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The Capitol Roundup

The Arc of Arizona's weekly recap of State & Federal legislative happenings

March 17, 2017


Hurry Up and Wait
At the Statehouse...

All too often, high-profile political conflicts dominate the news. But those who follow the Capitol know most of the long hours this week were not focused on headline-grabbing incidents. Policy committees advanced dozens of bills, many with bipartisan and/or unanimous votes, and budget briefings took slow steps forward behind the scenes. 
This week, the Governor signed 16 new bills into law, including a proposal to extend a $1 motorcycle registration fee to fund programs on motorcycle safety and awareness and a bill to license hairstylists without full training required for cosmetologists.

Though he signed the change to hairstyling licensing requirements, the Governor said it “barely dents the thick layers” of what he deems “unjustified regulation.” He reiterated his desire for the legislature to repeal licensing requirements for more professions. A House committee took a step toward meeting that request this week, approving a bill that would prohibit state agencies, boards, and commissions from implementing any occupational license that is not required to protect public health and safety. The ban would not extend to several categories of licenses, including those for health-related occupations. Another bill to remove state regulations on pool contractors is scheduled to advance next week.

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The legislature also acted to advance a bill to weaken the “Shannon’s Law” restrictions on shooting firearms in city limits, outline actions doctors must take when a live birth occurs during an abortion, and  increase the number of businesses that can serve beer and wine.  It moved closer to authorizing a hemp industry in the state, and prohibiting surprise medical bills. A Senate committee passed a slimmed-down recess mandate for school district and charter school students up to fifth grade, and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality briefed legislators on their efforts to test and treat lead in water at schools.

After the Senate surprised observers by approving a proposal to add a new review of state sales tax exemptions, a House panel ended the discussion by failing to pass the proposal.
Next week marks the end of regularly-scheduled hearings for non-budget policy committees. It is a key deadline, because bills that are not approved through committees this week are unlikely to get to the Governor’s desk this year. This week’s committee agendas reflect that fact – the long list of bills to be considered will mean very long committee hearings and interesting policy discussions.
 
Budget Update

One of the major uncertainties in the state budget became a little more certain this week, when the Arizona Supreme Court unanimously upheld the voter-approved increase to the state’s minimum wage. A specific fiscal impact has not yet been agreed upon, but some experts say it will cost those who provide services to individuals with disabilities as much as $73 million; schools will also see increased costs.

This will certainly be a point of discussion as budget leaders move forward with their negotiations. Though the House and Senate remain focused on communication with their own legislative caucuses, the process moved forward slightly this week when the chairs of the House and Senate budget committees met with the Governor’s budget office. Their talk began what was labeled as a “preliminary discussion,” but it is an encouraging step toward serious budget negotiations.

Federal health care change still looms over state revenue decisions, since the proposed cuts could dramatically impact state funding and programs and impact an estimated 326,000 Arizonans. Governor Ducey continues to actively engage in the federal discussion, and to fight for certainty for those on Medicaid programs. The Governor recently told a radio show that the current Congressional proposal did not provide enough flexibility for state implementation, but said he hoped state governors could continue to negotiate changes to the proposal.

And though a state budget for this year is nowhere in sight, state leaders have begun a discussion about education funding for the future. Proposition 301, which was a voter-approved tax increase that designated resources for education programs in Arizona, will expire in 2021. The tax brought in approximately $644 million for schools in this current fiscal year.

Governor Ducey said that he is ready to support an extension of the tax when the time comes, and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) said he hoped the legislature could approve a proposal to ask voters to extend the tax. 
 
Priority Legislation 
  • HB 2372 (public benefits; fee waivers; requirements)
The bill extends TANF benefits from 12 to 24 months under a long list of requirements and restrictions. It passed the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services last week.
  • HB 2408 (disability parking; wheelchair uses)
The bill would require some van-accessible parking spaces to be limited only to wheelchair users. It is not expected to advance this year.
  • HB2504 (public accommodation; disability; discrimination; sanctions)
The bill would authorize a court to impose a sanction on a plaintiff if an action or series of actions are brought for the primary purpose of getting payment from the defendant due to the costs of defending the action in court. It is not expected to advance this year.
  • HCR 2013 (convention; balanced federal budget)
The referral would ask Arizona voters to petition for a Congressional convention to pass a balanced federal budget amendment. It passed the Senate Committee on Rules this week.
  • SB 1030 (AHCCCS; covered services; occupational therapy)
The bill would expand AHCCCS coverage to include occupational therapy. It will be heard in the House Committee on Health on March 23.
  • SB 1031 (dangerous; incompetent defendants; study committee)
The bill would create a Study Committee on Incompetent, Nonrestorable and Dangerous Defendants to evaluate short-and long-term treatment and supervision. The committee would include a person with expertise in developmental disabilities. The House gave it preliminary approval this week and is expected to vote on the bill in the near future.
  • SB 1037 (special education; audit; cost study)
The bill would require the Arizona Auditor General to do an audit of special education programs in Arizona. It unanimously passed the House Committee on Education and the House Committee on Appropriations this week, and was amended to narrow the audit from all school districts and charter schools to a representative sample of 60 charter and districts schools across the state.
  • SB 1198 (public accommodation; services; civil actions)
The bill would require a delay and specified notification before a lawsuit against ADA compliances. Despite strong opposition from The Arc of Arizona and other advocacy groups, it passed the Senate last week. It will be heard in the House Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety on March 22.
  • SB 1317 (schools; specially designed instruction)
The bill would expand specially designed instruction to include instruction from a person certified by the Board of Education and determined to be an appropriate provider for the student’s needs. It was amended to require general education personnel to collaborate with special education teachers when delivering specialized instruction, and requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules to clarify the administration of specially designed instruction. It passed the House 53-3.
 
