Monday, March 23, 2015

AZLege and priorities: A Tale of Two Bills

You'd think that people elected by the public to serve in office would act as public servants.

You'd think that...but you'd think wrong.

First up:

SB1273, giving Arizonans the option of requesting a drivers license that is REAL ID-compliant.

Beginning next year, Arizona's drivers licenses will not be adequate proof of identity for things like flying or entering federal buildings.  In fact, that has already started causing problems.

From the Arizona Republic, written by Mary Jo Pitzl -
Phoenix Councilwoman Kate Gallego said she was turned away from the Federal Emergency Management Agency last year, and again earlier this year, when she traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet about relief from the floods her south Phoenix district suffered last year.

The federal government began phasing in the requirement for a secure identification early last year, with airport restrictions scheduled to start no sooner than Jan. 19, 2016.

Gallego said she had to move her FEMA meeting to an off-site location.

Then there is HB2415.  Last week is was amended from being a bill about sanitary districts and contracts to one regarding campaign finance that:

- Raises campaign contribution limits 25%

- Reverts to the requirement that candidates form a committee for each election cycle and ending the current requirement that candidates have separate committees for each of the primary election and the general election.

- Changes the current prohibition on legislators and the governor on accepting campaign contributions from lobbyists during the legislative session to allowing them to accept contributions during the first three days of the legislative session, if a contribution is mailed to the recipient and is postmarked before the start of the session.


SB1273 is a "good government" bill, one that benefits any Arizonan who travels or interacts with the federal government.

HB2415 benefits only elected officials, particularly legislators and the governor.


So, naturally, 1273 is DOA (for lack of committee consideration) while 2415 is moving merrily along.


One question:

Are people who are elected to be public servants still considered to be that when their primary focus is on serving their own interests?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Arizona legislature: the coming week

The craziness at the Capitol isn't over yet, but it will be more concentrated - from here on, the only standing committees that can consider a bill without special permission are the Appropriations committees of the respective chambers. 

As such, those are the agendas to watch this week.

Beyond that, most of the action at the lege this week will take place during floor action, so keep an eye on those floor calendars during the week. 


Notes:

All committees meetings and agendas are subject to change without notice, and frequently do.  If you plan to travel to the Capitol to observe or weigh in on the consideration of a particular measure, check with the lege ahead of time to confirm that the meeting that you are interesting in is still on schedule and your item(s) of interest is still on the agenda for that meeting.

Meeting rooms designated "HHR" are in the House of Representatives building.

Meeting rooms designated "SHR" are in the Senate building.

Some agendas are summarized as "looks harmless", but if they cover an area of interest to you, examine the agenda and the bills on it.  If I missed something significant, please leave a comment letting me know.

All House committee agendas can be found here. All Senate committee agendas can be found here.


On the Senate side of the Capitol -


Natural Resources, Monday, 10  a.m., SHR109.  Executive nomination under consideration.

Rules, Monday, 1 p.m., Caucus Room 1.  Not a "standing committee" in the traditional sense, Rules only considers the "form" of a bill, not the actual content, so it can keep meeting.  This committee serves as a gatekeeper for the chambers' leadership, so any bill that make it to this committee's agenda is slated for rubberstamping on its way to floor action.

Appropriations, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR109.  On the agenda: a striker to HB2240, creating a special fund, administered by the governor, to pay for "public safety activities" at "special sporting events" (this is from Sen. Don Shooter [R-Yuma?], who is seeking to convert a bill that would have created tuition waivers for members of the Arizona National Guard into a slush fund for Doug Ducey); a striker to HB2291, taking $1 million from the state's concealed weapon permit fund and giving to the police departments in Phoenix, Mesa, and Lake Havasu City to pay for their participation in an predictive policing software pilot program; HB2320, a guns in public places bill; HB2431, an interstate compact regarding firearms, essentially prohibiting anything that would increase regulation of firearms; a striker to HB2419, barring a "city or town from imposing a fee, tax or assessment on reportable transactions of a pawnbroker or person in the business of buying gold".


Health and Human Services, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  Executive nominations.


Education, Thursday, 9 a.m., SHR1.  Executive nomination.



On the House side of the Capitol -

Rules, Monday, 12 p.m., HHR4.  Long agenda to be rubberstamped on its way to floor action.


Appropriations, Wednesday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  On the agenda: SB1293, similar to the striker to HB2291, above, but with some differences; a striker to SB1450, text unavailable as of this writing, listed subject of "banks; insuring organization"



The House has posted a COW (Committee of the Whole) calendar here and here and a Third Read calendar for Monday.

The Senate has posted a COW calendar here and here for Monday.
 
The Capitol Events calendar is here.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Arizona legislature: the coming week (part 2)

It's shaping up to be a crazy week at the Capitol.

I'm not talking about the content of some of the bills that will be under consideration (though there will be plenty of hate, tin foil, and bat guano to go around on that front).

Nope, it is the last week that bills can be considered in any committee other than Appropriations, which always leads to a chaotic week at the Capitol.

Add in the fact that they are going for an early adjournment of the session and running bills through the Appropriations committees won't be as viable an option as in other years, and pretty much every committee agenda will be full and/or subject to amendment without notice.

In other words, at the Capitol this week, the one constant will be change.

In light of that fact, and the fact that many of the agendas are incredibly long this week, this post will be done in three parts.

The second part will cover the committee agendas for Monday and Tuesday; the second part will cover agendas for Wednesday.

The third part will cover agendas for Thursday.

Notes:

All committees meetings and agendas are subject to change without notice, and frequently do.  If you plan to travel to the Capitol to observe or weigh in on the consideration of a particular measure, check with the lege ahead of time to confirm that the meeting that you are interesting in is still on schedule and your item(s) of interest is still on the agenda for that meeting.

Meeting rooms designated "HHR" are in the House of Representatives building.

Meeting rooms designated "SHR" are in the Senate building.

Some agendas are summarized as "looks harmless", but if they cover an area of interest to you, examine the agenda and the bills on it.  If I missed something significant, please leave a comment letting me know.

All House committee agendas can be found here. All Senate committee agendas can be found here.


On the Senate side of the Capitol -


Public Safety, Military, and Technology, Wednesday, 9 a.m., SHR1.  The two gun bills that were previewed in the first post have been removed.  Still on the agenda: HB2008, further restricting the ability of counties and municipalities to regulate the use of fireworks within their jurisdictions.  The gun bills may be off the agenda now, but continue to pay attention to this one - the bills can reappear at any time.

