Arizona Legislature updates: Lawmakers adjourn sine die after passing water, school voucher bills

Arizona Republic

The Arizona Legislature had two major bills to consider as it convened for a final session Friday: $1 billion in spending to shore up the state’s water supply and a massive expansion of taxpayer-funded vouchers to all schoolchildren.

The final full day of the 55th Legislature also was the same day the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a 1973 decision guaranteeing women a constitutional right to an abortion.

Both the water bill and the voucher expansion passed in the late evening hours, even as the Senate had to evacuate its chamber because of abortion rights protesters pounding on the building windows and doors.

Lawmakers on Thursday had passed a nearly $18 billion spending plan with bipartisan support. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

The budget bill and all the others now go to Gov. Doug Ducey, who already has signaled his support for what he calls a budget that “will truly leave Arizona better than we found it.”

Follow coverage at the state Capitol by Arizona Republic reporters here.

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12:55 a.m.: They’re outta here

The Senate adjourned sine die at 12:22 a.m.

The House soon followed, at 12:26 a.m.

Sine die is Latin for “without a day,” signaling this was the last adjournment of the 55th Arizona Legislature’s second session.

This may not be the last time we’ll see this gang together: There is some talk of a special session to deal with lifting a school spending cap.

— Mary Jo Pitzl

12:22 a.m.: Emotional night in Senate

Senators shared heartful goodbyes and some tears as they used their late-night speaking time for the last few bills they passed for the 2022 session.

Some senators were leaving the chamber on their way to possible election in the House, while others were leaving the Legislature entirely, either because they’re running for higher office or found other jobs.

As close as they’ve been while working together this year, lawmakers had a kind of bonding experience earlier in the evening as a chaotic protest of the U.S. Supreme Court opinion that struck down Roe v. Wade resulted in a security alert and temporary shutdown of the night’s proceedings.

State troopers tear-gassed protesters just outside the House and Senate buildings, and the senators were moved from the Senate floor to a hearing room to finish their work.

“We didn’t give up; we didn’t just run home and hide,” said Senate Majority Leaders Rick Gray, R-Sun City. “We finished our job and did the work of the people.”

Sen. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson, who’s leaving this year to run for justice of the peace in Pima County, talked about some fellow members she enjoyed working with, including Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Glendale.

Joining forces on a bill to help child abuse victims was “incredibly meaningful,” Steele said, adding that her four years in the Legislature “was one of the most meaningful experiences in my entire life.”

Many of the senators thanked Senate President Karen Fann for her leadership and friendship.

“You were a mentor to me. I cannot thank you enough,” said Sen. Rosanna Gabaldón, D-Green Valley.

Gray said that when the going got tough, Fann burrowed into the facts and made the right decisions.

“I just want to tell everyone … what a tremendous job you’ve done,” he said.

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