The Only Constant is Change. Or Not.

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The Capitol Roundup

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

April 14, 2017


The Only Constant is Change. Or Not.
At the Statehouse...

It may seem like the 2016 election just ended, but the 2018 election cycle has already begun in Arizona. This week, David Garcia, a former candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, jumped into the race against Governor Doug Ducey. Deedra Abboud entered the race against U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, and Arizona Senator Steve Montenegro recently began his effort to unseat Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan. State Representative Phil Lovas (R-Peoria) resigned to join the Small Business Administration in D.C. – a step that immediately led to more changes when Representative David Livingston (R-Peoria) filed to run for the Arizona Senate seat that would be empty in 2018.

Lovas’ departure could complicate the effort to get budget votes in the House, though he expressed his hope that his replacement would be appointed quickly. Elected Republican precinct committeemen and the Maricopa Board of Supervisors will be responsible for selecting the replacement.
The resignation may also impact the outcome of an effort to prevent teenage drivers from texting while driving. The bill appeared to be dead when Lovas refused to consider it in the House Committee on Rules; House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) took over the chairmanship this week, and scheduled the proposal for consideration next week.

Apart from the steps toward the 2018 election, it was a quiet week at the Capitol. An unusually small number of bills moved through House and Senate votes, and legislative leaders devoted long hours to behind-the-scenes budget negotiations.

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The Senate unanimously proclaimed this September as Suicide Prevention Month, and voted down a proposal to allow small-diameter ammunition to be used to kill rodents or snakes within city limits. It was the second proposed exemption to the state’s existing “Shannon’s Law” restriction on gunshots within city limits to fail this year; another proposal to weaken that limitation was held  by the Senate President last month.

The Senate approved a measure to give health care providers access to the state’s Advanced Directives Registry, and called on Congress to remove Arizona from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction. It also gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow non-violent convicted criminals to receive provisional professional licenses so they could go back to work.

Both the House and Senate advanced proposals to add restrictions to the state’s citizen initiative process, though Democrats used procedural motions to draw out debate on the changes.

The House introduced a new mechanism to fight opioid abuse, permitting the Arizona Department of Health Services to access the state’s Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program if the information will help implement a public health response to opioid abuse of overuse. (Numerous steps have been taken this year to address opioid addiction in Arizona – a problem that one report found has touched more than 41% of adults.) The proposal would only become effective if another bill to establish a Drug Overdose Review Team is enacted.

Though legislative action on the expansion of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts ended last week, fervent debate on the topic continued. Democrats continued their opposition in floor speeches, school district teachers expressed disappointment with the new law, and advocates of the change pledged to do even more to expand access to the voucher program. A report from The Arizona Republic highlighted the state’s lack of information on how the program impacts private schools – a claim that Superintendent of Public Instruction criticized.

The Governor has signed a total of 151 bills into law this year, including newly-approved proposals to allow charter schools to admit students from a district school under a desegregation order or an agreement with the Office of Civil Rights, extend the Arizona Supreme Court’s ability to charge fees to pay for jury costs, and allow physicians to promote off-label use of medications.

This week, the Governor also approved a bill that adds oversight to law enforcement’s seizure of private property. HB 2477 expands oversight of the use of civil forfeiture, and alters the standard of proof that must exist before private property can be seized. The measure was opposed by county attorneys but supported by a wide and unusual range of advocacy groups. The Governor said that it provides “an appropriate balance” between law enforcement responsibilities and civil liberties.

A bill that would establish a tax exemption for individuals who have partial ownership of an airplane became the fourth bill to be vetoed this year; the Governor said the proposal would have a fiscal impact, and therefore should have been discussed in the context of budget negotiations.

It is not yet clear what the coming weeks will hold for the legislature. With a dwindling number of bills left to consider, legislative leaders concede that they will continue to slow voting schedules in order to ensure there is something to occupy the long days until a budget agreement is reached.
 
Budget Update

No progress on a state budget was visible to Capitol observers this week, but legislative leaders say they are moving toward a House-Senate agreement that could begin serious negotiations with the Governor’s office. The legislative proposal is expected to avoid taking local governments’ road maintenance funds; Governor Ducey proposed a sweep of those funds for other priorities, but many legislators said they’ll oppose a shift of the designated funding. 

Disagreement also continues over the Governor’s proposal to allow universities to use sales tax revenues for research and infrastructure. The proposal is supported by a range of education and business groups, but many Republican legislators have said they prefer a simpler appropriation of state funds to the shift of sales tax dollars.

While state leaders negotiate about funding priorities, tax revenues continue to provide some good news. In a report on state finances this week, state budget experts said the next fiscal year should bring revenues equal to those the state experienced before the recent recession. Current year revenues have not yet met earlier forecasts, though, and the economists warned that large increases in state spending could put revenues out of balance.

Federal healthcare changes continue to loom as a source of fiscal uncertainty for state budgets. As healthcare experts and advocates await further Congressional action on funding and programs, they are working to evaluate the potential impacts from earlier proposed changes.
 
