a committee in their chamber of origin. This week is the last chance for these bills to receive a full vote in their “home” chamber. This will allow them to be put on a committee agenda in the other chamber, survive the upcoming crossover bill deadline and, hopefully, get a chance at becoming law.
We’ve listed five good ideas in the “Bills on the Floor” section below, marked with a 🌟. Please contact Senate President Warren Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-926-4136, thank him for hearing these bills, and encourage him to see the process through by ensuring they make it on the board for a simple up-or-down vote.
Issue 2: New Bills in Request to Speak
Yes, more new bills this week! This is the first appearance for these four bills in the CEBV Weekly. More information is available in the Bills in Committee section below; just search for the bill numbers. If you RTS on nothing else this week, please weigh in on these.
SB1029, Kern (R-27), would expand Arizona’s first-degree murder law to include deaths by fentanyl, potentially subjecting friends or family of overdose victims to prosecution that includes penalties of life in prison or the death penalty. OPPOSE.
SB1188, Mesnard (R-13), would ban consumer fireworks from being used on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. SUPPORT.
SB1197, Gowan (R-19), would ban juvenile courts from billing kids or their parents for detention. This practice contributes to youth recidivism and runs counter to the juvenile justice system’s mission to help kids learn from their mistakes. SUPPORT.
Note: legislative leadership plans to extend the bill deadline by one week, but that deadline is still looming down on lawmakers. If the Senate bills below aren’t heard in House committees, or House bills in Senate committees, by March 31, they’re considered dead for the year.
Each of these bills is scheduled for a floor vote on Monday. COW and Third Read floor calendars are released only the night before, so we don’t yet have information for Tuesday through Thursday. Contact your senator or representatives directly, as applicable, on bills you care about.
SB1135, sponsored by John Kavanagh (R-3), would force voters who try to return their early ballots at the polls on Election Day to stand in line, surrender their early ballot, show ID, and then wait their turn to fill in a fresh ballot. In November 2022, nearly 1 in 5 voters chose to return their early ballots on Election Day. This bill would also end “emergency voting,” as in-person voting the weekend before Election Day is called. The sponsor says he is trying to “stop voter fraud”; despite copious conspiracy theories, experts say that is exceedingly rare. Scheduled for a Senate floor vote, Monday. OPPOSE.
🌟 SB1159, sponsored by Christine Marsh (D-4), would legalize drug testing equipment that is used to identify or analyze the strength, effectiveness, or purity of drugs. Possessing such equipment is currently a felony. Marsh lost her son to a fentanyl overdose after he took a pill he didn’t know was laced with the potent synthetic opioid. Fentanyl was developed for pain management of cancer but is now increasingly added to street drugs, making them even more deadly. This bill would provide another tool to increase public safety. Scheduled for a Senate floor vote, Monday. SUPPORT.
🌟 SB1160, sponsored by Christine Marsh (D-4), would keep someone who seeks medical help for another person experiencing a drug-related overdose from being arrested for possession or use of drugs. Research shows the most common reason people don't seek medical help in these situations is fear of arrest, and also that most overdoses are witnessed. Immunizing witnesses from prosecution will reduce this fear and save lives. Scheduled for a Senate floor vote, Monday. SUPPORT.
🌟 SB1544, sponsored by Lela Alston (D-5), would raise the monthly stipend for kinship foster care parents (those related to the child) to the same $600 per month that every other foster parent gets. Kinship foster parents are often grandparents raising grandkids; the bill sponsor, who has been working for parity for these families since 2019, says some families must send the children back to the state because they cannot afford to take care of them. Scheduled for a Senate floor vote, Monday. SUPPORT.
🌟 SB1546, sponsored by Lela Alston (D-5), would set up a $100,000 grant program for district and charter school community gardens. School gardens offer many benefits, including making healthy food more appealing to kids, helping fight hunger, and aiding emotional regulation. Scheduled for a Senate floor vote, Monday. SUPPORT.
🌟 SB1569, sponsored by Raquel Terán (D-26), would create a 19-member study committee on Statewide Eviction Prevention and Housing Affordability. Many positive pieces of legislation addressing serious issues are born from study committees. Scheduled for a Senate floor vote, Monday. SUPPORT.
