A weekly legislative update from the Arizona Senate Democratic Caucus
Volume 2, Issue 2 Thursday, February 6
Our Caucus Priority Bills
This week we introduced a collection of bills that represent our Caucus priorities. These bills cover a wide variety of issues, such as school funding, sentencing reform, infrastructure investment and healthcare. Members of our Caucus and staff have worked on these bill for months, meeting with stakeholders and citizens to make sure they are realistic solutions that work.
To read our Caucus priority bills, follow this link. Our priority bills are SB1595 through SB1639.
Senate and House Democratic caucuses presented their 2020 Blueprint for a Better Arizona at a press conference on Opening Day of the session. In this document we share our consensus vision to address challenges facing our fast-growing and evolving state including: investing in our children, fighting for equality, good jobs and workplace rights, protecting access to healthcare, rebuilding our infrastructure, and protecting voting rights. Click the image to read our Blueprint for a Better Arizona
“Bipartisan” bill count
Senate bills heard in Senate committees so far this session:
While Democrats hold 43 percent of seats in the Senate, our bills account for 0.58 percentof those heard so far this session.
A bill introduced on Monday by Senator Juan Mendez would limit to 15 days the amount of time Arizona prisons can place people in solitary confinement. "With this bill, we're starting the conversation," said Mendez, who has visited many Arizona prison facilities over the last year, but was not permitted to visit any isolated confinement units. "I have to rely on the stories from impacted families and incarcerated people, but what I'm hearing is horrible — reports of people being forgotten about in isolated confinement because of the lack of due process in isolating someone from total contact for a currently undefined set of time."
Lawmakers in Arizona have proposed a new bill that would require toilets, faucets and other plumbing fixtures sold in the state to work more efficiently in an effort to save water. The bill has bipartisan support, with Republican Reps. Noel Campbell, Kevin Payne, Republican Sen. Frank Pratt, and Democratic Sen. Lisa Otondo sponsoring the proposal.
SB 1444, which is sponsored by State Sen. Sean Bowie and co-sponsored by 14 other state lawmakers, will allow the state's Department of Education to identify an "absence due to the mental or behavioral health of a pupil" as an excused absence, and will also allow the department to adopt guidelines to determine what constitutes as a mental or behavioral health break for students.
Opponents, including leaders of a group that blocked a statewide expansion of the private school voucher program called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, called it a slippery slope that would allow a massive expansion.That's just the “slippery slope” that Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai fears. The Democrat represents part of the Navajo Nation. “I think right now it’s simply a vehicle to start the empowerment scholarship expansion beyond the borders of Arizona,” she said in an interview. “It will set a precedent and then that will be worked on to expand, expand, expand, until there’s no end.”
The nearly 17,000 acres of Arizona State Trust land sold to the copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan this month holds historical significance for several tribes. One native lawmaker publicly commented on the land purchase after New Times reported on the deal. "Tribal consultation done?" tweeted State Senator Jamescita Peshlakai, who is a member of the Navajo Nation.
Highlights from this Week
Wednesday was Environment Day at the Capitol and our members joined concerned citizens from across Arizona to advocate for protecting our state's great natural resources for now and future generations.
Senator Rebecca Rios (above, second from left) and Senator Sally Ann Gonzales (right, in pink) welcomed the Arizona Cancer Society to discuss cancer advocacy, awareness, early detection and prevention.
The Senate's Higher Ed and Workforce Development Committee welcomed students from Cochise College.