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The Capitol Roundup

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

March 31, 2017


Miles to Go Before We Rest
At the Statehouse...

As the legislature enters the fourth month of the 2017 legislative session, both the House and the Senate are narrowing the number of bills still to be considered this year. Approximately 250 are still eligible for consideration; more than 160 have received legislative approval.

This week, the legislature approved an expansion of what qualifies as an act of terrorism, and passed this year’s most controversial proposal on abortion.

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A Senate committee revived an effort to require drug or alcohol testing for a driver who is involved in a fatal traffic accident, and also gave new life to a bill that would allow Good Samaritans to break into cars to save a pet or child. Senate leaders appear likely to quietly block a proposal – introduced just last week – that would establish new high-interest loan programs in the state.

The House Committee on Appropriations unanimously voted to establish a fund dedicated to child and family advocacy centers, though it removed a $2 million appropriation to the fund that the House Committee on Health approved earlier this month. The Committee also introduced and approved new restrictions on citizens’ initiatives, and moved to put Governor Ducey’s ban on state agency lobbyists into law. 
Governor Ducey has signed 123 bills into law, enacting new laws to prohibit the use of aisles near accessible parking spaces, expand the definition of “dangerous drug,” allow qualifying teachers to renew their certification less frequently, and prohibit drivers from covering their license plates. So far, the Governor has approved all but one proposal passed by the legislature. HB 2162, a bill that would have established residency requirements for justices of the peace, drew the Governor’s veto pen and a statement of ongoing opposition to such requirements for “a narrow set of elected offices.”

This week, the Governor also moved around the legislature through executive action that will advance his reduction of licensing restrictions for jobs in Arizona. He ordered a wide range of state boards and commissions to review all requirements for each license they issue, and prepare to defend why the license should be required. The Governor asked the entities to include consideration of any license that bars applicants with a criminal record – a request that is connected to the ongoing discussions on HB 2290 and SB 1071. These proposals would establish provisional licenses to allow formerly convicted criminals to work in a licensed occupation.

With a dwindling number of bills for consideration, no more policy committee hearings are scheduled. The focus on the state budget process grows sharper every day.
 
Budget Update

The state budget process is not moving swiftly. But behind the scenes, House and Senate leaders continue to work with their Republican members to craft a proposal that would earn their support. House Republicans split into small-group briefings this week to discuss the current version of their proposal, which would increase teacher pay and tax cuts, prevent some sweeps of funding for roadbuilding and maintenance, and add new funding for IT projects at the Arizona Department of Education.

One point of ongoing debate is the Governor’s proposal to dedicate sales tax revenues to university buildings and research programs. Another is the roadbuilding funding, which some lawmakers say they want to see entirely protected from cuts.

The House and Senate Appropriations chairs say they will compare the priorities they have identified from their caucuses – a step that will help move the budget toward a joint proposal they can take to the Governor for consideration.
 
Priority Legislation

  • HB 2372 (public benefits; fee waivers; requirements)
The bill would extend TANF benefits from 12 to 24 months under a long list of requirements and restrictions. It passed the Senate Committee on Appropriations on a 5-4 vote.
  • HCR 2013 (convention; balanced federal budget)
The referral calls for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to include a balanced budget requirement. It passed the Senate 17-12 and added Arizona to the list of states calling for the convention.
  • 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 last week.
  • SB 1031 (dangerous; incompetent defendants; study committee)
The bill created a Study Committee on Incompetent, Nonrestorable and Dangerous Defendants to evaluate short-and long-term treatment and supervision. The committee includes a person with expertise in developmental disabilities. Governor Ducey signed the bill into law.
  • 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 two weeks ago.
  • SB 1406 (public accommodation; services; civil actions)
The bill would prescribe requirements for civil action to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act, and exempt websites from compliance with the ADA. It passed the House Committee on Appropriations unanimously this week.
  • 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.
 
Compromise on ADA Compliance is Short-Lived

The legislature appeared ready to approve a compromise this week that would put to rest months of opposition and debate on business compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. When a committee failed to pass a proposal that threatened the civil rights of individuals with disabilities, Representative Don Shooter (R-Yuma) renewed negotiations to address concerns from opponents of SB 1198.

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Appropriations approved a compromise that earned support from business groups as well as those advocating for individuals with disabilities. SB 1406 would establish more specific limits on legal action against businesses – limits designed to protect an individual’s right to seek enforcement of ADA complains but prevent abuse of those rights. 

The compromise was short-lived, however; the Committee also approved an amendment that threatens online compliance with the ADA. The amendment does not reflect existing case law on the subject, and threatens website access for people with disabilities.

As SB 1406 moves to the full House for consideration, individuals with disabilities are again fighting for support from legislators who understand the need to ensure access – and ADA compliance – throughout Arizona.


Senate Committee Continues Partisan Divide on TANF Changes

The debate on an extension of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits continued this week, sharply dividing Republicans and Democrats. HB 2372 began as a bipartisan effort to respond to Governor Ducey’s call for a restoration of the two-year TANF benefits that were cut in half through the state budget process. Amendments to the bill, however, have caused Democrats to pull their support. They believe the bill’s mandates for fraud prevention create unnecessary hassles for TANF recipients, and argue that the strict penalties for misuse of the funds could harm families who are not aware they are not conforming to program requirements. Republicans say the new processes are necessary to ensure appropriate checks and balances.

After emotional debate this week, the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed the bill on a 5-4 vote. The full Senate is expected to debate the bill soon.
 