The stakes are higher now. All of these bills have been through committees and a full floor vote in their chamber of origin. From here, the path to the governor’s desk is much shorter: only a single floor vote remains.
HB2078, sponsored by Lupe Diaz (R-19), sets up a mandatory election audit process that candidates, political parties and PACs could exploit. Have we learned nothing over the last two years? Despite eight failed lawsuits over the 2020 election and a clownish ballot review led by Senate Republicans, there is no evidence of fraud in Arizona. Under the wrong Secretary of State, this could become an even bigger circus than the failed Cyber Ninjas audit Arizona recently suffered. Scheduled for Senate Elections Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2319, sponsored by Alexander Kolodin (R-3), sets up a legal conflict between the judiciary and legislative branches of government by declaring transparency the overarching goal for conducting elections, and declaring that existing court opinions on elections do not have any precedent if they conflict with this bill. It’s a poorly written bill, and a lawsuit waiting to happen (at our expense). Scheduled for Senate Elections Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2415, sponsored by Leo Biasiucci (R-30), would further restrict early voting by stripping voters from the early voting list if they fail to vote their early ballots in all elections within a single election cycle. The current law requires voters to participate in two back-to-back primary and general elections before being dropped. Scheduled for Senate Elections Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2504, sponsored by Barbara Parker (R-10), would expand the school tuition organization (STO) voucher program to students in foster care. STOs, or "Arizona's first vouchers," are dollar-for-dollar tax credits to private schools that result in significantly less money for public schools. The bill is estimated to cost the state half a million dollars annually (these estimates historically run low). Since the STO voucher program's creation, Arizona’s general fund has lost out on over $2.1 billion in revenue. Meanwhile, our state's public school funding remains in the bottom 5 nationwide. Scheduled for Senate Finance Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2552, sponsored by Austin Smith (R-29), would ban the use of ranked choice voting in Arizona. Ranked choice voting, similar to an automatic runoff, would open up partisan primaries to all voters regardless of party registration, and tends to result in more centrist, less polarized victors. See duplicate measure SB1265, sponsored by Anthony Kern (R-27). Scheduled for Senate Elections Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2591, sponsored by Gail Griffin (R-19), would mandate that ballot drop boxes must be located inside a county building or secured to a building or footing. This institutes more roadblocks to voting, such as precluding people from dropping off their ballots at their local polling place on Election Day. Scheduled for Senate Elections Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2613, sponsored by Steve Montenegro (R-29), would ban all electronic voting equipment from primary use unless it meets Department of Defense cybersecurity standards, all pieces of it are made in the US, and the auditor general is given copies of the source codes. This type of equipment does not exist. Inspired by a baseless conspiracy theory about (get this) vote-flipping supercomputers. A coalition of federal cybersecurity and election officials have called the 2020 presidential election the “most secure in American history.” Duplicate bill SB1074, sponsored by Sonny Borrelli (R-30), has passed its House committee. Scheduled for Senate Elections Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HCR2033, sponsored by Austin Smith (R-29), would ask voters to enshrine our current direct primary system into the state Constitution. This would make it extremely difficult to ever institute meaningful reforms such as ranked-choice or top-two primary voting. If passed by both the House and Senate, this resolution would go directly to voters, without Gov. Hobbs having the chance to veto. Scheduled for Senate Elections Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1167, sponsored by Steve Kaiser (R-2), would tie length of unemployment relief to Arizona’s unemployment rate. This would disproportionately harm rural areas and people of color, who typically have higher rates of unemployment compared to the state average. Reducing weeks of assistance will force some people to accept jobs that do not match their skill sets and pay less than their prior earnings, which is bad for both workers and the economy. The sponsor did not consult an economist when writing the bill. Once again scheduled for House Commerce Committee, Tuesday (previously held). OPPOSE.
SB1188, sponsored by JD Mesnard (R-13), would ban consumer fireworks from being used on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Last year, after sustained public outcry, lawmakers finally restricted consumer fireworks from being allowed overnight. Since lawmakers made fireworks legal, injuries have spiked, air quality has plummeted, and veterans and animals have suffered. Scheduled for House Commerce Committee, Tuesday. SUPPORT.
