Ten Good Bills That Went to the Arizona Legislature to Die This Year
The Arizona State Capitol
Last Wednesday, the Arizona State Legislature officially adjourned for the year. That means that hundreds of bills that had been waiting for a vote or a hearing are now officially dead.
Some of those deserved to die a slow, painful death — for instance, the "Plan a Protest, Lose Your House" bill, which generated national attention (and not in a good way) before Republican House Speaker J.D. Mesnard made the commendable decision to spare Arizona future embarrassment by preventing it from advancing further.
But there were also plenty of good bills that got introduced at the start of the legislative session and never received so much as a committee hearing, thanks to the partisan politics at play in the Legislature.
We've written before about Republicans' unwillingness to even discuss automatic voter registration, or the Equal Rights Amendment, but there are countless other examples where the House speaker or Senate president ensured a bill's swift demise by assigning it to a committee whose chair would almost certainly refuse to give it a hearing.
Even more painful are the cases where a piece of sensible and relatively uncontroversial legislation got bipartisan support in the House or the Senate, only to get killed off once it crossed the courtyard to the other chamber. For instance, a bill intended to crack down on notario fraud passed the Senate with almost unanimous support. But since it never got a third reading in the House, it died.
So now that the legislative session has come to an end, let's pour one out for the bills that didn't make it:
HB 2082: Despite the many well-documented benefits of giving kids unstructured time to play outside, Democratic Representative Jesus Rubalcava's bill requiring Arizona elementary schools to provide a 50-minute-long recess every day failed once it got to the Senate.
HB 2292: Introduced by Representative Tony Navarette, a Democrat, this bill would have restored voting rights to people charged with felonies once they'd served their time.
HB 2363: Representatives Reginald Bolding and Ken Clark, both Democrats from Phoenix, had proposed a common-sense solution to prevent police brutality: creating a database that would include the discipline record of every law-enforcement officer in the state. Law-enforcement agencies would have been required to look up applicants before deciding to hire them, making it harder for so-called "bad apples" to bounce from department to department.
HB 2364: Another year has gone by, and it's still legal to fire someone for being gay or transgender. Democratic lawmakers have been unsuccessfully trying to get sexual orientation and gender identity added to the state’s existing anti-discrimination law for nearly a decade. This most recent attempt failed, too.
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HB 2349: For elderly people as well as those with physical disabilities or health problems, making it to the polls can be tough. This piece of legislation would have allowed volunteers from civic engagement groups to collect their ballots and turn them in.
HB 2487: As you may have heard, Arizona has some of the lowest-paid teachers in the entire country. Tucson Democrat Randy Friese proposed a simple solution: taking $50 million from the state lottery and using it to fund salary increases for teachers.
SB 1144: This bill would have required legislators to regularly review the 300-plus corporate tax exemptions in the state's sales tax code, which cost the state over $12 billion in lost revenue last year.
SB 1297: Once again, legislation intended to make it explicitly clear that gay couples can jointly adopt kids got nowhere. This bill would have changed the current statute on adoption, replacing “a husband and wife” with “a married couple."
SB 1355: Phoenix Democrat Katie Hobbs proposed a bill of rights for survivors of sexual assault, which passed unanimously through the Senate, then died in the House. Among other things, it would have guaranteed the right to a medical forensic examination, and mandated the collection and examination of rape kits.
SB 1459: It's hard to imagine that anyone wouldn't want to a. recognize and celebrate a group of people who survived mass genocide and b. get a day off work. Yet a bill from Senator Jamescita Peshlakai, a Democrat, to make Native American Day a state holiday never made any progress in the Legislature.
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