A whole lot of bills are about to die at the Arizona Legislature
That sound you hear from the Arizona Legislature is the death cry of hundreds of bills on their way to the shredder.
It's the final week for bills to be heard in committee in their chamber of origin. That means if your bill has not yet had a hearing, it's probably dead for the session. Sure, there are workarounds to that problem, but this is the end for many, many bits of legislation.
There are still plenty of bills that have survived to this point. A few of the more notable ones:
• SB 1395: Remember when voters rejected a massive expansion of vouchers, aka Empowerment Scholarship Accounts? Well, the voucher people are back with a more modest expansion of the voucher program, which allows public dollars to go to the education of certain kids at private schools. SB 1395, which passed the Senate Finance Committee last week on a party-line vote, tinkers around the edges of expanding eligibility to the program instead of the major expansion voters rejected. The bill also moves oversight of the program from the Arizona Department of Education, which is now under the control of Democrat Kathy Hoffman, to the Arizona Treasurer's Office, which is now under the control of Republican Kimberly Yee.
• SB 1451 creates new paperwork hassles for paid circulators of initiative petitions in yet another effort to hamstring efforts for efforts to put propositions on the ballot. SB 1451 passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote last week.
• HB 2191 would ban website operators that post mug shot photos from charging people to have their pics taken offline. HB 2191 passed out of the House Public Safety Committee last week.
We hear lawmakers may be looking at a long session. Last month, Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed a bill that cut income taxes in an effort to ensure that the state did not collect a windfall that's estimated at anywhere from $174 million to $228 million as a result of federal tax law changes. Ducey wants to stash that money away in the state's rainy-day fund (and dole out some extra dollars in the upcoming budget).
The veto has left many Republican lawmakers grumbling that they won't support Ducey's budget unless it incorporates some kind of tax cut, which means Democrats are seeing some hope Ducey may turn to them for support for the state's spending plan. While Republicans still hold a majority in both the Senate and House, the margins are much closer than in previous years.
We're guessing the hard feelings will fade and some kind of middle ground will be found by the time lawmakers get tired of hanging out at the Capitol in May or June.
Here's your chance to meet U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly
THE SKINNY mentioned last week that retired astronaut Mark Kelly's entrance into next year's U.S. Senate race was bad news for appointed U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, who has to win the seat in 2020.
After our deadline, we learned that Kelly raised more than a $1 million in his first day in the race—a staggering sum that demonstrates the incredible enthusiasm behind Kelly, who has spent recent years heading up an advocacy group battling gun violence alongside his wife, Gabby Giffords, the former Southern Arizona congress member who retired after a 2011 assassination attempt here in Tucson that left six dead and 13 wounded.
If you want to meet Kelly, he's got a campaign kickoff planned for 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is free but attendees are asking to register online before the event at go.markkelly.com/page/s/tucson-launch-event-signup.
The radio edition of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel airs at 5 p.m. Sundays on community radio KXCI, 91.3 FM.