HB2003, sponsored by David Livingston (R-28), would slash corporate income taxes nearly in half by 2025, from their current 4.9% to 2.5%. Last year, Republican lawmakers slashed personal income taxes to 2.5% beginning this year, leaving experts concerned that Arizona won’t have enough revenue to sustain critical services once pandemic relief money runs out and the inevitable next recession arrives. Arizona’s tax giveaways already far outpace the entire state budget, and our unbalanced tax structure relies heavily on volatile sales taxes; Arizona is already one of just 11 states with a corporate income tax rate below 5%. Part of an overall package of tax cuts which would impact the state General Fund by billions of dollars. Once again scheduled for Senate Appropriations Committee, Tuesday (it was discussed only on 3/7). OPPOSE.
HB2338, sponsored by Amish Shah (D-5), would expand Arizona’s Medicaid system to include preventive dental care. This would help maintain overall health and wellness, and save money by helping people avoid serious dental problems. Research shows that gum disease (which is preventable with routine care) may play a role in the development of a number of other conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and respiratory disease. Currently, adults on AHCCCS get only emergency dental care; exams, X-rays, cleanings and other preventive dentistry is not covered. Scheduled for Senate Health & Human Services Committee, Tuesday. SUPPORT.
HB2705, sponsored by Leo Biasiucci (R-30), would create an optional school safety training pilot program for district and charter schools, and appropriate $10 million from the general fund to run it. The legislation is intended to bring to Arizona the FASTER Saves Lives program, an “intensive training for school teachers and staff that qualifies them to carry concealed weapons in schools.” Besides that obvious concern, opponents point out that Arizona’s public schools already offer safety training each year. The only thing this training offers that current trainings don’t: concealed carry instruction. Scheduled for Senate Appropriations Committee, Tuesday. OPPOSE.
SB1026, sponsored by John Kavanagh (R-3), threatens school funding by prohibiting organizations that receive state tax dollars from hosting “drag shows” to entertain people under 18. Violators would lose state funds for 3 years. The definition of “drag show” in the bill is broad enough to include school plays (such as Shakespeare) or football players who dress up as cheerleaders for pep rallies. Identical bills have been introduced in several other states, prompting concerns of model legislation drafted by a hate group. The Legislature’s nonpartisan rules attorneys have told them the bill is unconstitutional. Part of a package of bills that would ostracize LGBTQ people, perpetuate false narratives, and marginalize or shutter dozens of businesses statewide. Scheduled for House Government Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1029, sponsored by Anthony Kern (R-27), would expand Arizona’s first-degree murder statutes to include deaths by fentanyl if the drug can be traced back to a specific individual. The bill’s broad language could subject friends or family of overdose victims to prosecution that includes penalties of life in prison or the death penalty. Cancer patients, for example, use fentanyl patches for pain management, and accidental overdoses by children have become common. Law enforcement should focus on high-risk offenders, expand rehabilitative programs, and work to reduce prison populations, rather than further criminalizing drug use. Part of a package of bills from Republican state lawmakers that would mandate stiffer sentences and punishment for drug enforcement. Scheduled for House Judiciary Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1095, sponsored by Frank Carroll (R-28), would require early ballot envelopes to include a written warning that ballots returned via drop box or mailed after the Friday before the election could cause delayed election results. County elections officials oppose the change on the grounds it would cause confusion: for years, voters have been advised to mail their ballots back by the Wednesday before the election. Ballots mailed from rural areas on Friday might not make it to the county recorder’s office by the deadline of 7 PM on Election Day. Once again scheduled for House Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee, Wednesday (discussed and held on 3/15). OPPOSE.
