2019 Legislative Wrap up — the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

We believe that your advocacy through Request to Speak and with phone calls, emails, letters, and in person meetings with legislators made a difference in the 2019 session — mostly in stopping some very bad bills. Let’s keep it up next year!

POSITIVE RESULTS:

  • Delivered on the promise of a second installment of 20×2020, which provides an additional 5% raise for classroom teachers (totaling 15% to date).
  • Budget provides for $136 million in District Additional Assistance, which can be used for basic essentials like textbooks, computers, building maintenance and bus repairs.
  • Budget includes $20 million per year for three years toward schools’ choice of counselors, social workers or school resource officers.
  • Six (6) attempts to expand access or lower oversight on ESA vouchers in Arizona died!!
  • Ended the 20% annual automatic growth in corporate private school tax credits by gradually decreasing the cap to 2% on inflation over the next 5 years, which will keep $263 million in the state budget and available for public education.
  • Defeated bills that aimed to destroy the Arizona Constitution’s citizen initiative process (SCR 1023 & HCR 2005) by requiring ballot measures to collect signatures from a percentage of voters in each of Arizona’s 30 legislative districts.
  • Defeated the bill (SB 1149) that would have permitted a district to refuse to admit a pupil who is currently suspended from, or in the process of being suspended from, another school.  Clearly aimed at minority students, special needs kids, kids with emotional differences, etc.
  • Defeated the provisions of SB 1451 that would have required grouping petitions by circulator and given the Attorney General sole authority to write descriptions for ballot measures.
  • Extended the statute of limitations for childhood victims of sexual assault.
  • Passed the Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women & Girls bill.
  • Banned texting while driving.
  • Passed the suicide prevention bill requiring training for school personnel.
  • Repealed the “No Promo Homo” the law that prevented schools from providing medically relevant information to LGBTQ students when teaching about AIDS prevention.
  • Moderated Arizona’s excessive sentencing requirements for nonviolent offenders.
  • Protected the unofficial practice of curing ballots by writing it into law.
  • Defeated Cathi Herod’s last-minute surprise anti-abortion bill – her first defeat in over 10 years!!
  • Defeated the attempt to create a sub-minimum wage for youth against the will of the voters.
  • Defeated a number of attacks on voter rights, including dropping people from PEVL, making it illegal to get paid for voter registration, and banning voters from returning early ballots to polling places.
  • Defeated bad legislation from the gun lobby, including allowing loaded guns on school grounds and an attempt to make it easier for people to bring guns where they don’t belong.
  • Eliminated the freeze at $1.6 million on KidsCare health coverage for kids in low-income families.
  • Defeated HB 2466, teacher muzzling, that would have prohibited “speech” in classrooms that was intended to change a person’s political ideology or religious beliefs.
  • SB 1040 was passed and signed.  This bill will require a committee to recommend improvements to information collection concerning the incidence and causes of maternal fatalities and severe maternal morbidity.

NEGATIVE RESULTS:

  • SB 1349 passed which creates a new way to keep tax dollars out of the state’s general fund by encouraging Arizona families to spend their 529 savings on K-12 private school tuition – this has the potential to become another runaway train to drain the state budget.
  • The budget passed does not include critical funding needed to address climate change, clean air, or clean water.
  • The budget does not address critical public service needs such as ACCHHS expansion and other priorities for health, welfare, and mental health such as 2-1-1 hotline that provides 24/7 information for victims of sexual assault, seniors needing assistance, domestic violence, human trafficking and others.
  • The budget includes an additional $5 million for private prisons, specifically salaries.
  • The budget does not include a cost of living increase for state probation departments.  This could result in the layoff of 26 probation officers leading to as many as 2,500 more people going to jail instead of staying in their communities.
  • A bill was signed (SB 1161) that will require School Facilities Boards to publish a list of vacant or partially used school spaces every year.  It would also require school districts to accept bids from charter schools for that space if they are the lowest bidder.  A clear way to increase charter schools over public schools.
  • A bill (SB 1072) that requires a photo-ID in early voting centers passed. 
  • SB 1090 was signed.  This bill strips away county recorder’s ability to institute emergency voting centers.
  • The budget does not include any money for the State Parks Heritage Fund for parks, trails, cultural and historic resource protection, and environmental education.
  • All three Republican Legislators from LD-6 voted for the budget which includes a provision to divert sales tax dollars from Flagstaff to fund the cost of increased minimum wages for state employees in Flagstaff.

LOTS MORE TO DO:

  • Arizona still ranks 49th in the nation for median elementary teacher pay!
  • Arizona ranks 46th in the nation in per-pupil spending
  • Despite the need for more funding for priorities like education, lawmakers continue to actively reduce state revenues.  This budget included $680 million tax cut package, several large tax exemptions, and a $185 million phase-out of last year’s $32 vehicle registration fee.
  • Arizona’s many tax exemptions, deductions, allowances, exclusions and credits affect money the state has to spend on its priorities.  These carve-outs (known in state law as “Tax Expenditures”) easily dwarf the state budget: in FY 2018 tax expenditures totaled more than $14.7 billion compared to a budget of $9.8 billion!!
  • In the 2018 election, control of the Arizona Senate came down to fewer than 5,000 votes or 0.2% of total turnout.  Control of the Arizona House was decided by only 2,500 votes or 0.1% of total turnout. We need to increase turnout among Democrats and encourage down-ballot voting.

___________________________

Join our Legislative Committee:

Contact Darrell Boomgaarden via info@CoconinoDemocrats.org

Keep up with legislative alerts through our website: CoconinoDemocrats.org

Meet our Democratic Legislative House Leadership Thursday afternoon at a town hall at Coconino High School.

Part of our work as the County Democratic Party is to replace those three Republicans in LD-6, whose priorities were tax cuts over education, social welfare, and climate, with Democrats whose values are different. Join us after the Town Hall for a fundraiser jointly benefiting the Coconino County Democratic Party and the Arizona Legislative Campaign Committee.

Posted in Latest News and tagged , , , , , .