Today is Day 93 of the legislative session – are we any closer to adjourning? Depends on who you ask!
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By far the most common question I receive these days is some variation of, “are you almost done? Are you about to adjourn the legislative session?”
We can definitely tell that the end is somewhat close – part of the reason is that we are running out of bills to consider. Yesterday alone we voted on about 35 bills, which is pretty high for a single day. While the number of bills left to vote on is pretty low, there are still some BIG issues out there left to resolve; other than the budget, that includes the governor’s school safety plan, the fate of the voucher bill from last session, the senate president’s redistricting plan, the taxation of digital goods and services, and so on. At a minimum, I’d say we have at least another two weeks left to go.
As Democrats, that also means that we are unfortunately not included in the larger scale negotiations around the budget or any of the other big ticket items I outlined above. We certainly WANT to be, but unfortunately, the legislature is not as bipartisan as some of us would like.
The budget is being negotiated, and there are rumors floating around the capitol that the governor intends to do more for teachers than the one percent raise he outlined in his budget proposal back in January. That would be fantastic news, if it’s true. As always, stay tuned – we will hopefully know more about the budget by this time next week.
We should be seeing the actual bill for the governor’s school safety plan any day now – potentially even this morning – and then begin debate on the merits of the bill. I have been perpetually frustrated by the process surrounding this bill for the last two weeks, as I have repeatedly tried to make this bill bipartisan and move it towards the middle.
One of the things that often doesn’t get reported is how much senators talk to one another behind the scenes. There are thirty of us, and we spend a lot of time together. For the most part, we all like one another and get along well. I have good friends on both sides of the aisle. On the governor’s school safety plan in particular, I’ve worked to build off of these relationships and try to craft a bipartisan plan that could move the bill in a positive direction.
I never committed to voting for the bill, but I outlined what I thought needed to be included to attract bipartisan support. One of the ideas I outlined in this newsletter in recent weeks was my suicide prevention bill I introduced earlier this year, SB 1391. This bill would have created a requirement for teachers and educators in grades 6-12 to receive two hours of suicide prevention training each year so they could be better prepared to spot the warning signs in young people and how they could help.
Now, rumor is my idea MAY be getting added to the overall school safety plan. While that would be great, I have been given no indication from the governor’s office or leadership that it’s being added – I’m only hearing about it from fellow senators. All of my other suggestions, and recommendations for how I could help, have not been returned.
I love my job. I love getting a chance to work on policy every day and advocate for my constituents. There’s nothing else I would rather be doing. I want to work across the aisle and craft policy that benefits all Arizonans, and not just one political party. Bipartisanship, however, is only possible when you have two sides who want to be bipartisan. This is a two-way street, and I’m the only one walking across it.
As I like to say, stay tuned, but my frustration with this entire process has left me saddened. I want to protect our kids and our schools, and include things like funding for more counselors, meaning an actual appropriation to the schools themselves, not reimbursements for when children act up after the fact. I rarely speak on the Senate floor, but I’ll be communicating my frustration about this process publicly in the days to come.
Some smaller updates:
One of my favorite things to do at the capitol is give personal tours to the students and teachers at LD18 schools, and in the past week, I’ve had the privilege of welcoming two schools to the capitol. Last week, almost 100 4th graders from Kyrene Cerritos Elementary joined us, and yesterday, I welcomed 8th graders from Ward Traditional Academy in Tempe to the senate.
Campaign update – Sunday morning I marched in the Phoenix Pride Parade downtown, and joined dozens of other candidates and elected officials supporting our LGBTQ community. I didn’t carry any signs or literature for me – I just walked in solidarity with my fellow allies. It was a good change of pace to walk for others!
More doors this past weekend as well – I’m currently sporting several blisters on my feet from all the walking I did this past weekend. No rest until November! :)
Thank you for reading, and for your support – as always, the best way to show your support for the campaign is by helping us make sure we have the resources necessary to win again this November.
Yours in the fight,