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Day 2: Lawmakers end session sine die

UPDATE 8:23 pm

The Senate also passed former senator Jonathan Paton’s bill, S10756, which changes the name of the Arizona State Boxing Commission to the Arizona State Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Commission. The bill modifies rules governing mixed martial arts and allows the Commission to test contestants for drugs.

The vote was 18-7.

UPDATE 8:06 pm

By a vote of 22-4, the Senate passed S1018, which tweaks the photo enforcement statutes. The bill, for example, prohibits cameras from being placed within 600 feet of a sign post that reflects a change in the speed limit, except in school crossing zones. The bill also allows photo enforcement citations to be included in judicial productivity credit calculations in certain cases.

UPDATE 7:18 pm

The House approved a bill that would create a lower-level crime for teens who engage in “sexting” and send a sexually explicit picture with an electronic device. the bill, S1266, was approved by a 56-0 vote.

The bill was also heavily amended earlier in the day to include language that revives a pair of bills that had stalled in the process. One amendment adds strangulation to the definition of aggravated assault, while the other allows a person to take custody of a pet if he or she files an order of protection against a spouse.

UPDATE 7:14 pm

The House has approved a measure that will allow SCF Arizona, which manages the state’s worker’s compensation fund, to become a private firm. the bill, S1045, passed by a 37-19 margin. Earlier in the day, it was amended to delay the privatization from July 2011 to July 2012.

UPDATE 6:41 pm

Sen. Barbara Leff is back on the floor. The Senate immediately resumed its business and has begun voting anew.

“It’s delayed so I came back,” Leff said, referring to her flight.

UPDATE 6:05 pm

The Arizona Capitol Times just heard from a source that Sen. Barbara Leff is coming back to the Senate. Apparently, her flight has been delayed, giving her time to help the Senate finish its business today.

UPDATE 5:42 pm

Now the Senate is missing a couple of Republican members, including Sens. Carolyn Allen and Barbara Leff, who apparently just left the building.

Leff has been anxious to leave all afternoon as she is trying to catch a flight out-of-state this evening.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Gray is absent today; he is excused. Sen. Carolyn Allen of Scottsdale was here this morning but is no longer around.

With Leff gone, the fate of H2162, which is supposed to be a “trailer” to S1070, the immigration bill just recently signed by the governor, has become very uncertain.

Sen. Russell Pearce, author of S1070, told the Arizona Capitol Times that Leff would have been the 16th vote on H2162 since a few members were already missing.

UPDATE 5:24 pm

HCR2041, the ballot measure asking the public to reauthorize voter-approved spending every 8 years, just failed by a vote of 14-11 in the Senate.

UPDATE 4:29 pm

The Senate has just approved two bills dealing with human embryos, S1306 and S1307. Both received a 16-12 vote. The bills’ next stop is the Governor’s Office.

UPDATE 3:46 pm

The Arizona Legislature has approved legislation to repeal cuts to health care programs made earlier this year.

By a vote of 18-10, the Senate passed today S1043, which restores KidsCare, a children’s health insurance program, and undoes a rollback in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program.

The funding for AHCCCS is conditional on the federal government extending a program where the feds pay a bigger share of Medicaid costs.

But some senators did not like the move. Sen. Jack Harper, a Republican from Surprise, said he doesn’t believe the Legislature should bring back programs because the state can’t afford them.

This was a sentiment echoed by other Republicans.

“I don’t like the fact that we’re being mandated by the feds to implement a program with which we don’t have the money for,” said Sen. Thayer Verschoor, a Gilbert Republican.

Nobody knows what requirements the federal government might mandate in order for Arizona to receive funds, he said.

But Senate Assistant Minority Leader Rebecca Rios said the Legislature should never have eliminated KidsCare in the first place.

“This is a good day in Arizona where we can provide basic health care to children,” Rios said.

UPDATE 3:32 pm

The Senate has reconvened to resume voting on bills.

UPDATE 3:31 pm

The House has resumed its floor session, more than two hours after it was initially scheduled to reconvene. The chamber is set to debate and vote on several bills, including a bill that deals with teen “sexting” on cell phones and the privatization of SCF Arizona.

UPDATE 3:10 pm

The Senate has been recessed since late this morning and it hasn’t reconvened yet. They seem to be waiting for the conference committee on H2162 to take place.

UPDATE 2:30 pm

House Speaker Kirk Adams is still pushing to revive H2250, his “jobs” bill.

Adams wrote Senate President Burns a letter detailing possible components of a last-minute compromise to move the bill forward and still be able to adjourn sine die today.

Adams ended the letter by saying they’re “too close to completing a successful, comprehensive jobs bill to give up now.”

But Burns said Adams’ move was a “complete reversal” from their agreement on April 27.

“In that meeting you told me you were withdrawing HB2250 from further consideration because you did not believe an acceptable compromise could be reached. At that point we agreed to move toward adjourning this session sine die by Thursday,” Burns replied in letter to Adams.

“I took you at your word, and we have been working toward that goal in good faith,” he said.

Burns added: “Now I learn that you have been meeting with the Governor’s Office, without anyone from Senate leadership or my staff being present.”

Burns said he spoke with Gov. Jan Brewer last night and was told no such compromise was in the works.

In his letter to Burns, Adams said after hearing from several senators and representatives from business community in the last two days, he is confident they could address the “few remaining issues” regarding H2250 and still end the session today.

Adams said to this end the House has met with the Governor’s Office.

“We feel we are very close to a compromise that would address the concerns raised by the Senate and the governor,” Adams said.

According to Adams, the key items of such a compromise include refining the enterprise zones statutes, eliminating the supplemental jobs training program, postponing the corporate income tax reductions until fiscal 2014, immediately phasing in the corporate sales tax factor and removing the elimination of the state equalization tax from the bill.

Burns, however, said reaching an agreement is highly unlikely given the time frame and the makeup of the Senate GOP caucus. Concerns about ongoing budget deficit compound the situation, he said.

“It is time to shut this session down. Please fulfill your end of our agreement,” Burns said.

UPDATE 11:16 am

The Senate confirmed the nomination of Eileen Klein to the Arizona State board of Education April 28.

UPDATE 11:08 am

House Speaker Kirk Adams is still trying to breathe life into his so-called “jobs bill,” H2250, which would make broad business tax cuts and give tax credits as incentives for job creation. He said his office has been working with Gov. Jan Brewer’s office to try and reach an agreement on the bill before the legislative session ends.

“They’ve been positive discussions, but at this juncture, there is not an agreement in place,” he said.

After the Senate Republican caucus panned the bill Monday, Adams announced the bill would not be moving forward. However, since then, he has been involved in last-ditch efforts to revive the measure.

UPDATE 10:13 am

The Senate gaveled into order at 9:50 a.m. Joni Hoffman, the Senate attorney, offered the annual sine die prayer, quoting Moses asking the Egyptian Pharaoh to “Let my people go.”

Senate President Bob Burns has assigned Sens. Russell Pearce, Manny Alvarez and Al Melvin as conferees on H2162, the border security bill.

The Senate has just begin voting on bills.

UPDATE 9:31 am

The House will reconvene at 10 a.m. today, in what GOP leaders are saying will be the final day of the legislative session. On the docket for consideration this morning are nearly 20 bills, including a measure to deal with teen “sexting” and another that would privatize SCF Arizona, which manages the state’s worker’s compensation fund.

Other bills are likely to be considered on the floor later today, and the House and Senate move to wrap up their work by the end of the day.

-Reporters Luige del Puerto and Jim Small compiled these updates

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