The number of bills being tracked is 255 plus 3 Strike All amended bills. One bill, HB2608, was just added to the evaluation. It was previously overlooked, but it is a terrific bill that moves the state government on the road to employee pension reform by switching a small group of employees from defined benefit to defined contribution retirement plans.
Here is what happened in the past week with bills that are part of the evaluation:
In the House:
SB1266, which provides penalties for illegal dumping of trash, passed the House. This bill, which we support, helps protect innocent property owners from people who would despoil their neighborhoods.
In the Senate:
HB2608, which switches new participants in relatively small state pension plan from defined benefit to defined contribution, passed the Senate on its second try when it was reconsidered after the first attempt failed due to absent Senators in favor of the bill. We support this bill.
HB2281, which requires tenants to be kept informed of foreclosure activity on the property they are leasing, passed the Senate. We support this bill because it helps protect defendants from being defrauded by defaulting property owners.
We have added a new feature to the ratings. There is now a section showing scoring exceptions for a legislator voting NO on a bill in order to make a motion to reconsider it. This is explained in the score section in more detail. The basic idea is that, in this special case, a NO vote is counted as a YES vote in the evaluation because the legislator is actually advancing the bill by using the NO vote as a parliamentary tactic to be permitted to give the bill another chance to be voted on.
As we near the end of the session, we remind legislators as well as the voters to beware of omnibus bills and last minute amendments that can contain legislative language that might be glossed over to sneak it past legislators. This is often done by overwhelming legislators with too many pages of legislation to read before voting or by making last minute changes that are difficult to properly evaluate before a vote. Legislators should understand that any bill containing legislative language from a bill that we gave a negative weight may get the negative weight of that negatively weighted bill regardless of how many good things are also in the revised bill currently being voted on. Since it will be impossible for the contents of omnibus bills or bills with last minute amendments to be known early enough for an announcement about how the bill weights will be reset for the evaluation, everyone needs to be aware that they will be evaluated on the final version of the bills they vote on after the votes take place. With the Governor digging in to pressure the legislature to expand Medicaid, we will be watching for that in late breaking bills as well as appropriation omnibus bills. We will also be looking for Common Core funding in omnibus bills. We strongly oppose both and will weight bills that include them accordingly.
These are NOT final scores for the session until our final report after the session ends! We encourage conservative activists to use these weekly evaluations as a way to work with legislators to achieve more conservative results in the legislative session.
The legislation causing the most lowering of scores is HB2047 combined with HB2045 which switches Arizona from the AIMS standard to the Common Core standard. Our concern is that Common Core surrenders state autonomy on education to the federal government and promotes nationalization of education. K-12 education, particularly inside a state, is clearly beyond the proper scope of the federal government, and Common Core makes federal usurpation even worse. In addition, the curriculum associated with Common Core relies on an international perspective instead of traditional study of American and World history. HB2425 was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor.
Other bills having a significant negative impact on scores remove significant limitations on school district spending, allow executive agencies to set fees in order to bypass limitations on the legislature raising taxes or fees, or increase government regulation of businesses.
Many Republican legislators have argued that good business regulations that “make people do the right thing” are good. This, unfortunately, is almost a perfect definition of fascism which Republicans traditionally oppose. There are always situations where we might wish others would deal with us on terms of our choosing when they are not willing to do so. Using government to force people to deal with us on our terms rather than mutually agreed upon terms is tyranny even if it is dressed up as consumer protection or professional responsibility or trying to improve market efficiency. Of course, in a free economy, people can decide for themselves what is good and make decisions on that basis as both consumers and businesses. Also, government regulations usually have unintended consequences that are usually bad. These consequences are then used to justify still more regulation when less regulation is the best solution.
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