May 15, 2023 - Politics

Lawmakers eye post-budget priorities before session ends for the year

Illustration of the Arizona State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Now that the budget is done, sine die is probably just around the corner, and there's still plenty for the Legislature to do before they go home for the year.

By the numbers: The House and Senate both still have about 100 or more bills they can act on before the session ends, according to spokespeople in each chamber.

  • The House is scheduled to consider 79 bills on Monday.

🚆1 big priority: Lawmakers who Axios Phoenix spoke with consistently cited Proposition 400 as the biggest issue still on their plate.

  • Maricopa County needs legislative approval to hold an election next year to renew the half-cent transportation sales tax that expires after 2024.
  • There are competing proposals, and the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) has problems with both because neither permits the tax money to be used for light rail expansion.
  • If the Legislature doesn't approve something before sine die, the county and its cities will be in limbo and likely have to pursue other options.

Between the lines: Rep. David Livingston, R-Peoria, who sponsored one of the Prop. 400 proposals, told Axios Phoenix things are effectively in the hands of the "big three" of Gov. Katie Hobbs, Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma.

  • Rep. David Cook, a Globe Republican who sponsored a separate Prop. 400 plan, said he's been meeting with mayors, the governor and others and expects to have new language for lawmakers to review this week.

Zoom in: Prop. 400 might be the only must-have before sine die, but lawmakers have other priorities as well.

🏘 Housing: Sen. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, said he and other supporters of a bipartisan three-bill package aimed at alleviating the massive housing shortage are still negotiating with colleagues and trying to round up votes.

  • "I think you'll see more deletions than additions," he told us.

🏛 Executive nominations: The Senate has yet to vote on the confirmation of more than a dozen agency directors and a handful of other executive nominations.

  • Hobbs' nominations, especially for agency director positions, have been a point of contention with the Republican-controlled Senate.

🚰 Water: Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said a priority for him and seatmate Rep. Alexander Kolodin, R-Scottsdale, is the latter's legislation that would create an independent district and require Scottsdale to contract with it to provide water to the unincorporated community of Rio Verde Foothills.

  • The bill is scheduled to go to the Senate floor today.

🗳 Elections: Sen. Ken Bennett, who previously served as secretary of state, said his focus for the remainder of the session is passing legislation that would make digital images of ballots public.

  • Unlike most election-related legislation at the Capitol this year, the proposal has bipartisan support, including from Democratic Secretary of State Adrian Fontes.

🏥 Health care: The Legislature needs to approve a bill that would permit the state's Medicaid agency, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), to continue operating through 2029.

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