The Capitol Roundup

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

March 24, 2017

Light at the End of the Tunnel?
At the Statehouse...


If you have ever responded to a sale or advertisement urging you to “ACT NOW!” then you understand the urgency behind the schedules at the legislature this week. Faced with a March 24 deadline for most committee hearings, legislators dedicated long hours to debates and amendments that allowed their priority bills to move forward before it was too late to be considered this year. More than 100 bills were scheduled in committee hearings this week, and dozens more advanced through floor votes in both the House and Senate.

Of the 1,153 proposals introduced in this legislative session, approximately 650 were not assigned to or heard in the necessary policy committees. More than 240 are still moving through the legislative process. This week, Governor Ducey signed 30 bills into law, including a simplified renewal of lapsed teaching certifications, a mandate that all rape kits be tested within 15 days, and a measure that changes the citizen initiative process. The Governor is still considering more proposals passed by the legislature, including bills to reduce the age at which a restaurant employee can serve alcohol, create a special license plate to raise funding for science education, and put more inhalers in schools.

Senate committees approved a proposal backed by the Arizona Attorney General that would prevent moving companies from holding a customer’s belongings until they paid for moving services. The full Senate approved a bill to provide more guidance about dyslexia to schools and families. Through an amendment, a new proposal was introduced and approved to authorize high-interest loans in Arizona.

A bipartisan coalition approved a measure to fix roads throughout Arizona by raising vehicle license fees and gas taxes, despite numerous procedural obstacles Republican senators used to try to block the bill from passing. Though supporters of the measure had a temporary victory, Senate President Steve Yarbrough (R-Chandler) announced he will not allow the proposal to move forward because he opposes increased fees. President Yarbrough also blocked the progress of a bill that would have weakened the “Shannon’s Law” ban on shooting guns in city limits.

In the House, committees advanced a bill to require additional disclosure on how schools are spending funds generated through the voter-approved Proposition 123 and voted to keep the State Parks Board despite Governor Ducey’s belief it is no longer necessary. The full House moved closer to banning background checks on gun sales between private parties and prohibiting surprise medical bills, and approved a bill that protects health care providers who refuse to participate in a service that results in the death of an individual.

Two other bills that appeared to be dead came back to life this week. SB 1144, a bill to establish a review of sales tax credits, passed the House Committee on Ways & Means after the same committee failed to pass it last week. And a bill to add tax breaks for Arizona manufacturers, which previously failed in the House, was approved and forwarded to the Senate after it was amended to reduce the state cost for the tax credits.

Few committee hearings are scheduled for next week, and legislators will instead spend their time in floor sessions debating proposals that are moving toward final approval. Behind the scenes, legislative leaders will continue budget talks.
Budget and Healthcare Update

State budget negotiations have begun in earnest, and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) predicts a state budget could be approved by the end of April. In a gathering of House Republicans this week, legislative budget staff provided an in-depth review of the funding differences between the current state budget and Governor Ducey’s funding proposal – a step that Speaker Mesnard said would speed the negotiations on spending priorities.

Skeptics, however, say that progress could be slow due to significant disagreement on several key proposals – like a sweep of state road funds into the Department of Public Safety and resources for university research and building programs.

As they set funding priorities, state leaders are closely monitoring the progress of healthcare changes in Congress. This week, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) – the entity that oversees and administers Arizona’s Medicaid programs – released a sobering estimate of the impact the current federal healthcare proposal could have on state funding and health coverage. Of the 1.9 million low-income Arizonans covered under AHCCCS, the report estimates, almost 400,000 could lose coverage under the bill. More than $2 billion could be cut from funding for state programs.

As discussion on the Congressional proposal continues in Washington, DC, Governor Ducey remains concerned about the bill’s impacts on Arizona. He told reporters this week that he would continue to seek changes that would prevent “pulling the rug” out from under Arizonans who rely on state Medicaid programs.
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 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Appropriations on March 28.
  • 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 last week.
  • SB 1030 (AHCCCS; covered services; occupational therapy)
The bill would expand AHCCCS coverage to include occupational therapy. It unanimously passed the House Committee on Health this week.
  • 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. It passed the House 51-6 and awaits a final Senate vote.
  • SB 1037 (special education; audit; cost study)
The bill would require the Arizona Auditor General to do an audit of a representative sample of 60 special education programs in Arizona. It unanimously passed the House Committee on Education and the House Committee on Appropriations last week.
  • SB 1198 (public accommodation; services; civil actions)
The bill would require a delay and specified notification before a lawsuit against ADA compliances. This week, the House Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety failed the bill on a 3-6 vote. The language of the proposal is scheduled to be considered as an amendment on SB 1406 in the House Committee on Appropriations March 29.
  • 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 and awaits a final Senate vote.
ADA Limits Temporarily Stalled by House Committee

Advocates for people with disabilities scored a major victory this week, when the House Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety failed to pass SB 1198. The bill would require a delay and specified notification before a lawsuit could be filed for an ADA violation – a change that imposed barriers that other groups do not face when enforcing their civil rights.

