The Arizona legislative session ended late May after the passage of the fiscal year 2020 state budget, but most bills are becoming law this week.
Bills passed this session do not go into effect until August 27, 2019, unless otherwise specified.
Chamber Business News examined several of the key bills passed this session and what they mean for the state.
The Drought Contingency Plan, Senate Joint Resolution 1001
S.J.R. 1001, or more commonly known as the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP), was signed with hours to spare before a federal deadline on January 31, 2019.
The plan was passed through both state houses almost unanimously — before being signed by the governor.
The legislation is Arizona’s part of a pact with six other states, Mexico and the federal government. It details how the states will build up water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead or the storage “tanks” for the Colorado River.
The pact comes at a time where the Colorado River is becoming irretrievably parched under a 19-year-drought and Arizona’s water shortage is more than 50 percent likely to occur next year.
“The Drought Contingency Plan is the most significant water legislation passed in nearly 40 years – and it was done by putting party labels aside and putting Arizona first,” Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said at the bill signing. “But make no mistake, today marks an important step, but not the last step, needed to protect our water supply. As Arizona transitions to a drier future, we must continue to promote a culture of conservation – one that enables the unbeatable quality of life and boundless opportunity we enjoy.”
Results-Based Funding, House Bill 2749
A widely debated topic, Results-Based Funding (RBF) is an incentive for traditional district, magnet and charter schools to grow their impact and serve more students by offering additional per-pupil funding for “A”-rated public schools, with added dollars for those getting results in low-income communities.
The governor proposed putting $98.3 million towards RBF, but ultimately the budget passed with $68.6 million going towards the incentive program.
“Results-Based Funding to low-income schools on the cusp of excellence will be a game-changer for students across Arizona, providing teachers and staff the resources necessary to continue to improve and expand,” A for Arizona Executive Director Emily Anne Gullickson said in May.
The legislation requires each school that receives RBF to provide a report describing how the dollars were allocated to the Arizona Department of Education on or before November 1 of each year.
School Facilities, Senate Bill 1161
According to a report from the Arizona Chamber Foundation and Goldwater Institute, Arizona has more than 1.4 million square feet of vacant or underused school building space, with even more going unreported entirely.
S.B. 1161 establishes guidelines for the sale or lease of vacant or partially used buildings that are suitable for school operations. It also requires the SFB and Arizona Department of Administration to publish an annual list of vacant and partially used buildings that are suitable for school operations and owned by the state or by school districts.
The report cites figures from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which indicates, “if Arizona’s 553 charter schools were to co-locate and/or lease space from districts at the same rate as charters in Georgia, California, or New York, the savings could reach $21 million-$38 million per year.”
The bill also prohibits a school district from restricting charter schools or private schools from negotiating, buying or leasing a property for sale or lease by a school district.
PropTech Sandbox, House Bill 2673
The bill establishes a Property Tech (PropTech) Sandbox, similar to Arizona’s FinTech Sandbox adopted in the previous legislative session.
Through H.B. 2673 the Arizona Commerce Authority Chief Executive Officer can establish a PropTech Sandbox Program that will allow entrepreneurs to obtain limited access to the Arizona market to test innovative products or services in the real estate technology space without other required authorization.
PropTech is a growing industry that refers to real estate businesses that use technology to disrupt and improve the buying, renting, selling, design, construction, and managing of residential and commercial properties.
“PropTech is becoming a big business,” Ducey said. “With the passage of this forward-looking legislation, we are once again sending a message to the nation’s and to the world’s innovators: if you’re looking to lead the world in technology and innovation then Arizona is the place for you.”
Statewide ballot measures, Senate Bill 1451
S.B. 1451 will modify the process for registering as a paid circulator of statewide initiative and referendum petitions by requiring individuals to provide additional information to the Secretary of State.
The information will include: the circulator’s full name, residential address, telephone number and email address; the initiative or referendum petition the circulator will gather signatures for; the address of the committee that the circulator is gathering signatures for; and an affidavit from the registered circulator that is notarized.
It also prohibits certain individuals from circulating petitions, including anyone who has had a civil or criminal penalty imposed for a statutory election or initiative and referendum violation within five years; been convicted of treason or a felony and not had their civil rights restored; or ever been convicted of a criminal offense involving fraud, forgery or identity theft.
The bill also specifies that violations of circulator requirements is a class 1 misdemeanor.
College Credit by Exam, House Bill 2176
The College Credit by Examination Incentive Program within the Arizona Department of Education provides an incentive bonus to teachers, school districts and charter schools for students who pass examinations to receive college credit during high school.
H.B. 2176 adds provisions to the existing program, including one that allows school principals, school district governing boards or charter school governing bodies to identify additional teachers of relevant subjects to receive bonus monies if the teacher instructs a student who passes a qualifying exam.
It also requires the Department of Education to distribute money to schools by March 1 of each year.
Occupational licensing, House Bill 2569
In April, Arizona made national headlines for becoming the first state to pass a bill recognizing out-of-state occupational licensing.
H.B. 2569 will allow anyone with an out-of-state occupational license or certificate in good standing for at least one year to obtain an equivalent license in Arizona without taking an exam.
“With this bill, Arizona’s sending a clear message to people across the country: if you’re moving to Arizona, there’s opportunity waiting for you here,” Ducey said. “It’s [H.B. 2569] an Arizona original and should be a model for other states for how to work together and do the things that matter. My thanks to Representative [Warren] Petersen for sponsoring this important legislation and to the many people who helped make this first-in-the-nation reform possible.”
The bill expands a 2011 law that allowed military spouses to more easily receive an Arizona occupational license or certificate if they demonstrated expertise in that profession in another state.
H.B. 2569 is expected to increase economic opportunity, create jobs and grow Arizona’s economy.
This story was originally published at Chamber Business News.