Weekly Legislative Reports
To track AzTA’s involvement in the most recent legislative session, view our reports below.
The legislative session has nearly ground to a halt as lawmakers try to negotiate a state budget that can pass the House and Senate. Legislators spent a total of five hours in floor sessions this week, including the time devoted to speeches honoring specific causes or constituents visiting the Capitol.
Lawmakers’ pursuit of a budget was derailed this week when the House Appropriations Committee voted down a collection of bills that would have continued the current budget into the next fiscal year. The failure of the bills highlighted the factors that are complicating all budget negotiations: One Republican thought the proposal spent too much, another Republican thought it spent too little on tax cuts and new investments, and all Democrats on the panel thought it didn’t do enough to address their policy priorities.
There were discussions about tax cuts, water policies, and budget priorities at the Capitol this week, but none of them happened in public. Meetings between legislative leaders happened behind closed doors and did not lead to action on top priorities. The House and Senate spent little time in floor sessions. When they did convene, legislators’ absences prevented votes on controversial bills. Both chambers adjourned early for the holiday weekend.
The legislative session crept along at a snail’s pace this week, slowed by legislators’ absences and the closed-door quest for agreement on a state budget or tax cuts. House and Senate Republicans are still trying to broker a deal that will reenact an income tax cut and add new funding for education. They’re also hoping to find a compromise on Governor Ducey’s proposed new water agency. If legislative leaders find enough votes for either effort, the Governor could call a special session to advance the legislation.
The legislature wrapped up the last of its regularly scheduled committee hearings this week and has reached a lull in the pace of the legislative session. There is still work to do – more than 400 bills await final floor debates and votes – but there’s little reason to act quickly when closed-door negotiations show no sign of leading to a state budget anytime soon. The legislature’s one constitutionally required duty – a financial plan for the state – is usually among the last things to get done during the legislative session.
Lawmakers rarely welcome court rulings that say they violated the Arizona Constitution. This week, however, a Yavapai County Superior Court’s ruling against legislative changes to precinct committee elections brought House and Senate Republicans a reason to celebrate. The court ruling overturned a controversial provision enacted when the legislature rushed through a change to the signature-gathering process for political candidates. The unintended change to precinct elections infuriated Republican party leaders and sparked conflict between political parties at the Capitol when Democrats refused to immediately overturn that part of the new law. By ruling that the new law violated the Constitution’s limits on special legislation, the court removed the provision, reset the precinct elections, and eliminated the need for the legislature to act on the issue.