Arizona Joins the Call for Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment

Arizona has joined the growing list of states calling for a constitutional amendment to force budgeting changes for the federal government. This week, Senate Republicans approved HCR 2013, calling for a constitutional convention that would alter the U.S. Constitution to limit national expenses to national revenues. Supporters say it is a step toward more power at the state level and more responsible fiscal policies, but opponents fear it will force major cuts to funding and programs. Some believe that opening the Constitution for amendments may lead to other changes, as well. 

The Arc of Arizona is among a broad array of disability advocacy organizations that opposes calls for a balanced budget amendment and laid out its argument against the proposal in last week's Arizona Capitol Times.

Though Arizona’s action on this issue is significant, it does not result in immediate action. A total of 34 states must officially call for the change before a constitutional convention could occur. No change approved by the convention delegates would be effective until at least 38 state legislatures voted to enact them.

Who would these delegates be? Under a proposal approved this week, up to seven delegates and alternate delegates would be appointed by the legislature and the leaders of the House and Senate.​


​On the Federal Front...


​Major Recent Events

House Speaker Cancels Vote Bill to Repeal Affordable Care Act and Cut Medicaid

On March 24, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that there will not be a vote on H.R.1628, the American Health Care Act because he lacked the votes to pass the bill. It is not expected that another bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act will be considered in the near future. In the days before the bill was pulled, several changes were made including allowing a Medicaid block grant, adding incentives for states to institute work requirements, eliminating the requirement that health plans cover basic health services, and ending the extra funding for the Medicaid expansion earlier. The Arc opposed H.R.1628 because it would have cut and capped federal spending in the Medicaid program which jeopardizes services for people with I/DD and their families. The Arc also opposed using cuts in the Medicaid program to pay for the repeal of the ACA, including the repeal of the taxes it imposed. The replacement plan provided inadequate and unaffordable health insurance, and about 24 million people would lose their health insurance by 2024. The Arc and its members, along with members of numerous human service coalitions representing beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid program, view the decision to pull the AHCA as a victory for people who need health care and their families. The Arc appreciates the work of those who voiced their opinions through weeks of emailing, phone calls, and town hall meetings and helped make this happen.
 
Supreme Court Unanimously Rules in Favor of Special Education Students

In a major win for the disability community, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school districts must give students with disabilities the chance to make meaningful, "appropriately ambitious" progress. In Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1, the high court rejected the "merely more than de minimis" standard set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver. That language had been used in a precedent-setting opinion in another special education case by Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, who sits on the 10th Circuit appellate court.

"Of course this describes a general standard, not a formula," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion. "When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing 'merely more than de minimis' progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all," he wrote. "The IDEA demands more," he added. "It requires an educational program reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child's circumstances."

Endrew's parents sought reimbursement from the district for the cost of a private school, arguing that the public school had failed to meet the IDEA's mandate for a free and appropriate public education. The Supreme Court did not directly address the question of reimbursement, but sent the case back to the lower courts for consideration. For more information, read The Arc's statement on the Supreme Court decision here.
 
President Releases FY 2018 "Skinny" Budget

President Trump's administration released a short version of his Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget on March 16. While this budget does not address substantial parts of the federal budget and provides very little detail, it does indicate double digit cuts to several priority agencies for people with disabilities for the fiscal year beginning on October 1, 2017:
  • A cut of 18 percent for the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that operates the largest number of discretionary programs for people with disabilities. This includes elimination of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Community Services Block Grant and $403 million in cuts to health professions and nursing training programs.
  • A cut of 13 percent for the Department of Education. While the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act program is level funded, the budget includes significant cuts to community schools, professional development, and class-size funding which would adversely affect all students.
  • A 13.2 percent decrease for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, with only about half of the 7.5 billion in proposed cuts identified. Public housing funding would be cut by 30 percent, resulting in the loss of about 200,000 housing choice vouchers.
  • A 21 percent cut for the Department of Labor, including unspecified cuts to job training and employment service formula grants, projected to result in the loss of over 123,000 supported jobs.
The President's detailed budget is expected in May. Congress is expected to develop its FY 2018 budget resolution after the President's full budget request is released.
 
House Holds Hearing on Social Security's Representative Payee Program

On March 22, the House Ways and Means Committee's Oversight and Social Security Subcommittees held a joint hearing on Social Security's representative payee program. Witnesses were Marianna LaCanfora, Acting Deputy Commissioner, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, Social Security Administration (SSA); Gale Stallworth Stone, Acting Inspector General, SSA; Marty Ford, Senior Executive Officer, Public Policy, The Arc, on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force; Brenda Uekert, Principal Court Research Consultant, National Center for State Courts; and David Slayton, Administrative Director, Office of Court Administration, Texas Judicial Branch. Visit the committee web site for more information and to view the archived video of the hearing.
 
Paid Sick Leave Bills Introduced in House and Senate

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), reintroduced the Healthy Families Act (S. 636 and H.R. 1516) in the second week of March. The Arc supports this legislation that would allow workers to earn paid sick leave to use when they are sick, to care for a loved one, to obtain preventative care, or to address the impacts of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault. Under this legislation, workers can earn up to 56 hours (seven days) of paid sick time by earning one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Small employers with fewer than 15 employees would not be required to provide paid sick days.

 
Announcements 

Senator Murray Sends Memo and Keynotes Event on School Privatization Policies

On March 22, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, sent a memo to Senate colleagues on the repercussions of school privatization efforts. The 20-page memo includes select stories on school privatization policies and provides an overview of the main types of such policies (vouchers, direct tax credits or deductions, tax credit vouchers, and education savings accounts) and how these policies fall short in three areas: 1) accountability and transparency, 2) challenges in rural areas, and 3) protecting students' rights. On the same day, Senator Murray keynoted an event at the Center for American Progress entitled, "Federal Voucher Programs: Implications for Public Schools and Vulnerable Students." Watch the archived webcast of the event here.

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.




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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!