SB1139, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would require state retirement funds to evaluate their investments solely based on finances, in a crusade against “pro-abortion, pro-sex-ed” banks. This culture war against an imaginary problem carries real consequences for those who depend on Arizona’s retirement system. An ill-considered blanket mandate could leave half a million teachers, firefighters and government employees with retirement accounts that are unable to invest in most major companies, creating a minefield for investors and pension fund managers. Polling shows 70% of Republican voters oppose these mandates, believing companies should be able to use their own funds without government interference. Fossil fuel companies have admitted in public testimony that this type of legislation is all about protecting their own bottom lines. Scheduled for House Government Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1140, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would mandate that counties return to precinct-style voting. The voting center model has numerous benefits, including voter convenience, financial savings, and increased turnout. Lawmakers should be making it easier, not harder, for us to vote. Duplicate bill HB2304 never received a House floor vote. Scheduled for House Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1143, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would ban anyone except political parties and election officials from distributing early ballot or early voting request forms to voters. It would also ban the signature on a “non-official elections form” from being the sample signature used to check early ballots. Why shouldn’t regular people be able to help their neighbors register to vote the way they want to? Would this ban the checkbox to sign up for early voting at the DMV? Scheduled for House Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1144, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would ban “electronic vote adjudication,” or the process of resolving ballots that may include things like write-in votes, overvotes or marks in the margins. Currently the process is used sparingly, and there’s no good reason to say elections officials can’t use it. Scheduled for House Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1170, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would ban unmonitored drop boxes. These are accessible, convenient, reliable, secure, and hugely popular, yet some lawmakers continue to insist without evidence that they increase election fraud. Once again scheduled for House Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee, Wednesday (held last week). OPPOSE.
SB1197, sponsored by David Gowan (R-19), would ban juvenile courts from billing kids or their parents for detention, foster care, treatment and education programs, or health care while in detention. The time for this change is long past. These payments not only pose obstacles for young people already struggling to succeed, but run counter to the juvenile justice system’s mission to improve outcomes by helping kids learn from their mistakes. Studies show the misguided practice contributes to youth recidivism by forcing kids to stay in placement longer and hindering the ability to have a child’s record expunged. Third year for the bill. Scheduled for House Judiciary Committee, Wednesday. SUPPORT.
SB1255, sponsored by Anthony Kern (R-27), would restrict Arizona agencies from creating rules that would increase regulatory costs by more than $500,000 over 5 years after implementation. The Legislature would instead be required to enact legislation to ratify the proposed rule into law. Although the far right says it will "rein in unelected bureaucrats," this shortsighted measure would kneecap Hobbs and Mayes' ability to regulate unaccountable, wasteful spending. A prime example is Arizona's universal ESA voucher program; parents who use the program are complaining about the payment processor, ClassWallet, and a different vendor could cost easily that amount or more. In committee, the sponsor could not answer how many rules this would impact, but said "it shouldn't matter." Scheduled for House Government Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1471, sponsored by John Kavanagh (R-3), would set up a “man-versus-machine test” of whether humans are better or worse than machines at counting ballots. This would essentially serve as a hand-count audit, measuring accuracy as well as the time and resources required to implement hand counting statewide. Driven by a false belief that machine counting is inherently suspect and susceptible to fraud. Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer is supporting the bill, saying it “will build confidence in our election system by showing that machine tabulation is highly accurate, free of bias, and fast.” Scheduled for House Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1500, sponsored by Frank Carroll (R-28), would require state retirement funds to evaluate their investments solely based on finances. Similar to other bills this session that crusade against “pro-abortion, pro-sex-ed” banks. This culture war against an imaginary problem could create real consequences for those who depend on Arizona’s retirement system. An ill-considered blanket mandate such as this could leave half a million teachers, municipal workers and other government employees with retirement accounts that are unable to invest in most major companies, and may create a minefield for investors and pension fund managers. Scheduled for House Government Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1595, sponsored by JD Mesnard (R-13), would make voters present ID in order to drop off their early ballots after 7 PM on the Friday before election day. This would complicate voting for over 1 in 5 voters, resulting in more ballots being rejected. Arizona is a national leader in voting by mail, pioneering the program over 30 years ago. Only about half of Arizona