The Senate passed SB 1198 by a 22-8 vote earlier this month, but it ran into pushback from House members who dedicated more than two hours to testimony and questions for both supporters and opponents of the legislation. Representative Maria Syms (R-Paradise Valley), who had sponsored a similar measure that did not include the delayed timeframe for legal action, voted against SB 1198 because it had not come from an inclusive process.

“Everyone is on the same page that there is a problem,” Syms said. “The problem is predatory lawyers. We don’t want to pit the small business community against the disability community.”

Other legislators from both political parties agreed with her, and the bill failed by a vote of 3-6.

The House Committee on Appropriations is scheduled to revive the proposal next Wednesday, however, when it considers an amendment that would add the language of SB 1198 to SB 1406.
Access Aisles Proposal Reaches Governor

Governor Ducey is considering a proposal that would prevent motorists from blocking aisles near accessible parking, after the House approved the measure by a vote of 32-24. Senator John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills), the sponsor of SB 1239, said a police officer informed him the change was necessary to protect accessible parking. Some advocates for individuals with disabilities argue that the bill could negatively impact accessibility, since it could be interpreted to limit wheelchair users’ use of the access aisle near their parking.
Senate Committee to Consider One TANF Proposals, Kill Another

Neither the House nor the Senate considered two proposals relating to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits this week, but the Senate Committee on Appropriations is scheduled to consider  HB 2372 next week. The controversial proposal would extend the timeline for TANF benefits under multiplied fraud prevention and misuse punishments.

HB 2091, which would remove fingerprinting requirements for TANF recipients, will not be considered. After receiving bipartisan support in the House, the Senate Committee on Appropriations failed to schedule a hearing for the proposal.
Provisional Licensing Proposals Advance

Two proposals designed to expand professional licensures to those convicted of non-violent crimes advanced in the House and the Senate this week. HB 2290 and SB 1071 each authorize a short-term professional license for up to a year, with reporting and oversight requirements for those on community supervision, probation, or other post-conviction measures. Legislators amended both proposals to further strengthen the oversight of individuals working with a provisional license, and to allow agencies to issue provisional licenses rather than require it.

The bills have inspired bipartisan support throughout the legislative process, as most legislators express support for a path out of crime for those who have served time for a past mistake. Supporters also point to the benefits to those other than the individual, framing employment as a path toward payment of victim compensation fees.

Both bills passed through a final policy committee hearing, and are now eligible to move forward for debate in the House and Senate. 
On the Bright Side…

Smiling is good for your health.

​On the Federal Front...

​Major Recent Events

American Health Care Act Pulled Prior to Vote

In advance of a scheduled vote in the House of Representatives, on March 24 the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was pulled from consideration by Speaker Paul Ryan. The bill, which was designed to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Healthcare Act (commonly referred to as Obamacare), faced stiff opposition within segments of the Republican House membership and was projected to receive no Democratic votes.

The AHCA was criticized by a broad array of organizations outside the government including those representing individuals with disabilities, the elderly, and healthcare providers. In addition, reports from government agencies at the state and federal levels projected a loss of health coverage for tens of millions of Americans in private or publicly-funded insurance plans, as well as massive cost increases for states as they took on funding burdens that were formerly shouldered by the federal government.

Senate Holds Confirmation Hearings for Supreme Court Nominee

On March 20, the Senate Judiciary Committee began hearings on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Gorsuch is a former U.S. Justice Dept. attorney and since 2006 has been a Justice on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals based in Denver. During the week of testimony, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling overturning a Circuit Court decision led by Gorsuch regarding the educational rights of children with disabilities, asserting that "the standard applied for assessing the educational benefit for students with disabilities was too low".


FINDS Survey Deadline Extended!

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 networksDeadline for completion has been extended to April 30.

Prepared by:
Peters, Cannata & Moody, PLC

The Arc of Arizona


The Arc of the United States

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