Monday, February 11, 2019

The Blue Wave for February 11, 2019

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A weekly legislative update from the Arizona Senate Democratic Caucus

Volume 1, Issue 4
Monday, February 11, 2019

Welcome to The Blue Wave, a weekly newsletter during session from the Arizona State Senate Democratic Caucus where you'll find news about what's happening at your state legislature and how you can make your voice heard!

Top Stories

Equal Rights

Once again, Democrats are leading the effort to have Arizona ratify the Equal Rights Amendment - a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. This year that effort is headed up by our Senator Victoria Steele. But once again, Republicans are doing their best to keep inequality the status quo here in Arizona. Watch the video below and contact your senator to urge their support of ratifying the ERA.
In this episode Senators Victoria Steele and Rebecca Rios talk about the Equal Rights Amendment and efforts to have Arizona be the state whose ratification would put it into the U.S. Constitution.

Voter Suppression

While there are a few bad voter suppression bills moving through the Legislature, arguably the worst one is due for a vote on the Senate floor any day this week. Republican Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita's SB1046 would prohibit early ballot holders from submitting their ballots any other way except by mail. Those who miss the mail-in deadline could only cast a provisional ballot at their designated polling place. Almost a quarter million Arizonans dropped off their early ballots on election day last year.

It appears there is a coalition of Republican senators prepared to vote against this bill and kill it but nothing is certain until it happens, so keep pressure on Republican senators to protect voting rights and vote no on SB1046.

Defending Equality

One of our priorities for this session, as has been for years, is ensuring equality for every Arizonan, regardless of how they identify or who they love. Our efforts on this issue entail not only expanding rights but also defending against attempts to undo the advances we’ve made.

Senator Juan Mendez has introduced two bills this session to end the state-subsidized funding of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which works to eliminate LGBTQ rights.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified the ADF as an anti-LGBTQ hate group because it has:
  • Supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad
  • Defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad
  • Linked homosexuality to pedophilia
  • Claims that a “homosexual agenda” 
    will destroy Christianity and society
  • Worked to develop “religious liberty” legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBT people on the basis of religion
Senator Mendez’s two bills - SB1462 and SB1463 - would repeal the “In God We Trust” special license plate, whose funds go to ADF. Nowhere in statute or on any ADOT or MVD website is it stated where the funds from this plate go, forcing Arizonans to unknowingly support a hate group. His bills would repeal the special plate and require the state to prominently state which groups benefit from the many special plates that are offered.

Arizona Sunrise Agenda

Legislators, advocates, and community leaders came together on February 11 to launch the Arizona Sunrise Agenda, a new agenda for Arizona's progressive movement in 2019. The Arizona Sunrise Agenda articulates a new, progressive vision for the state, a vision that provides an alternative to misguided leadership of the past and more in line with the views of everyday Arizonans. The Sunrise Agenda was launched by Reps. Isela Blanc, Reginald Bolding, and Raquel Teran at a morning press conference and by Senators Martin Quezada and Juan Mendez during an afternoon Facebook Town Hall. Those interested in learning more can visit sunriseagenda.org to get involved.

“Bipartisan” bill count

Senate bills heard in committee through last week:
Republican: 146
Democratic: 2

The Week Ahead

Troublesome bills this week:
 

SB 1166 conformity; internal revenue code; exceptions (Sen. Mesnard)
Finance Committee - 2:30 p.m. Wednesday

Ensures that high-income earners in Arizona will be held harmless due to not conforming with federal tax law changes, while doing nothing for middle- and low-income earners. The Democratic Caucus supports the governor's full conformity proposal, which would ensure Arizonan's tax dollars will shift from Washington D.C. to Arizona, to focus on Arizona priorities.

SB 1320 empowerment scholarships; oversight; state treasurer (Sen. Livingston)
Finance Committee - 2:30 p.m. Wednesday

This bill would take Empowerment Scholarship Accounts oversight from Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, a Democrat, and transfer it to Republican Treasurer Kimberly Yee. The bill sponsor's wife unsuccessfully ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction in last year's election.

SB 1395 empowerment scholarship accounts; program revisions (Sen. Allen)
Finance Committee - 2:30 p.m. Wednesday

This bill has multiple provisions that are still being analyzed, among them:
  • Expanding eligibility from students attending a D- or F-rated public school to students "who reside within the attendance boundary of a school or district" - a potentially large expansion of eligibility.
  • For students with disabilities, eliminates the requirement that ADE prescribe minimum qualifications for independent evaluation teams
Democratic bills being heard this week:

SB 1266 Dine college appropriation (Sen. Peshlakai)
Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee - Passed Monday

Appropriates $2 million in FY20 from the state General Fund to the Governor's Office on Tribal Relations for distributions to the Dine College Board of Regents for remedial education.

SB 1373 appropriation; Maricopa community college district  (Sen. Navarrete)
Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee - Passed Monday

Appropriates $2 million to the Maricopa Community College District for the Achieving a College Education (ACE) program.

SB 1474 POW/MIA display (Sen. Contreras)
Government Committee - Passed Monday

Allows the prisoner of war and missing in action (POW/MIA) flag to be displayed on or in front of court buildings on any day when the United States (U.S.) flag is displayed.

