The Capitol Roundup

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

April 13, 2018


​At the Statehouse...

Budget Update: Education Funding Moves to Center Stage

Education funding dominated the discussions at the Arizona legislature this week and set the stage for a busy week ahead. As teachers continued to rally for additional pay and planned a statewide strike, the state’s conversation on teacher pay made national headlines. On Thursday afternoon, Governor Ducey announced a new plan to increase teacher pay by 20% over three years.


The likelihood of a notable teacher pay increase shifted as the week unfolded. The Governor initially urged teachers to take a closer look at what the state is already investing in education; key legislators said a large pay increase was unlikely. By the time the Governor announced his revised plan for teacher pay on Thursday, however, a large group of legislators stood behind him in support of the proposal.
The Governor’s plan will increase teacher pay by 9% in next year’s budget and enact an additional 5% increase in each of the following two budget cycles. It specifies that the teacher pay increase is in addition to the full restoration of funding for district additional assistance, overriding a House proposal that would have shifted additional district assistance to teacher salaries.

There are few details about how the state will pay for the teacher pay raise, and additional information will come as budget negotiations unfold. The Governor says that state revenues are above forecasts (the state’s Finance Advisory Committee provided details on those revenues earlier this week) and pledged to find efficiencies in state agencies to provide more funding for education. Legislators have eyed those increased revenues for other priorities, however, including expanded services to AHCCCS patients and IT projects in state agencies. As legislative leaders negotiate funding priorities and reach a budget agreement with the Governor, members of the House and Senate may be asked to set aside other budget requests to enact higher pay for teachers.

Legislature, Governor Approve New Laws

Throughout the growing call for teacher pay increases, legislators dedicated long hours to debate and votes on many bills moving through the final stages of the legislative process.

The House voted to prohibit minors from using indoor tanning facilities, add work requirements for those receiving unemployment insurance, clarify some of the limitations on opioid dosages enacted during the special session, and fine people who falsely claim their pets are service animals. Members of the House failed to pass a new license plate to benefit the Grand Canyon National Park and use eye movement analyses in drug and alcohol testing.

The Senate approved legal definitions and permissions for the use of electronic bicycles, granted permission for victims of sexual assault and harassment to break non-disclosure agreements, and streamlined the credentialing process for medical providers. Senators narrowly approved a controversial bill that would make it easier for cattle ranchers to install water tanks and fences on state lands and unanimously approved a resolution recognizing the Girl Scouts’ dedication to expanding computer science education and closing the gender gap in technology.

Both the House and the Senate gave final approval to a controversial bill that increases abortion reporting requirements. The House amended the bill to restore a provision that requires abortion facilities to ask patients about their decision to seek an abortion; it does not require the patient to answer the question. Governor Ducey is expected to sign the bill.

The Governor signed a variety of bills that reached his desk, including proposals to designate the Sonorasaurus as the official state dinosaur, limit the ability for individuals under 18 to get married, extend the expiration date for eggs, and narrow the conditions under which the Department of Child Safety can remove a child from a home without a judge’s approval.

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 (Chapter 39).
  • 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 passed final votes in the House and Senate unanimously this week, and is on the Governor’s desk.
  • 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 was discussed in the Senate Appropriations Committee but did not receive a vote. The issue was moved to budget discussions.
Senate Introduces School Safety Bill

This week, the Senate introduced legislation to enact Governor Ducey’s plan for school safety. The bill contains most of the proposals originally outlined by the Governor, including $11 million for new school resource officers and $3 million for mental health counseling at schools through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.  Some sections of the bill reflect changes inspired by negotiations with legislators, including mandated suicide prevention training for school workers that was initially proposed by Democratic Senator Sean Bowie (D-Phoenix). The bill also adjusts the process for issuing a Severe Threat Order of Protection, or “STOP Order,” to reflect strong objections from legislative Republicans.

​It is not clear when the bill may advance, however. The Senate cancelled a scheduled hearing on the bill next week, and the House has not introduced its own version of the bill – a fact that could slow down consideration of the proposal. 

Legislators Weigh Possible Action on Empowerment Scholarship Accounts

As the session nears an end, legislators continue a behind-the-scenes discussion on how to move forward on the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts. A citizen’s initiative challenged the legislature’s expansion of ESAs and could give Arizona voters the chance to void the legislative action in November. Some legislators, however, hope to reach a compromise that would avoid an up-or-down vote on ESA expansion by repealing last year’s law and enacting a more limited expansion of ESAs. It is unclear whether a compromise is possible – and if it would be successful in the legislature. In February, the Senate approved a bill to further expand access to ESAs; the House cancelled a scheduled debate on the bill this week.

On the Bright Side…

For years, Donna Parks has collected shoes for 40,000 Arizonans who need them. This week, she was honored for her dedication to helping others.

On the Federal Front...

Major Recent Events

Due to the Congressional recess, the next Federal update will be published in the April 20 Capitol Roundup. In the meantime, look for updates on
​The Arc's blog.

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

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