Arizona Becomes 30th State to Call for Constitutional Changes

This week, Arizona became the 30th state to call for changes to the U.S. Constitution by means of a Constitutional Convention (after which it became the 29th - but more on that below).

Supporters – including Governor Doug Ducey – say this will ensure Arizona has a seat at the table in any Constitutional change. Opponents say it will result in drastic cuts to state funding and will not give states control over the process or outcome of a constitutional convention.

This debate has unfolded at the Arizona Capitol for years, but was always stalled due to a split between Republicans on the issue. But this year, former Senate President Andy Biggs is no longer there to block approval of the measure. After failing to pass HCR 2010 last month, Senate Republicans successfully secured the votes needed to pass it on reconsideration.

The measure calls for a Constitutional Convention to achieve a few broad goals: fiscal restraints on the federal government, limited power of the federal government, and limited terms of office for Congress and federal officials.

Another proposal issues a narrower call for Constitutional changes, seeking to add a “balanced budget” mandate that limits federal spending to the amount of federal revenues, except for a national emergency. The proposal awaits a Senate vote.

At least 34 states must issue similar calls before a Constitutional Convention would be held; once passed, the states' applications have no expiration date: they remain effective until the required number of states agree -- or until a state legislature rescinds its application, which is exactly what happened this week in Arizona's neighbor, New Mexico. Thus while Arizona's vote temporarily brought the nation closer to the drama of a convention, within days New Mexico inched it one step back from that particular ledge. Changes made by the delegates would become effective only if the legislatures of 38 states ratified the changes.

The Arc of Arizona and The Arc of the United States strongly oppose these measures. The Arc of Arizona this week participated in a press conference with a diverse group of organizations from across the political spectrum calling upon legislators to reject the call for both a Constitutional Convention and Balance Budget Amendment.
 
TANF Fight Continues

The fierce debate on access to benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program continued at the Capitol this week. HB 2372, Governor Ducey’s proposal to extend TANF benefits with new fraud prevention and misuse punishments, did not move forward. But the changes to the bill continued to draw debate and opposition. The conflict may have flowed over onto another unrelated proposal. HB 2091, which would remove fingerprinting requirements for TANF recipients, narrowly passed the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services; the bill had passed with broad bipartisan support in the House earlier this year. Representative John Allen (R-Scottsdale) believes that existing fingerprinting requirements are costly and yield little benefit, but some Republicans on the Senate committee cited a desire for more fraud prevention rather than less. A bipartisan coalition successfully moved the bill forward to the full Senate for consideration.
 
A Week of Inaction on Controversial ADA Bills

After weeks of intense debate on proposals that limit the civil rights of individuals with disabilities, the legislature paused action on most of the controversial proposals this week.

SB 1198, a measure that would require a delay and specified notification before a lawsuit could be filed for an ADA violation, was not heard in a House committee hearing. It is scheduled for consideration in the House Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety next Wednesday.

HB 2504, which takes a less problematic approach by authorizing a court to impose a sanction on a plaintiff if an action or series of actions are brought for the primary purpose of getting payment from the defendant, appears unlikely to advance this year.

This week the House did discuss SB 1239, a proposal that would prevent motorists from blocking access aisles intended for individuals with disabilities, but it did not hold a vote on the proposal. Advocates for people with disabilities say the bill is unneeded and could limit the use of that space for wheelchair access.

HB 2408, which sought to designate some accessible parking only to individuals who use wheelchairs, will not move forward. Senator Bob Worsley (R-Mesa) held the bill in his Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure two weeks ago, and will not schedule another hearing.
 