Finance, Wednesday, 9 a.m., SHR3.   On the agenda: HB2131, mandating that a court award attorneys fees to a "non-government entity" that defeats the government in a tax adjudication action, and remove the limits on the fees that can be awarded; HB2450, exempting billboard leases from the state's transaction privilege tax (commonly known as "sales tax"); HCR2016, a proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution to exempt from taxation the first $2.4 million of value of "business personal property" (i.e. - office furniture, equipment, tools, etc.).  Currently, the AZconstitution sets the exemption limit at $50K; HB2483, a proposal to allow public and charter school to take 20% of undesignated donations received to support extracurricular activities and redirect them to support classroom activities; a striker to HB2325, pertaining to the removal of land from the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (CAGRD); a striker to HB2383, creating a process for the owners of land in an area annexed by a municipality to de-annex from that municipality.

Health and Human Services, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  On the agenda: HB2047, requiring that a DCS worker obtain a supervisor's approval before removing a child from the custody of his/her guardian, except in emergency situations.

Government, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR3.  And the gun bills reappear, along with some tin foil hat/bay at the moon stuff...  On the agenda: HB2055, prohibiting "this state or any political subdivision from using any resource to enforce, administer or cooperate with changes made by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to waters of the U.S. An exception is also provided on a case-by-case basis by a vote of the Legislature if in session or by the Governor, President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House if not in session" (quoting the legislative summary of the bill); HB2058, similar to HB2055, except applying to all federal rules and regulations, not just ones focused on water; HB2063, weakening county employee merit systems; a striker to HB2420, creating an "inspector general" position in the executive branch; HB2431, entering into an interstate compact regarding gun sales (ugly gun bill number one); HB2540, crafting some specific administrative rules for initiative and referendum efforts (it looks like an attempt to incrementally implement some of the voter suppression clauses in 2013's infamous HB2305); HB2320, more guns in public places (ugly gun bill number two); HB2613, essentially barring any political subdivision from expending resources in a way that could be construed as supporting a bond, budget override, or tax election.

Financial Institutions, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR109.  Looks harmless so far.


On the House side of the Capitol -

Judiciary, Wednesday, 9 a.m., HHR3.  On the agenda: SB1222, an anti-immigrant measure, judicial system-focused; a striker to SB1419, under certain circumstances, allowing a grocery store that is near a school or church to sell liquor.

Federalism and States' Rights, Wednesday, 9 a.m., HHR5.  Three love letters to the feds opposing national monument designations in Arizona, supporting the ceding of control of rights-of way across federal land to the state, and opposing the reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves into Arizona.

Commerce, Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., HHR1.  On the agenda: a striker to SB1241, barring municipalities from regulating "auxiliary containers" or requiring a business, commercial building, or multifamily property from monitoring or reporting energy usage or efficiency;. a striker to SB1344, relating to lobbyists for cities and towns, requiring them to disclose to the legislature if a member of the body that the lobbyist represents is opposed to the position that the lobbyist is presenting.

Education, Wednesday, 2 p.m., HHR4.  On the agenda: SB1172, barring school districts and charter schools from releasing student information for the purpose on engaging in political activity; SB1173, micromanaging school bond and override elections.

Appropriations, Wednesday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  On the agenda: a striker to SB1147, transferring funds from the Nevada operating and resource subaccounts of the Arizona water banking fund to the Arizona water banking authority.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Arizona legislature: the coming week (part 1)

It's shaping up to be a crazy week at the Capitol.

I'm not talking about the content of some of the bills that will be under consideration (though there will be plenty of hate, tin foil, and bat guano to go around on that front).

Nope, it is the last week that bills can be considered in any committee other than Appropriations, which always leads to a chaotic week at the Capitol.

Add in the fact that they are going for an early adjournment of the session and running bills through the Appropriations committees won't be as viable an option as in other years, and pretty much every committee agenda will be full and/or subject to amendment without notice.

In other words, at the Capitol this week, the one constant will be change.

In light of that fact, and the fact that many of the agendas are incredibly long this week, this post will be done in two parts.

The first part will cover the committee agendas for Monday and Tuesday; the second part will cover agendas for Wednesday and Thursday.




Notes:

All committees meetings and agendas are subject to change without notice, and frequently do.  If you plan to travel to the Capitol to observe or weigh in on the consideration of a particular measure, check with the lege ahead of time to confirm that the meeting that you are interesting in is still on schedule and your item(s) of interest is still on the agenda for that meeting.

Meeting rooms designated "HHR" are in the House of Representatives building.

Meeting rooms designated "SHR" are in the Senate building.

Some agendas are summarized as "looks harmless", but if they cover an area of interest to you, examine the agenda and the bills on it.  If I missed something significant, please leave a comment letting me know.

All House committee agendas can be found here. All Senate committee agendas can be found here.


On the Senate side of the Capitol -

Natural Resources, Monday, 10 a.m., SHR109.  Looks harmless so far. 

Rules, Monday, 1 p.m., Caucus Room 1.  Long agenda (90+ items) to be rubberstamped on their way to floor consideration. 

Water and Energy, Monday, 2 p.m., SHR3.  Two items on the agenda:  The appointment of David Tenney as director of the Residential Utility Consumer Office and HB2316.  The Tenney nomination should go through without a hiccup - the vice-chair of the committee is Sen. Sylvia *Tenney* Allen (yes, she's David Tenney's sister).  HB2316 makes changes to the way that the Small Water Systems Fund can be used.

Commerce and Workforce Development, Monday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  On the agenda: a striker to HB2094, creating a veterans' preference in employment situations; a striker to HB2360, creating a (worker-unfriendly)  process for filing a complaint about the processing of a workers' compensation claim (check out the time limit and the maximum compensation is such a complaint is upheld).

Federalism, Mandates, and Fiscal Responsibility, Tuesday, 9 a.m., SHR3. Short agenda, but all neo-secessionist nuggets of ugly.  On that agenda: HB2175, claiming state dominion over rights-of-way across otherwise federally-controlled public lands (my attempt at a summary, there are a *lot* of clauses to this one.  Nuances may be missed here); HB2358, establishing a committee to "study" the best way to transfer federal lands in Arizona to state control; HB2368, barring any political subdivision (county, city, etc.) from "using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer, or cooperate" with a presidential executive order or a Department of Justice directive unless the order or directive has been specifically approved by Congress; HB2643, prohibiting the state or its political subdivisions from cooperating with or doing anything to support the Affordable Care Act (aka - Obamacare).

