The Capitol Roundup

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

March 16, 2018

March Madness
At the Statehouse...

State legislators spent hours voting on bills this week, but it was the proposals not being considered – like gun control and school safety – that drew the fiercest debate. Students held a rally at the Capitol to demand action on gun violence, and state legislators postponed voting on other topics to give floor speeches on their views on the subject. Governor Ducey continues to work on his plan for enhanced school safety that he will release next week, and says he hopes the legislature will enact his recommendations before the end of the legislative session.​


Funding for education will also get more time in the spotlight at the legislature before the session ends.  This week, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) used a procedural move to revive a high-profile bill to continue the 0.6% sales tax in state statute permanently.  The House has not yet scheduled a debate on the proposal.

In the Senate, committees authorized local needle exchange programs, prohibited limits on some home-based businesses, allowed pharmacists to tell patients about cheaper prescription drug options, narrowed the legality of child marriages in Arizona, and authorized Safe-to-Tell hotlines where students can anonymously report potential threats and concerning observations.

The Senate revived the debate on a texting ban for all Arizona drivers, voted to
establish June 2 as an unpaid state Native American Day holiday, and agreed to allow courts to consider a criminal’s use of a mask or disguise as an aggravating circumstance – a change that is different from the sponsor’s initial hopes of outlawing masks at political protests.

In the House, policy committees outlined exemptions to when a child can be taken into custody without a court order – an authority the legislature enacted last year – and increased reporting requirements for doctors who perform abortions. A provision that would have required doctors to ask patients why they chose to have an abortion was amended out of the legislation.

The House revived a bill that bans medical marijuana dispensaries from offering products that are designed to attract minors and advanced a proposal to require testing and inspections for medical marijuana products.

House members failed a proposal to allow Arizonans to claim an income tax credit for their children, voted against a proposal to establish the regulated field of dental therapists, and blocked progress on a bill that would have created a permanent license for foster homes.

The debate about whether the state should tax digital services (like Netflix, e-books, and cloud-based storage) continued, though the Senate has not scheduled further consideration of two bills on the topic. One of the bill’s sponsors says he wants additional details on the financial impact of exempting most digital services from state and local sales taxes. Some advocates say the state would be unwise to turn away revenue that could fund other priorities; others say the state needs to clarify how taxes are imposed and risks costly repayment of taxes if a court decides what is taxable instead of the legislature. (One example of this debate was televised on PBS – click here to watch.)

Next Friday marks a key deadline in the legislative session – it is the last day most policy committees can hold hearings on legislation. Dozens of bills are scheduled for consideration, and the hearings are likely to stretch into the night throughout the week. Click here for additional details on committee hearings and scheduled floor debates.

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 House on a 57-1 vote and now awaits Governor Ducey’s consideration.
  • 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. The bill unanimously passed the Senate and is expected to be considered in the House Health Committee on March 22.
  • HB 2087 (family caregiver income tax credit) creates an individual income tax credit for up to $1,000 and up to 50% of the costs incurred caring for a qualifying family member. The bill passed the House last month but has not been considered in either the Senate Finance Committee or the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Shoot for the Stars: State Treasurer to Resign for NASA Job
This week, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Arizona State Treasurer Jeff DeWit as the new chief financial officer of NASA. President Trump nominated DeWit for the role in November. DeWit has not announced when he will resign, but his new role will require him to leave his current office. When he does resign, Governor Ducey will name a new State Treasurer to serve through the end of the year. 
Budget Update

State budget negotiations continue behind the scenes as legislative leaders work with their Republican colleagues to identify funding priorities for the coming year.
A recent court ruling reduced one of the potential state budget impacts: an appeals court approved Arizona’s use of a tax on rental cars that helps fund sports stadiums. The ruling is important to state finances because the rental care tax has generated hundreds of millions of dollars to meet financing requirements for existing sports facilities and related tourism outreach. The issue is not entirely settled – rental car companies say they will take the case to the Arizona Supreme Court – but the appeals court ruling means state leaders will not have to address the issue in this state budget. (Click here for a summary of how the tax was enacted and approved.)
Ballot Initiative Seeks Ban on Tax for Services
If one group gets their way, voters will get a chance to set major tax policy at the ballot in November. This week, the “Citizens for Fair Tax Policy” group filed a citizen’s initiative that, if approved by voters, would block any sales tax on services in Arizona. Supporters of the initiative need more than 225,000 valid voter signatures by July 5 to get their proposal on the ballot. The state does not currently apply sales taxes to services.
On the Bright Side…
This month, you can vote in an election that does not involve long campaigns or political bickering. Until March 21, the Arizona Department of Transportation wants to know your favorite unique road-safety slogan – the winning slogan will be on highway signs across the state. Click here to vote for your favorite of the 15 messages.


On the Federal Front...

Major Recent Events
School Voucher Bill for Military Families Introduced in House and Senate

On March 7, Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) and Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced the Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act (H.R.5199/S.2517). These bills would use a portion of Federal Impact Aid payments to create "Military Education Savings Accounts" that parents serving in the military could use for private school or other education expenses for their children. Federal Impact Aid is funding for school districts that have a large amount of non-taxable federal property (such as military bases and tribal lands) in order to make up for lost tax revenue. The Arc opposes these bills because they redirect money from public schools to private schools that are not required to follow the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Bills Introduced to Provide Protections from Campus Sexual Assault for Students with Disabilities

Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced S. 2530, the Safe Equitable Campus Resources and Education (SECuRE) Act on March 9. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced companion legislation (H.R. 5241) in the House of Representatives. The SECuRE Act ensures the needs of students with disabilities will be taken into account in campus planning and response efforts to sexual assault on campus, and that resources provided to the campus community are accessible to everyone. Specifically, the SECuRE Act would improve prevention programs, reporting systems, personnel training, and disciplinary proceedings. A recent report from the National Council on Disability, "Not on the Radar: Sexual Assault of College Students with Disabilities," found that the needs of these students are often not addressed under existing policies. The Arc supports this legislation.


USA Today Publishes Opinion Piece from The Arc

USA Today published an opinion piece by Marty Ford, Senior Executive Officer for Public Policy at The Arc, warning about the negative impact Medicaid work requirements will have on people with disabilities. While low-income adults who qualify for Medicaid because they receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are exempt from work requirements, nearly three-fifths of non-elderly adult Medicaid enrollees with disabilities do not receive SSI. Many people with disabilities qualify for Medicaid because of their income and could be subject to work requirements. She concludes by warning that these policies will result in less work and less health care.

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Arizona, Wyoming Open Qualified ABLE Programs

Arizona and Wyoming recently opened new ABLE programs, bringing the total number of jurisdictions with ABLE programs to 35. These programs are currently open only 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.

Policy Brief on Potential Rescission of School Discipline Guidance Issued

The Leadership Conference Education Fund (LCEF) released a policy brief regarding the potential rescission of guidance from the Education Department and Department of Justice clarifying the responsibility of public schools to address disproportionality in school discipline. The brief explains that students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students are disproportionately subject to suspension and expulsion. The document states that rescission of the guidance would impede the progress being made on reducing this disproportionality.

​​Prepared by:
Peters, Cannata & Moody, PLC

The Arc of Arizona


The Arc of the United States

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 to start or renew your Membership today!


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