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The Capitol Roundup: August 3, 2018

The Capitol Roundup: August 3, 2018

Taking the Initiative
​At the Statehouse…
​It’s campaign season in Arizona! Candidate signs are at every street corner and ads are on your TV, radio, and social media feeds. There are still months to go in this campaign cycle, and it can be difficult to follow all the details. Here are some things you need to know:
  • TCR-06-06-18-pic1.pngMany people are running for office.  More than 300 candidates are vying for fewer than 100 offices in statewide and legislative elections (they are listed here), and many more are competing for local government and school board positions. To find which candidates will be on the ballot in your district, visit the Arizona Clean Elections Commission’s website and enter your address to use the Voter Dashboard. The Dashboard also provides information on voting locations and biographical information on the candidates.
  • Many of them are in the same political party.  The top vote-getter from each party for each elected office in the August 28 primary election (or the top vote-getters for offices with multiple openings – like the Arizona House of Representatives and the Arizona Corporation Commission) will advance for consideration in the November 6 general election. Some races have a lot of people vying for that chance. Voters will choose who to support from their own political party. (But Independent voters can vote too! Keep reading.)
  • Most of the candidates will participate in a debate.  Many candidates for the legislature and statewide office have participated in debates this summer, and the discussions are a great way to learn more about candidates and where they stand on the issues that are important to you – without the spin of a campaign ad. To watch past debates, click here. For information on upcoming debates, click here.
  • To participate in the upcoming elections, you need to be registered to vote.  Click here to register or to see if you are already registered. It’s too late to register to vote for the August 28 election, but you can register to participate in the November 6 election.
  • Every registered voter can vote – even if you’re not part of a political party.  Arizona has an open primary system, which means Independent voters can participate. Choose which political party ballot you want either when you request your early ballot (see below) or when you arrive at the polls to vote. (It might help to identify specific race(s) or candidates where you want your voice to be heard.)
  • You don’t have to go to the polls, and you don’t have to wait until election day to vote.  To vote by mail, simply request a ballot from your county recorder (click hereto find your county’s information) and return it in the mail. Don’t wait! August 17 is the last day to request an early ballot for the primary election. If you want to go to the polls but don’t want to wait until election day, vote early at locations around the state.
  • Voter information is available to everyone.  The Arizona Clean Elections Commission offers an audio version of their Voter Education Guide, available by calling (877) 361-8821.

It’s also important to know that some city election dates differ. For dates and candidate information for those elections, visit your city’s website.

In the News

large working group has kicked off its efforts to build a drought contingency plan for Arizona and identify how to prevent water shortages in Lake Mead. They plan to draft a legislative proposal to bring to the legislature next year.

A legislator announced he will introduce legislation to require a report on the number of veteran suicides in Arizona each year – it is not yet clear how his proposal will alter similar information that is already collected by the state. The Arizona Department of Corrections appealed a contempt of court ruling associated with the agency’s ongoing efforts to meet a 2014 settlement on inmate health care. The Arizona Corporation Commission got an interim director, and the Arizona Board of Regents offered their interim director a long-term role with the Board.

A legislator’s lead foot inspired an executive order to limit legislative immunity from criminal speeding and other behaviors that are a breach of peace. The outcry against legislators’ speeding also led to calls for and against changes to the Arizona Constitution’s clause on legislative immunity from arrest.

Citizen Initiatives Inspire Legal Challenges…

Last month marked an important deadline for legal challenges to voter signatures on citizen initiatives, and – as expected – opponents of the four initiatives filed lawsuits. There are many claims of fraudulent signatures this year; courts will determine whether the initiatives have the required number of valid signatures and examine how election officials determine validity.

Among the lawsuits filed was a challenge from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce against the “Invest in Education” initiative. Supporters say the increase to income taxes for those in the highest personal income tax bracket will generate $690 million a year for Arizona’s K-12 education programs. The Chamber, which opposes the income tax rate increase, asserts that the petitions should be thrown out because they did not accurately describe the impact on income tax rates – a claim that the initiative’s supporters dispute.

The disagreement centers on whether the initiative language allows the state to continue to adjust personal income tax brackets to inflation, or if it requires those brackets to revert back and remain at 2014 levels  – a step that would push Arizonans into higher tax brackets, and therefore higher tax rates. It is a debate that is certain to continue as the legal process – and the election cycle – progresses.

…and Political Disputes

The disagreement on the income tax proposal’s impact also unfolded at the legislature last week, when the Legislative Council committee convened to craft the summaries that will officially describe each initiative to voters. The hearing lasted hours and was often contentious.  The final analysis of the “Invest in Education” initiative adopted by the committee was supported by Republicans but opposed by Democrats, who believe the language contained political bias in the way it summarizes the income tax increase.  The initiative’s supporters will likely take legal action to try to change the legislature’s analysis before the summary of the measure goes to voters.

AHCCCS Seeks Input on Prevention

AHCCCS wants to hear how the state can improve its work to prevent substance abuse.  If you work or volunteer on these issues, click here to participate in the agency’s Statewide Substance Abuse Prevention Needs Assessment.