Rural Affairs and Environment, Tuesday, 9 a.m., SHR109.  Another short agenda.  Not all of the items are bad, but the neo-secessionists will be out in force for this one, too.  On the agenda: HB2176, requiring the state land commissioner and state attorney generally to take steps needed for the state to take over "constitutionally nonenumerated" federal lands in the state; HB2318, entering into a compact with certain other states for the purpose taking over federal lands in those states; HCM2005, a love letter to Congress and the Department of Interior asking that they transfer control of all federal lands in Arizona to state government of Arizona.

Appropriations, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR109.  On the agenda: HB2568, reducing the tax paid by insurers on the premiums that they receive.


On the House side of the Capitol - 

Elections, Monday, 10 a.m., HHR4. On the agenda: SB1184, micromanaging the ballot language of municipal bond, sales tax, and property tax elections; SCR1001, repealing Clean Elections.

Rules, Monday, 1 p.m., HHR4.  Long agenda of items to be rubberstamped on their way to floor consideration.

Ways and Means, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR3.  On the agenda: SB1120, exempting certain works of fine art from sales tax; SB1133, creating a process whereby a customer can claim a refund of paid transaction privilege tax (aka - sales tax); a striker to SB1088, listed subject as "empowerment scholarship accounts; eligibility" (text not available as of this writing).  This one has popped up before as its own bill; it's all about expanding school vouchers "empowerment scholarships".

Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  Looks harmless so far.

Children and Family Affairs, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR5.  Looks harmless so far.


Transportation and Infrastructure, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  Looks harmless so far. 

Rural and Economic Development, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR5.  Looks harmless so far.

Health, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR4.  On the agenda: a striker to SB1039, broadening the definition of "health care sharing ministry" by removing "faith based" and adding "common set of ethical or religious beliefs".  Under the proposed language, a street gang or the KKK could offer health care coverage to their members, so long as they file the correct paperwork.

Banking and Financial Services, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR3.  Looks harmless so far.


Wednesday preview: 

Senate Public Safety, Military, and Technology will be considering two gun bills at 9 a.m. in SHR1.  The are a "guns in public places" bill and a bill regarding entering into an interstate compact relating to firearms sales.



The House has posted a COW (Committee of the Whole) calendar here, here, and here and a Third Read calendar for Monday.
The Senate has posted no floor calendars at this point.
 
The Capitol Events calendar is here.


Sunday, March 08, 2015

Arizona legislature: the coming week

Note: because of time considerations, Thursday's agendas for House committees have not been covered.  This post will be updated on Monday or Tuesday evening.

Update: the post has been completed. 

Last week was shaping up to be a quiet week, and it was.

That is, until Wednesday, when news broke that the governor and leadership in the lege had brokered a deal on the state budget, putting forth a proposal that is even more draconian than the one that the governor proposed in January.

That new budget proposal was literally passed in the dark of night on Friday/by dawn's early light on Saturday.

Lesson (re-) learned: whenever the lege is in session, don't turn your back on them.

Ever.


Having said that, passage of the budget marks the start of a time-honored tradition at the Capitol - Sine Die rumor season.

One source speculates that this session of the lege will finish up by the end of March.  If that happens, this will become one of the shortest legislative sessions ever.

The source's speculation was that they will try to finish up this week, but that there are too many outstanding bills for that to be feasible.

My speculation: there are too many bad bills to keeping moving as payoffs for budget votes for the session to end quickly.  I see the session lasting until the last week of March or the first week of April.

On the other hand, I also thought that last week was going to be a quiet week. :)


On to this week's committee schedules...


Notes:

All committees meetings and agendas are subject to change without notice, and frequently do.  If you plan to travel to the Capitol to observe or weigh in on the consideration of a particular measure, check with the lege ahead of time to confirm that the meeting that you are interesting in is still on schedule and your item(s) of interest is still on the agenda for that meeting.

Meeting rooms designated "HHR" are in the House of Representatives building.

Meeting rooms designated "SHR" are in the Senate building.

Some agendas are summarized as "looks harmless", but if they cover an area of interest to you, examine the agenda and the bills on it.  If I missed something significant, please leave a comment letting me know.

All House committee agendas can be found here. All Senate committee agendas can be found here.


On the Senate side of the Capitol -


Natural Resources, Monday, 9 a.m., SHR109.   On the agenda: a striker to HB2150, relating to "livestock; poultry; animal cruelty; violation".  This is a carbon copy of HB2429, which passed the House and was assigned to committee in the Senate, but looks to have died there for lack of consideration.  While HB2429 passed the House, it ran into some significant resistance because it waters down the state's animal cruelty laws.

State Debt and Budget Reform, Monday, 10 a.m., SHR3.  Presentations only at this point.

Water and Energy, Monday, 2 p.m., SHR3.  Looks harmless so far.

Commerce and Workforce Development, Monday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  On the agenda: HB2213, hamstringing the business inspection/audit process under that guise of being "business friendly"; HB2578, relating to "real property; purchaser dwelling actions".


Transportation, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  Looks harmless so far, but a couple of the bills may be "sneak bad" and may merit a closer look.

Appropriations, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR109.  Looks harmless now, but as we saw last week, that can change in a heartbeat.


Public Safety, Military, and Technology, Wednesday, 9 a.m., SHR1.  On the agenda: HB2408, relating to DPS and towing contracts.  Not sure what is wrong with this one, but 19 House members voted against this one.

Finance, Wednesday, 9 a.m., SHR3.  Let's just make it official and rename this the "Senate Committee on Revenue Reduction".  On the agenda: HB2108, classifying "improvements and property used exclusively for convention activities as class nine property"; HB2153, expanding school vouchers tax credits for donations to school tuition organizations (STOs); HB2358, exempting crop dusters from sales tax liability.

Health and Human Services, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  Looks harmless so far.

Government, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR3.  A bad one.  On the agenda: HB2067, requiring the disclosure of any political committee that makes contributions to an Independent Expenditure committee that total to more than 25% of the IE's total contributions received; sounds good, until one realizes that this is so easy to get around as to be ineffectual posturing and nothing more (can you say "dark money" people?); HB2297, essentially barring state agencies from crafting or enforcing any rules that are more restrictive than current rules; HB2315, stating that if a local government's financial reporting website is deemed to be out of compliance with state statute, then the public officer responsible for that website can be removed from office (sounds like a personal vendetta bill, but I don't know who it is aimed at); HB2407, making the already incredibly difficult referendum and recall processes even more difficult for citizen groups; HB2558, regarding the sale of publicly-owned real property, tripling the value threshold below which a municipality doesn't have to hold a special election to gain voter approval of the sale; HB2646, barring state agencies from rulemaking without written approval of the governor.

Financial Institutions, Wednesday, 2 p.m, SHR109.  Looks harmless so far.


