’11 session a success…mostly

May 8, 2011 by  

Enacting a truly balanced budget (the first in 5 years!) with no gimmicks or new borrowing and enhancing Arizona’s competitive business environment were the main goals of the 50th Legislature – and we achieved both.

These and many other important issues were addressed this session (see A 2011 Session Summary),  but there were some disappointments.

Topping my list were two majority-supported health care reforms that met the Governor’s veto pen. 

  • SB 1593 – Interstate Health Insurance – a measure that would have enabled many of the 1.3 million uninsured Arizonans more affordable insurance options by injecting true competition into the Arizona insurance market.
  • SB 1592 – Arizona Health Care Compact – also vetoed, would have allowed Arizona the flexibility to manage Federal health care programs more efficiently – and without all of the Federal constraints.
  • Nancy talks health care with Ray Torres on Points of View.

These and other health care measures are essential to addressing the causes of soaring health care costs. Health care consumers and employers must be afforded a  level playing field to better manage their health care dollars including more cost transparency and affordable options.   Secondly, since top-down Federal control hasn’t worked, a block grant funding system -managed by the states according to the needs of  their citizens – could help bring essential efficiencies and solvency to these programs.  A few others…

  • SCR 1016 – the Federal Debt Amendment effort was narrowly defeated this session, not as a result of a gubernatorial veto, but by one vote in the Senate.  The amendment proposal to the Constitution would have, if passed by 2/3 of the states, required a majority of the states’ approval before Congress could increase the Federal debt in this country.

It is unlikely Congress will deal honestly with the U.S. Federal debt crisis unless pressed by the states through an amendment to the Constitution.

  • SB 1170 – my bill clarifying HOA authority to regulate parking on public streets within their areas – did not get very far this session.  Other HOA reforms did succeed, however, providing much needed relief to homeowners, especially in regards to dispute resolution.  Read HOA watchdog George Starapoli’s 2011 bill summary.

To read more about these Barto bills, click on Legislation page.

Several school choice, common sense gun rights and government reform bills were also met with the Governor’s veto stamp this session.  She also nixed a statutory limit on state spending (HB 2707) and a cap on seconday property taxes (HB 2338).

Each one of these bills required tremendous effort throughout the Legislative process, so some disappointment is in order.  But the reality is reforms often take more than one session to get through, especially when monied interests have something to lose by the change.

Overall, the Legislature and Governor Brewer achieved a great deal this session.  To focus on the < 5% that didn’t get done seems pretty foolish.

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