Every Arizona legislative session is unique, perhaps none more odd than the recently concluded 2020 regular session. After weeks of being in COVID-19 limbo, it ended abruptly Tuesday on the Senate floor, leaving many bills in various stages of the legislative process, now dead.
Two dynamics influenced this session dramatically:
- The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic cut the session short. The Senate and House recessed in March without completing action on many legislative proposals. While the House completed some legislative business in May, the Senate declined to complete any further action.
- The extremely close vote margins of 31 Republicans to 29 Democrats in the Arizona House and the 17 Republicans to 13 Democrats in the Arizona Senate made passing significant pro-life, pro-family measures impossible.
Three CAP-Supported Bills Passed
- The 2020-2021 budget included $100,000 in funding for homeless pregnant women. For the past two years, this funding has helped Maggie’s Place provide much needed services. CAP Fact Sheet is available here.
- SB 1061 sponsored by Senator Sylvia Allen, requires the Arizona Department of Education to create and post on its website a handbook of parental rights. A link to the handbook also will be posted by each school district’s website. For further information, CAP’s Fact Sheet is here.
- SB 1224 sponsored by Senator Sylvia Allen, updates the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts law to ensure greater transparency, education, and administration of the program while also meeting the needs of children living on reservations and attending schools within two miles of the state border.
Three Key CAP-Supported Bills That Did Not Pass
- SB 1328 sponsored by Sen. Rick Gray, and HB 2388 sponsored by Rep. Michele Udall, would have provided resources for pregnant women seeking to have an abortion to know about services for healthy childbirth as an alternative to abortion. This measure was very similar to the one that failed on the Arizona Senate floor the last night of the 2019 session. While the measure narrowly passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and the House Health and Human Services Committee, the budget issues relative to COVID-19 blocked further consideration. Read the CAP Fact Sheet here.
- HB 2706 sponsored by Rep. Nancy Barto, would have prohibited biological men from playing on women’s sports teams in schools. After passing the House 31-29, the Senate Judiciary Committee did not hear the bill due to the COVID-19-related recess then adjournment. Fact Sheet is here.
- HB 2912 sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh, would have protected churches, religious institutions, nonprofit organizations, and schools from frivolous lawsuits by individuals alleging they contracted COVID-19 while at those entities. The bill passed the House 31-29 then the Senate took no action.
“Bad Bills” That Did Not Pass
Thankfully, bills to roll back pro-life laws, restrict religious freedom, deny parental rights, mandate comprehensive sex education, legalize recreational marijuana, ratify the Equal Rights Amendment did not pass.
- Governor Ducey likely will call a special legislative session in June to address budget shortfalls related to COVID-19 pandemic. Our CAP priority will be to see legislation adopted that does protect churches, religious institutions, nonprofits, and schools from frivolous lawsuits related to COVID-19. The specifics remain to be worked out.
- Now is the time to make sure you’ve updated your voter registration. If you’ve moved since the last election or if you are not registered to vote, you can do that at servicearizona.com.
- In about a month, the 2020 CAP Voter Guide will be available and the azvoterguide.com website will be live just in time for early voting on July 8 for the August 4 Primary Election. Be sure to mark your calendar and plan to make your voice heard this election cycle.
Lastly, but most importantly, take some time to pray for Governor Ducey, Attorney General Brnovich, state legislators, and other statewide officials. It’s been a challenging time for all.
- In a follow up to an article in last week’s FMF, criticism has led to an update in CDC guidelines regarding the spread of COVID-19 via various surfaces.
- Break Point takes on the question, “What is God saying in this pandemic?” CAP offers its thoughts as one of many contributors to the symposium.
- CAP’s latest podcast with Jor-El Godsey of Heartbeat International discusses the vast pro-life effort, and Heartbeat’s unique work on Abortion Pill Reversal.
- Frustrated with what he claims is censorship of conservative voices on social media, President Trump issued an Executive Order today preventing online censorship.
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