Judiciary, Thursday, 9 a.m., SHR109.  On the agenda:  a striker to HB2214, subject "majority vote calculation; municipal elections" (text unavailable at this time).

Education, Thursday, 9 a.m., SHR1.  On the agenda: HB2261, requiring the state's universities to accept career and technical education credits as fine arts credits, for the purpose of admissions; HB2448, requiring public and charter schools to allow homeschooled students to enroll in specific courses if the students so desire.


On the House side of the Capitol - 

Rules, Monday, 1 p.m., HHR4.  Long agenda of bills that originated in the Senate to be rubberstamped on the way to the House floor for final approval.

Ways and Means, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR3.  Looks harmless so far.

Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  Looks relatively harmless.

County and Municipal Affairs, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR4.  Looks harmless so far.


Rural and Economic Development, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR5.  Looks harmless so far.

Health, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR4.  Looks harmless so far.


Federalism and States' Rights, Wednesday, 9 a.m., HHR5.  Short agenda, but it make up for its brevity with a surfeit of tin foil and bat guano.  On the agenda: SB1318, well, let me just copy and paste the list of provisions from the legislative summary of the bill:

1.      Prohibits any health care exchange operating in Arizona, rather than only Arizona-based exchanges, from providing coverage for abortions.

2.      Retracts the exception to the prohibition of health care exchanges providing coverage for abortion when coverage is offered as a separate optional rider where an additional premium is charged.

3.      Adds an exception to the prohibition of insurance coverage for abortions when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

4.      Requires an abortion clinic to submit to the Director all required documentation, including verification that the physicians who are required to be available have the required admitting privileges at a health care institution, on initial licensure and any subsequent renewal.


Also on the agenda:  SCM1014, a love letter to the EPA (and assorted others) urging the EPA to not lower the ozone concentration standard; SCR1003, expressing the lege's opposition to the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.

Judiciary, Wednesday, 10 a.m., HHR3.  Looks harmless so far.

Commerce, Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., HHR1.  On the agenda: SB1098, Raising the size of a public service corporation (measured by revenue) that can ask for a rate increase without an administrative hearing.

Appropriations, Wednesday, 2 p.m. HHR1.  Looks harmless so far.


Government and Higher Education, Thursday, 9 a.m., HHR1.  On the agenda: SB1063, Sen. John Kavanagh's (R-of course) attack on "aggressive" panhandlers.

Military Affairs and Public Safety, Thursday, 9:30 a.m., HHR5.  On the agenda: SB1291, prescribing penalties for any political subdivision or agency that crafts and/or enacts a rule, ordinance, etc., that restricts firearms any more than state law does.  In addition, it prescribes punishment for the elected or appointed official who oversees said subdivision or agency.


The House has posted a COW (Committee of the Whole) calendar here and a Third Read calendar for Tuesday.  The Third Read calendar is chock full o'bad House bills.

 
The Senate has posted no floor calendars at this point.
 
The Capitol Events calendar is here.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

President Obama's speech in commemoration of 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches


Picture courtesy Yahoo News

President Obama, joined by thousands of people, today commemorated the 50th anniversary of the famed civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery Alabama.

His speech at the event, possibly the finest and most moving that he has given while in office, and that's saying something.

From WhiteHouse.gov -

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you, President Obama!

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you know I love you back.  (Applause.)

It is a rare honor in this life to follow one of your heroes.  And John Lewis is one of my heroes.
Now, I have to imagine that when a younger John Lewis woke up that morning 50 years ago and made his way to Brown Chapel, heroics were not on his mind.  A day like this was not on his mind.  Young folks with bedrolls and backpacks were milling about.  Veterans of the movement trained newcomers in the tactics of non-violence; the right way to protect yourself when attacked.  A doctor described what tear gas does to the body, while marchers scribbled down instructions for contacting their loved ones.  The air was thick with doubt, anticipation and fear.  And they comforted themselves with the final verse of the final hymn they sung:

“No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you;

Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you.”

And then, his knapsack stocked with an apple, a toothbrush, and a book on government -- all you need for a night behind bars -- John Lewis led them out of the church on a mission to change America.

President and Mrs. Bush, Governor Bentley, Mayor Evans, Sewell, Reverend Strong, members of Congress, elected officials, foot soldiers, friends, fellow Americans:

As John noted, there are places and moments in America where this nation’s destiny has been decided.  Many are sites of war -- Concord and Lexington, Appomattox, Gettysburg.  Others are sites that symbolize the daring of America’s character -- Independence Hall and Seneca Falls, Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral.

Selma is such a place.  In one afternoon 50 years ago, so much of our turbulent history -- the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war; the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow; the death of four little girls in Birmingham; and the dream of a Baptist preacher -- all that history met on this bridge.
It was not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the true meaning of America.

And because of men and women like John Lewis, Joseph Lowery, Hosea Williams, Amelia Boynton, Diane Nash, Ralph Abernathy, C.T. Vivian, Andrew Young, Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many others, the idea of a just America and a fair America, an inclusive America, and a generous America -- that idea ultimately triumphed.

As is true across the landscape of American history, we cannot examine this moment in isolation.  The march on Selma was part of a broader campaign that spanned generations; the leaders that day part of a long line of heroes.

We gather here to celebrate them.  We gather here to honor the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs and the chastening rod; tear gas and the trampling hoof; men and women who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone would stay true to their North Star and keep marching towards justice.

They did as Scripture instructed:  “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  And in the days to come, they went back again and again.  When the trumpet call sounded for more to join, the people came –- black and white, young and old, Christian and Jew, waving the American flag and singing the same anthems full of faith and hope.  A white newsman, Bill Plante, who covered the marches then and who is with us here today, quipped that the growing number of white people lowered the quality of the singing.  (Laughter.)  To those who marched, though, those old gospel songs must have never sounded so sweet.

In time, their chorus would well up and reach President Johnson.  And he would send them protection, and speak to the nation, echoing their call for America and the world to hear:  “We shall overcome.”  (Applause.)  What enormous faith these men and women had.  Faith in God, but also faith in America.

The Americans who crossed this bridge, they were not physically imposing.  But they gave courage to millions.  They held no elected office.  But they led a nation.  They marched as Americans who had endured hundreds of years of brutal violence, countless daily indignities –- but they didn’t seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them almost a century before.  (Applause.)

What they did here will reverberate through the ages.  Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible, that love and hope can conquer hate.

As we commemorate their achievement, we are well-served to remember that at the time of the marches, many in power condemned rather than praised them.  Back then, they were called Communists, or half-breeds, or outside agitators, sexual and moral degenerates, and worse –- they were called everything but the name their parents gave them.  Their faith was questioned.  Their lives were threatened.  Their patriotism challenged.

