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The Capitol Roundup

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

March 23, 2018

One for the Books
At the Statehouse...

It was another busy week at the state Capitol. As most policy committees wrapped up their last week to hold hearings on bills, the Governor released his plan for safer schools, and the legislature approved a 20-year continuation of a state sales tax for education.
The extension of the tax received strong bipartisan support, though legislators on both sides of the aisle said they will continue to fight for more resources for education. The sales tax was originally enacted by voters in 2000 through Proposition 301 – a measure that created the 0.6% tax to generate more funding for schools. The legislature amended the language to direct another $64 million a year into a fund for teacher salaries – a change that will become effective in 2021. Governor Ducey is expected to sign the bill.

The Governor has signed more than 40 bills so far this session, including a bill to suspend regulations for financial technology companies testing new products in Arizona and a proposal that prevents local governments from implementing a new tax on a specific food or drink product – like sugary beverages.

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In the Senate, committees approved state funding for children from the state foster care system to go to college, altered conservation and administration of Arizona’s water laws, banned medical marijuana packaging and advertising designed to reach minors, advanced a tax exemption for coal mining, and passed a new proposal that would give the legislature and governor more control of Arizona’s public universities.

The Senate Government Committee authorized a needle exchange program but limited it to specific areas and instances deemed to be under an emergency threat of an infectious disease. The Senate Judiciary Committee agreed to ask voters to start the legislative sessions later each January and allow legislators to serve four-year (rather than two-year) terms in office.

The full Senate directed a process school districts must follow when selling or leasing vacant and unused buildings and approved stronger penalties for wrong-way drivers.

House committees approved a bill that would allow the state to find new ways to fund the KidsCare insurance program, advanced a bill to enhance testing for mold and chemicals in medical marijuana, revived a ban on indoor tanning for minors, and praised the work of the Humane Society.

The House voted to outlaw the misrepresentation of the non-profit status of charitable causes, prohibited bias against individuals with visual impairment who want to adopt or serve as foster parents, and reauthorized the Arizona Commerce Authority as a state agency.


Budget Update

As the legislative session moves beyond policy committee hearings, additional focus will turn to state budget negotiations.

This week, legislative budget analysts reported that the state’s February revenues continued to exceed projections – good news for the state budget. Individual income taxes decreased, but overall revenues were more than $10 million above forecasts for the month. State sales taxes were $9 million higher than expected, and analysts are not certain what caused the increase.

Legislators will get more details and more predictions on the impact of income tax filings at a meeting of the Finance Advisory Committee on April 11.
 
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. Governor Ducey signed the bill into law this week, and the Secretary of State filed it as Chapter 39 of Laws 2018.
  • 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 House Health Committee amended the bill and unanimously approved it. It is ready for a hearing in the House Rules Committee.
  • 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 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee on March 27. 
School Safety Takes Center Stage

Governor Ducey’s Safe Arizona Schools Plan, released early this week, proposes a variety of changes. The plan outlines new resources for mental and behavioral health treatment in schools, expands law enforcement access on school property, and establishes background checks for some gun purchases. (Click here for more details.)
 
Legislators’ reactions to the proposal are varied. Some say they want to see more details before they take a position on the proposal, but others have already expressed opposition. Legislative Democrats say the plan does not go far enough to prevent violence; some conservative legislative Republicans say it goes too far in imposing gun control. The criticism has not dimmed Governor Ducey’s confidence in his plan, and he said he looks forward to moving the discussion to the legislative process.

While legislators await the introduction of the Governor’s proposal, they advanced two other proposals related to school safety. The Senate Education Committee approved an amendment that requires schools to notify a student’s parent or guardian if any person threatens, harasses, or intimidates the student – a step that some parents and education groups believe is an important way to connect parents to difficult or dangerous situations their students face at school.

The Senate also advanced a bill that creates a “Safe-to-Tell” program that would allow anonymous reporting of dangerous, violent, or unlawful activities to the Attorney General. Representative Paul Boyer (R-Phoenix), the bill’s sponsor, believes the program would help students report threats or concerning behavior.