counties even have the capability to tabulate ballots on-site at polling places on Election Day. Voters just refused in November to adopt new ID restrictions for early ballots. Scheduled for House Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1597, sponsored by JD Mesnard (R-13), would require elections officials to tabulate early ballots on-site at polling places by no later than the next general election (November 2024). Only about half of Arizona counties even have the capability to tabulate ballots on-site at polling places on Election Day. The bill comes with no appropriation for the significant investments that would be required to make this bill reality. Scheduled for House Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1698, sponsored by Justine Wadsack (R-17), adds drag shows to a state law about "dangerous crimes against children." The bill equates a drag show with an “adult-oriented performance” and makes it a crime on par with bestiality, child sex trafficking, second-degree murder, and sexual assault. A family viewing of “Mulan” or “Hairspray” would be a class 4 felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a requirement that the adult register as a sex offender. One columnist calls the bill “flat-out bonkers.” The Legislature’s nonpartisan rules attorneys have told them the bill is unconstitutional. Scheduled for House Judiciary Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SCR1023, sponsored by Justine Wadsack (R-17), would ask voters to amend the state Constitution to repeal charter cities in Arizona. Currently larger cities can adopt a charter, which then supersedes any state law that conflicts with purely municipal affairs. State lawmakers have long hated charter cities, passing numerous laws that preempt city regulations on elections, firearms, immigration, smoking, plastic bag use, puppy mills, sugary drinks, water distribution, regulation of dark money, and so much more. The bill’s sponsor has said her intent is to get more Republicans elected to the Tucson City Council. Scheduled for House Government Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SCR1034, sponsored by JD Mesnard (R-13), would ask voters to amend the state Constitution to automatically extend the previous year’s state budget if lawmakers don’t pass one in time. This would avoid the threat of a government shutdown if lawmakers couldn’t compromise in time, but would also remove the only real motivation for them to work together to do so. With our current divided government, this change would all but guarantee a stalemate on any spending outside the automatic budget, because there would be no incentive for Republican legislators to agree to any of the Democratic governor’s priorities — which in turn guarantees a state government that doesn‘t care for its citizens. Similar bill HCR2038, sponsored by David Livingston (R-28), never received a full House vote. Scheduled for House Appropriations Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
HB2094, sponsored by Kevin Payne (R-21), would relax regulations on food trucks. Payne, who owns a food truck, sponsored the same bill in 2019. Once again scheduled for Senate Government Committee, Wednesday (previously held). OPPOSE.
HB2108, sponsored by David Livingston (R-28), would force unemployment recipients to submit documentation of at least 5 work search actions each week. If someone refuses a “suitable” job offer or fails to appear for a scheduled interview, the prospective employer would be required to report them to DES. The punitive bill leaves no room for correcting misinformation, instead carrying automatic criminal penalties. At a weekly maximum of just $320, Arizona ranks in the bottom 5 nationally for unemployment benefits. Currently people must lose their job through no fault of their own or a compelling personal reason in order to be eligible for unemployment. Scheduled for Senate Commerce Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
HB2523, sponsored by Barbara Parker (R-10), would require every K-12 student at a public or charter school to recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily. Waivers would only be available for students over 18 or at parental request. In 1943, the US Supreme Court ruled that no school or government can compel someone to recite the Pledge because forcing them violates the First Amendment. Scheduled for Senate Education Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
HB2539, sponsored by Beverly Pingerelli (R-28), would force the State Board of Education to implement a “public awareness program” to prop up school choice in Arizona, including free publicity for taxpayer-funded ESA vouchers. If someone moves to Arizona and registers a car here, the information would be delivered to them along with their registration. The bill would spend $600,000 and create four full-time positions to handle this work. Scheduled for Senate Education Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
HB2786, sponsored by Justin Heap (R-10), would require school boards to notify parents of recommended or funded "training opportunities" for teachers or school administrators. The new Horne administration believes that social-emotional learning, diversity and equity are Trojan horses for "critical race theory," and has canceled planned teacher presentations on these and other "non-academic" subjects, even though they deeply affect kids' lives and ability to learn. This bill is deeply disappointing; students are not political footballs. Scheduled for Senate Education Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
HB2544, sponsored by Lupe Diaz (R-19), would exempt firearms or ammo that are "modified" in Arizona from federal regulation. These “modifications” could be cosmetic or functional, making this a giant loophole to exempt guns from safety provisions. On February 27, the Legislature’s nonpartisan rules attorneys told them the bill is likely unconstitutional. Scheduled for Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday. OPPOSE.
