Weekly Legislative Reports
To track AzTA’s involvement in the most recent legislative session, view our reports below.
The 55th Arizona Legislature, First Regular Session, concluded its business by adjourning sine die at 4:54pm on Wednesday, June 30. The session lasted 171 days, the longest legislative session under Governor Ducey’s tenure and the third-longest in Arizona’s history. The session produced a record-breaking 1,774 bills (over 150 more than last session’s record of 1,607), 412 of which (as of today’s date) were signed into law by Governor Doug Ducey. After not vetoing a single measure last year in the short session impacted by the global pandemic, the Governor set another personal record by vetoing 27 bills, more than he had in any prior session. (There are still a few bills remaining for signature or veto by the Governor as of today’s date, though none related to AzTA’s interests.)
This week, the Arizona House and Senate Republican leadership announced they came to an agreement with Governor Ducey on a budget. With a budget surplus from better than anticipated revenue, a well-funded “Rainy Day Fund,” and a huge influx of federal relief dollars, the negotiated proposal mirrors most of what Governor Ducey initially laid out in his Executive Budget released at the beginning of session. The main distinction from the Governor’s initial budget is an increase of another $300 million in tax reductions over the next three years. Though this deal has been struck between respective leadership, it is yet to be determined how quickly it will garner the needed 31 and 16 votes in the House and Senate respectively as several legislators in the majority have already indicated their uneasiness with various components, especially when it comes to the impact on local governments.
The Arizona House started the week by passing SCR 1044 (tuition; postsecondary education) which will ask voters in the 2022 election whether to amend the Arizona Constitution to deem persons without lawful immigration status (“dreamers”) eligible for in-state tuition at Arizona universities if prescribed conditions are satisfied. Four House Republicans joined all 29 Democrats to pass the ballot referral by a 33-27 vote and the referral was transmitted to the Secretary of State for placement on the 2022 general election ballot. Immediately after passage, the House adjourned until Thursday morning (skipping Floor action on Tuesday and Wednesday) so Republican leadership could host small group budget meetings with their members. They reconvened Thursday morning to give final approval to a few other measures and adjourned again until next week as budget negotiations continue.
The Arizona Senate had a relatively quiet week while the House had lengthy debates on several controversial proposals. Consuming the bulk of their time in debate this week was SB 1532 (impending school operations; civil liability) which outlines restrictions and penalties relating to the inclusion of controversial issues of public policy and social affairs within school coursework. House Education Chair Rep. Michelle Udall (R-Mesa), the sponsor of the amendment and an educator, said her “Unbiased Teaching Act” would require a teacher to present issues from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective if the teacher chooses to discuss controversial matters. House Democrats strongly opposed the bill contending that there are not two sides to issues like slavery, genocide, and the results of the 2020 election. The Democrats also highlighted their concern that teachers who violate the law may be subjected to a $5,000 fine/penalty under provisions of the legislation. The bill ultimately passed on a party-line 31-29 vote with all Democrats voting in opposition to the measure. The bill will now head back to the Senate for concurrence on the House amendments.
The Arizona Legislature continued to advance a host of bills through the legislative process this week as budget negotiations ramp up behind the scenes. House Appropriations Committee Chair, Regina Cobb (R-Kingman), said as recently as this morning that they are close on a budget package and that she is hopeful for the conclusion of session some time over the next couple of weeks. However, there is still some pessimism in achieving that goal by other legislators (both in the majority and minority).
The Arizona Legislature passed the 100th day mark of session this week, the general timeframe in which the body attempts to conclude session by annually. However, the end does not appear too close as budget negotiations continue behind the scenes. Several legislators in the majority have already expressed their uneasiness with the significant tax cut package proposed to be included in the budget as well as a desire to have a say in allocating some of the latest federal dollars that will be funneled into Arizona. Delaying the traditional course of business this week, the Arizona Legislature skipped convening on Wednesday as several members from both the House and Senate joined Governor Ducey in Yuma where he has declared a national emergency and deployed Arizona National Guard troops in response to the federal government’s inaction on the recent increase of migrants at the border. Despite only meeting for three of the typical four days this week, there were a host of contentious battles on legislation and procedural tactics.