CEBV Weekly: March 27, 2023
The real Last Chance Depot. Budget talks, again. And, thank goodness for the veto stamp
Last week for committees (we hope). This week’s agendas definitely have that “last chance” vibe: it feels like every bad idea we’ve seen this year is being dusted off and shoved through. Republican legislative leaders could still extend the committee deadline by yet another week, or more, but we don’t expect that.
Controversial floor calendars. This week lawmakers advanced out of both chambers bills that would defund cities by banning grocery taxes, force banks to deal with gun manufacturers, criminalize homelessness, and enable vaccine denialism. These incredibly harmful concepts could never have passed as recently as last year. Have we said lately we’re grateful for the backstop of a common-sense governor?
Budget 2.0. After the failure of budget 1.0, which Gov. Hobbs promptly vetoed, Republicans entertained themselves with passing more veto-bait legislation. Now that committees are winding down, it seems just about time for another budget attempt. We’re told Republicans want to pass a budget quickly, but they might be the only ones.
Still, the two sides are finally speaking. House Speaker Ben Toma and Senate President Warren Petersen reportedly sat down with Hobbs twice last week. And we’re told various small bipartisan groups are meeting too, which could be promising.
So what would be in this next budget attempt? Republican legislative leaders are proposing that each lawmaker get their own pot of one-time surplus money to spend individually or pool together. That money would be divvied up at roughly two-thirds Republican to one-third Democratic — and spending priorities would have to meet with Republican approval, of course. Sounds fair, right? And likely to pass muster with a Democratic governor?
Long days ahead. We’re pretty sure this budget attempt isn’t gonna be it either. Lawmakers have checked the “force it through” box, but they still haven’t tried the time-honored “pick off individual Democrats” and “run all the way to the right” approaches. They’ve got a long way to go yet before they break down and admit they might just need to compromise.
Well, we predicted before session began that “we shouldn’t expect any big things from this divided legislature,” and that “if they stick with the same unilateral approach they’ve long relied on (trying to strong-arm bills through on partisan lines) it will likely go poorly.” That’s advice worth repeating.
⏰ If you have 15 minutes: Act on the Spotlight Bills, below.
⏰⏰ If you have 30 minutes: Use Request to Speak on all bills in committee. Head on over to CEBV’s Facebook or Twitter for our RTS crib sheet, the Sunday Morning Quickie!
⏰⏰⏰ If you have 45 minutes: Contact your senator and representatives on the bills being heard this week that mean the most to you.
⏰⏰⏰⏰ If you have 60 minutes: Join us on Zoom at 4pm on Sunday for our next CEBV Happy Hour. We’ll have presentations on Messaging and Letters to the Editor to share.
Issue 1: Let Banks Do Their Jobs
Have you heard the term “ESG?” This stands for Environmental, Social and Governance, a term that means responsible investing through a whole-world lens.
The above breakdown (credit Fidelity) shows that responsible investing considers our environmental future, responsible working conditions, worker health and safety, and other good governance issues. Virtually all large banks, funds and investment vehicles take these factors into account. In fact, long-term financial success depends in part on ESG factors.
Conspiracy theorists have seized on this as a sign of a “woke agenda” and are abandoning their free-market laissez-faire economics in order to ban it, with disastrous results. SB1138, SB1139 and SB1500 below would tie the hands of investors, drastically limiting investment choices and potentially costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars nationwide. Is this shortsighted crusade worth legislating Arizona’s county treasurers out of having access to banks they can use for payroll? Ask our lawmakers. No, really. Please do.
Issue 2: New Bills in Request to Speak
Yes, even more brand-new bills to the 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. (We’re really hopeful this is the last batch.)
SB1106, Rogers (R-7), would ban social media platforms from willfully "deplatforming" or “shadow banning” a candidate. Inspired by a conspiracy theory that right-wingers are being persecuted by Big Tech. OPPOSE.
SB1410, Wadsack (R-17), is now subject to a striker that would require public school boards (but not charter schools or ESA-funded voucher schools) to establish the equivalent of Supt. Horne's "teacher snitch line" for parents to report purported violations of their rights. OPPOSE.
SB1660, Kerr (R-25), would create a whole new category of treated wastewater specifically for a new Phoenix-area Nestlé plant that will need more water than available. This could drain Arizona's groundwater and threaten city tap water quality. OPPOSE.
SCR1027, Wadsack (R-17), would ask voters to amend the state Constitution to outlaw ranked-choice voting for city elections. OPPOSE.
