The Arizona Republic’s politics team discusses teachers’ “boat parade,” a protest for pay raises; the upcoming state budget; and what’s up with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.
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The Republic’s political team on April 25, 2017, talks about the latest political news affecting Arizona, including the protests surrounding the future of school vouchers and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s donation controversy.
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The Republic’s political team on April 18, 2017, talks about the latest political news affecting Arizona, including 2018 candidates, Sen. Jeff Flake’s town hall and how a bill to require child-welfare officials to get warrants fell apart.
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The Republic’s political team on April 11, 2017, talks about “zombie” health care reform in Congress, and the expansion of the school voucher program headed by Gov. Doug Ducey.
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The Republic’s political team on April 4, 2017, talks about the state of the filibuster and the latest on Secretary of State Michele Reagan’s “Show Me the Money” campaign.
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The Republic’s political team on March 28, 2017, talks about funding for teacher raises in the state budget, what comes next after the non-vote on the ‘Obamacare’ repeal bill in Congress and proposed restrictions on citizen initiatives in Arizona.
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The Republic’s political team on March 21, 2017, talks about the possible impact on the president’s blueprint for a budget, and the lack of female representation in Arizona’s legislative leadership.
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The Republic’s political team on March 14, 2017, talks about how much of Arizona’s delegation has been quiet about the “Obamacare” replacement, but even Republicans don’t seem to like it.
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The Republic’s political team on March 8, 2017, talks about the latest political news affecting Arizona, including a failed tax-cut bill, a congressman’s tweets and how a former state senator isn’t working at the White House after all.
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The Republic’s political team on March 1, 2017, talks about the latest political news affecting Arizona, including the state of Senate Bill 1142 and the rowdy crowds at U.S. Rep. Martha McSally’s Town Hall.
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The Republic’s political team on Feb. 21, 2017, talks about recent political news, including Trump’s Arizona announcement about Intel, McCain and Obamacare, and House Bill 2404 targeting voter initiatives.
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The Republic’s political team on Feb. 6, 2017, talks about the latest political news affecting Arizona, including how much debt is too much for the state and which lawmaker wants to be shot.
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The Gaggle: Teachers protesting, a budget afoot and what’s up with Stanton?
The Gaggle: Voucher vote, Arizona university funding
The Gaggle: DCS warrants and Flake gets scorched
The Gaggle: Health care in Congress and school voucher expansion
The Gaggle: Is the filibuster busted and will Michele Reagan show us the money?
The Gaggle: Teacher raises, ACA repeal and ballot initiatives
The Gaggle: Federal budget and few women in the Legislature
The Gaggle: Obamacare replacement, George W. in town and TANF benefits
The Gaggle: Tax that did not get cut, tweets from Gosar and a non-job
The Gaggle: SB 1142 is dead and town halls get rowdy
The Gaggle: Bigfooted, McCain and HB 2404
The Gaggle: How much debt is too much?
The Legislature is poised to finish its session Wednesday, as compromises and arm twisting removed hurdles to two bills that were roadblocks to the session coming to an end.
Tuesday night, the Senate approved a bill that will require cities and towns to schedule tax-related elections in November of even-numbered years. Senate Bill 1152 was a key concession to legislative conservatives, who conditioned their support for last week’s university-bonding plan on its passage.
After days of pressure, Sen. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, provided the decisive vote, but only after she said she had secured commitments that the Legislature would convene a group to work on improving strained city-state relations.
She was critical of legislative moves in recent years to clamp down on local governments.
“We pass laws telling other people and other entities what to do, and we’re not very good at it,” she said.
The Senate also passed a bill to make permanent a one-year ban on the Arizona Board of Regents’ ability to hire lobbyists on a contract basis.
That restriction also was vital to the university-bonding bill, but the one-year ban was not enough. Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, pushed an amendment to House Bill 2369, and it passed on a party-line vote with Republicans in support.
In need of a lawmaker
The votes came as the smooth-running session ran briefly off track due to the absence of Sen. John Kavanagh. The Fountain Hills Republican’s vote was needed on the consolidated-elections bill until Brophy McGee’s late-afternoon concession.
Kavanagh is outside New Orleans, attending a training hosted by police groups that he said will keep him current on policing practices. He teaches criminal justice at Scottsdale Community College.
He had planned to return to the Valley at week’s end, but moved that up to Thursday night as Tuesday’s negotiations wore on. With the late-afternoon action, his return is not needed to finish the session.
The bills still need a final vote in the House, which is all but certain.
Both Senate President Steve Yarbrough and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said they are confident the session will end Wednesday.
There are still votes needed on a handful of other bills, including Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to extend the state’s cash-aid program for low-income families beyond its current one-year duration, and possibly a bill that adds further limitations to the citizen-initiative process.
Mesnard said he will push for his proposal to require school districts to direct half of their annual inflation funding to teacher pay. It’s a response to criticism that the Legislature is not doing enough to boost teacher salaries.
“I think that there’s fatigue from the Legislature in getting blamed for anything to do with teacher salaries,” Mesnard said.
His proposal would ensure teachers get a cost of living increase every year, in addition to the 1 percent pay raise the Legislature has approved for each of the next two years.
However, the last-minute addition to school funding faces opposition from education groups and Ducey. Both argue it would violate the terms of last year’s school-funding settlement approved by voters in Proposition 123.
“Prop. 123 and the education settlement are settled, and that’s a positive,” Ducey’s deputy chief of staff, Daniel Scarpinato, told The Arizona Republic. “We are not interested in renegotiating the terms of the agreement.”
Still, Mesnard said he will make an attempt.
A majority of Arizona schools are experiencing a teacher shortage, according to an ASU Morrison Institute report, and low pay may be at least partly to blame.
Industrial hemp gets the nod
In other business Tuesday, the Senate gave final approval to a bill that would open the door to industrial-hemp production in Arizona.
Senate Bill 1337 would set up the process to produce, distribute and sell hemp in Arizona through a program overseen by the state Agriculture Department.
Growers and processors would be required to pass criminal-background checks and would have to keep detailed records about growing locations.
Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, the bill’s sponsor, predicted crops could be planted within the year, although the program would need to clear several federal hurdles. They include getting a federal license and having the seed approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Other states, such as North Carolina, have similar programs, he said.
The Senate also gave unanimous approval to Senate Bill 1384 from Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix. It protects student journalists from unnecessary censorship from school officials.
The bill ran into criticism from some House Republicans, who feared SB 1384 would allow students to publish whatever they wanted without fear of retribution. But the bill includes limitations on content, such as anything deemed libelous, slanderous or that would violate state or federal laws.
It now heads to Ducey’s desk.
Reach the reporter at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @maryjpitzl. Republic reporter Yvonne Wingett Sanchez contributed to this article.
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