Welcome to another week of life at the state capitol! As always, thank you for reading.
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 an expensive race!
Last week was something else – it was the last week to hear bills in the “chamber of origin,” meaning the chamber the bill was introduced in and the committees it was assigned to. The two committees I serve on had marathon hearings – Commerce and Public Safety lasted almost five hours, and Finance lasted just as long.
Some good news to report – two of my bills passed their Senate committees last week, which means they get to keep going through the process. My bill that would help make emergency government communications more accessible for the disability community, SB 1296, unanimously passed the Senate Government committee on Wednesday. My bill that would strengthen our state statutes around child marriage and protect young women, SB 1139, passed the Senate Judiciary committee on Thursday.
These bills now have to go “caucus,” which means a meeting of both Democratic and Republican caucuses where they debate bills that passed committees. Once through there, it goes to the Senate floor. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of each as the session goes on!
This week is what we call “Crossover Week,” where we don’t hold committee hearings (except for Appropriations and Rules, two committees I don’t serve on), but do vote on the floor on a lot of bills. We have two floor sessions each on both Wednesday and Thursday this week, with one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
The goal here is to clear out the Senate bills so we can start debating and voting on House bills in the coming weeks, which can then be sent to the governor to sign or veto. I get asked about House bills all the time, and whether I support or oppose a specific House bill. My answer is almost always, “I don’t know!,” because we are working through and analyzing hundreds of Senate bills before us this week.
I remember touching on this topic in one of my newsletters last year, about how I decide to vote on a particular bill. The time crunch is more severe in weeks like this week because we don’t have a lot of time to study and rigorously analyze bills before we vote. I come in early each morning (I usually get to the office at 7am), and before my meetings for the day, which usually start around 9am, I like to go through each bill and consider the merits of each before making a decision.
Most of the bills we vote on are not controversial, and pass the Senate unanimously or close to it. Those are the easy bills. We often see controversial bills around issues like firearms, education, or social issues. Believe it or not, it’s not those bills that are the hardest to make a decision about – it’s the bills that aren’t overly controversial or partisan and have easy to see merits on both sides, and picking a side.
These types of bills often center on insurance, or regulation, or the battle between state and local government. You look at who’s signed in for and against, and you have people you’ve worked with on opposite sides. There was one bill last year that pitted doctors versus CRNA’s – that was a difficult decision (I sided with the doctors, but the bill eventually got amended, and all sides were happy with the final bill).
We have a vote on third read today, around minimum limits for vehicle liability insurance, which also came up last year. It passed the Senate last year, but didn’t get out of the House. I’m conflicted on this bill because I can see the merits on both sides. The pro argument: our minimum limits for this kind of insurance haven’t been raised in over forty years, which is way too long. Stronger minimums would better protect drivers and give people peace of mind if they’ve been in an accident. The con argument: it could result in slightly higher premiums for some drivers, to help cover the cost.
How will I vote today? I haven’t decided yet. I’ve gone back and forth the last couple of days thinking about it. Remember: it is bills like this that are the toughest votes to take. I think I’ll go back and read the bill and fact sheets one more time before voting this afternoon!
We’ve welcomed several groups and organizations to the capitol over the past week. Yesterday was Arts Congress, where advocates for the arts from around the state joined us for lunch and in individual meetings at our offices. I got to meet several people from my district and had a great time.
Last Wednesday was ASU Day at the capitol, one of my favorite days at the capitol each year. Lots of pictures were taken, including one of me with the Territorial Cup! I’ll share those once I have them.
One of my favorite parts of the job is welcoming students from my district to the capitol. I had the pleasure of welcoming TWO cohorts of 4th grade students from Kyrene de la Sierra elementary school in Ahwatukee last week, where I got to show them the Senate floor and explain a little bit about the work we do at the capitol. A fun time was had by all!
More to come next week, as we start hearing House bills in Senate committees!
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,