HB2291, Cook (R-7), is now subject to a striker to continue the Arizona School for the Deaf & Blind. The school, required by AZ’s constitution, will have to close July 1 if a bill does not pass. Reauthorization is usually seamless, which has fueled suspicions of a nefarious agenda. SUPPORT.
HB2312, Jones (R-17), would allow shelters to refuse to hire “biological male” employees to serve women or minor children. Transgender people are affected by domestic violence and sexual assault at much higher rates than the general population. OPPOSE.
HB2411, Cook (R-7), would force solar and wind farms on state or federal land that is currently leased for grazing to compensate ranchers, effectively forever, for their “loss of profits.” State lease proceeds fund public education and other government functions. OPPOSE.
This bill 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.
HB2800, sponsored by Matt Gress (R-4), would give pay raises to some district and charter teachers. Though the concept is admirable, the purposeful lack of flexibility means that, if the legislature cuts funding to public schools, districts will be forced to lay off teachers (increasing class sizes) rather than reduce pay to make ends meet. It leaves out special education teachers, half-time teachers, and school support personnel. It ties funds to "accountability," even though public school funding is already highly accountable and we’re flinging hundreds of millions a year at ESA vouchers with zero accountability. It does not provide sufficient funds, even at the beginning, to achieve the promised raises. And those funds would be subject to the AEL school spending cap. Teacher pay bill HB2779 (Schwiebert, D-2), which was constructed thoughtfully with input from many education experts, was not given a hearing. Scheduled for a House floor vote, Monday. OPPOSE.
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.
HB2305, sponsored by Cory McGarr (R-17), would force elections officials to allow representatives of the two largest political parties to observe signature verification for ballots. The bill presents a number of problems. Space for partisan observers is an issue outside of Maricopa County (many rural elections areas are quite small), and including partisan observers would give them access to view voters’ personal information. Violations would be a class 5 felony, and county attorneys would be forced to prosecute, which the House’s own nonpartisan rules attorneys said is unconstitutional. Once again scheduled for Senate Elections Committee, Monday (held on 3/20). OPPOSE.
HB2722, sponsored by Gail Griffin (R-19), would allow county elections officials to hand count all of the ballots for any election. In November, the courts blocked Cochise County, where the sponsor lives, from hand-counting all midterm ballots. Elections advocates testified that such a move would put ballot security at risk, create counting errors, and damage voter confidence, ushering in a cascading series of events that would seriously undermine election integrity. Cochise County’s elections director has since resigned, citing a physically and emotionally threatening work environment. Scheduled for Senate Elections Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1040, sponsored by John Kavanagh (R-3), would ban trans kids from using the school bathrooms, changing facilities and “sleeping quarters” that align with their gender identities. It would create a situation where trans kids couldn’t use any facilities at all without undue scrutiny of their bodies, calling that a "reasonable accommodation." Anyone who “encounters” a trans person in a bathroom could file suit against public schools. A federal court found that these policies violate the US Constitution and Title IX, so in addition to being monstrously cruel and creating harm from continued anti-trans rhetoric, this would open Arizona to a host of lawsuits at taxpayer expense. Polls show that Americans from every political ideology and age group oppose anti-trans legislation. Scheduled for House Education Committee, Tuesday. OPPOSE.
SB1106, sponsored by Wendy Rogers (R-7), would ban social media platforms from willfully "deplatforming" or “shadow banning” a candidate. Inspired by a conspiracy theory that right-wingers, candidates in particular, are being persecuted by Big Tech via settings which let the user post and browse the site normally but limits their posts’ reach to other users. Scheduled for House Commerce Committee, Tuesday. OPPOSE.
SB1138, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would ban banks that do business in Arizona from "discriminating" based on political affiliation or social or environmental values. If the measure passes, most banks would not be able to work with any Arizona counties. Fourteen of Arizona's 15 county treasurers (10 of whom are Republicans) oppose the bill; as the Coconino County treasurer says, “How are teachers going to get payroll if I don’t have a bank I can work with?” Such efforts could cost Arizona millions. Scheduled for House Commerce Committee, Tuesday. OPPOSE.
SB1410, sponsored by Justine Wadsack (R-17), is now subject to a striker from Lupe Diaz (R-19) that would require public school boards (but not charter schools or ESA-funded voucher schools) to establish the equivalent of Supt. Horne's "teacher snitch line" for parents to report purported violations of their rights. School boards would have to designate an administrator at each school to receive parent complaints; these administrators would then have to prepare quarterly reports for ADE. Scheduled for House Education Committee, Tuesday. OPPOSE.