SB 1191 students; community college grants (Sen. Bowie)
Appropriations Committee - 2:30 p.m. Tuesday

Establishes the Arizona Works community college grant program for students enrolled in CTE programs at community colleges in the state to pay for student's tuition and fees for two consecutive years. Appropriates $10 million each fiscal year for the next 5 fiscal years. 

SB1264 Arizona community schools pilot program (Sen. Bradley)
Education Committee - 2:30 p.m. Tuesday

Establishes a three-year pilot program under the Department of Education to assist elementary and middle schools in developing and implementing community school plans.

SB1468 schools; suicide prevention training (Sen. Bowie)
Education Committee - 2:30 p.m. Tuesday

Requires suicide prevention training for school personnel that work with students in 6-12 grade.

SB 1391 kinship foster care stipend (Sen. Alston)
Health and Human Services Committee - 9 a.m. Wednesday

Increases the Kinship Foster Care Stipend from $75 to $250 per month per child.

SB 1453 affordable homeownership special plate (Sen. Rios)
Transportation and Public Safety Committee - 9 a.m. Wednesday

Creates a new special plate and dedicates generated funds to Habitat for Humanity.

SJR 1002 Native American veterans highways (Sen. Peshlakai)
Transportation and Public Safety Committee - 9 a.m. Wednesday

Renames:
  • The portion of United States Route 89 that is located between the Utah state line and Flagstaff be designated the "Native American Veterans Highway".
  • The portions of State Highway 264 that fall under Navajo jurisdiction be designated the "Navajo Code Talker Highway" and the portions that fall under Hopi jurisdiction be designated the "Hopi Code Talker Highway". 
  • The portion of United States Route 160 that is located between the New Mexico state line and the junction of United States Route 89 be designated the "Native American Women Veterans Highway
SJR 1003 Native American veterans highways (Sen. Peshlakai)
Transportation and Public Safety Committee - 9 a.m. Wednesday

Renames the portion of historic United States Route 66 that is located between Seligman and Kingman to be designated the "Hualapai Veterans Highway".

SB 1476 agricultural workforce; interns; appropriation (Sen. Otondo)
Water and Agriculture Committee - 9 a.m. Thursday

Creates the Agricultural Workforce Development Program to provide incentives to agricultural businesses to hire interns through partial reimbursement of internship costs. Appropriates $275,000 to the Department of Agriculture to implement the program. 

SB 1424 youth entrepreneurship; appropriation; pilot program (Sen. Quezada)
Commerce Committee - 9 a.m. Thursday

Establishes the youth entrepreneurship pilot program under the Commerce Authority, with a $1 million General Fund appropriation. 

News Clips

Bills aim to create committee to study violence against Native women

"The only thing that just kills me is that, while we are trying to figure this out and do this study, more people are dying,” Steele told the Arizona Mirror. “It gives a whole sense of urgency to this.” Research done by the Urban Indian Health Institute based out of Seattle released late last year found that Arizona had the third highest number of missing or murdered indigenous women or girl cases, often referred to as MMIWG cases."

Will Sen. Eddie Farnsworth kill the Equal Rights Amendment, again?

"Instead of the 18th century American ideal of “one man, one vote,” what we have in Arizona in the 21st century is one man … no vote."

Arizona Measure To End Drop Off Of Mail-In Ballot On Election Day Moves Forward

"Sen. Martin Quezada, a Phoenix Democrat, said the trade-off is forcing people who want to wait until the last minute to forfeit the easy ability to simply drop off their ballots on Election Day and instead face the possibility of long lines. And Quezada cited the 2016 state presidential preference primary, where Republican Marco Rubio dropped out a week before election day. And that left Rubio supporters who voted early out of luck as there is no way to recall those mailed-in early ballots."

Bill challenging anti-gay education law introduced

"State Senator Martin Quezada is once again sponsoring legislation to repeal Arizona's "No Promo Homo Law," a 1991 law that which prevents educators from promoting or offering a positive image of homosexuality within the context of teaching HIV prevention. "The reality is there is safe sex information they are providing to one set of students, and we're not providing it to another set of students. That doesn't make any sense," state Sen. Quezada said."

Bowie finds GOP support for bill banning gender bias

“LGBTQ inclusion isn’t a red or blue issue – it’s an Arizona issue. Being inclusive contributes to our economic sustainability and our ability to attract and retain top talent and business. It also happens to be the right thing to do,” said Bowie."

Arizona drivers who purchase bare minimum insurance may have to spend more

"Sen. Lupe Contreras, D-Avondale, acknowledged the increased financial burden on some of his constituents. But he said he sees this as providing protection for those who get into accidents. Contreras said that many of the vehicles on the road cannot be replaced for the $10,000 maximum that an errant motorist’s insurance company would have to pay out. Any additional costs would be borne by the at-fault driver, assuming that person actually has the finances to make up the difference. “I would want to protect them in a sense of them paying $3 to $8 more a month to make sure that they’re getting what they need out of their vehicles,” he said."

Legislature must support proposal to ban ‘conversion therapy’

"To protect our children, Arizona must ban the physically and emotionally harmful practice of “conversion therapy.” Democratic Senator Sean Bowie has introduced, and Republican Sens. Kate Brophy McGee and Heather Carter have co-sponsored, a bill to ban “conversion therapy,” a harmful practice during which mental health providers attempt to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity."

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