And yet, what could be more American than what happened in this place?  (Applause.)  What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people –- unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many, coming together to shape their country’s course?

What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this, what greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?  (Applause.)

That’s why Selma is not some outlier in the American experience.  That’s why it’s not a museum or a static monument to behold from a distance.  It is instead the manifestation of a creed written into our founding documents:  “We the People…in order to form a more perfect union.”  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”  (Applause.)

These are not just words.  They’re a living thing, a call to action, a roadmap for citizenship and an insistence in the capacity of free men and women to shape our own destiny.  For founders like Franklin and Jefferson, for leaders like Lincoln and FDR, the success of our experiment in self-government rested on engaging all of our citizens in this work.  And that’s what we celebrate here in Selma.  That’s what this movement was all about, one leg in our long journey toward freedom.  (Applause.)

The American instinct that led these young men and women to pick up the torch and cross this bridge, that’s the same instinct that moved patriots to choose revolution over tyranny.  It’s the same instinct that drew immigrants from across oceans and the Rio Grande; the same instinct that led women to reach for the ballot, workers to organize against an unjust status quo; the same instinct that led us to plant a flag at Iwo Jima and on the surface of the Moon.  (Applause.)

It’s the idea held by generations of citizens who believed that America is a constant work in progress; who believed that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths.  It requires the occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what is right, to shake up the status quo.  That’s America.  (Applause.)

That’s what makes us unique.  That’s what cements our reputation as a beacon of opportunity.  Young people behind the Iron Curtain would see Selma and eventually tear down that wall.  Young people in Soweto would hear Bobby Kennedy talk about ripples of hope and eventually banish the scourge of apartheid.  Young people in Burma went to prison rather than submit to military rule.  They saw what John Lewis had done.  From the streets of Tunis to the Maidan in Ukraine, this generation of young people can draw strength from this place, where the powerless could change the world’s greatest power and push their leaders to expand the boundaries of freedom.

They saw that idea made real right here in Selma, Alabama.  They saw that idea manifest itself here in America.

Because of campaigns like this, a Voting Rights Act was passed.  Political and economic and social barriers came down.  And the change these men and women wrought is visible here today in the presence of African Americans who run boardrooms, who sit on the bench, who serve in elected office from small towns to big cities; from the Congressional Black Caucus all the way to the Oval Office.  (Applause.)

Because of what they did, the doors of opportunity swung open not just for black folks, but for every American.  Women marched through those doors.  Latinos marched through those doors.  Asian Americans, gay Americans, Americans with disabilities -- they all came through those doors.  (Applause.)  Their endeavors gave the entire South the chance to rise again, not by reasserting the past, but by transcending the past.

What a glorious thing, Dr. King might say.  And what a solemn debt we owe.  Which leads us to ask, just how might we repay that debt?

First and foremost, we have to recognize that one day’s commemoration, no matter how special, is not enough.  If Selma taught us anything, it’s that our work is never done.  (Applause.)  The American experiment in self-government gives work and purpose to each generation.

Selma teaches us, as well, that action requires that we shed our cynicism.  For when it comes to the pursuit of justice, we can afford neither complacency nor despair.

Just this week, I was asked whether I thought the Department of Justice’s Ferguson report shows that, with respect to race, little has changed in this country.  And I understood the question; the report’s narrative was sadly familiar.  It evoked the kind of abuse and disregard for citizens that spawned the Civil Rights Movement.  But I rejected the notion that nothing’s changed.  What happened in Ferguson may not be unique, but it’s no longer endemic.  It’s no longer sanctioned by law or by custom.  And before the Civil Rights Movement, it most surely was.  (Applause.)

We do a disservice to the cause of justice by intimating that bias and discrimination are immutable, that racial division is inherent to America.  If you think nothing’s changed in the past 50 years, ask somebody who lived through the Selma or Chicago or Los Angeles of the 1950s.  Ask the female CEO who once might have been assigned to the secretarial pool if nothing’s changed.  Ask your gay friend if it’s easier to be out and proud in America now than it was thirty years ago.  To deny this progress, this hard-won progress -– our progress –- would be to rob us of our own agency, our own capacity, our responsibility to do what we can to make America better.

Of course, a more common mistake is to suggest that Ferguson is an isolated incident; that racism is banished; that the work that drew men and women to Selma is now complete, and that whatever racial tensions remain are a consequence of those seeking to play the “race card” for their own purposes.  We don’t need the Ferguson report to know that’s not true.  We just need to open our eyes, and our ears, and our hearts to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us.

We know the march is not yet over.  We know the race is not yet won.  We know that reaching that blessed destination where we are judged, all of us, by the content of our character requires admitting as much, facing up to the truth.  “We are capable of bearing a great burden,” James Baldwin once wrote, “once we discover that the burden is reality and arrive where reality is.”

There’s nothing America can’t handle if we actually look squarely at the problem.  And this is work for all Americans, not just some.  Not just whites.  Not just blacks.  If we want to honor the courage of those who marched that day, then all of us are called to possess their moral imagination.  All of us will need to feel as they did the fierce urgency of now.  All of us need to recognize as they did that change depends on our actions, on our attitudes, the things we teach our children.  And if we make such an effort, no matter how hard it may sometimes seem, laws can be passed, and consciences can be stirred, and consensus can be built.  (Applause.)

With such an effort, we can make sure our criminal justice system serves all and not just some.  Together, we can raise the level of mutual trust that policing is built on –- the idea that police officers are members of the community they risk their lives to protect, and citizens in Ferguson and New York and Cleveland, they just want the same thing young people here marched for 50 years ago -– the protection of the law.  (Applause.)  Together, we can address unfair sentencing and overcrowded prisons, and the stunted circumstances that rob too many boys of the chance to become men, and rob the nation of too many men who could be good dads, and good workers, and good neighbors.  (Applause.)

With effort, we can roll back poverty and the roadblocks to opportunity.  Americans don’t accept a free ride for anybody, nor do we believe in equality of outcomes.  But we do expect equal opportunity.  And if we really mean it, if we’re not just giving lip service to it, but if we really mean it and are willing to sacrifice for it, then, yes, we can make sure every child gets an education suitable to this new century, one that expands imaginations and lifts sights and gives those children the skills they need.  We can make sure every person willing to work has the dignity of a job, and a fair wage, and a real voice, and sturdier rungs on that ladder into the middle class.

And with effort, we can protect the foundation stone of our democracy for which so many marched across this bridge –- and that is the right to vote.  (Applause.)  Right now, in 2015, 50 years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote.  As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed.  Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood, so much sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, the Voting Rights Act stands weakened, its future subject to political rancor.

