Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

AZ House gets the ball rolling UPDATED 8:00pm MST 6-4-13

After sitting on the state budget bills passed by the Senate three weeks ago, Speaker Andy Tobin finally scheduled those bills for consideration in the House. The bills all have been assigned to John Kavanagh's Appropriations committee.

In this linked video clip from Sunday Square Off a few weeks ago, Kavanagh sounds a lot like Senate President Biggshot did last month.

Kavanagh says he believes the Medicaid Restoration will be stripped out of the Senate bill when it is heard in his committee. He goes on to say that he thinks it will be put back in the bill during floor debate as an amendment offered by either a friendly Republican or a Democrat.

I've heard nothing thus far to contradict that assessment.

No agenda has yet been posted for House Appropriations. I will keep an eye on the legislature's website to let you know when the bills will be heard.


From Sen. Steve Farley and his "Friends O'Farley" report:
Progress looked pretty slow today until Speaker Tobin casually announced a first reading of all the Senate budget bills, and assigned them all to the Appropriations Committee.
Where they go from there is less certain.
We do know that the Speaker met with the Governor on the topic yesterday, clearing the way for action, so his moving the bills is a hopeful sign that he will support them or at least not stand in their way, a classy move on his part.
The Approps Chair, John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) is no fan of the Medicaid restoration, so he may well try to gut the bills in committee, but I am hearing that there will be enough bipartisan votes on the floor to strip off the Approps amendments, returning them to their original state, which would mean that passage would send them straight to the Governor's desk, not back to the uncertain fate of a Senate conference committee.
The Medicaid restoration is part of the budget's Health bill, meaning that any reasonable amendments agreed upon with the Governor to make Medicaid more palatable to the Speaker would still go back to the Senate, but would avoid a conference committee because that bill's sponsor is John McComish (R-Ahwautukee). As a supporter of the Medicaid restoration, he would be able to simply concur with the amendments and send it to the Governor after a vote that would pass with the same coalition from two weeks ago.
The final House vote on the budget could happen by Thursday or Friday of this week, with a final Senate concurrence on any amended budget bills potentially next Wednesday, with the session ending by the following Thursday. Of course, very few things go as planned in the Legislature, so there are no guarantees, except that I will keep you informed.
In any case, the renewed movement is good news, and portends a possible end to the session as early as next week. Hopefully, there will be much to share in the next Farley Report.
For those of you who are worried about former Senators Frank Antenori and Ron Gould organizing an effort to refer the Medicaid restoration to the November 2014 ballot (suspending the enactment and forcing the State to unnecessarily spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the meantime while our hospitals and tens of thousands of citizens remain at risk), I believe you can relax a bit.

Court cases have already declared clearly that budget-related bills are not subject to the referendum provisions of the Arizona Constitution. I hope that Mr Antenori and Mr Gould will soon understand the fruitlessness of their efforts to destroy our state's economy and healthcare system in order to get a few more minutes in the sun. The people of Arizona are sick of those kinds of partisan games. It's time to move into the bipartisan, moderate future charted out by the Senate budget.  

As of this update, there is still no committee agenda posted for House Appropriations. I think Farley's insight on budget bills not being subject to referenda is important.

From the Arizona Republic story on the Antenori/Gould/Bauserman effort,
The Governor’s Office said neither challenge is legally sound. But the administration is prepared to fight them by arguing the new Medicaid law would be intertwined with the fiscal 2014 budget, which under the state Constitution cannot be referred to voters. It also argues that a two-thirds vote is not required because the hospital assessment would be imposed by the state’s Medicaid program, not the Legislature.

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