2014 Session Synopsis

June 3, 2014 by  

First - Where did the money go?

The State budget has General Fund spending $482 million above FY 14, for a total of $9.83 billion. The Republican Legislature continues to prioritize education and safety of Arizona’s children, with a full 75% of the new money going to three areas:  K-12, higher education, and the new Dept. of Child Safety.

  • K-12 – Total K-12 spending increased by $187.6 million
  • Child Safety – DCS spending increased by $120 million for a total of $845 million for DCS in ’15

SB 1224 (child safety positions) Appropriated $6,859,300, funding 192 full-time employees early in the session to CPS in this fiscal year – FY 2014, not counting an add’l 112 investigators, caseworkers and support staff in Special Session for the new Dept. of Child Safety (DCS).

  • Higher Education – Total University spending increased by $45.0 million

Additional areas of new FY 15 spending: o Developmental Disabilities/Skilled Nursing 2% rate increase $ 9.6 million o DES – Long Term Care  $ 23.2 million o Military Installation Fund $ 2.5 million o Tourism $ 2.0 million o Forester (Wild Fire Prevention) $ 1.9 million o TGEN Funding $ 3.0 million o Yarnell Hill Memorial $ 0.5 million o Yuma Veterans’ Home $ 9.2 million o Non-University Building Renewal $ 12.0 million   o   DPS and Dept. of Corrections Retirement $ 7.8 million

Health & Human Services:

HB 2508 (Obamacare navigators) Requires a person who applies for a navigator position or Certified Application Counselors, to obtain a license & obtain fingerprint and criminal background check information to the Director of the Department of Insurance.  In addition, the bill prohibits conduct such as steering consumers to plans and engaging in unfair competition, fraudulent and deceptive practices.

HB 2454 (human trafficking) Toughens the criminal penalties for certain acts related to child prostitution. The legislation also enhances criminal sentencing provisions by adding child prostitution and human trafficking offenses to the definition of racketeering, and requires escort service and massage therapy providers who advertise to include their license numbers to the public.

SB 1380 (Arizona medical board)  As a result of complaints by former AMB employees, the Arizona Ombudsman Citizens Aide office investigated the Arizona Medical Board (AMB) and found that the board management, upon the direction of the Executive Director, ignored more than 25 statutes and rules and did not verify over 2,000 applicants for medical licenses. The report highlighted other deficiencies in the licensing division. As a result, SB 1380 contains board reforms, clarifying primary source documentation, requiring meetings to be video recorded and other streamlined processes that will help physicians become licensed in Arizona. Additional Medical Bd-related bills: SB 1381, SB 1045 and SB 1381 were signed into law to undergird transparent and accountable board operations and to fund an outsourced effort to verify that the improperly licensed physicians are qualified to be licensed in Arizona.

HB 1404 (Innovative direct care plans)  Intended to encourage affordable solutions for Arizonans, the so-called Affordable Care Act emphasized the medical home model and promoted direct primary care as a means to reduce healthcare costs.  As a result, physicians nationwide have established practices that allow for a monthly enrollment fee to offer primary care services to keep patients healthy, but insurance regulators wanted to overregulate these options. HB 1404 exempts direct care plans from regulation and asserts that these services are not considered insurance.

SB 1225 (mammography; patient information)  Requires a healthcare facility that performs mammography examinations to provide full disclosure to patients if they are determined to have heterogeneously or a larger ratio of tissue than fat on the imaging reporting and data system. Fifty percent of women screened are found to have dense breast tissue and not all cancer is detected through mammography. This measure will provide patients with a better understanding of their results and empower them to make informed decisions, such as seeking additional tests and screens for greater accuracy.  Check out www.Areyoudense.org for more info)

HB 2603 (TANF-cash assistance-recipients; drug convictions) Ensures that welfare funds are not used for illegal acts.

HCR 2005 (investigational drugs; ”Right to Try’) If voter-approved at the November election, allows manufacturers, health care institutions and physicians to make investigational drugs and devices that have completed phase one of an FDA clinical trial but not been yet final-approved, available to eligible patients. This has the potential to provide terminally-diagnosed patients with access to more options in regard to their health-care treatment.

SB 1061 (Paternity; Adoption) Corrects a discrepancy in law clearly delineating paternity filing timelines. Recently, a family court judge contradicted longstanding paternity notice statutes for adoption proceedings by allowing unwed fathers to file paternity actions beyond the 30 day time frame. This has hindered numerous adoption proceedings.

HB 2284 (abortion clinics; inspection; minors) Requires abortion clinics to be subject to the same safety and inspections standards as all other health care institutions. If the Director of the Department of Health Services (DHS) has reasonable cause to believe that an abortion clinic is not in compliance, they may inspect the premise without a warrant.  In addition, the legislation makes it a crime to help a minor obtain an abortion and avoid Arizona’s parental consent requirement (by imposing a class 1 misdemeanor).  Pennsylvania’s Kermit Gosnell case and cases discovered locally and at the national level by the group, LiveAction.org, have revealed criminal and negligent acts that threaten women’s health.

SB 1342 (unlawful mutilation; female genitalia) Establishes as felonious criminal conduct mutilating a minor female or knowingly or recklessly transporting a minor female for the purpose of mutilation.

Education Reforms

SB 1237 (empowerment scholarships accounts; revisions) Adds accountability, requiring an independent third party to determine if a qualified student is eligible to receive educational therapies and services. The bill also specifies that kindergarten-eligible students must reside within the boundaries of a D or F school.