How can that be?  The Voting Rights Act was one of the crowning achievements of our democracy, the result of Republican and Democratic efforts.  (Applause.)  President Reagan signed its renewal when he was in office.  President George W. Bush signed its renewal when he was in office.  (Applause.)  One hundred members of Congress have come here today to honor people who were willing to die for the right to protect it.  If we want to honor this day, let that hundred go back to Washington and gather four hundred more, and together, pledge to make it their mission to restore that law this year.  That’s how we honor those on this bridge.  (Applause.)

Of course, our democracy is not the task of Congress alone, or the courts alone, or even the President alone.  If every new voter-suppression law was struck down today, we would still have, here in America, one of the lowest voting rates among free peoples.  Fifty years ago, registering to vote here in Selma and much of the South meant guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar, the number of bubbles on a bar of soap.  It meant risking your dignity, and sometimes, your life.

What’s our excuse today for not voting?  How do we so casually discard the right for which so many fought?  (Applause.)  How do we so fully give away our power, our voice, in shaping America’s future?  Why are we pointing to somebody else when we could take the time just to go to the polling places?  (Applause.)  We give away our power.

Fellow marchers, so much has changed in 50 years.  We have endured war and we’ve fashioned peace.  We’ve seen technological wonders that touch every aspect of our lives.  We take for granted conveniences that our parents could have scarcely imagined.  But what has not changed is the imperative of citizenship; that willingness of a 26-year-old deacon, or a Unitarian minister, or a young mother of five to decide they loved this country so much that they’d risk everything to realize its promise.

That’s what it means to love America.  That’s what it means to believe in America.  That’s what it means when we say America is exceptional.

For we were born of change.  We broke the old aristocracies, declaring ourselves entitled not by bloodline, but endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.  We secure our rights and responsibilities through a system of self-government, of and by and for the people.  That’s why we argue and fight with so much passion and conviction -- because we know our efforts matter.  We know America is what we make of it.

Look at our history.  We are Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea, pioneers who braved the unfamiliar, followed by a stampede of farmers and miners, and entrepreneurs and hucksters.  That’s our spirit.  That’s who we are.

We are Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hamer, women who could do as much as any man and then some.  And we’re Susan B. Anthony, who shook the system until the law reflected that truth.  That is our character.

We’re the immigrants who stowed away on ships to reach these shores, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free –- Holocaust survivors, Soviet defectors, the Lost Boys of Sudan.  We’re the hopeful strivers who cross the Rio Grande because we want our kids to know a better life.  That’s how we came to be.  (Applause.)

We’re the slaves who built the White House and the economy of the South.  (Applause.)  We’re the ranch hands and cowboys who opened up the West, and countless laborers who laid rail, and raised skyscrapers, and organized for workers’ rights.

We’re the fresh-faced GIs who fought to liberate a continent.  And we’re the Tuskeegee Airmen, and the Navajo code-talkers, and the Japanese Americans who fought for this country even as their own liberty had been denied.

We’re the firefighters who rushed into those buildings on 9/11, the volunteers who signed up to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.  We’re the gay Americans whose blood ran in the streets of San Francisco and New York, just as blood ran down this bridge. (Applause.)

We are storytellers, writers, poets, artists who abhor unfairness, and despise hypocrisy, and give voice to the voiceless, and tell truths that need to be told.

We’re the inventors of gospel and jazz and blues, bluegrass and country, and hip-hop and rock and roll, and our very own sound with all the sweet sorrow and reckless joy of freedom.
We are Jackie Robinson, enduring scorn and spiked cleats and pitches coming straight to his head, and stealing home in the World Series anyway.  (Applause.)

We are the people Langston Hughes wrote of who “build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how.”  We are the people Emerson wrote of, “who for truth and honor’s sake stand fast and suffer long;” who are “never tired, so long as we can see far enough.”

That’s what America is.  Not stock photos or airbrushed history, or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American than others.  (Applause.)  We respect the past, but we don’t pine for the past.  We don’t fear the future; we grab for it.  America is not some fragile thing.  We are large, in the words of Whitman, containing multitudes.  We are boisterous and diverse and full of energy, perpetually young in spirit.  That’s why someone like John Lewis at the ripe old age of 25 could lead a mighty march.

And that’s what the young people here today and listening all across the country must take away from this day.  You are America.  Unconstrained by habit and convention.  Unencumbered by what is, because you’re ready to seize what ought to be.

For everywhere in this country, there are first steps to be taken, there’s new ground to cover, there are more bridges to be crossed.  And it is you, the young and fearless at heart, the most diverse and educated generation in our history, who the nation is waiting to follow.

Because Selma shows us that America is not the project of any one person.  Because the single-most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We.”  “We The People.”  “We Shall Overcome.”  “Yes We Can.”  (Applause.)  That word is owned by no one.  It belongs to everyone.  Oh, what a glorious task we are given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.

Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished, but we’re getting closer.  Two hundred and thirty-nine years after this nation’s founding our union is not yet perfect, but we are getting closer.  Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile.  Somebody already got us over that bridge.  When it feels the road is too hard, when the torch we’ve been passed feels too heavy, we will remember these early travelers, and draw strength from their example, and hold firmly the words of the prophet Isaiah:  “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on [the] wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not be faint.”  (Applause.)

We honor those who walked so we could run.  We must run so our children soar.  And we will not grow weary.  For we believe in the power of an awesome God, and we believe in this country’s sacred promise.

May He bless those warriors of justice no longer with us, and bless the United States of America.

Thank you, everybody.

Friday, March 06, 2015

The age of the smoke-filled rooms may be past, but all that means is that the lege isn't under the influence of nicotine right now

 ...of course, the lack of smoke doesn't increase visibility...and while they may not be under the influence of nicotine, they may be under the influence of something more harmful - a special kind of Kool-Aid...

This week has seen a serious uproar in Arizona politics as the governor and the leadership of the legislature unveiled a "deal" on a state budget that proposes massive cuts to Arizona's education system, both higher ed and K-12 (to be fair, they state that more money is being budgeted for AZ's K-12 classrooms, which sounds good, until you see that they are counting money taken away from school operations and given to classrooms as an "increase").

This has caused a round of protests at the Capitol from different pro-education groups, protests that seem to have some good effect - as of this writing, the governor and the R leadership of the lege don't have quite enough votes to pass the budget (lots of horse trading and arm twisting going on at the Capitol right now).

What also upset a lot of people, including some of those who would probably support the budget under most other circumstances, is the almost complete lack of transparency of the budget process.

