This Week at the Arizona Legislature
Legislators have already introduced a record-setting 1,744 proposals this session. The House will continue to add to that list until Monday evening, though there are just two more weeks for bills to get through their first committee hearing. More than 1,300 are awaiting at least one committee approval to continue advancing or will be considered “dead.”
Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman, delivered her annual State of Education address before the Senate Education committee earlier this week. You can find the full text of her address here. On Tuesday, February 9 at 2 p.m., Superintendent Hoffman will deliver remarks about the State of Special Education before the House Education Committee. The hearing will be live streamed here. (Select “House Education”)
Opportunities to Take Action
English Language Learning – SCR 1020: This is a mirror bill to HCR 2005, which passed out of the House last week. SCR 1020 asks voters to repeal requirements of Structured English Immersion and allow dual language instruction to serve native and non-native English speakers. Two years ago, an important bill was passed which reduced the “four-hour block” requirement for English language development each school day and instead allows schools and teachers much more flexibility to design programs and services that best meet the needs of individual students. SCR 2005 is the next important step. This policy change can help close the achievement gap for English language learners. This bill will be heard by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, February 9 at 2 p.m. Expect More Arizona SUPPORTS this resolution. Sign in to the Request to Speak system today to weigh in and show you support SCR 1020.
Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) – SB 1452: This bill would significantly expand the number of students who qualify for an ESA, broaden the expenses that can be covered by an ESA, waive the prohibition against using a School Tuition Organization (STO) and ESA in the same year for some students, and shifts existing school funding away from charter schools and school districts to ESAs. (STOs use tax donations and allocate them to K-12 students who need help with tuition in private schools.) This bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee on party lines and will head to Senate Rules next before a final vote on the Senate floor. Expect More Arizona OPPOSES this bill. We need your help to write your Senators TODAY and tell them to vote “NO” on SB 1452.
Updates on Other Bills We’re Watching
Funding for Preschool – HB 2015: Seeks to appropriate general fund dollars to help address the recent loss of $20 million in federal preschool development grant dollars. The proposal would appropriate $7.5 million in FY21, $15 million in FY22, and $22.5 million in FY23. The bill has passed the House Education and Appropriations Committees and is awaiting the Rules Committee before going to the floor for debate. Expect More Arizona SUPPORTS this bill.
Funding for Child Care – SB 1462: The bill appropriates $92 million in federal funds for child care. The bill has passed the Senate and the House and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Expect More Arizona SUPPORTS this bill.
Accountability (A-F Letter Grades) – HB 2402 and SB 1178: As introduced, these identical bills would pause the state’s A-F letter grade accountability system for two years to allow the education community to better understand the data surrounding student achievement during the pandemic, and to allow for a smooth transition to the new statewide assessment to be administered for the first time in Spring 2022. HB 2402 passed out of the House and awaits action in the Senate. SB 1178 was amended to reduce the pause on school letter grade assignments from two years to one year. It awaits a final vote in the Senate. Expect More Arizona SUPPORTS these bills.
Advanced Placement (AP) Exams – SB 1295: The bill would establish the AP Course Access, Participation, and Success Program and appropriate $1.5 million to the Arizona Department of Education for grants to schools to expand access for rigorous coursework and college credit. To qualify for the grant, schools must have less than two AP courses and at least 40 percent of their students must qualify for Free or Reduced-Price Lunch. In addition, the bill provides $1.2 million to waive test fees for low-income students who take examinations that qualify for college credit, such as AP, Cambridge, etc. This latter item is also included in the Governor’s FY22 Proposed Budget. This bill passed the Senate Education Committee earlier this week and awaits Senate Rules next. Expect More Arizona SUPPORTS this bill.
Career and Technical Education – SB 1179: This is a mirror bill to HB 2123, which has already passed out of the House Education Committee. The bill expands Career and Technical Education Districts to allow four years of funding for qualifying students. This bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee and awaits Senate Rules. Expect More Arizona SUPPORTS this bill.
Online Preschool – HB 2703: The bill would create a two-year technology-based school readiness pilot program and dedicated $2 million to contract with a non-profit that provides technology-based school readiness programs. One of the key components to a high-quality preschool experience is the interaction between the teacher, the child and their peers. While we agree it’s important to increase access to preschool across the state, especially in rural and Tribal communities, computer instruction at home is the not the same. This bill was scheduled to be heard by the House Education Committee this week, but was removed from the agenda and is still awaiting a hearing. Expect More Arizona OPPOSES this bill.
Find a complete list of bills we’re watching on our website.