Weekly Legislative Reports
To track AzTA’s involvement in the most recent legislative session, view our reports below.
House and Senate Republicans announced an ambitious new timeline this week, expressing a desire to finish a state budget by April 1. Their plan is connected to an existing April 1 deadline: The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) needs legislative approval to spend federal funding for the state’s Medicaid programs in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. Republican legislative leaders say the discussion about AHCCCS spending authority should be connected to the broader conversations about a spending plan for the next fiscal year.
The pace of progress slowed this week as legislators fought to keep bills alive for consideration. Floor calendars included bills that have stalled in the process, awaiting the right timing or enough votes to advance. House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Glendale), recognizing the delayed process this year, extended the timeline for committee hearings another week. House committees now have until March 31 to hear bills that already passed the first chamber of the legislature; the Senate is likely to extend its committee deadline, as well.
This was the ninth week of the 2023 legislative session, and legislators filled it with committee hearings, floor votes, and disagreements about how to respond to Representative Liz Harris’ (R-Chandler) recent hearing about election accusations. House Democrats filed an ethics complaint against Harris, but House Republicans used a procedural move to block an effort to issue an official censure.
Partisan debates and policy disagreements took center stage at the Arizona Capitol this week. Lawmakers spent long days in floor sessions, advancing proposals that still require committee hearings in the second chamber of the legislature. Legislators sent three more bills to the Governor’s desk for consideration: changes to local governments’ review of some planning proposals, limits on the legislature’s process for considering changes to medical professionals’ scope of practice, and a routine bill that aligns state tax laws with federal standards.
Republicans succeeded in their efforts to send a “baseline budget” to the Governor this week, after Representative Liz Harris (R-Chandler) overcame her concerns and joined her colleagues to approve the plan. Representative David Livingston (R-Peoria), the House Appropriations Chairman, praised the budget package as a responsible way to ensure the government is funded even if negotiations on new spending extend into the summer. Representative Andrés Cano (D-Tucson), the House Minority Leader, blasted the bills as a politically motivated way to ignore the Governor’s role in the budgeting process.
The House and Senate voted to lift the cap on school spending this year, averting the need for schools to cut a total of $1.4 billion from budgets before the end of the school year. Both chambers showed strong bipartisan support for the measure, easily obtaining the supermajority required to pass it despite opposition from some Republicans who wanted to enact controversial policy changes before lifting the spending cap. With the threat of spending cuts averted this year, many education advocacy groups will turn their attention to crafting a ballot measure that would ask voters to permanently lift the aggregate expenditure limit next year.