Arizona students are sharing their views on school safety proposals, and plan to march to the state Capitol in support of stronger school safety laws this weekend. The high-profile discussion will continue as the legislative session draws to a close in the coming weeks.
 
Legislature Considers Wide Range of Regulatory Changes

“Regulation” is one of the terms used most frequently at the state legislature. Governor Ducey has consistently advocated for reduced regulations, and legislators often debate the proper level of oversight for specific industries and professions. This year, regulation has been the focus of a wide range of policy proposals. Some bills failed to advance, like an effort to create temporary licensure of professionals across state lines, a ban on ticket scalpers, and a “right to work” standard to prevent regulations that cannot prove they are necessary for public health and safety. Many others continue to advance.

Many proposals still eligible for consideration address specific areas of regulation, such as a regulatory exemption for blow-dry bars, a new authority for dental therapists to practice in Arizona, reduced local government restrictions on food trucks, and a simplification of oversight on taxidermists.

Other bills expand the experiences that qualify as mandatory training – like SB 1399, which counts apprenticeships as work experience for a range of cosmetology professions, and HB 2036, which includes substitute teaching time toward a substitute’s teaching certification.
 
Still other bills adjust state processes to broaden participation in the debate on proper regulation. For example, SB 1273 allows any person to challenge a state agency rule if the rule impacts professions with an income level below 200% of the federal poverty level and is not authorized by statute. HB 2434, which Governor Ducey signed into law this week, creates a “regulatory sandbox” program to consider applications for suspended licensing and regulations on qualifying companies testing new financial technologies and services.

Consideration of regulatory authorization can be divisive, but it is not always. This year, legislators have given unanimous support to bills like HB 2062, which changes the process and burden of proof for a state agency whose regulations are challenged and alters the standards for agency descriptions of licensing criteria. HB 2084, which expands the ability for anyone to ask a state agency to make, amend, or repeal a state rule, has seen unanimous support in the Senate, and HB 2575, which waives licensing fees for homeless veterans, has moved through the legislative process with significant bipartisan support.

Legislators are likely to continue the discussion on regulation continues beyond this session through bills like HB 2411, which requires several key medical regulatory board to submit a report on the licensing requirements across other states to the legislature by the end of the year, and HB 2532, which requires a local government to demonstrate the need for an occupational fee or licensing requirement in a public hearing before adopting that fee or requirement.

On the Bright Side…

Arizona’s economy is doing better than the national average.​


On the Federal Front...


Major Recent Events
 
"Money Follows the Person" Reauthorization Bill Introduced in House

On March 15, Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) introduced the Ensuring Medicaid Provides Opportunities for Widespread Equity, Resources, and Care (EMPOWER Care) Act (H.R. 5306). This bipartisan bill reauthorizes the Money Follows the Person Demonstration Program, which provides grants to states to transition people from institutions to community based settings. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this program has helped over 63,000 people transition into the community and saved almost $1 billion for Medicare and Medicaid as of 2013. The Arc strongly supports this legislation.

Announcements

Register Today: Disability Policy Seminar on April 23-25!

Registration for the premier policy event of the year is open! Join other advocates and professionals from all over the country to get up-to-date on the latest policy issues and legislation. It is an excellent opportunity to advance our grassroots movement, meet with your Members of Congress, and educate them on the needs of people with disabilities. 2017 was a tumultuous year in Washington for disability rights. Congress repeatedly attempted to cut and cap Medicaid and repeal the Affordable Care Act, but was met with resistance from the disability community at every turn. We won those battles together, thanks to your advocacy, energy, and persistence! But the fight isn't over. We need you in Washington, DC to advocate for the programs that people with disabilities rely on to make a life in their communities possible. The Disability Policy Seminar is your chance to make an impact! Register today at disabilitypolicyseminar.org.


​​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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