Senate Adds Medical Examiner Role for Good Samaritans
 
The House Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety never scheduled/has not yet scheduled a hearing for Governor Ducey’s proposal to ensure Good Samaritans are not charged with crimes when they break into a car to rescue a child or animal. But the House Committee on Health will consider another effort to add protections for Good Samaritans who contact bodily fluids of a deceased person they try to help.
 
SB 1201 would permit a Good Samaritan to petition the court for the medical examiner to test a deceased person for HIV or other bloodborne diseases, if there is fear the Good Samaritan could have contacted a disease during their efforts to aid the individual.
 
Senator Gail Griffin (R-Hereford) said the bill is necessary to address situations like that faced by Jennifer Fonseca, a member of the Palominas Fire District who had a difficult time obtaining testing on a sample of fluids exchanged when she attempted to save a stranger’s life. Griffin hopes to make it easier for first responders and Good Samaritans to verify they do not need medical care when they try to help.
 
The bill unanimously passed the Senate and will be heard in the House next week.



​On the Federal Front...

FINDS Survey Deadline This Month!

We need your input and help completing this crucial survey! The Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota, in collaboration with The Arc, is seeking caregivers to share their perceptions on a range of life-span issues impacting individuals with I/DD. We are inviting family or unrelated caregivers aged 18 years or older who provide frequent primary support to a person with an I/DD to participate. The results of the 2010 Survey provided unique insight into the growing gaps in education, employment, and other life-span activities that exist between persons with disabilities and their non-disabled peers, which has informed further dialogue and policy changes at the Federal and State levels. Take the survey and share it widely in your networks! Deadline: March 30.

Action Alert

​Major Recent Events

House Committees Markup Bill to Cap Medicaid and Repeal the ACA

On March 8 and 9, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a markup of the Medicaid and other provisions of the American Health Care Act, those parts of the repeal and replace bill over which the Committee has jurisdiction. The bill will fundamentally restructure the Medicaid program by altering the current federal/state partnership and cost reimbursement structure and replacing it with a per capita cap. This will significantly limit federal funding to the states now and into the future. In addition, the bill will begin the process of repealing major sections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On the same days, the House Ways and Means Committee held a markup repealing the tax provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and making other changes.

These Committee markups are part of the budget reconciliation process which allows only certain revenue and spending provisions to be included. The Committee bills will be combined into one bill by the House Budget Committee, possibly as early as this week. We understand that the plan is to have the bill ready for a vote by the full House of Representatives before the end of March. The Senate Majority Leader has indicated that he hopes to schedule a vote on the House bill before the mid-April recess. If passed by the Congress, the legislative direction the House leadership is considering would have devastating impacts on people with disabilities and their families. The Arc will continue to convey our concerns to Congress about the impact of the repeal of the ACA and restructuring of Medicaid. Visit the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committee web sites for more information or to access archived video of the markups.
 
Senate Votes to Rescind Education Rule

On March 9, the Senate voted to rescind an Obama administration regulation on accountability, state plan, and data reporting that guides states on evaluating school performance under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The measure (H.J. Res. 57), passed by a vote of 50-49, used the Congressional Review Act which forbids the Department of Education from issuing substantially similar rules in the future. In a February 10 letter, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos promised to issue further guidance today to states on implementing ESSA. The House approved H.J. Res. 57 last month and the measure now heads to President Donald Trump for his signature. The Arc opposed rescinding the accountability, state plan, and data reporting regulation. See the statement from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Education Task Force (of which The Arc is a member) in opposition to rescission of the regulation here.

Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of Labor Nominee

On March 15, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Alexander Acosta to be the Secretary of Labor. The Department of Labor is the agency responsible for the implementation of federal labor and employment laws, including those relating to wages and hours. Additionally, it includes the Office of Disability Employment Policy which is a non-regulatory agency that promotes employment of people with disabilities. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access video of the hearing.
 
Announcements 

Alabama Opens ABLE Program

On February 27, Alabama became the 18th state to launch a qualified ABLE Program. This program is open to eligible individuals nationwide. The plan has three investment options, a bank savings option, and a checking option. There is a quarterly fee of $11.25 and annual asset-based fees that range from 0.50% to 0.56% for investment options. Additionally, there is a minimum initial deposit of $50. More information about state implementation the ABLE Act can be found here.

General information about ABLE programs can be found in the National Policy Matters: ABLE Accounts for People with Disabilities here.  

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The Arc of Arizona
www.arcarizona.org

and

The Arc of the United States

www.thearc.org


The Capitol Roundup is provided weekly throughout the Arizona Legislative session as a benefit of Membership in The Arc of Arizona. To continue receiving this publication, visit www.arcarizona.org/become-a-member to start or renew your Membership today!