Here are some of the notable ones:
Intended as a sequel to the Arizona Competitiveness Package, last year’s SB1041, or Invest Arizona, made it through the Legislature but got the veto stamp. The bill last year was criticized for “picking winners and losers” because it set specific criteria for businesses that would receive tax incentives. This session, proponents — including House Speaker Andy Tobin and last year’s sponsor Sen. Michele Reagan — say they’re working on a new version. But even after taking the interim to discuss the proposal, they haven’t decided exactly what it would look like yet. “Right now, there are at least three or four drafts being worked on,” Reagan said. “There are some bill files that have been opened under my name, but I might not sponsor them. We’re looking at who the best sponsor may be.”
Tobin emphasized that there would be some sort of “jobs” bill coming back this session, possibly with some elements of Invest Arizona. But he said that he was working on ways to attract new businesses to the state without neglecting the businesses that have “weathered the storm” in Arizona — one of the concerns the governor mentioned in her veto letter.
Student Tuition Organizations (STOs)
Concerned about the potential hit to the budget, Gov. Jan Brewer rebuffed efforts last year to expand a tax credit program for contributions to organizations that provide scholarships to private school students. Now, advocates are trying again. SB1047, introduced by Sen. Rick Murphy, would double the amount that taxpayers can claim for contributions to school tuition organizations (STOs) — up to $1,000 for individuals and up to $2,000 for married people — but places restrictions on where the contributions under the new “excess STO credit” may go. Under the bill, the scholarships mainly go to “switchers”— meaning those who are enrolled in public schools and are moving to private schools. The scholarship may also be awarded to dependents of soldiers who are stationed here.
Additionally, earmarking is prohibited — a taxpayer can’t designate his contributions to go to a specific student. The bill requires an STO to award scholarships to students and their siblings who are on its waiting list. “Every child on the waiting list means that there’s a parent who believes that their child is not getting the best education for their situation,” Murphy said. The Peoria Republican said he has been working with the Governor’s Office on the legislation and expects it to be signed into law.
Five immigration bills championed by former Senate President Russell Pearce went down in flames last session after they were rejected in the Senate. But in Pearce’s absence following his defeat in the November recall, his supporters intend to bring back some of those measures. However, they acknowledge that they may have a hard time passing major enforcement-types of bills this session. The more hard-line bills, including the proposal to challenge the U.S. citizenship of children born to illegal immigrants or to further deny them public benefits like housing, are unlikely to prosper. “It may have to be work around the edges because I don’t know that the caucus will support anything major like (a) challenge to the 14th Amendment,” said Sen. Ron Gould,
R-Lake Havasu City, who authored the failed legislation that was meant to trigger a lawsuit over U.S. citizenship.
Still, Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, said he’ll introduce two of his measures that died last session. One would require schools to collect data about students who cannot prove their lawful presence in the country. The second bill would require hospitals to verify a person’s legal status at some point during medical care. To try to win over last year’s opposition, Smith said he’ll consider the “constructive criticisms” against his bills and try to address them. “I’m going to try the best I can to make it amenable to everybody,” he said.
Guns on college campuses
Gould’s bill to allow firearms on public rights-of-way within college campuses, SB1467, was vetoed by Brewer last year, who argued that the language was unclear and could have applied to
K-12 schools. But the Lake Havasu City Republican intends to bring the bill back this session, with the backing of the National Rifle Association, after holding stakeholder meetings and hopefully addressing the governor’s concerns. “By the time that bill last year went through the sausage-making process, it was pretty ground up,” he said. “So we’ve just started over.” The new bill would only apply to concealed-carry permit holders, whereas last year’s applied to all law-abiding adult citizens.
It also leaves out any mention of public rights-of-way, which was part of last year’s bill that Brewer flagged as not being clear enough. Instead, it would allow firearms on college campuses and parking lots but would give schools the authority to prohibit them from being carried into buildings, as long as they post signs and provide secure gun storage. Gould will not be bringing back his firearms omnibus bill that was vetoed last year, which would have required firearms be allowed on all public property unless the area was secured with metal detectors and armed guards. He said that bill had gotten so complicated by the end, after trying to address everyone’s concerns, that he didn’t think it was worth it.
Rep. Carl Seel, R-Phoenix, plans to bring back a revised version of the bill that earned him a meeting with Donald Trump last year. His HB2177 was vetoed by the governor last year, but Seel thinks that by making his latest version simpler, he can avoid the veto stamp. (For more information about this bill, turn to Page 22)