The Capitol Roundup

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

February 2, 2018

A House Decided
At the Statehouse...

Life at the legislature rarely follows the politics seen in television dramas, but this week was an exception. Arizona’s Congressional delegation survived a train wreck, the Arizona House released a vivid report on past examples of harassment, and members of the House voted to expel former Appropriations Chairman Don Shooter (R-Yuma) from his seat in the legislature. The Arizona Constitution grants authority for the House and Senate to expel an elected member with a two-thirds majority vote, but the use of that option is highly unusual. 


Though these dramatic events dominated the headlines, legislators spent most of the week discussing a wide range of policy changes. Committees voted to allow law enforcement to use the state’s Silver Alert notification system to expedite searches for any missing individual with developmental disabilities (a move applauded by The Arc of Arizona and other I/DD organizations), and to raise the mandated sentences for individuals convicted of crimes involving drugs like heroin or fentanyl. They supported bills to update the curriculum for traffic survival schools every year, penalize the use of technology to perform tax fraud, and ask voters to expand state legislators’ terms in office.
The House Health Committee advanced bills that would allow community health workers to be certified, prevent minors from using tanning beds, and raise the smoking age from 18 to 21. As expected, the change to authorized tobacco use inspired sharply divided opinions amongst legislators. Representative Powers Hannley (D-Tucson) described tobacco as “the only drug that, when used as directed, will kill you,” but Representative Jay Lawrence (R-Scottsdale) continued his staunch opposition to the proposal that he believes is “another government intrusion into the private lives of individuals.”
The Senate Education Committee unanimously endorsed a bill that would expand funding to 9th graders who enroll in Joint Technical Education District (JTED) programs on agriscience, automotive technologies, construction, engineering, or manufacturing. A wide range of education and business groups supported the bill and the additional investment in training in these high-demand fields. The discussion is likely to continue, since a variety of other legislative proposals also seek to expand JTED resources to 9th grade students.
Policy committees also approved proposals that would mandate testing for mold in medical marijuana and prohibit labels and packaging that make medical marijuana attractive to underage individuals, kicking off what will be an ongoing discussion on marijuana at the Capitol this year. 

This was not a quiet week at the legislature, and some House policy discussions were set aside as the chamber acted on harassment reports. With only two weeks left to move bills through hearings in the chamber where they were introduced and more than 900 bills still to consider, legislators will spend many hours in committee as the legislature moves into the fifth week of the 2018 session.
Budget Update
House and Senate Appropriations Committees continue to receive briefings on the budget needs of key state agencies and policy issues. 
This week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education turned its attention to special education funding in Arizona. A presentation from the Arizona Department of Education highlighted the state’s responsibilities and funding sources for special education programs – information that demonstrated the importance of ongoing discussions to educate state leaders on the details and important of education for students with exceptionalities.
The Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind also shared information on their programs, enrollment, and funding needs with the Subcommittee.

On the Bright Side…
Legislators from around the state met with advocates for special education on Thursday, as representatives of the Arizona Council for Exceptional Children, the Council for Administrators of Special Education, and the Special Educators Administrators of Arizona shared their experiences and insights about the importance of special education programs in both public and private schools.

On the Federal Front...

The regular Federal Update will not be published this week. The next report will be provided in our February 9 edition of The Capitol Roundup.

In the meantime, visit The Arc Blog for updates.


Prepared by:
Peters, Cannata & Moody, PLC

The Arc of Arizona


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