SB1660, sponsored by Sine Kerr (R-25), would create a whole new category of treated wastewater specifically for manufacturers. Water experts say that could drain Arizona's groundwater, threatening the quality of city tap water. The issue is a new Phoenix-area Nestlé plant that will need more water than available. This change in law would effectively cut out state-licensed public and private water providers. Nearly every Valley city, numerous water officials, and multiple business associations oppose the bill. Scheduled for House Natural Resources, Energy & Water Committee, Tuesday. OPPOSE.
HB2312, sponsored by Rachel Jones (R-17), would allow shelters to refuse to hire “biological male” employees to serve women or minors who live there, and would attempt to exempt shelters from existing gender discrimination statutes. This is a blatant attempt to allow discrimination against transgender people, who are affected by domestic violence and sexual assault at much higher rates than the general population. State and federal law both explicitly ban discrimination on the basis of sex. Scheduled for Senate Health & Human Services Committee, Tuesday. 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 Appropriations Committee, Tuesday. SUPPORT.
SB1028, sponsored by Anthony Kern (R-27), would classify drag performances as “adult cabaret” (a category historically limited to strip shows) and ban them from public property or anywhere else a minor may be able to see them. As Arizona law contains no definition for drag performances, this could ban everything from drag story hours for kids to performances of Cabaret, Rent and even Peter Pan. A first violation would carry to up to 6 months in jail; a subsequent violation would be a felony. Part of a package of bills to ostracize LGBTQ people, perpetuate false offensive narratives, and marginalize or shutter dozens of businesses statewide. Similar attacks on free expression have been proposed in at least 10 states this year. Scheduled for House Government Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
Enable 3rd party cookies or use another browser
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. Once again scheduled for House Judiciary Committee, Wednesday (discussed and held last week). OPPOSE.
SB1030, sponsored by Anthony Kern (R-27), would mandate that counties change their zoning laws to define business that hold “drag shows” as adult-oriented, and would also ban the beloved Sunday drag brunch. Part of a package of bills to ostracize LGBTQ people, perpetuate false offensive narratives, and marginalize or shutter dozens of businesses statewide. Polls show Americans from every political ideology and age group oppose anti-trans legislation. Scheduled for House Government Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
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. An amendment would also disallow Arizona from participating in ERIC, one of the strongest safeguards against voter fraud that election officials have available. The ERIC system is trusted by most states to weed out duplicate, deceased or suspicious voter registrations; there’s no viable replacement. 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.
SB1239, sponsored by Wendy Rogers (R-7), would allow state agencies to accept cryptocurrency as payment by partnering with a private third-party company. Cryptocurrency is an environmentally destructive bubble that is already popping and a playground for the mega-rich. Even the Wall Street Journal says crypto should be banned, calling it “a gambling contract with a nearly 100% edge for the house.” Scheduled for House Ways & Means Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1264, sponsored by JD Mesnard (R-13), would ban any elections officer from forming a PAC. This “sore loser bill” is clearly motivated by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer doing just that to back pro-democracy Republicans. Scheduled for House Ways & Means Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1265, sponsored by Anthony Kern (R-27), 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. A coalition of center-right Republicans is discussing a 2024 ballot measure — so, naturally, MAGA is terrified of it. Scheduled for House Ways & Means Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1281, sponsored by Janae Shamp (R-29), would mandate state income tax rebates of $200 individual, $400 joint, for tax year 2022. The bill’s fiscal note estimates this would cost the state a jaw-dropping $936 million. Part of an overall package of tax cuts which would impact the state General Fund by billions of dollars. Scheduled for House Ways & Means Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1323, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would put Arizona public school teachers (but not teachers at ESA-funded private schools) behind bars for up to two years if they so much as recommend a book to students that lawmakers consider too “sexually explicit.” The bill builds on last year’s ban, which has essentially frozen the teaching of books like “The Color Purple,” “The Canterbury Tales” and “Atlas Shrugged,” preventing Arizona's students from getting a well-rounded education. State law already makes it a felony to show pornography to children. Scheduled for House Judiciary Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1332, sponsored by Janae Shamp (R-29), would make the “cast vote record” (a receipt of everything scanned by a voting machine) a public record. Election deniers have overwhelmed the Maricopa County Elections Department with a deluge of requests for this tedious and routine document, insisting baselessly that it will help detect fraudulent voting patterns. It’s the latest example of the endless, fruitless quest for a smoking gun that has so far yielded no proof of election wrongdoing. Scheduled for House Ways & Means Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1413, sponsored by Justine Wadsack (R-17), would require cities and counties to immediately remove any "homeless encampment" and throw away all materials found there. Homeless people on private property would be charged with trespassing. The bill does not include solutions for housing or shelter. The definition of “homeless encampment” is so broadly written as to criminalize recreational camping. In addition to being blatantly cruel, this bill criminalizes homelessness and has constitutionality issues. The bill was written by the libertarian lobbyist group Goldwater Institute. 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.