Essentially, many of the Rs were told "Oh, we have a budget deal now.  Vote for it."

For some reason, many people, including many of the Rs in the legislature, find that attitude, and the lack of transparency that goes with it, to be utterly unacceptable.

They also find the lack of transparency to be a surprise, but they shouldn't - if there is one thing that this legislature, the 52nd Arizona Legislature will be known for, it is its unrelenting attacks on government transparency.

Some examples from the current legislature:

HB2016, requiring the Arizona Corporation Commission to post certain corporate filings in an online database for 90 days instead of requiring that notices of the filings be published in a newspaper (passed House committee consideration on a party-line vote and House COW [Committee of the Whole] on a voice vote; awaiting final approval in the House)

HB2071, allowing candidates to conceal their residential address, even if that is their campaign address (dead for now, but with strikers and BRBs, it isn't dead until Sine Die)

SB1047, keeping the names of winners of the various state lottery games secret for 90 days (passed the Senate, passed committee consideration in the House, awaiting floor action in the House)

SB1073, allowing former judges to have their personal information removed from public records (passed the Senate, passed committee consideration in the House, awaiting floor action in the House)

SB1098, quadrupling the revenue threshold for public service corporation below which they can seek a rate hike without a public hearing (passed the Senate; awaiting House consideration)

SB1300, making any recordings made by police body cameras non-public records (passed the Senate; awaiting House consideration)

SB1435, gutting the state's Open Meeting law (dead, but with the usual "nothing is dead until Sine Die" caveat)

SB1445, keeping secret for 90 days the names of peace officers who use deadly force (passed the Senate; passed committee in the House; awaiting floor action in the House)

This list isn't comprehensive, and it doesn't include cases where the lege isn't creating more opaqueness but is just blocking increase transparency (i.e. - campaign finance stuff) or is trying to require more openness on the part of anyone that they don't like (poor people, the federal government, etc.).

As I write this (at approximately 10:25 at night), the lege is in recess as the leadership tries to gather support for their budget so that they can pass it in the dark of night.

Maybe because the lege figures darkness is better concealment than smoke...because there is no other conceivable justification for this.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

AZ Budget time: Whoo! Whoooo! The AZ lege has this railroad running with a full head of steam...

...and aimed straight at Arizona's education system...

The package of budget bills has been posted on the lege's website, they are undergoing committee consideration in the chambers' respective Appropriations committees (where they will most likely be approved with party-line votes), and they are scheduled for Rules Committee rubber stamping tomorrow (Senate/House).

Setting them up for floor action on Friday, three days after the budget was revealed to the public.  The rush seems to be an attempt to get the budget passed before the public can organize against it.

The only brake on this railroad, possibly, is the rumor that there is a group of Rs in the Senate who aren't on board the train.  From the Twitter feed of Brahm Resnik, political reporter for Phoenix channel 12 -

Having said that, expectations are that the "stealth" budget will be a "done" budget by Saturday.


The budget bills (only linking to the House version, in the interest of time):

General Appropriations - HB2671/SB1469
Capital Outlay - HB2672/SB1470
Revenue Budget Reconciliation Bill (BRB) - HB2673/SB1471
Budget Procedures - HB2674/SB1472
Government BRB - HB2675/SB1473
Environment BRB - HB2676/SB1474
Health BRB - HB2677/SB1475
K-12 Education BRB - HB2683/SB1476
Higher Education BRB - HB2679/SB1477
Criminal Justice BRB - HB2680/SB1478
Human Services BRB - HB2681/SB1479
Agency Consolidation BRB - HB2682/SB1480





Wednesday, March 04, 2015

AZ state budget process: Don't blink, or you'll miss it

...Actually, even if you keep your eyes open and focused on the Capitol, you'll still miss it.

Because it is deliberately concealed from public view.

News broke last night that the governor and the leadership of the legislature have worked out a budget deal.

And it is far worse for the people of Arizona than the s--t sandwich proposed by Governor Doug Ducey in January.

As of this writing (Wednesday evening), nothing is on the lege's website as yet.  However, a number of news stories from AZ's political press corps are already up.

From Brahm Resnik of Phoenix' Channel 12, on AZCentral.com -
The state budget is getting worse – much worse – for Arizona's universities and community colleges.

A budget deal between GOP Gov. Doug Ducey and Republican legislative leaders would cut even deeper than the budget Ducey proposed in January, according to budget memos obtained Wednesday by 12 News.

Resnik's article has a link to a .pdf summary of the proposed budget.

The budget that has apparently been agreed to is so bad that the editorial board of the Arizona Republic, normally a group that mindlessly parrots the drivel spewed by the Rs at the Capitol, has already editorialized against it here.

From State Sen. Steve Farley's Facebook page:

Just got out of budget meeting in the Senate. The bills they are trying to pass have a whole lot for me to write about, but here are the toplines:
--> Cuts to hospital and provider rates for those providing care to Medicaid / AHCCCS patients total $127 million over two years which mean a loss of another $588 million in federal matching funds from Arizona's economy over that time.

--> K-12 schools are cut $98 million in FY16 and another $157 million in FY17.
--> community colleges in Pima, Pinal, and Maricopa Counties are zeroed out completely from state funding.
--> Universities are cut 14% for a $104 million cut in FY16.
--> JTED programs are cut by $30 million in FY17.
--> TUSD is singled out for a $8 - $15 million hit annually from elimination of the 1% prop tax cap which may lead to higher prop taxes.
--> $10 million cuts to the Department of Child Safety.
--> $360 million left untouched in the Rainy Day fund
--> and no discussion of suspending the remaining $883 million in corporate tax giveaways that will go into effect in the next three years or the $12.6 billion in special interest sales tax loopholes.

By the looks of things, the leadership of the lege is looking to cram this steaming pile of ugly by Saturday, but there is already a protest/rally scheduled for Thursday at the Capitol to protest the cuts to the state's education system (it was planned in response to Ducey's proposed savaging of the system, so now the timing seems almost prescient)

From the event's Facebook page

The time: 4:15 p.m.
The place: Arizona State Capitol, 1700 West Washington Street, Phoenix

Parking is available at the Wesley Bolin Plaza (east of the lege complex) or in the parking lot of the Executive Tower (west of the lege complex).

Be there.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Arizona legislature: the coming week

In relative terms, this coming week is shaping up to be a quiet one at the lege.

In that there are only a couple of agendas that look to be full of "nuggets of ugly".  As opposed to the usual majority of agendas having bills that are nasty.

Having said that, watch for agendas to change, especially those for meetings that take place later in the week...


