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The Capitol Roundup

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

April 20, 2018

Wait -- What?

​At the Statehouse...

The legislative session that seemed to be coming to a quiet close has become a dramatic political fight with no clear end in sight. As teachers continued to rally for higher pay and voted to implement a teacher walkout next week, House and Senate leaders hosted closed-door budget negotiations to consider the teacher pay proposal Governor Ducey announced last week.
The proposal, which would increase teacher pay by 20% over the next three years, drew both praise and criticism throughout the week. The statewide attention on the issue enhanced pressure on state leaders who are creating a state budget that can obtain support from a majority of legislators and the Governor. The Governor assured legislators that higher levels of state revenues, along with reduced enrollment in AHCCCS and a delay to other funding priorities, will cover the cost of the teacher pay increases. 

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Legislative budget staff, however, forecast slower revenue growth and predicted future budget deficits. It is common for executive and legislative budget offices to disagree on revenue forecasts, but the disagreement is usually settled earlier in the budget process. The differing views on available resources now create a hurdle to a final budget agreement.

Though budget tension is high, the Governor continues to sign most bills that reached his desk. On Tuesday, in an action applauded by The Arc of Arizona and other advocacy organizations across the state, he signed a bill strengthening monitoring oversight related to developmental homes for Arizonans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Other laws enacted this week include a streamlined process for insurance companies to provide credentialing for providers, an education and awareness program on disposal of drugs, needles, and sharps, and a new penalty for individuals who falsely claim their pets are service animals.

Governor Ducey vetoed a bill that would have prevented some career and technical education teachers or administrators from being elected to joint technical education district governing boards, citing concerns that the restriction would create different eligibility standards for some officials.

In the House and Senate, conference committees introduced amendments to exempt push-cart vendors from a bill that amends regulations for food trucks and to require the Arizona Department of Public Safety to coordinate with Indian tribes to implement a new federal law that extends the Amber Alert to Native American lands. A conference committee added limitations to a bill that authorizes the use of delivery robots, but Democrats said it does not go far enough to protect public safety.

The House unanimously passed bills to allow victims of sexual assault or harassment to waive non-disclosure agreements and to enable state agencies to work with other entities to develop drug education programs. The Senate unanimously approved a limited authorization for dental therapists to practice in Arizona and introduced an amendment that would extend the opportunities for an Arizona Governor to appoint someone to fill a vacant seat in Congress rather than holding a special election.

Both chambers of the legislature approved a bill that requires state universities and community colleges to adopt free expression policies.

Legislators have fewer than 100 bills left to consider – a fact that will put even more emphasis on state budget negotiations as the 2018 session moves into its 16th week.


In the News

This week, Arizona got a new State Treasurer, legislators created a new informal under-40 caucus to facilitate bipartisan discussions on issues of importance to young Arizonans, and the fight between entities that control Arizona’s water escalated.
 
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. On April 17th, Governor Ducey signed the bill into law (Chapter 251).
  • 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 Advances School Safety Bill

Governor Ducey’s school safety proposal advanced in the Senate this week, after a long hearing that the bill’s sponsor described as a forum for discussion on the best ways to protect Arizona’s schoolchildren. Senator Steve Smith (R-Maricopa) introduced an amended version of the bill that changes a number of things in the Governor’s original proposal, including procedures and mental health evaluations under a Severe Threat Order of Protection, or “STOP Order.” It maintains proposed funding for 100 new school resource officers and some resources for behavioral health services and mental health first-aid training programs. (Click here for a summary of the bill.)

A long list of organizations and individuals attended the hearing to share their support and opposition for the bill, and many provided specific policy changes they hoped would be added as the bill moves forward. Some – like background checks for gun purchases and bans on bump stocks – were immediately dismissed by the bill’s sponsor. Senator Smith did commit to future consideration of other ideas, however, including enhanced resources for suicide prevention programs and behavioral health counseling for all students and not just those enrolled in AHCCCS programs.

The amended version of the bill earned the support of the National Rifle Association – a fact that comforted some Republican members of the committee but disappointed Democrats, who said the support of the gun rights organization confirms their belief that the bill does not do enough to keep guns out of schools. SB 1519 passed the committee on a partisan 4-3 vote and now advances to the full Senate for consideration.


On the Bright Side…

A federal study funded by the Affordable Care Act provided new insight into the effective and efficient care Circle the City provides for Arizonans without homes, and new research is identifying new ways to help adults with autism.


On the Federal Front...

Major Recent Events

Balanced Budget Amendment Bill Fails in House

On April 12, the House failed to get the two-thirds vote needed to pass legislation (H.J. Res. 2) proposing a constitutional balanced budget amendment (BBA). The vote was 233-184. Despite not passing in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly wants to take up a balanced budget amendment in the Senate. See The Arc's blog post on the Congressional BBA legislation here.

