Last week was definitely the busiest of the session so far – Wednesday and Thursday featured morning AND afternoon floor sessions, along with multiple caucus meetings throughout the week. There were several days where I was literally going from meeting to meeting with little time to think between appointments. The life of a legislator!
We voted on dozens of bills last week, with the vast majority of them being sent to the House for consideration. The one that has received the most attention is SB 1142, otherwise known as the riot and protesting bill. I voted NO (it wasn’t a difficult decision), but the bill passed on a 17-13 party line vote. It has very deservedly received its fair share of national press attention since the vote, for good reason: the bill is blatantly unconstitutional, and I don’t see it surviving a court challenge. The bill is now in the House, and I hope my colleagues will find the courage to vote down this troubling piece of legislation.
We did vote down some bills, believe it or not: HCR2010, otherwise known as the Article V convention bill, failed. It would have Arizona join other states in calling for a constitutional convention to take up new amendments related to a balanced budget and term limits for legislators. I’m not opposed to adding amendments to the constitution, but my concern was that technically once called to convention the entire document could be rewritten, which is troubling to say the least. I voted no, with bipartisan opposition.
The other bad bill we defeated was SB1375, which related to ballot initiative language for school override elections. It would have mandated that school districts reveal the aggregate amount of dollars that schools currently receive, including federal dollars. My concern here was that voters who saw the number would not have enough context on how schools are funded and the extent of budget cuts to our schools over the years. This bill also attracted bipartisan opposition.
Since we voted on most of the Senate bills last week, this week we start hearing House bills in committee. The pattern is usually to hear less controversial bills first, followed by the more contentious pieces of legislation in the coming weeks. Stay tuned – I’m still going through the House bills and analyzing their impact.
Lots of meetings around education last week as well – Thursday I attended a meeting of the Kyrene Business Alliance, with local business owners and the Kyrene community. Representative Jill Norgaard and I updated everyone on which bills are moving through the legislature and answered questions. Friday night I attended a fundraiser for the Kyrene Foundation in Ahwatukee – it was great to see so many parents and supporters of our Kyrene schools!
An update on my bill that’s moving through the legislature, SB 1321, which deals with surprise medical billing – we were working on an amendment last week that expands the scope of the report. It is scheduled to be in what’s called Committee of the Whole this afternoon, and if that goes well, it will receive a final up or down vote later in the week. With all of the stakeholders on board, and bipartisan support, I feel good about it passing! Stay tuned.
On Thursday of this week, a resolution that I introduced, SCR 1018, will be read by yours truly on the senate floor. It designates this Friday as National Speech and Debate Education Day in Arizona. Excited to have this resolution pass and recognize all the hard work our speech and debate community do for our students. Stay tuned for pictures next week!
An update on the bad education bills making their way through the capitol: we feel good about stopping the voucher bills which would expand empowerment scholarship accounts statewide. Buzz is that the bills do not have the votes to pass in either the House or the Senate – great news for our public schools in LD18!
I talk about this further in an article that appeared in the Ahwatukee Foothills News last week. The reporter spent a day with me at the capitol to learn more about what I’m working on in the senate – enjoy!
Capitol Snapshot – Taking you behind the scenes of what I’m working on! Here are some of the photos that we took at the capitol last week:
I meet with parents and education advocates all the time at the capitol, and Monday I welcomed several from LD18 to discuss bills concerning voucher expansion and desegregation funding.
Tuesday was a special day at the capitol – it was ASU Day! I got to meet Sparky, and also caught up with lots of friends and former colleagues at ASU. Proud to be a Sun Devil!
I was very fortunate to spend time Tuesday evening with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at the O’Connor House in Tempe. This is an event that the justice holds with legislators every year, and with the House still in session Tuesday evening, a few of us were able to enjoy a small audience with the justice to discuss politics and issues before the court. A once in a lifetime experience, to be sure!
As always, you can follow me on Facebook and on Twitter for more up to the minute updates. I appreciate all of your help and support – if you can, please consider showing your support today so I can keep fighting for our values and priorities at the state capitol. It is an honor to represent you in the state senate!
Yours in the fight,