The Capitol Roundup

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

February 16, 2018

Days Without End
At the Statehouse...

It was a long week at the state Capitol. Members of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee stayed an extra day for an unusual Friday meeting to consider health-related proposals prior to the 5:00 deadline for committee hearings in the chamber where bills were introduced.


Of the 1,280 proposals introduced this year, fewer than 500 are still eligible for consideration. Two bills already made it to the Governor’s desk, and this week he signed the proposals to alter charter schools’ rulemaking process and dedicated $2.5 million for the special election in Congressional District 8 to replace U.S. Representative Trent Franks.

A wide range of policy changes passed through committees this week, including an extension of the amount of time eggs
can be sold in Arizona stores, a $400,000 appropriation to help individuals in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program buy fresh Arizona-grown produce, and a state program to share information on proper disposal of prescription drugs. Legislators endorsed a bill that would direct gift card balances to the state’s general fund if the owner of the gift card didn’t use the value within ten years, and opted to add more members to the Independent Redistricting Commission tasked with creating the state’s congressional and legislative district maps.

House committees voted to prohibit the Department of Child Safety from enforcing gun safety requirements for foster parents, minimize the regulations local governments can place on food trucks, prevent individuals under 18 from marrying in Arizona (with some exceptions), and extend the state’s sales tax for education.

In the Senate, legislators expanded the information doctors must collect from a patient before performing an abortion and approved a measure that would ask voters if they still support the increase to minimum wage and mandatory sick pay they passed through the Proposition 206 citizen’s initiative in 2016. And a Senate committee advanced legislation to require third-party monitoring oversight of Developmental Homes – a measure supported by The Arc of Arizona and fellow advocacy organizations.

The Senate also advanced two proposals that would establish a “right to practice” policy that minimizes regulations allowed under state law if they do not directly protect public health and safety. One version of the language would ask voters to establish the limit on regulations in the Arizona Constitution; the other would put the language in state statute and alter the sunrise process to approve new health-related regulation or scope of practice changes.

The proposals are supported by several limited-government advocacy organizations, who believe the change would prevent unnecessary barriers to employment; opponents, including local governments and the Arizona Council of Human Service Providers, believe it will could reduce quality of the workforce.

The call for reduced regulations on occupations in Arizona has also come from Governor Doug Ducey, who announced this week that his administration has eliminated or reduced more than 600 regulations in the last year.

Next week, only the Appropriations Committees will meet in the House and Senate to consider bills with a financial impact; other committees have been cancelled as legislators spend their time in floor debates on proposals moving toward the second half of the legislative process. Click here for daily updates on the scheduled action in the House and Senate.
House Committees Consider Proposition 301 Education Funding

A high-profile education funding proposal advanced through a House committee this week with bipartisan support, but it might not be enough to move the discussion to the Senate.

The House Education Committee voted 9-1 in favor of HB 2158, which would continue the 0.6% sales tax permanently in state statute. (The current voter-approved tax is scheduled to end in 2021.) The bill was amended to direct 100% of the revenues from the statutory Classroom Site Fund to teacher pay, eliminating the current distribution formula that dedicates some of the funds to performance-based compensation and school maintenance and operations.

The sponsors of the bill, Senator Kate Brophy McGee (R-Phoenix) and Representative Doug Coleman (R-Apache Junction), acknowledged that getting support for a tax bill in the legislature would be difficult, but declared it to be a conversation the state must have to avoid an abrupt end to the education revenues from the current tax. “It is an enormously complicated conversation,” Brophy McGee stated, “but we must have it.”

Though the bill passed easily through the Education Committee, Representative Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale) blocked the proposal from a hearing in the House Ways & Means Committee.

The conversation will continue even if the bill does not, however. This week, Representative Jill Norgaard (R-Phoenix), who cast the sole “no” committee vote on the sales tax extension, hosted a discussion on Proposition 301 funding. The forum was an opportunity for a panel of legislators to learn more about how funding from the education sales tax has been distributed and how it has benefited education in Arizona. Norgaard and others on the subcommittee pledged to continue discussions on the issue as the tax moves closer to its statutory expiration date.
On the Bright Side…

It’s Random Acts of Kindness Week, and Arizona had its 106th birthday on Wednesday!

On the Federal Front...

