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Legislature at impasse over amendment to last special session bill

The Senate sent a committee to the House to signal it was ready to end the special session sine die on Feb. 10, without taking action on a House-amended version of the remaining special session budget bill, S1002.

If the House agreed to the sine die adjournment, S1002, which defers payment to schools and universities in the amount of $450 million until the next fiscal year as part of the budget fix, would be dead.

However, Sens. Barbara Leff and Amanda Aguirre, who had gone to deliver the message, found the House had already adjourned its special session, but just for the day.

S1002 was amended in the House to make its enactment conditional on the passage of the House jobs package bill, H2250. S1002 was one of six special session measures which aim to raise the state’s revenues. Both chambers have passed the other five measures.

“The Senate is being held hostage by the House to pass their jobs bill,” said Sen. Linda Gray, a Republican from Glendale.

S1002 appears to be dead for now.

Senate President Bob Burns said his chamber has done its part by passing all six special session measures, which don’t include H2250.

“I’ve told the speaker and I’ve told their entire leadership team that I could not move this bill or have this bill included in the special session,” Burns said, referring House Speaker Kirk Adams’ H2250.

Burns said he made that commitment to members of the Senate.

“We’ve finished our business here. We did what was in the call. This is something outside of the call,” he said, adding his chamber has done all it can to make sure that the election takes place in May.

While the Legislature appears to be at an impasse, time – a crucial element in the equation – ticks away.

The Legislature needs to wrap up the special session by Feb. 16 in order to hold the special election on May 18. That window allows the Secretary of State to prepare for the special election.

Burns said the ball is now in the House’s court.

If the Legislature were to miss the Feb. 16 deadline and the election on the sales tax referral doesn’t take place, it wouldn’t be the Senate’s fault, Burns added.

He’s in favor of the concept of H2250, but there still may be changes to it. Also, the Senate may come up with its own jobs or economic package, he said.

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