There is also concern about BBA efforts at the state level. Twenty-eight states have active BBA resolutions, only 6 short of the 34 needed to call a Constitutional Convention to pass a BBA. Supporters of a Constitutional Convention to pass a BBA plan to target Maine, Virginia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington state.
 
President Issues New Executive Order on "Economic Mobility"

Last week, President Trump issued an Executive Order on "Economic Mobility." The order requires the Secretaries of the Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education to review their programs and, within 90 days, identify steps and recommendations to establish or expand work requirements in their programs. In response, The Arc's CEO, Peter V. Berns, said, "If you read between the lines of this executive order, it is a blueprint for sweeping changes that penalize people who are unemployed, across multiple programs. From Medicaid, to housing, to food assistance and other programs - this will result in new barriers to eligibility and denial of critical services. The call for increased economic opportunity is not backed up with provision of tools for individuals to succeed." Read The Arc's full statement.
 
CMS Releases Final Rule Weakening Affordable Care Act Protections

On April 9, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final rule weakening consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act. The final rule increases the amount by which insurers can increase premiums without regulatory approval, from 10% to 15%. Furthermore, it exempts student health plans from this process. The rule also broadens the circumstances when plans are allowed to spend less than 80% of premiums on providing care without being required to reimburse beneficiaries. Additionally, it allows states to narrow the scope of essential health benefits that plans are required to cover. Learn more about the final rule here.
 
President Nominates Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Social Security Administration

On April 12, President Trump nominated Andrew M. Saul as Commissioner and David Fabian Black as Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA). Both are being appointed for the remainder of six-year terms expiring January 19, 2019. Andrew Saul is also being nominated for an additional six-year term expiring January 19, 2025. He is currently a partner with Saul Partners, L.P. and a Commissioner for Westchester County, NY. David Black is currently the White House Senior Advisor at SSA. Previously, he served as SSA's General Counsel and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights. SSA administers Social Security programs such as Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These nominations must be approved by the U.S. Senate.

Senate Appropriations Committee Gets New Chair and Member

As a result of the retirement of Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), there have been adjustments in committee membership and leadership. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is the new Chairman. Newly-appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) will serve the remainder of Sen. Cochran's term as a member of the full Committee and the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.
 
House Committee Marks Up Farm Bill; Cuts to Food Assistance Proposed

Last week, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) released a draft of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), also known as the "Farm Bill," to reauthorize farm programs and policy as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). On net, the Chairman's draft bill proposes deep cuts to food assistance under SNAP: an estimated 2 million people would lose their SNAP food assistance or see their benefits reduced. On Wednesday, April 18, the House Agriculture Committee marked up the Chairman's proposed bill. Visit the Committee's web site for live video the day of the hearing. The Arc opposes this legislation.

Announcements

GAO Releases Report on Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report showing that black students, boys, and students with disabilities are more likely to be disciplined. These disparities existed for all types of punishment examined, in all types of schools, and no matter the poverty rate at the school. Types of punishment examined included out-of-school suspension, in-school suspension, referral to law enforcement, expulsion, corporal punishment, and school-related arrest. While students with disabilities accounted for 12 percent of public school students, they were 25% of students suspended out of school, 21% of students suspended in school, 28% of students referred to law enforcement, 24% of expelled students, 16% of student received corporal punishment, and 28% of student arrested for school-related incidents. Read the highlights of the report here.
 
The Arc and Other Civil Rights Organizations Release White Paper on Practical Solutions to School Violence

On April 2, several civil rights organizations, including The Arc, released a white paper titled "Civil Rights Imperiled: Discussions Must Focus On Practical Solutions To School Violence." The paper was released in response to calls to rescind Department of Education guidance on school discipline and increase the presence of school resource officers in the wake of the tragedy in Parkland, FL. The white paper notes that such solutions do not make schools safer, but instead will lead to greater disparities in discipline of minority students, and more arrests for behaviors that should be a concern of the school rather than law enforcement. The white paper concludes with four recommendations to make schools safer.
 
"Nation's Report Card" Shows Achievement Gap for Students with Disabilities

The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows that students' overall scores remained relatively unchanged for fourth and eighth grade mathematics and fourth grade reading, while eighth grade reading scores rose slightly from 265 to 276. For students with disabilities, scores stayed relatively the same for fourth grade reading and eighth grade mathematics. Scores for fourth grade mathematics declined from 218 to 214, while scores in eighth grade reading rose slightly from 230 to 232. These results do not include students with the most significant cognitive disabilities (1%) who take an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards. See the report here.
 
The Arc Commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the
Fair Housing Act

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act - a powerful law that fights housing discrimination and opens doors for people with disabilities across the country. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (gender), familial status, and disability. While much progress has been made over the last 50 years, more work remains. And today, our fair housing rights face new threats. Learn more about what you can do to help ensure that the Fair Housing Act's promise continues to advance.

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

Register today for the premier policy event of the year! 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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