A quieter week at the capitol last week, compared to most. I’m not expecting it to stay that way, however – this week should be a return to normal, with several controversial bills rumored to make their return.
Since we are now primarily considering House bills in the Senate, we didn’t cast very many final votes on the floor last week. The bills have to make their way through committee and through what’s called Committee of the Whole before they can come up for a final up or down vote. Because this process takes time, we didn’t vote on many bills. With the House bills being heard weekly in committee now, I expect to start voting on more bills starting this week.
An update on my bill on surprise medical billing, SB 1321 – it is being heard in the House Banking and Insurance committee today at 2pm. I’ve spoken with the chairman of the committee and several other members, and remain confident that it will make its way to the House floor for a final vote. If it passes the House, it goes to the governor for his signature. Almost there!
Some not so good news – the rumor mill is swirling at the capitol that the voucher bills, which would expand Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA’s) statewide, are coming back. The focus is on a handful of legislators who conceivably remain on the fence, and could be swayed one way or the other. I’m doing everything in my power to convince these legislators to stay with us and oppose this ESA expansion – this will take up a good portion of my week. Hopefully I will have good news to report next week!
Other than legislative business, I have a jam packed schedule this week, with visits to the school board meetings for Kyrene and Tempe Elementary planned, along with a meeting with our local superintendents. In between, I will be meeting with constituents, issue advocacy groups, and education leaders.
One of the things I try to do with these emails is to give you a window into what’s it like to be a legislator, and what my day looks like when I am at the capitol. Monday through Thursday is the busy part of our weeks, with weekends devoted to constituent events and just a small window of free time, before the next week begins.
So in that spirit, here is a general outline of what a typical day of mine looks like. No two days are the same, but this is the general structure of what I can expect when I get to the senate each morning.
7am – My arrival at the office. I am almost always the first car in the parking lot (I’m one of the few early risers, it seems). I like getting to the office early because it gives me some time to gather my thoughts and organize my plan for the day. I usually read the New York Times, get caught up on legislative email, and look over the schedule for the day.
8am – My assistant arrives at the capitol, and we go over the agenda for the day. My schedule (usually several pages long) is printed and we go over any last minute logistical concerns. During this hour, I will also read through any bills or amendments that I haven’t already gone through.
9am – This is when our meetings start for the day, with the exception of Wednesday’s, when I have my Finance Committee hearing. Meetings are always scheduled for fifteen minutes long, and we hold our guests to that time frame. Most of the meetings deal with specific bills coming before either of my committees or the full Senate. During the meeting, I will look over the bills on my computer and ask any pertinent questions I can think of. I rarely commit to supporting or opposing a bill in a meeting, and mention that I will look the bill over further and make a decision at a later time.
I’m usually booked for meetings starting at 9am and going until 11:30am.
11:30am – There are lunch events planned almost every day at the capitol, usually on the lawn of the Senate or House. I get invited to these events as a legislator, and always try to make them if my schedule allows. After I check in, I grab lunch and meet with constituents from my district, visit booths that are set up, and meet issue advocates. There have been lunch events for education, health care, game and fish, public safety, and more.
1pm – After lunch, I get ready for floor session, which begins at 1:30pm every Monday through Thursday. We know ahead of time which bills are being brought to the floor, and I will have notes on how I feel about most of the bills in question. I have a binder with all of this information prepared by my assistant, and will take it with me to the floor.
1:30pm – Floor session. We begin with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by introduction of guests by senators. This usually takes 10-15 minutes. After this, we move to Committee of the Whole, where amendments are offered and questions are asked to the bill’s sponsor (if there are any). Unlike the House, we don’t debate very much, so most bills only receive a couple of minutes’ attention before moving on.
We then move on to what’s called Third Read, which is where we cast our final Yes or No votes on bills. Senators can explain their votes, but that rarely happens. We usually just vote! Each vote can take 2-3 minutes as senators look up some last minute information before casting their votes.
3pm – Floor usually ends by 3pm. After this, I’ll have more 15-minute meetings scheduled for the rest of the day, expect for Monday’s, when my Commerce and Public Safety committee hearing meets. I can also spend this time researching bills and catching up on emails.
5pm – On most nights, I have an event scheduled for the evening. This could be a school board meeting, fundraiser, dinner event, etc. If it’s an event in the district, I usually have to leave an hour or so ahead of time in order to get back to LD18 in time. If for some reason I do not have an event scheduled, I will stay at the office to catch up on reading, return emails, and get ready for the NEXT day at the capitol.
I hope that gives you a sense of what I work on each day! I love the job, and feel blessed every day for the opportunity.
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:
Slow week at the capitol on the picture taking front. We’ll need to step up our game this week!
On Thursday, I had the pleasure of being shadowed by a local judge as part of a program with the judicial branch of Arizona. The judge who shadowed me was Superior Court Judge Daniel Martin, a constituent of mine and an LD18 resident!
I enjoyed showing Judge Martin around the Senate, and appreciate his service to the bench and to our state!
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,