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Compromise could clear the way for CPS reforms

Rep. Kate Brophy McGee

A compromise between House and Senate lawmakers could allow time-sensitive reforms to Child Protective Services to clear the Legislature this session, but other CPS-related measures may still face the governor’s veto stamp.

The House approved SB1375 by a 58-0 vote on Tuesday afternoon moments after the legislation was amended in the Committee of the Whole to include reforms to CPS desired by Gov. Jan Brewer. Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, sponsored the amendment that took key measures from her own CPS-related bill, HB2144, which had languished in the Senate for months before lawmakers finally took action on the bill Tuesday morning.

The measures would, among other changes, allow child welfare and CPS workers, in addition to police, to file reports of abuse or physical injury electronically. Reports would also be filed to child welfare investigators with the Department of Economic Security, in addition to the police.

“These are components and clarifications and policy reforms that are needed to move CPS forward,” Brophy McGee said on the House floor Tuesday. She later added, “Let’s hope we can get it across the finish line.”

SB1375 now awaits Senate action on the House amendments.

Brophy McGee said the legislative maneuvering today is part of an agreement with Senate leadership that allows her bills to move forward and gives adoption-related measures sponsored by Sen. Rick Murphy a chance to clear the Legislature.

The Peoria Republican is trying for the second consecutive year to pass legislation that aims to hasten the adoption process for children seeking permanent foster homes. SB1405 and SB1406 both passed the Senate by unanimous vote this year, but were held up in the House.

Murphy has claimed that a dispute between himself and House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, led the speaker to delay his bills.
Murphy returned the favor by blocking Brophy McGee’s bill, she said.

“It was very clear to me that H2144 wasn’t going without finding a way to get Murphy’s [legislation added] on [it],” Brophy McGee told the Arizona Capitol Times.

Senators approved amendments to HB2144, including Murphy’s measures, in the Committee of the Whole Tuesday morning. Brophy McGee said key parts of her bill were left on to help ease concerns that Murphy’s measures would be vetoed – the hope being that Brophy McGee’s own legislation would provide some life support for Murphy’s bills.

HB2144 now awaits a third read in the Senate, and if approved, would be returned to the House for a final vote.

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