SB1559, sponsored by Steve Kaiser (R-2), would exempt from state taxes all of the profits for a corporation in its first year of business, half the profits in its second year, and a quarter in its third year. Arizona already gives away far more in tax loopholes and carve-outs than it spends in its state budget every year. Most corporations in Arizona pay only the minimum tax of $50, and the bill’s fiscal note observes “a lack of detailed business income data” as a barrier to estimating the cost. State revenues are forecast to crater over the next two years; this is no time to further cut taxes. Scheduled for House Ways & Means Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1596, sponsored by JD Mesnard (R-13), would require government offices, including school districts, to serve as polling places if elections officials ask for it. The chaos of Election Day is disruptive to a school’s normal operation, so the bill would require schools to close. Teachers would be required to attend inservice training and banned from taking a vacation day, presumably to keep them from working the polls. Arizona and the nation are already struggling to find enough elections workers. Scheduled for House Appropriations Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1611, sponsored by Anthony Kern (R-27), would ban government from contracting with any company unless the contract specifies the company will not "discriminate" based on political affiliation or social or environmental values. Similar to a failed bill from last year and several this session. One recent study says such efforts could cost Arizona millions. Scheduled for House Government Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SB1694, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would ban the state, including public schools, from requiring "diversity, equity, and inclusion programs" for its employees, spending public funds on such programs, or setting policies to influence the composition of its workforce on the basis of race, sex, or color. Any employee required to participate could sue. Diversity, equity and inclusion is a philosophy designed to harness the differences, talents and unique qualities of all individuals; this bill pretends our differences don’t exist. When did living in a country that looks like the world, and intentionally making space for all different kinds of people, become a bad thing? Paradoxically, the sponsor says his bill is what MLK would have wanted. Scheduled for House Government Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SCR1002, sponsored by Anthony Kern (R-27), is now subject to a striker that would ask voters to amend the Constitution to ban ranked choice voting. This system allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference, which tends to produce results that more accurately reflect the electorate's diverse political views. Political analysts view it as “the ultimate cure for extremist politics,” which explains why Arizona’s extremists are so vehemently opposed. Scheduled for House Municipal Oversight & Elections 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 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. Being amended to apply only to cities of more than 500,000 people (i.e., Tucson and Phoenix). 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.
SCR1024, sponsored by Justine Wadsack (R-17), is now subject to a striker that asks voters to enshrine racism in the state Constitution. This culture-war-driven measure would prevent the state from giving minority-owned businesses any preference in state contracts, keep school districts from specifically hiring black or brown teachers in an effort to increase representation, block teachers from discussing inclusion and equity issues that have arisen despite the 14th Amendment, and ban certain content from being taught in schools. This would negatively impact student learning, teacher retention and recruitment, and does nothing to prevent discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity in taxpayer-funded private schools receiving ESA vouchers. Scheduled for House Government Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
SCR1027, sponsored by Justine Wadsack (R-17), would ask voters to amend the state Constitution to outlaw ranked-choice voting for city elections. This reform is most easily implemented at the local level. Scheduled for House Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
HB2291, sponsored by David Cook (R-7), is now subject to a striker that would continue the Arizona Schools for the Deaf & Blind (ASDB) for another 8 years. The school, which has educated students with auditory and visual issues since Arizona's statehood in 1912, would have to close by July 1 if the bill does not pass. The delay on reauthorization, usually a clean and seamless process, has fueled suspicions of a more nefarious agenda. Earlier this session, Justine Wadsack (R-17) attempted to force ASDB to offer services to any child with a disability, forcing numerous staffing and programmatic changes and increasing ASDB's annual operating costs by $295 million annually. The school received a clean audit last year as part of its review; we urge lawmakers to continue ASDB so it can continue to help these children with unique needs as Arizona's Constitution requires. Scheduled for Senate Education Committee, Wednesday. SUPPORT.
