Mar 31, 2023 - Politics

Capitol roundup: Sponsor seeks bipartisan agreement on teacher pay

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Republican sponsor of a bill that would give raises to teachers is putting his proposal on hold in hopes of rounding up bipartisan support and winning the approval of Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs.

Details: HB 2800 would require districts and charter schools to raise teachers' pay by $10,000 over the next two fiscal years, with funding provided by the state.

State of play: Rep. Matt Gress, R-Phoenix, told Capitol Media Services that he pulled HB 2800 from the floor calendar Monday because he didn't want it to pass with just Republican votes.

  • Democrats opposed the measure, citing the lack of guaranteed state funding after the first two years and the omission of non-teacher employees like nurses, counselors and bus drivers.
  • At least one GOP House member has publicly expressed opposition as well.

Meanwhile, the Senate Government Committee approved a bill to keep the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind open for two years instead of the five in a different proposal or eight in a bill that stalled in the full Senate.

Zoom in: The benefits of bipartisanship were on display this week as Hobbs vetoed three bills that reached her desk without getting a single Democratic vote.

  • She rejected SB 1096, which would prohibit government entities in the state from doing business with banks that discriminate against firearm manufacturers or the National Rifle Association, and SB 1250 would stiffen penalties for employers that force employees to get COVID or flu vaccines against their religious exemptions
  • As expected, Hobbs vetoed a bill that would bar cities from taxing groceries.
  • Hobbs also nixed SB 1024, which passed with unanimous GOP support and two Democratic votes in the House, which would have banned people from living in tents or tarps on public rights-of-way.

Yes, but: After giving the OK to only two bills prior to this week, Hobbs signed 16 pieces of largely innocuous legislation.

  • They included measures pertaining to public retirement system plans, census adjustments, state regulatory exemptions for Pinal County, county attorney representation of K-12 and community college districts, dental board annual reports and tax corrections, and a bill prohibiting homeowners associations from banning Betsy Ross flags or other historic versions of the U.S.flag.

Of note: Hobbs has now signed 18 bills and vetoed 20 and could break former Gov. Janet Napolitano's record of 58 vetoes in a single session.

  • Another could be on the way after the House Education Committee approved SB 1040, which would require schools to provide separate bathrooms, showers and locker rooms for transgender students, while permitting people to sue the school if they encounter someone of the opposite biological sex in designated single-sex facilities.
  • The Hobbs administration told Axios Phoenix that the governor would veto any bill she believed targets the transgender community.

The intrigue: The Senate Natural Resources, Energy and Water Committee OK'd a proposal from Rep. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, Thursday that aims to resolve the Rio Verde Foothills water crisis by requiring Scottsdale to allow private companies to deliver water to the unincorporated community using its infrastructure.


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