Major Recent Events
President's FY 2019 Budget Request Just Released

The Trump Administration just released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Budget Request. This document serves to outline the Administration's spending and revenue priorities for the next decade. Advocates are concerned that it will be similar to the President's FY 2018 Budget, which called for historic cuts to both mandatory and discretionary programs that are critical for people with disabilities (see disability coalition statement on the 2018 Budget for reference). Though the President's Budget is non-binding, it can set the stage for the Congressional Budgets which follow. The Arc will provide a summary of the President's Budget in next week's issue of the Capitol Insider.

House Passes "ADA Education and Reform Act"

On February 14, the House of Representatives passed HR 620, the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Education and Reform Act, a bill that would create additional requirements for filing lawsuits under the ADA. If HR 620 becomes law, a person with a disability who is denied access to a business would have to send a letter notifying the business that it is inaccessible and out of compliance with the ADA. The business would then have 60 days to respond and 120 days to make “substantial progress” toward fixing the problem. Only if the business failed to acknowledge the notification or make substantial progress in fixing the violation, could the business be sued.

HR 620 was drafted in response to concerns about a small number of individuals who have filed ADA lawsuits for financial gain. It is important to note, however, that no monetary damages are available under the ADA; rather, damages are provided under state laws. Thus, HR 620 does not actually solve the problem it purports to address.

Two-Year Budget Deal and 6 Week Funding Bill Enacted

On February 9, the House and Senate passed a 6-week spending bill that ended an hours-long government shutdown and President Trump Signed it shortly afterward. This continuing resolution (CR) that runs through March 23 was paired with a two-year budget deal that will raise spending caps on defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) program categories for 2018 and 2019 by $290 billion. In addition, the budget deal specifically provides:
  • an additional four-year extension of the funding for the Children's Health Insurance program
  • a permanent fix for the Medicare therapy caps exceptions process
  • a two-year extension of the Family to Family Health Information Centers
  • a repeal of the Medicare panel created in the Affordable Care Act to implement Medicare cuts
  • a two-year extension of funding for Community Health Centers
  • a five-year extension funding for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program
  • $6 billion for opioid and mental health treatment services, prevention programs, and law enforcement efforts
  • $4 billion for college affordability, including programs that help police officers, teachers, and firefighters
  • $5.8 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant
  • $20 billion for infrastructure (including funding for safe drinking water)
  • A $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health
  • $4 billion for hospitals and clinics for veterans, and
  • $182 million for the Census Bureau for 2020 Census preparations.
The budget deal also includes a number of other important provisions, including suspending the debt ceiling through March 1 of 2019, providing for disaster relief funding, extending expiring tax cuts, and providing a new prevention focus for child welfare services. It is estimated that only $100 billion of the $419 billion spending increases will be paid for with offsetting cuts. This raises concerns that the resulting increased deficits will create more pressure to cut mandatory programs (including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid), particularly if Congress decides to extend the sequestration relief for discretionary programs and other provisions after 2019.

With the budget totals set, Congress now has until March 23 to come to agreement on item-by-item spending details, through an "omnibus" spending package that would combine the 12 appropriations bills covering all government agencies for the remainder of FY 2018.
House Advances Bill to Strengthen Representative Payee Program

Last week, the House voted 396-0 to pass the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2017 (H.R. 4547). Introduced by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT), the bill makes numerous changes to Social Security's representative payee program designed to enhance oversight and operations of the program. Visit the Committee on Ways and Means web site to view summaries and related materials about the bill. The Arc strongly supports this bipartisan legislation to strengthen Social Security's representative payee program.


New Mexico, West Virginia Open Qualified ABLE Programs

New Mexico and West Virginia opened qualified ABLE programs, bringing the total number of jurisdictions with ABLE programs to 33. The programs are currently only open to state residents. They have five investment options. The accounts have 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. 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.
New Portal Announced for WIOA State Plans

The Rehabilitation Services Administration announced today that, in accordance with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the state plan portal has opened. The unified and combined state plan submission portal is the method by which states submit their plans. Modifications must be submitted by March 15, 2018, through the online portal.

GAO Releases Report on Inter-Agency Collaboration for WIOA Implementation

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report regarding the collaboration of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education required by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The report found that implementation aligned with five of seven leading collaboration practices. It recommended that agencies' efforts be improved by utilizing online collaboration tools and having written agreements of the roles of each agency during collaboration. The report listed six recommendations, two for each agency, on how the collaboration could be improved.

​Prepared by:
Peters, Cannata & Moody, PLC

The Arc of Arizona


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