HB2379, sponsored by Matt Gress (R-4), would ban Arizona and its cities and counties from requiring hotels and motels to participate in housing voucher programs that house homeless individuals or families in unoccupied guest rooms. This bill represents NIMBYism at its worst. Arizona has one of the worst homelessness crises in the nation, with a 23% increase last year alone; housing vouchers for apartments remain in short supply. Social service agencies often use hotel vouchers to temporarily shelter homeless people during bad weather or natural disasters; they give people the dignity of privacy, and can accommodate couples, families and people with pets. A recent survey shows nearly all people experiencing homelessness want housing, but not group shelters, mostly due to lack of privacy and safety concerns. Quickly moving people into housing can solve long-term homelessness. Scheduled for Senate Government Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
HB2533, sponsored by John Gillette (R-30), is a rehash of a bill from last year that would require public schools to post a list of every single item teachers use or discuss with students. The burden this places on already overworked, underpaid Arizona teachers cannot be overstated. Private schools and microschools are exempt. Backed by the Goldwater Institute, and similar to legislation proposed in at least 17 other states. Scheduled for Senate Education Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
HB2538, sponsored by Beverly Pingerelli (R-28), would allow district and charter schools to offer live, remote instruction for students in grades 9-12 in exchange for a portion of school funding. Schools would get a $500 incentive bonus for each remote student who passes the course. Offering bonuses for passing grades monetizes learning and leads to cherry-picking of students and other forms of inequity. Scheduled for Senate Education Committee, Wednesday. OPPOSE.
HB2411, sponsored by David Cook (R-7), would make solar and wind farms illegal on state or federal land that is currently leased for grazing. Current projects could continue only if those farms compensate the ranchers for “loss of profits.” The bill lacks any cap on the amount that would have to be paid or for how many years, meaning payments would effectively be mandated forever. This is land that belongs to the government, not ranchers. Meanwhile, the state Land Department is legally obligated to get the most money possible from leases; the proceeds go toward public education and other government functions. Scheduled for Senate Natural Resources, Energy & Water Committee, Thursday. OPPOSE.
HB2502, sponsored by Matt Gress (R-4), would force courts to retroactively apply child support for pregnancies. This so-called “fetal personhood” bill is an attempt to give fetuses the same legal rights as people. Driven by anti-abortion crusaders who want to see a constitutional ban on reproductive freedoms, this incredibly unpopular, anti-scientific concept would also criminalize IVF and many forms of contraception. The US Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge forcing fetal personhood in October. Passed House on party lines 3/13. 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.
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 Rules Committee, Monday. 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. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. 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 “woke” 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 Rules Committee, Monday. 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 Rules Committee, Monday. 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 Rules 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. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. 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 Rules Committee, Monday. 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 Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1313, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would ban cities from making any plans that would “reduce overall system capacity of motor vehicle traffic.” From crashes to climate, from health to finances, our car-centric society is literally killing us. Cities actively working to change this should be commended, not quashed. This bill is based on an absurd conspiracy theory that believes the world government wants to limit people’s freedom of movement and advance a totalitarian agenda. (Yes, really.) Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1314, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would ban the Arizona Department of Transportation from adopting a motor vehicle travel mile reduction target or any other demand management policy or project. Demand management is a proactive approach to improve transportation efficiency which doesn’t assume private cars as the best or only solution for urban mobility; its use saves money and makes our cities more livable. Another bill based on an absurd conspiracy theory. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. 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 “woke” 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 Rules Committee, Monday. 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 Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1597, sponsored by JD Mesnard (R-13), would require Maricopa and Pima County elections officials to provide one voting location in each legislative district that could tabulate early ballots on-site. Driven by conspiracy theories that Arizona’s longstanding early ballot process somehow enables fraud, the bill comes with no appropriation for the significant costs required. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. 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.” When the bill passed through Senate Rules, the Legislature’s nonpartisan rules attorneys said the bill is unconstitutional. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
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. Passed Senate Elections Committee 5-3 on 3/20. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. 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. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. 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 Rules 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 taxpayer expense). Scheduled for Senate Rules 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 Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2539, sponsored by Beverly Pingerelli (R-28), would force the Arizona Department 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 Rules 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 Rules 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 Rules 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 Rules Committee, Monday. 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 Rules Committee, Monday. 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 Rules Committee, Monday. 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. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
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
Use Request to Speak. Our elected officials need to know what we think!
Use our website. Civic Engagement Beyond Voting’s website features tons of resources, including a RTS training video that’s 5 minutes well spent.
Attend our Happy Hours. This week’s Zoom RTS Happy Hour will feature presentations on Messaging and Letters to the Editor. As always, we’ll also have legislative info and Q&A with Melinda. We’ll meet every Sunday at 4 PM through the end of session; sign up in advance here.
Follow our social media. Our most timely updates are posted on Twitter.
Subscribe. Enter your email address below to have the entire text of these updates emailed to you. (This is driven by Substack, separately from our CEBV emails. Those will still exist: as always, they’ll contain additional information and calls to action, along with a link to the content here.)
Sign up to get the entire text of the CEBV Weekly via email. Choose “no pledge”; it’s free.