The Capitol Roundup

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

February 9, 2018

Voting Early and Often
At the Statehouse...

Early voting has officially begun in Arizona’s Congressional District 8 (located north and west of Phoenix), and voters in that district will narrow a crowded field to two candidates when the special primary election concludes on February 27. The top Republican and Democratic candidate will then vie for a seat in Congress in the special general election in April.
At the state Capitol, the recent excitement of a special legislative session on opioids and a high-profile vote to expel a member of the House gave way to long hours of policy discussions that are a normal part of the legislative session this time of year. Policy committees considered dozens of bills over the last four days, and legislators worked behind the scenes to obtain hearings for their priority bills.


With only one more week for bills to be approved in committees in the legislative chamber where they were introduced, policymakers have a limited amount of time to move their proposals forward.
Among the bills advanced this week were proposals to provide more funding for gifted students, establish a ban on the $5 fees that credit reporting agencies charge to freeze or unfreeze consumer credit records, require state budget and tax agencies to consult with local governments about state and local tax policy recommendations, and authorize delivery robots on Arizona streets.
In an early-session victory for advocates of Arizonans with developmental disabilities, the Senate unanimously approved SB 1162, which would expand the state’s Silver Alert system to include all individuals with developmental disabilities.  It now awaits consideration in the House. The Arc of Arizona recently shared the importance of the proposal with National Public Radio. 
A bill that would have called for an audit of all special education programs around the state was approved but was narrowed to instead study a representative sample of special education programs in 60 school districts and charter schools around the state.
Committees supported a cap on the overall salary and benefits for public employees and approved a new proposal designed to outlaw the use of non-disclosure agreements if they prevent an individual from participating in criminal investigations of sexual offenses. 
A ban on texting while driving moved through one legislative hurdle, and advocates for the change hope this could be the year the proposal advances – it has repeatedly failed to advance due to some legislators’ concerns that it is an unnecessary expansion of regulations. (Last year, the legislature enacted a ban on texting for teen drivers.)
The Senate Finance Committee divided on party lines to support Senate President Steve Yarbrough’s (R-Chandler) proposal to limit the impact of corporate tax credits for school tuition organization donations; Yarbrough believes the change is necessary to control growing use of the tax credit, but Democrats do not think it goes far enough in stopping state funds for the controversial program.
Former Representative Don Shooter’s (R-Yuma) seat remained empty throughout the week, but the House will have 60 members again on Monday. The Yuma County Board of Supervisors convenes at 9:00 a.m. to appoint one of the three individuals selected by Republican Party officials: Paul Brierley, Tim Dunn, and Cora Lee Shingnitz. The meeting will be broadcast on Facebook Live.
Once appointed, the new legislator will face a busy week at the legislature. A total of 1,279 proposals have been introduced, only 26% of which have moved through at least one committee hearing; committee chairs must decide which of the more than 900 remaining bills will move forward before next week’s deadline for hearings. 
Among the bills legislators hope to advance are proposals to install spikes that shred tires of a wrong-way driver, expand the use of blockchain technology, and designate an official state dinosaur.
Budget Update
This week, Senate President Yarbrough shared a quick overview of the budget process at the legislature. His insight confirms that a state budget proposal will not be released in the near future. Legislative leaders and the Governor’s office are still working to agree on basic fundamentals – like state revenue forecasts.
While that process unfolds, new funding requests continue to come to legislators. This week, the Governor asked for more funding to prevent forest fires that could be a significant threat due to the unusually warm winter. The Arizona Secretary of State and county recorders also issued a plea for funding to replace a statewide voter registration system that they believe is “in desperate need of replacement.”
In the News…
Governor Ducey appointed a new member to the State Board of Education, and designated February as Career and Technical Education Month in Arizona.
On the Bright Side…
A recent ASU-Banner study shows potential for medicines that could help treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.​


On the Federal Front...

Major Recent Events
Senate Holds Hearing on Higher Education Affordability

On February 6, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a hearing on Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Improving College Affordability. Witnesses will include Dr. Sandy Baum, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute; Dr. Jenna Robinson, President, The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal; Dr. DeRionne Pollard, President, Montgomery College; Dr. Zakiya Smith, Strategy Director for Finance and Federal Policy, Lumina Foundation; and Dr. Robert Anderson, President, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video on the day of the hearing.

President Trump Signs RAISE Family Caregivers Act

President Trump signed the Recognize, Assist, Include, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act into law on January 22 (P.L. 115-119). The Arc supported this bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representatives Gregg Harper (R-MS), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) that calls for the development of a strategy to support the nation's more than 40 million caregivers. The RAISE Family Caregivers Act will bring together stakeholders from both the public and private sector to create an advisory body. This advisory body will then develop recommendations for how government, communities, providers, employers, and others can better recognize and support family caregivers. Read The Arc's statement on passage of the RAISE Family Caregivers Act here.
Senate Approves Alex Azar as HHS Secretary

On January 24, the Senate approved the nomination of Alex Azar to be Secretary of Health and Human Services by a vote of 55-43. HHS is the cabinet level department that administers most federal health and social service programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act programs, Developmental Disabilities Act programs, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Additionally, it oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health.

Three More States Open Qualified ABLE Programs

South Carolina, Maryland, and New Hampshire opened qualified ABLE programs, bringing the total number of jurisdictions with ABLE programs to 32.

South Carolina's ABLE program is currently only open to state residents. It has five investment options. The account has a $3.50 monthly fee and asset-based fees ranging from 0.19% to 0.34% for investment options. The minimum initial deposit is $50.

Maryland's ABLE program is open to all eligible individuals nation-wide. It has three investment options and a cash option. The account has an annual fee of $35 and asset-based fees ranging from 0.30% to 0.38% for investment options. The minimum initial deposit is $25.

New Hampshire's ABLE program is currently only open to state residents. It has five investment options. The account has a monthly fee of $3.50 and asset-based fees ranging from 0.19% to 0.34% for investment options. The minimum initial deposit is $50.

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.
39th Annual Report to Congress on IDEA Implementation Released

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that the Department of Education report annually on the progress made toward the provision of a free appropriate public education to all children with disabilities and the provision of early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities. The reports focus on the children and students with disabilities being served under IDEA, Parts C or B, nationally and at the state level. Notable findings in the 39th annual report that covers the 2014-2015 school year include:
  • Almost one-half of students reported under the category of intellectual disability (49.7 percent) and students reported under the category of multiple disabilities (46.2 percent) were educated inside the regular class less than 40% of the day.
  • From 2005-06 through 2014-15, the high school graduation percentage increased by at least 10 percentage points for each disability category except orthopedic impairment (2.4 percentage points), intellectual disability (5.3 percentage points), and multiple disabilities (5.3 percentage points).
  • The percentage of students with intellectual disability who graduated with a regular high school diploma increased slightly from the previous year from 40.8 percent 42.4 percent.
List of Schools and Districts Under Investigation Now Available

The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published a list of pending cases currently under investigation at elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools, sorted by aspects of the law that OCR enforces, including disability. The inclusion of an institution on this list means only that a complaint was filed with OCR, and the agency determined the complaint should be opened for investigation or the agency has opened a compliance review. OCR is still investigating these cases or otherwise working to resolve them. See the list of institutions under investigation for disability discrimination here.

​Prepared by:
Peters, Cannata & Moody, PLC

The Arc of Arizona


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