SB 17 Final Update from the Capitol

With that, the session has adjourned. What a week last week!

I appreciate your support – please consider a contribution today as we get ready for the 2018 campaign. I’m already knocking on doors and working towards re-election – I need your help for what will be the most contested state senate race in Arizona!

We crammed about three weeks of work into a couple of days last week. Wednesday alone I was at the capitol for 23 HOURS. Thursday lasted until midnight, when we adjourned for the session having completed the budget and completing the rest of the bills on our docket.

What a week. It started with thousands of Red for Ed supporters joining us at the capitol, demanding a budget that further restored funding for our schools and our educators. We also had several bad bills looming on the horizon, like voucher repeal and replace, redistricting reform, STO expansion, and more.

Starting on Monday it looked more and more like the budget was coming. Once a budget deal is struck, the actual budget bills have to get written, and then there are amendments that are offered. As Democrats, we have our own amendments that we offer, and while we realize the likelihood they will get added to the budget is small, it gives us an opportunity to raise our voices about issues important to us, like more funding for education, protecting KidsCare, and automatic voter registration.

We were supposed to debate and vote on the budget during the day on Wednesday. But then it got delayed for several hours, as amendments were being drafted (despite what you may have heard, this was not done on purpose in the hopes that people would go home, budgets just take a long time to draft and write). In the end, we started debate on the budget around 8pm Wednesday night.

It was a late night – we didn’t complete our voting on the budget until about 5:40am, with the House going a couple of hours longer. The debate got tense at times, as both sides were clearly passionate about the issues and also perhaps a little tired as well.

We didn’t get everything we wanted with this budget. All of the amendments we offered and supported, like capping class sizes, hiring more school counselors, and applying the teacher pay raise to support staff, were defeated. We did, however, request roll call votes on many of these amendments, so voters will know who stood with the Red for Ed movement and who didn’t. I was proud to support every one of these amendments, and believed their inclusion would have made the overall budget better.

So we left the capitol around 6am, and then had to be back a couple of hours later for our Thursday session. After about three hours of sleep, I woke up and headed back to the capitol. Thursday overall was a very good day at the capitol, mainly because we prevented two very bad bills from getting approved.

The first was an STO expansion bill that the Senate voted on earlier this year (I voted no), which was rumored to be the vehicle for a repeal of Proposition 305, the voter approved referendum that would repeal last year’s voucher bill. I heard about and saw direct pressure being applied to some of my Republican colleagues, and to their credit, several of them stood with us and said they would not support a repeal of Prop 305. Their argument was the same as ours: the voters should get to have a say on the voucher bill the legislature approved last year.

The other victory was a defeat of the senate president’s redistricting bill, which would have harmed the independent redistricting process approved by the voters twenty years ago. The bill came up for a vote, and we defeated it in the Senate 14-15. A bipartisan contingent rejected the bill – I got to witness this from the floor, and it truly was a moment. Pressure was being applied, arms were being twisted, but in the end, we won on that vote. Something I won’t soon forget!

Another piece of great news: one of the last bills to pass this session was SB 1296, my bill to help make emergency communications more accessible for the disability community. It passed the House 58-2, and is now sitting on the governor’s desk. I am hopeful he will sign it! This is my first bill to pass both chambers and head to the governor’s desk.

So that concludes the 2018 legislative session. As I’ve always said, I love my job, and love that I get to work on policy every day and represent my constituents!


Speaking of representing my constituents…

This is my last update from the capitol for 2018, and it hopefully won’t be my last one FOREVER. I am on the ballot this fall, and I hope my constituents will re-elect me. For the next six months, I’ll be knocking on doors, making phone calls, raising money, and spending lots of time with my constituents.

People ask me all the time how they can help – the single most effective way you can help our campaign is by making a contribution TODAY. Your support will help us get our message out to voters and tell them about all the work I’ve put in over the last year and a half.

This race is going to be expensive, and I need the resources to compete. So if you’ve enjoyed these updates and want to show your support, I hope you will consider a contribution today.

Thank you for reading. I hope you’ve enjoyed these small windows into the legislative process, and appreciate your support. Until next time!

 

Yours in the fight,

 

Sean

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