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 did not advance this week – a fact that may be connected to budget negotiations.
  • 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 month but did not advance this week; it may be included in ongoing budget negotiations.
  • 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 did not advance 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 will be considered in a conference committee, and then forwarded for a final vote in the House and Senate.
  • 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 was amended to further restrict the enforcement of civil rights for individuals with disabilities, and passed the House 38-20. It now returns to the Senate for a final vote.
 
House Voids Compromise, Passes Cure Period for ADA Complaints

In what one lawmaker defined as “a sharp, horrible turn,” the House ended their attempt to create a consensus approach to ADA compliance and instead rushed through a proposal that drew sharp criticism from people with disabilities.

After a House committee failed to pass SB 1198 due to concerns about the bill’s approach to discouraging abuse of the ADA complaint process, several legislators seemed determined to reach a compromise with advocates for individuals with disabilities – advocates who had been working for months to promote understanding of the issue - through a strike-all amendment to SB 1406. A committee amendment revived the discussion, but prevented a true compromise with the addition of an oddly-worded statement that websites would not be subject to ADA accessibility requirements.

This week, the Speaker of the House added an amendment that restores a “cure period” – a mandatory time and process for an individual subject to discrimination to contact a violating business owner before pursuing the individual’s civil rights through legal action.

The new version of the bill passed the House on a 38-20 vote that split largely along party lines, though there was some bipartisan support and opposition. It’s now awaiting final consideration in the Senate.
 
On the Bright Side…

An unusual coalition is forming to promote dental care across Arizona.

​On the Federal Front...


House Leadership Announces Plans to Resurrect Health Care Bill

On April 6, the House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sent a letter to House Republicans prior to their two-week recess announcing that the House has resumed its work on the American Health Care Act. The House Rules Committee approved an amendment to create a $15 billion risk sharing program. Additionally, Members are considering eliminating requirements that insurers offer certain benefits such as habilitation services as well as eliminating the prohibition on charging higher premiums to beneficiaries with chronic health conditions. McCarthy stated that they may end the recess early if they achieve a consensus among enough Members to pass the bill. See The Arc's Action Alert for more information including how to take action to stop the bill.
 
Senate Confirms Neil Gorsuch as Supreme Court Associate Justice

On April 7, the Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 54-45. This followed the invocation of "cloture" or forcing an end to unlimited debate. Traditionally, this requires 60 votes. However, the Senate invoked the "nuclear option" which allows reinterpretation of the rules by a simple majority vote (51 votes) to change the number of votes required for cloture on Supreme Court nominees to a simple majority. Issues important to people with disabilities often come before the U.S. Supreme Court. They span such important concerns as rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the right to fair, non-discriminatory treatment in health care settings, and the death penalty.
 
Supreme Court Rejects Arbitrary Definition of Intellectual Disability in Death Penalty Case

The Supreme Court issued a 6-3 ruling in the case Moore v. Texas, reversing the death sentence of Bobby Moore. Moore was convicted of killing a store clerk as part of a botched robbery and was sentenced to death. He challenged the sentence on the grounds of intellectual disability. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) ruled that he did not meet its criteria for intellectual disability under the criteria it established in a previous case, Ex Parte Briseno. The "Briseno factors" are not based on any clinical standards, but rather stereotypes derived in part from the character of Lennie in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Using these standards, the Texas CCA ruled that Moore's ability to live on the streets, mow lawns, and play pool for money precluded a finding of intellectual disability. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the death sentence, rejecting Texas' use of stereotypical and outdated factors and ruling that a state must base its standards for determining intellectual disability on the medical community's diagnostic framework. For more information, read The Arc's statement on the Supreme Court decision here.

Social Security 2100 Act Introduced in House

Last week, Rep. John Larson (D-CT), with 157 cosponsors, reintroduced the Social Security 2100 Act (H.R. 1902). The bill would make Social Security benefits more adequate by providing a modest across the board increase of roughly 2 percent, improving annual cost of living adjustments to better reflect increases in beneficiaries' daily living expenses, and increasing the minimum Social Security benefit to 25 percent above the federal poverty line. The bill would also ensure that Social Security is able to pay full scheduled benefits for the next 75 years through modest enhancements to revenues. Finally, the bill would create a single Social Security Trust Fund to better reflect Social Security's operations as a unified system of Old-Age, Survivors (OASI), and Disability Insurance (DI) and to eliminate the need for periodic rebalancing of payroll contributions across the two existing funds (OASI and DI). The Arc's T.J. Sutcliffe spoke at the bill's roll out event and The Arc strongly supports the Social Security 2100 Act.

Announcements 

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 networksDeadline for completion has been extended to April 30.

Pennsylvania Opens ABLE Program

On February 27, Pennsylvania became the 19th state to launch a qualified ABLE Program. This program is open to eligible individuals nationwide. The plan has seven investment options, one of which is an interest-bearing checking account with a debit card. There is a quarterly fee of $15, or $11.25 if program statements and information are sent electronically, along with annual asset-based fees that range from 0.34% to 0.38% for investment options. Additionally, there is a $2 monthly fee for the checking account option unless account holders choose to receive bank statements electronically or maintain an average balance of at least $250 a month. More information about state implementation of 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.



Prepared by:
Peters, Cannata & Moody, PLC
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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!