HB2667, sponsored by Rachel Jones (R-17), is a duplicate of a bill from last year that would prohibit universities and community colleges from banning anyone with a concealed weapons permit — not just students — from possessing, storing, or transporting guns on campus. College campuses and guns are a deadly combination, increasing the risks of suicide, homicide and sexual assault. Even our founding fathers believed guns had no place on college campuses. Getting a concealed-weapons permit in Arizona is ridiculously easy. Duplicate bill SB1300, sponsored by Wendy Rogers (R-7), is assigned to House Judiciary. Scheduled for Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday. OPPOSE.
HB2757, sponsored by Ben Toma (R-27), would expand retention elections for appeals court judges to be statewide, rather than countywide. This is a transparent attempt to keep appellate judges from being unseated by allowing people to vote out of district for judges who don't represent them, diluting the votes. Appellate judges represent certain areas, and they're chosen that way. It's not representative democracy if people in Yuma are voting for someone who represents Flagstaff. CEBV Gavel Watch unseated 3 judges in November 2022. Scheduled for Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday. OPPOSE.
Bills in Rules Committees
Rules exists only to consider whether a bill is constitutional and in the proper form for passage; the committee doesn’t take testimony and won’t read comments.
These bills will likely proceed to caucus (separate partisan meetings of all Democrats and all Republicans) and from there to a full floor vote, which could happen this week. Bottom line: Treat these as bills that could get a full vote at any time. Contact your senator for Senate bills, your representatives for House bills.
SB1005, sponsored by John Kavanagh (R-3), would ban parents from having to pay attorney fees or damages if they lose a lawsuit against a public school or teacher (but not an ESA-funded private school or teacher). The sponsor said his bill was necessary because “the (public) school has unlimited resources.” The bill builds on a law passed last year that lets parents sue if they think their parental rights were “usurped.” The “parents bill of rights” concept, pushed by the extremist Center for Arizona Policy, is often wielded as a far-right political bludgeon. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1009, sponsored by John Kavanagh (R-3), would make it a felony to damage or destroy any public or private monument or statue. The movement to remove Confederate monuments has grown since a white supremacist killed nine black people at a South Carolina church in 2015 and since a now-convicted and imprisoned police officer murdered George Floyd in 2020. This is the third straight year Kavanagh has introduced this bill. Damaging a statue simply does not rise to felony magnitude. Passed Senate on party lines 3/1. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1021, sponsored by John Kavanagh (R-3), would require the Attorney General to defend all laws passed by the legislature against all legal challenges, unless 2/3 of the members of both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees vote otherwise. Likely motivated by AG Mayes’ statements on defending the state in recent abortion and ongoing capital funding matters, as well as former AG Brnovich’s refusal to defend Kavanagh’s 2022 law banning filming police within 8 feet (a law which the legislature’s own attorneys told them was unconstitutional). The bill itself could violate the separation of powers clause of the Constitution. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1047, sponsored by John Kavanagh (R-3), would make it a crime for a person to be within 20 feet of a “dangerous incident” if a police officer said to step back. Interfering with a crime scene investigation is already illegal; this would remove transparency in law enforcement by banning the public from observing police in action. In 2022, Kavanagh introduced a similar bill making it illegal to film police any closer than 8 feet. After media filed a suit, the law was deemed unconstitutional, and a court injunction made the law unenforceable. Part of a package of bills from Republican state lawmakers that would expand police authority. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1074, sponsored by Sonny Borrelli (R-30), would ban all electronic voting equipment from primary use unless it meets Department of Defense cybersecurity standards, all pieces of it are made in the US, and the auditor general is given copies of the source codes. Inspired by a baseless conspiracy theory about (get this) vote-flipping supercomputers. A coalition of federal cybersecurity and election officials called the 2020 presidential election the “most secure in American history.” See duplicate bill HB2613, sponsored by Steve Montenegro (R-29). Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1092, sponsored by Anthony Kern (R-27), would fine the Bar and the state Supreme Court for “infringing” on “political speech” of lawyers. The bill would aid Arizona lawyer and freshman lawmaker Alex Kolodin (R-3), who is under investigation by the State Bar for filing bad-faith lawsuits over the 2020 election, as well as the sponsor himself, whose own lawyers were ordered to pay $75,000 in legal fees after filing a frivolous lawsuit over his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt. Attorneys across the country and in Arizona have faced disciplinary action and revocation of their licenses for frivolous claims of election fraud and lawsuits against political rivals. The State Bar and the Arizona Supreme Court both say there’s no problem needing to be fixed. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1105, sponsored by Frank Carroll (R-28), would require elections officials to immediately tabulate early ballots that are brought to the polls on Election Day, rather than putting them through the signature verification process. Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer says that would break the chain of ballot custody, harming election integrity, and a spokeswoman for the Association of Counties said the bill was “unimplementable.” Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1145, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would exempt students at Arizona’s three in-state universities from student activity fees if the student says the payment would “violate their conscience” or if the student meets any of a list of reasons for exemption, including objecting on religious or moral grounds, financial hardship, and part-time status. Universities already give fee waivers for financial hardship; this is intended to enshrine culture wars into statute. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1146, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would require Arizona’s retirement system to divest from companies that “promote, facilitate or advocate for” abortions for minors, or for “the inclusion of, or the referral of students to, sexually explicit material.” This ill-considered blanket mandate would leave half a million teachers, municipal workers and other government employees with retirement accounts that are unable to invest in most major companies, and creates a minefield for investors and pension fund managers. Hoffman introduced the same bill last year. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1250, sponsored by Janae Shamp (R-29), would force employers to allow employees to claim a religious exemption from the COVID or flu vaccines, or any vaccination FDA-approved for emergency use. Employers would not be allowed to question an employee's religious beliefs, or to “discriminate” against an employee based on vaccination status. Currently the bar is “sincerely held religious belief.” Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1254, sponsored by Janae Shamp (R-29), would remove the requirement that prescribed opioids must have a red cap. This requirement was first proposed by those recovering from opioid addiction as a tool to help curb the opioid crisis. The color of the cap is meant as a clear warning, like a red flag, that helps patients make more informed decisions about the medication they choose to take. Arizona passed the law as part of Gov. Ducey’s 2018 opioid special session. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1260, sponsored by JD Mesnard (R-13), would accelerate tax cuts on Arizona “small business” income to 2.5% for tax years, starting in 2023. Arizona already gives away far more in tax loopholes and carve-outs than it spends in its state budget every year. Meanwhile, most corporations in Arizona pay only the minimum tax of $50. State revenues are already forecast to crater over the next two years; this is no time to further cut taxes. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1428, sponsored by Justine Wadsack (R-17), would ban cities from prohibiting or regulating gun shows within their boundaries. Unregulated gun shows can be a magnet for traffickers to obtain large quantities of weapons without background checks. Guns purchased at gun shows are much more likely to be used in criminal activity. Last year, California became the first state to ban the sale of guns and ammo on state property, which will put an end to gun shows at county fairgrounds. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1435, sponsored by Justine Wadsack (R-17), would move attorney licensing in Arizona from the State Bar to the Arizona Supreme Court, which would not be able to require an attorney to be a member of any organization to become or remain licensed. The State Bar of Arizona is a special administrative arm of the Arizona Supreme Court which has existed since 1933 specifically to license attorneys. Both the State Bar and the AZ Judicial Council oppose, which means neither wants a change. The legislature’s nonpartisan rules attorneys told them the bill is unconstitutional. The sponsor claims that the State Bar told lawyers they would be disbarred if they took COVID-related court cases; when questioned, she retorted, “I don’t owe you anything in the way of proof.” Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1565, sponsored by Frank Carroll (R-28), would ban Arizona elections from using artificial intelligence or learning hardware, firmware, or software. Sen. Sonny Borrelli (R-30) explained in committee that he believes this technology can be used maliciously to mix up signatures and register dead voters; there’s no proof that’s ever happened. Elections officials in Arizona don’t use it, making this bill unnecessary. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1696, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would double down on a bill passed last year by banning district and charter schools from exposing minors to "sexually explicit materials." The incredibly broad description includes text, audio and video that references sexual contact, sexual excitement, and even physical contact with a person's clothed or unclothed buttocks. This would ban many classic works of literature, from Shakespeare to Maya Angelou. Violations would be a class 5 felony, punishable by up to 2 years in jail. