Highlights of the Arizona Legislature’s first 50 days

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 2.19.32 PMArizona Capitol Times

Jan. 11: Gov. Doug Ducey jumped on Arizona’s most populous neighbor in his annual State of the State address. Ducey commented on “California-style chaos,” and outlined how Arizona was “on the rise” in comparison.

Jan. 13: The House of Representatives passed its first measure of the session, which bars so-called “revenge porn,” with unusual swiftness. The measure passed unanimously with one legislator not voting. Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, sponsored the bill for a third time. The bill makes it a crime to share nude photos of another person with intent to harm that person.

Jan. 14: A proposal to legalize marijuana in Arizona is on track to qualify for the ballot as the state joins a growing movement looking to loosen pot laws around the country in the November elections. A spokesman for Arizona’s leading recreational marijuana initiative says the measure has already collected about 140,000 of the 150,000 signatures necessary to get on the ballot.

Jan. 14: Following allegations that he’d improperly used state vehicles for personal reasons and fired several employees and replaced them with friends, Arizona State Lottery Director Tony Bouie resigned his position to avoid being a “distraction,” according to the Governor’s Office.

Jan. 15: Following through on his pledge to hold the line on new spending, Gov. Doug Ducey unveiled a proposed $9.5 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2017. Some agencies and programs that took the biggest hits during last year’s budget crisis won’t see that funding restored, including universities and vocational school districts.

Jan. 19: The Pima County Board of Supervisors appointed Matt Kopec to fill an Arizona House vacancy created by Rep. Victoria Steele’s resignation to focus on her congressional run.

Jan. 28: Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Burns issued a demand to Arizona Public Service: Turn over your books.

Feb. 8: A proposed overhaul of the Arizona Commerce Authority by Gov. Doug Ducey will help set the stage for future reductions in regulations and taxes that are deemed to put Arizona at an economic disadvantage.

Feb. 9: Sen. Adam Driggs won’t seek re-election this fall. Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, who has served in the House since 2011, will run for the Legislative District 28 Senate seat in place of Driggs. She will likely face fellow Rep. Eric Meyer, a Paradise Valley Democrat termed out of the House.

Feb. 11: The state’s police regulatory board fired longtime Executive Director Lyle Mann.

Feb. 16: Gov. Doug Ducey signed two bills aimed at reforming Arizona’s underfunded pension system for law enforcement officers and firefighters. But voters will get the final say.

Feb. 17: The Senate unanimously passed a bill restoring most cuts to high school technical education districts and Gov. Doug Ducey promptly signed it into law. The bill restores $29 million of $30 million cut from 14 Joint Technical Education Districts last year.

Feb. 22: Senators voted to do what foes have argued has been their agenda all along – allow every one of the 1.1 million students in Arizona to attend private and parochial schools with tax dollars.

Feb. 23: The Senate voted without any debate to pass a bill altering the power between the State Board of Education and state superintendent of public instruction. The 24-5 vote sends SB1416 to the House for consideration. The bill puts the board in control of hiring, firing and supervising its own workers and puts certain administrative functions under the control of the board.

Feb. 24: Calling claims that fetal research helps cure diseases is a lie, state senators voted to outlaw scientific research on aborted fetuses.

Feb. 25: Conservative Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon will not seek re-election this November, saying he wants to spend more time with his family. He endorsed state Senate President Andy Biggs as his successor.

Feb. 26: The House created a new travel policy after an Arizona Capitol Times story revealed that a handful of House Republican leaders and top staffers drove more than 36,000 miles in state vehicles in 2015, sometimes for political or personal purposes. In an email announcing the changes, House Speaker David Gowan said it’s his “sincere hope that this memorializes appropriate, reasonable, accurate and efficient travel practices of the House.” Also, Gowan repaid the state more than $12,000 for mileage reimbursements he claimed for trips that he took in state vehicles and for days he claimed to work but did not.

Feb. 29: Legislation to let every child attend private and parochial schools on the public dime is on life support, and possibly dead — at least in its current form. Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, conceded he lacks sufficient votes for final approval of HB2482.

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