On the Bright Side

Barrow Neurological Institute’s cutting-edge work to help individuals who have severe brain injuries caused by physical abuse made national news, and Literacy Connects received a $50,000 grant for their reading and writing programs for children and adults.



On the Federal Front…

Action Alert

Urge Congress to Pass the EMPOWER Care Act

Major Recent Events

Career and Technical Education Reauthorization Enacted

Last week, the House and Senate passed, and the President signed, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353) which reauthorizes federal career and technical education (CTE) programs. The law includes several disability community priorities such as including individuals with disabilities among the stakeholders who must be consulted in the development of the state plan; creating a new set aside for the recruitment of individuals with disabilities to CTE programs that lead to high-wage in-demand careers; including provisions around public reporting on student subgroups and special population performance by program of study; and expanding access and requirements for teacher professional development in universal design for learning and other research-based teaching methods. See the statement from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Education Task Force here.

Alternative Reauthorization of Higher Education Act Introduced in the House

On July 26, Representative Bobby Scott and sixteen co-sponsors introduced the Aim Higher Act (H.R. 6543) to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Among many other things, the bill would require colleges to accept formal disability documentation from high school so the students no longer must re-prove their disability to receive accommodations in college. The bill would reauthorize the Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities and teacher preparation programs that train teachers to educate diverse learners. The Aim Higher Act is the alternative to the PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508) that passed the House Committee on Education and the Workforce in February. See the statement from the CCD Education Task Force here.

Disability Employment Incentive Act Introduced

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has introduced the Disability Employment Incentive Act. This bill increases three tax credits for employers. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides incentives for businesses to that hire people referred by vocational rehabilitation, or who are on Supplemental Security Income of Social Security Disability Insurance, would be increased from $2,400 to $5,000. The Disability Access Expenditures Tax Credit will be increased from $5,000 to $10,000. The Architectural and Transportation Barrier Tax Credit will be increased from $15,000 to $30,000. The Arc supports this bill.

Bill Declaring People with Developmental Disabilities (DD) a Medically Underserved Population Introduced in the House

On July 26, Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Gregg Harper (R-MS) introduced the Healthcare Extension and Accessibility for Developmentally Disabled and Underserved Population (HEADs UP) Act of 2018. This bill would declare people with DD a medically underserved population (MUP). People with DD face a shortage of primary care providers, as well as higher infant mortality rates, higher poverty rates, and shorter life expectancy than the general population. The MUP designation comes with increased access to resources from 25 different government programs including Federally Qualified Health Centers, Community Health Centers, loan repayment and training programs under Health Resources and Services Administration Workforce Development and Training Programs, and preference in research within agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. The Arc supports this bill.

House Committee Holds Hearing on Examining Changes to Social Security’s Disability Appeals Process

Last week, the House Committee and Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security held a hearing on “Examining Changes to Social Security’s Disability Appeals Process.” As stated in the Committee’s announcement, the hearing focused on “…recent and planned changes affecting the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability appeals process, the metrics the SSA uses to evaluate process changes, and the progress the SSA has made to address the appeals backlog.” Visit the Committee web site for testimony and archived video of the hearing.​
Following the hearing, Subcommittee Chair Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Ranking Member John Larson (D-CT) led all Subcommittee Members in a bipartisan letter to Acting Commissioner of Social Security Nancy Berryhill stating that the agency should not proceed with plans to reinstate the reconsideration level of appeal in 10 states, until a Senate-confirmed Commissioner is sworn in. President Trump has nominated Andrew Saul of New York to be Commissioner of Social Security.

Announcements

Washington Opens Qualified ABLE Programs

On July 23, the State of Washington opened a new Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) program, bringing the total number of jurisdictions with ABLE programs to 40. The program is currently only open to Washington residents. It has three investments options and a cash option. Accounts have a $35 annual fee with an additional $10 fee for those who receive paper statements, and asset-based fees ranging from 0.30% to 0.38% for investment options. More information about state implementation of the ABLE Act can be found here.

Report Shows Most States are Not Meeting IDEA Obligations

The U.S. Department of Education found that only twenty-one states deserved the “meets requirements” designation for the 2016-2017 school year. Twenty-eight states were placed into the “needs assistance” category. Michigan and the District of Columbia were placed in the “needs intervention” category. The findings come from an annual mandatory assessment of state compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The ratings are based on how well states meet their obligations to serve students with disabilities ages 3 to 21.

President Trump Issues Proclamation Commemorating ADA Anniversary

On July 25, President Trump issued a proclamation commemorating the 28th Anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is the primary civil rights law for people with disabilities. It passed Congress with bipartisan support and was signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. Read the statement here.


​​Prepared by:
Peters, Cannata & Moody, PLC
www.pcmlawaz.comThe Arc of Arizona
www.arcarizona.organd

The Arc of the United States

www.thearc.org


The Capitol Roundup is provided weekly throughout the Arizona Legislative session and periodically between sessions as a benefit of Membership in The Arc of Arizona. To continue receiving this publication, visit www.arcarizona.org/become-a-member to start or renew your Membership today!
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