On Monday, January 13, Arizona's 51st Legislature convened its second regular session. Governor Jan Brewer delivered her annual State
of the State Address. Perhaps the biggest announcement of the address was the dissolution of the Department of Economic Security's
Division of Children, Youth and Families, which contains Child Protective Services, the establishment of the Division of Child Safety
and Family Services and a call to the Legislature to work with her office to effect those necessary changes. While light on specifics,
the speech did hint at gubernatorial initiatives regarding transportation, technology and manufacturing. More details about these policy
goals for the executive may become clearer as the Governor unveils her budget for the upcoming fiscal year later today.
Yesterday at 5 pm marked the deadline for House members to introduce bills before the seven-bill limit was imposed. As of this morning,
473 bills and 39 memorials and resolutions has been introduced in the house, compared to 124 bills and 3 memorials and resolutions in
Although today marks only the fifth day of session, it is already clear that pension will be a significant topic at the Capitol. The
League will continue to monitor and evaluate pension-related proposals, always cautious as to how their provisions will affect the
longevity and viable of the state's retirement plans.
As a note, the Legislature will be closed on Monday in recognition of the Martin Luther King holiday.
Federal - Volunteer Firefighters
Last Friday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released a statement clarifying that the "bona fide" volunteer firefighters as well as
the volunteer emergency medical personnel of governmental or tax-exempt organizations would not be counted as employees under the
Affordable Care Act (ACA). Without this clarification, many small cities and towns that utilize volunteers as first responders could've
been considered large employers under the ACA and would have been forced to incur increased health care costs. The League would like to
thank the work of the National League of Cities in working with the federal government to rectify the situation.
Exercise of Religion
The Senate Government and Environment Committee passed
SB 1062 (exercise of religion; state action) on Thursday by a
vote of 4-2. The bill expands the definition of a person for the purposes of expressing religion to include individuals, associations,
partnerships, corporations, churches, estates, trusts, foundations or other legal entities. The measure also allows a person to seek
relief through a judicial proceeding for the alleged infringement of their religious beliefs regardless of whether the government is a
party to the proceeding. The bill's sponsor, Senator Steve Yarbrough (R - Chandler) has stated publicly that he is trying to protect
private individuals or businesses from having their religious beliefs infringed upon. The League is opposed because of the potential
for persons to assert religion as a defense against a municipal regulation or code. The bill now goes to the Rules Committee.
Misconduct Involving Weapons
On Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee passed
SB 1063 (misconduct involving weapons; firearm storage) by a
vote of 5-2. The bill says that full compliance with current statute is necessary before government can deny access to public
establishments or events to people with firearms. Current law, A.R.S. 13-3102.01 already provides for such storage. The League was
neutral with concerns on the measure, as it has not received any feedback that cities and towns are not already in compliance with the
current statute. The League also asked for the opportunity to be a part of a stakeholder process to see if there are any compliance
issues that could be addressed without proceeding further with this legislation. As various committee members also expressed a desire
to see further investigation into these issues, the sponsor, Senator Rick Murphy (R - Peoria) agreed to convene stakeholders to delve
further into the issue. The bill proceeds to the Rules Committee.
Also on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed
SB 1064 (firearm; definition) by a vote of 5-2. This bill,
also sponsored by Senator Murphy, redefines firearms to include those only manufactured after January 1, 1899 and using explosive or
burning gas to emit projectiles. It also states that a firearm is inoperable if it cannot be fired without mechanical repair, the use
of tools or replacement of parts. (If a firearm is inoperable it can be brought into public establishments or events without checking
it into storage). The League was neutral with concerns as 1) the redefinition was not vetted with stakeholders; 2) that guns
manufactured prior to Jan. 1, of 1899 that are operable could be brought into public buildings, and 3) that a person could potentially
make a weapon operable in a short period of time without the knowledge of the person in charge of the storage locker. Once again
various committee members voiced their concern about the lack of a stakeholders' process, and once again the sponsor agreed to hold
such a meeting. The bill proceeds to the Rules Committee.
Other Bills of Note
(All bills being actively monitored by the League can be found here.)
Bill Number - Short Title - Subject(s)
No bills of note.
Legislative Bulletin is published by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.
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