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The Capitol Roundup

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

February 23, 2018

Appropriate for All Audiences
At the Statehouse...

This week marked a “hopeful halfway” point for the 2018 session. Though there is no promise the legislature will finish its work within the 100 days originally allotted for the session, House and Senate leaders are sticking to a timeline that would make it possible to adjourn in April.​
Only House and Senate Appropriations Committees held hearings this week – other policy committees were cancelled to allow for long days of floor debates and voting on a wide range of proposed changes to state statutes. More than 400 bills have passed the first half of the legislative process and await committee hearings in the second chamber of the legislature; 700 did not successfully pass their first committee assignments, and almost 150 are still eligible to move forward if they can get a vote in the House or Senate.​

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Among the bills passed by the House this week were a tax credit for caregivers, a bill to make nondisclosure agreements unenforceable in cases of sexual offenses, a limit on city governments’ ability to ban home-based businesses and vacation rentals, a needle exchange program, and a shout-out to the Arizona-born actress Emma Stone. A bill to keep some juvenile offenders in juvenile court until they turn 19 passed after it was supported by both prosecutors and defense attorneys.
 
The Senate approved more reporting requirements for abortions, legalized the hemp industry in the state, and voted to allow counties outside of Arizona’s urban centers to ask voters to add a one-cent sales tax for road construction and repair. The Sonorasaurus moved closer to being the state’s official dinosaur, and the Grand Canyon took a step toward getting its own license plate
 
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a code writing program for Native American high school students, and expanded AHCCCS services to include dental coverage for pregnant women – a topic that was also discussed in The New York Times.
 
Not everything scheduled for a vote this week was successful, however. The House failed to pass a state income tax credit for school supplies paid for out of teachers’ own pockets, a measure that would ask voters to allow teenagers to run for the legislature, and another that sought to double the amount of time legislators are in office.

A majority of House members voted against an attempt by Democrats to force a debate on bump stocks for guns in Arizona, but a bipartisan group of legislators asked Governor Ducey to appoint a Task Force on the Prevention of Potential School Violence to recommend protocols to keep Arizona’s schoolchildren safe. The Governor said he would work with legislative leaders to identify the best way to move forward.
 
Outside the legislature, the 2018 election cycle is in full force. Candidates running to win the November race for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction shared their thoughts on key education issues, a controversial citizen’s initiative that would ask Arizona voters to require public utilities in the state to get half of their power from renewable resources by 2030 was filed with the Secretary of State, and the special election to fill the Congressional District 8 race filled headlines across Arizona and around the country.
 
 
Priority Bills 
  • SB 1162 (silver alert notification; developmental disability) expands the state’s Silver Alert notification system to include missing individuals of any age who have a developmental disability. The bill passed the Senate with unanimous support and will be considered in the House Government Committee on March 1.
  • SB 1218 (developmental homes; licensure; investigations) provides statutory protections for vulnerable children and adults who receive services through the Department of Economic Security’s Division of Developmental Disabilities in developmental home residential settings. This week, the Senate amended the bill to outline additional requirements for DES to follow; senators are likely to vote on the bill next week.
 
Budget Update
 
Arizona got some good news about budget this week. In a new report from state budget analysts, revenues continued an increase that began in December – a fact that could create a small budget surplus at the end of the fiscal year, rather than the deficit some had feared. Thus far, state revenues are almost $250 million above forecasts; if revenue trends continue, the state could see a $90 million cash balance going into the next fiscal year. Legislative leaders are unlikely to view the revenues as a dependable foundation for increased spending on ongoing priorities, but the updated numbers will help inform the pending budget debates.
 
While Governor Ducey’s office and legislative budget leaders meet behind closed doors to establish a framework for the state budget negotiations, the Governor continues to publicize some new spending priorities. This week, he asked the legislature to include $2 million in the state budget for housing for Department of Public Safety officers who live and work in remote areas of the state, and held a press conference with the State Forester to emphasize the importance of his earlier request for new resources to prevent wildfires.
 
 
On the Bright Side…

Six Arizona non-profits that help underserved entrepreneurs start new companies got more than $1 million for their efforts during Startup Week in Phoenix.
 


On the Federal Front...


Major Recent Events
 
House Passes Bill Weakening Enforcement of the ADA

On February 16, the House of Representatives passed the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) by a vote of 225-192. This bill prevents lawsuits over architectural barriers violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) unless an individual provides "specific enough" notice and allows 120 days for a business to correct that barrier. The bill's supporters believe that the ADA has led to "frivolous lawsuits" where plaintiffs and attorneys intentionally seek barriers in order to extract funds. However, the ADA does not allow courts to award monetary damages to plaintiffs. Where those damages are available, it is through state law. Furthermore, there are already laws on the books that allow punishment of attorneys who represent clients in frivolous lawsuits. This bill effectively eliminates incentives for businesses to comply with federal law until 120 days after a person with a disability asks them to do so. See this fact sheet from Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund for more information. Click here to read The Arc's statement.
 
President's FY 2019 Budget Proposes Drastic Cuts for Disability-related Programs

The Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Budget Request on Feb. 12. This document outlines the Administration's spending and revenue priorities for the next decade. Among the many proposed cuts of concern to the disability community are:
  • Medicaid would be drastically cut through per capita caps and block grants. In addition, the President's Budget assumes repeal of critical provisions such as the requirements for adequate benefits and affordable health plans that protect people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) would be cut by roughly $70 billion.
  • Developmental Disabilities (DD) Act Programs would see double digit cuts - State Councils on Developmental Disabilities (-23%), University Centers for Excellence in Disabilities (-13%), and Projects of National Significance (-90%).
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) would lose $213 billion, a reduction of 30%.
  • Housing programs would lose $6.8 billion, including major cuts in housing choice vouchers, public housing, and other vital programs for people with disabilities.
Though the President's Budget Request does not have the force of law, it can set the stage for the Congressional budgets which follow. The Senate has indicated that it will not consider a FY 2019 budget due to the recent budget deal to raise spending caps for defense and non-defense discretionary programs, however it is unclear if the House intends to do so. Click here to see proposed spending levels for discretionary programs in the President's FY 2019 Budget Request. Click here to read The Arc's statement.
 
Announcements

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​Prepared by:
Peters, Cannata & Moody, PLC
www.pcmlawaz.com

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 and periodically between sessions 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!

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