Notes:

All committees meetings and agendas are subject to change without notice, and frequently do.  If you plan to travel to the Capitol to observe or weigh in on the consideration of a particular measure, check with the lege ahead of time to confirm that the meeting that you are interesting in is still on schedule and your item(s) of interest is still on the agenda for that meeting.

Meeting rooms designated "HHR" are in the House of Representatives building.

Meeting rooms designated "SHR" are in the Senate building.

Some agendas are summarized as "looks harmless", but if they cover an area of interest to you, examine the agenda and the bills on it.  If I missed something significant, please leave a comment letting me know.

All House committee agendas can be found here. All Senate committee agendas can be found here.


On the Senate side of the Capitol -

Natural Resources, Monday, 9 a.m., SHR109.  Presentations only, at this point.

State Debt and Budget Reform, Monday, 10 a.m., SHR3.  Presentations on state revenue from a few organizations, including, for some reason, the Goldwater Institute.

Water and Energy, Monday, 2 p.m., SHR3.  Looks relatively harmless at this point.

Commerce and Workforce Development, Monday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  On the agenda: HB2346, stating that workers' compensation insurance carriers don't have to provide reimbursement for medical marijuana.


Rural Affairs and Environment, Tuesday, 9 a.m., SHR109. "Air quality rules are bad for industrial agriculture" day at the legislature.  On the agenda: A presentation on "Agricultural Air Quality Regulations by ADEQ and Industry Specialists"; HB2394, requiring that "anyone who commences a regulated agricultural activity to immediately comply with the agricultural general permit beginning January 1, 2016" (quoting the legislative summary of the bill) - currently, there is an 18 month grace period before compliance with the agricultural permit is required; HB2581, creating something called the "Prescribed Burns Liability Study Committee".

 Transportation, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR1.  On the agenda: HB2345, removing the requirements that motorcycles in AZ have handrails for passengers and that the handlebars of the motorcycles are designed so that the hands of the operator are below shoulder level.

Appropriations, Tuesday, 2 p.m., SHR109.  On the agenda: HB2380, a Republican grandstanding bill regarding "truth in spending" hearings.


Public Safety, Military, and Technology, Wednesday, 9 a.m., SHR1.  On the agenda: HB2377, Declaring that the Law Enforcement Merit System Council's (LEMSC) determination for an appeal of a disciplinary action is final and binding and no longer subject to review by the director of an employer agency.

Health and Human Services, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR1. On the agenda: HB2238, a proposal to specify in state law that a health professional does not have to participate in a third party reimbursement program as a condition a receiving a professional license (this is from Sen. Kelli Ward [R-eyeing John McCain's Senate seat] and is her latest attempt to allow her fellow travelers to discriminate against Medicare/Medicaid patients).

Government, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR3.  On the agenda: HB2272, allowing a retired law enforcement officer who is a member of the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS), the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS), the Corrections Officer Retirement Plan (CORP), or the Elected Officials’ Retirement Plan (EORP) to purchase a firearm issued by an employer at a price determined by the employer; HB2509, making it a class 4 felony, except under specific circumstance, to take, or attempt to take, control of someone's firearm.

Financial Institutions, Wednesday, 2 p.m., SHR109.  Looks harmless so far.


Finance, Thursday, 9 a.m., SHR3.  On the agenda: HB2001, indexing income tax brackets to the state's inflation rate.  A back door tax and revenue cut, as the inflation rate tracks changes in living costs, not changes in wages (which are the basis for income, for most people anyway); HB2109, micromanaging ballot language for local bond elections; HB2538, micromanaging county special districts (flood control, library, etc.) regarding taxes.

Education, Thursday, 9 a.m., SHR1.  On the agenda: HB2180, mandating that the state board of education establish a menu of tests that schools can use to assess student achievement.

Judiciary, Thursday, 9:30 a.m., SHR109.  Looks relatively harmless at this point.


On the House side of the Capitol -

Rules, Monday, 1 p.m., HHR4.  Long agenda of bills to be rubber-stamped on their way to floor.action.

Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  On the agenda: SB1079, barring municipalities from preventing private enterprises from providing trash/recycling services to multifamily properties.

County and Municipal Affairs, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR4.  On the agenda: SB1069, barring municipalities and counties from requiring retail businesses to follow certain security requirements.

Children and Family Affairs, Monday, 2 p.m., HHR5.  Looks harmless so far.


Transportation and Infrastructure, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  Looks harmless so far.

Health, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR4.  Looks relatively harmless.

Banking and Financial Services, Tuesday, 2 p.m., HHR3.  Looks relatively harmless, though some of the bills border on being hyper-technical and I may be missing some of the nuances here.


Federalism and States' Rights, Wednesday, 9 a.m., HHR5.  And so the streak of "not bad" agendas ends...  On that agenda: SCM1006, a love letter to Congress urging it to support the building of the Keystone XL pipeline.  Not sure how the recent presidential veto of the scheme will affect consideration; SCM1009, a love letter to Congress urging it to exempt military bases and military training facilities from complying with the Endangered Species Act; SCM1012, a love letter to Congress urging it to water down the Endangered Species Act; SCM1013, a love letter to Congress urging it to oppose any new EPA rules related to the Clean Air Act that impact electrical generating plants.

Commerce, Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., HHR1.  Looks harmless so far.

Insurance, Wednesday, 10 a.m., HHR4.  Looks harmless so far.

Education, Wednesday, 2 p.m., HHR4.  On the agenda: SB1074, requiring public school districts to allow charter schools to purchase or lease the unused facilities of public school districts; SB1286, allowing private colleges and universities to operate charter schools; SB1332, expanding school vouchers "empowerment scholarship accounts".

Appropriations, Wednesday, 2 p.m., HHR1.  On the agenda: SB1188, relating to conforming AZ law to federal tax code.  An annual bill that usually sails through the lege, but this year, there is a little push-back on it - according to the fiscal analysis of the bill by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, it will result in a net reduction in state revenue of nearly $31 million.


Agriculture, Water, and Lands, Thursday, 9 a.m., HHR3.  On the agenda: SB1185, appropriating $250K to the AZAG's office to pay for litigation against the reintroduction of Mexican grey wolves in Arizona.

Government and Higher Education, Thursday, 9 a.m., HHR1.  On the agenda: mostly bills that are too technical for me to understand and SB1441, declaring that the official state metal is copper.

Military Affairs and Public Safety, Thursday, 10 a.m., HHR5.  On the agenda: SB1445, keeping secret for 90 days the name of law enforcement officers who kill or use deadly force.


The House has posted a COW (Committee of the Whole) calendar here and here and here for Monday.  

The Senate has posted no floor calendars at this point.

The Capitol Events calendar is here.