HB 2139 (increased eligibility; empowerment scholarships accounts) Adds siblings of current or previous ESA recipients to the list of those who may qualify for ESAs. Parents know what kind of education is best for their child. In many cases, an Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) is the best fit. A set amount of money is applied to the student, but then that student can use the money at another school.

SB 1288 (school letter classification science scores) Includes science scores on the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) test in the determination of a school’s or school district’s achievement profile.

SB 1336 (school property; leases; immunity)  Allows charter schools to permit the use of school property to an organization and grants immunity from civil liability to charter schools, school districts, and their employees for the use of the property.

SB 1182 (school district overrides; bonds; information) Addresses the problem of school districts inserting advocacy within the purpose statement in an election pamphlet. The bill requires the purpose statement to present factual information in a neutral manner. Advocacy for expenditures would be limited to where they belong–in the arguments section of the pamphlet.

Other Government Reforms:

HB 2437 (public committees; repeal)  Over the years, the Legislature has created dozens of public committees, absorbing time and taxpayer resources.  HB 2437 reduces the size of government by repealing more than thirty inactive statutory committees that are no longer functioning or needed.

SB 1334 (HOAs; attorney fees) Protects homeowners who file complaints against their HOAs by prohibiting the award of attorney fees in administrative hearings related to disputes between an owner and an HOA, regardless of which party is the successful party or any provisions in the governing documents that say otherwise.

SCR 1022 (EPA rulemaking; electric generating units)  Expresses the Legislature’s opposition to the implementation of new federal EPA regulations that require Arizona utilities to install technology that is not commercially available or technologically feasible.   In September of 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new regulations for coal-burning power plants that would significantly increase the cost of electricity for Arizona residents and businesses. 

HB 2322 (Weapons Possession; incompetent & guilty except insane persons) Protects the public by prohibiting persons found incompetent or guilty except insane from possessing weapons. The legislation establishes procedures for transmittal of certain court case information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is then used by federally licensed firearm sellers to instantly determine whether a potential buyer is eligible to purchase firearms.

HB 2343 (wildfire prevention; state trust land)  Supports forest health by establishing a program to remove vegetative natural projects for the purpose of fire suppression and forest management on state lands.

HB 2164 (laser pointer; aircraft;) Makes it a crime to aim a laser pointer at an occupied aircraft, especially if the pilot is injured and unable to safely land the aircraft due to the laser’s effects.

HB 2639 (identity theft) Increases the criminal penalty for knowingly accepting the identity of another person for the purpose of determining whether that individual has the legal right or authorization to work in the United States.

SB 1040 (auxiliary members; leave of absence) Grants a public employee who serves as an auxiliary member of the United States military i.e. Civil Air Patrol, leave of absence while under military orders. This enables public employees who are members of auxiliary branches of the military to go on leave when under orders without loss of pay or efficiency rating. This will provide members of auxiliary branches with peace of mind in knowing that they are not at risk of losing their standing as a public employee or their efficiency rating when they are exercising their duty of

SB 1474 (used motor vehicle dealer) Removes government red tape by allowing individuals who sell used vehicles as a hobby or secondary source of income to sell up to six vehicles a year, as opposed to three, before being considered a used motor vehicle dealer. 

HB 2114 (ADOT; land acquisition) Strengthens property rights by requiring the Arizona Department of Transportation to enhance the financial compensation it provides to property owners when the agency acquires new right-of-way. 

HB 2204 (military applicants; commercial driver licenses) Facilitates veterans getting back to work, by exempting veterans who have been honorably discharged within the previous 12 months from the driving test for a commercial driver’s license.

Tax Changes:

SB 1413 (taxes; manufactures’ electricity sales) Eliminates a manufacturer’s payment of transaction privilege tax (TPT) on electricity and natural gas consumption.  Currently, Arizona is one of only a few states that taxes manufacturers on electricity usage. This places Arizona at a severe competitive disadvantage in attracting new manufacturers and high paying jobs to our state. 

HB 2415 (waste facility; prime contracting deduction) As part of the Legislature’s continued support of business expansion and job creation, 2415excludes from the prime contracting TPT classification, mixed waste facilities located on a municipal landfill, constructed for the purpose of recycling or producing renewable energy from landfill waste.

SB 1484 (tax credit; manufacturers; renewable energy) Creates a corporate and individual tax credit for investment in new renewable energy resources if the taxpayer invests $300 million in new renewable energy facilities and will use the power primarily for manufacturing. 

HB 2377 (income tax brackets; inflation index)  Arizona Revised Statutes prescribes tax brackets and tax rates between 2.59% and 4.54% for income tax filers.   This bill instructs the Department of Revenue to adjust individual taxable income brackets for inflation in accordance with the average annual change in the Metropolitan Phoenix Consumer Price Index for 2015. For tax year 2015, the bill protects taxpayers from being bumped into higher tax brackets due to inflation.

A total of 243 bills were signed into law in the 2014 Session.

 

 

 

Comments

Comments

One Response to “2014 Session Synopsis”
  1. Lori Hack says:

    I love everything you do! Especially, love the SB 1334 bill.

    We own a piece of property at The Ranch at Prescott and had to take our HOA to the OAH last year. We won!!! However, we are currently out $6,000 dollars because they do not award fees before this bill. We even had the AZ Association of Realtors involved (Michele and Scott)backing us should we have to go to the next level.

    Thanks, Nancy.
    Keep rocking and rolling!

    P.S. Our case involved not being allowed to use the industry standard white post that realtors have used for decades. The real issues here are that the developer of The Ranch has tried to control the HOA board and not follow the law about homeowner signage that has continued to evolve over time here in AZ.

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