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2309, sponsored by Rachel Jones (R-17), would ban Arizona and all its counties and cities from complying with US law if it’s inconsistent with Arizona law regarding the authority of state and local law enforcement agencies. Perhaps some legislators need pocket copies of the US Constitution? Article VI, Paragraph 2, known as the “supremacy clause,” states that the federal constitution and laws take precedence over state ones — not the other way around. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2332, sponsored by Selina Bliss (R-1), would require public district and charter schools to provide students with firearms training between grades 6 and 12. Training would focus on safe handling of firearms, identifying danger signs or careless handling of firearms, and proper storage. Parents or a student's IEP team would be allowed to opt children out. Disturbingly, the bill also allows schools to accept in-kind donations of materials, equipment or services to be used in the trainings from any person or legal entity, with no safety provisions. Some critics have characterized the bill as “an attempt to give the NRA a foothold into classrooms” and to “pull kids into gun culture.” Nearly identical to a bill from last year. Part of a package of bills trying to force guns into schools. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2404, sponsored by Stacey Travers (D-12), would ban large commercial brands from terminating a contract with the small business owners who own their stores, “except for good cause.” It also would require corporations to provide written notice if they intend to terminate or not renew the contract. The bill is largely inspired by The Little Gym, a local operation bought out by a private equity firm which then demanded higher fees, leading to six-figure debts and court battles: out-of-state billionaires who acquire firms, fire Arizona employees, and extract revenues from franchisees here. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. SUPPORT.
HB2427, sponsored by Matt Gress (R-4), would lower barriers to filing aggravated assault charges against someone who knowingly attacks a pregnant person and increases mandatory sentencing. This sneaky attempt to codify the concept of fetal personhood harms the rights of anyone who is pregnant. The Arizona Coalition To End Sexual And Domestic Violence opposes the bill. Gress worked with the Center for Arizona Policy, an evangelical Christian lobbyist group trying to outlaw abortion, to craft some of his bills. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2535, sponsored by Austin Smith (R-29), would exempt wells on private property from municipal regulation if they’re on unincorporated land that is later annexed. Researchers warn that Arizona is rapidly depleting its groundwater, in large part due to lack of regulation, and that “our own survival is at stake.” Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2586, sponsored by Neal Carter (R-15), would ban the Arizona Department of Transportation from displaying anything other than highway or AMBER alerts on the dynamic message signs over our freeways. This would also prohibit notices advising motorists of “no burn” days during periods of high pollution, state and national park information, wildfire alerts, messages honoring first responders who die in the line of duty, and elections-related information urging people to vote. Prompted by residual MAGA angst over 2020’s “social distancing, wash hands” messages. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2624, sponsored by Leo Biasiucci (R-30), would force Arizona’s Medicaid system to redetermine the eligibility of all 2.4 million patients it serves by the end of 2023. The legislation would kick off all patients whose eligibility is unconfirmed, not just those determined to be ineligible. AHCCCS already has a plan in place at the direction of the federal government, which is set to be completed at the start of March 2024; an estimated 650,000 Arizonans could lose their health care. If lawmakers force a faster timeline, people with serious conditions could be kicked off their health insurance coverage, leading to the loss of necessary treatment. When pressed, the sponsor called it “not that big of a deal” and said, “I think that they’re going to be fine.” Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2634, sponsored by Flavio Bravo (D-26), would allow buyers and sellers of real estate to donate to the Housing Trust Fund. The fund provided $10 to $20 million a year for housing for people experiencing homelessness before lawmakers diverted the money to the state's general fund during the Great Recession. (Lawmakers reinstituted it last year.) Arizona desperately needs more affordable housing; metro Phoenix ranks in the top 10 nationwide for the most severe shortages. Housing analysts have been asking for more investment in the fund for years. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. SUPPORT.
2023 Session Timeline
Legislative majority leadership can change bill deadlines at any point. The budget deadline, however, is set in stone because it is tied to the state’s fiscal year.
Friday, 3/31 Last day for a bill to get out of committees in its crossover house Saturday, 4/22 100th Day of Session (the stated end goal; can be changed) Friday, 6/30 Last day to pass a budget before the government shuts down
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