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Bills on Parade 

Keeping an eye on the action at the Arizona Legislature

The ink wasn't even dry on last week's "25 Bills To Watch" feature in our print edition before TW realized there were more bills that we should follow in our online Blogislature feature.

Take House Bill 2282. Following the recall of Sen. Russell Pearce, lawmakers realized that non-partisan recall elections are a danger to their survival. HB 2282, sponsored by Rep. Steve Smith (R-Maricopa) would create a primary and general election cycle for recall election so that candidates don't have to face the wrath of the entire electorate in the first go-round. HB 2282 passed House Rules Committee on Monday, March 4, and was headed for a vote on the House floor.

HB 2476, which would require parental permission before school officials could place a misbehaving child in a school isolation room except in emergency situations, has already passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan 57-2 vote and is awaiting hearing in Senate committees.

HB 2593, which would increase the combined amount of money that legislative and statewide candidates could receive for primary and general elections to $5,000 from individuals and Political Action Committees and as high as $10,000 from Arizona Super PACs, passed the House of Representatives last week and is awaiting hearings in Senate committees.

HB 2608 dumps the current retirement system for elected officials and sharply reduces benefits for future lawmakers, judges, and other elected officials. It passed out of the House of Representatives on a 35-22 vote last week and is awaiting committee hearings in the Senate.

• HB 2570 provides $250,000 to support mental-health first-aid programs that train individuals to recognize and properly respond to people with mental-health problems. The bill, which mirrors a program often championed by Congressman Ron Barber, was sponsored by two Tucson representatives, Republican Ethan Orr and Democrat Victoria Steele. It passed out of the House Appropriations Committee last week and out of the House Rules Committee on Monday, March 4. It was next headed to the House floor.

Many of the bills that TW is following with our online Blogislature feature were on the move since last week's cover story:

• Sen. Michelle Reagan's package of election bills passed out of the Senate last week. SB 1003 makes it a felony for get-out-the-vote organizers to deliver ballots on a voter's behalf without specific approval and prohibits paid or volunteer workers from delivering ballots "in service of any political committee, group or organization," according to a legislative staff summary.

SB 1003 passed out of the Senate last week and was has been assigned and is awaiting hearings in the House.

• SB 1261, which requires county recorders to purge names from early-ballot lists if voters don't cast early ballots and don't respond to subsequent warnings, passed the Senate last week. It also puts up various legal roadblocks to adding names the Permanent Early Voter List. It passed out of the Senate is awaiting hearings in the House.

SB 1264, which puts various roadblocks in the way of gathering signatures for initiatives and recalls, passed out of the Senate last week and awaits committee hearings in House.

• Gov. Jan Brewer's new pay-for-performance school-funding bill, SB 1444, passed out the Senate Rules Committee on Monday, March 4, and was headed to a vote of the full Senate.

HB 2455, which requires cities and towns to put any firearms obtained in gun buybacks back on the market, passed the House Rules Committee on Monday, March 4, and was headed to the House floor.

SB 1439, which established homemade coins with silver or gold content to be legal tender in the state, passed out of the Senate yesterday on a 17-11 vote. It's now up for consideration in the House of Representatives.

SCR 1019, which asks voters to require that 40 percent of all signatures on initiative and referendum ballots be collected in counties other than Maricopa and Pima, passed out of the Senate on a 16-12 vote on Monday, March 4. It's now up for hearings in the House.

HCR 2026, which would ask voters to transfer the money that now funds political campaigns as part of the state's Clean Elections program to the state's schools, passed the House Rules Committee on March 4.

HB 2485, which creates special legal protections for companies that report health and safety violations to the state, passed out of the House of Representatives on a 39-17 vote on Monday, March 4, and is now headed for Senate consideration.

HB 2147, which requires out-of-work Arizonans who are fired from their jobs to produce proof they are eligible for unemployment benefits, was headed for a hearing in front of the Senate Commerce, Energy and Military Affairs Committee on Wednesday, March 6.

HB 2401, which narrows the definition of service animals to dogs and miniature horses, was headed to hearings in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the Senate Commerce, Energy and Military Committee on Wednesday, March 6.

• In a rare occurrence, HB 2554, which would allow guns in public buildings, failed on a 3-5 vote in the House Rules Committee.

More by Jim Nintzel

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