First day of bill filing brings out early risers with ERA, securities lending and short-term rental measures – Arizona Capitol Times
Victoria Steele entered the Arizona Senate before sunrise Friday, wearing a purple, white and green suffragette belt over her dark pantsuit and holding the most important bill she plans to present next year.
David Farnsworth was seconds away from her, a stack of his own bills in hand. The two state senators – one a liberal feminist from Tucson, the other a self-proclaimed constitutional conservative from Mesa – sat chatting, waiting for the sun to rise and Senate staff to arrive so they could testify the first bills of the legislative session of 2020.
Friday was the first day Arizona lawmakers could introduce bills for the 2020 session, and lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol Mall used the day to lay the groundwork for what will be high fights. level over the next few months: everything from ratification to Federal Equality. Rights Amendment to the regulation of the securities lending industry to restore local control to cities ravaged by the short-term rental market.
Steele woke up at 4 a.m. and walked to Capitol Hill to present this year’s attempt to make history by becoming the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The congressional deadline for approving the amendment, which simply states that equal rights cannot be denied or abridged on the basis of gender, was passed without ratification four decades ago.
But in recent years, feminists have rallied around the amendment, with Nevada and Illinois becoming the 36th and 37th states to ratify it. Supporters expect Virginia, which just elected a Democratic majority in both chambers, to become the 38th state next spring.
Against this backdrop, Steele once again urges Arizona to join the cause. While Arizona will not go down in history as the 38th state to ratify the ERA, Steele said his approval was important both in the event that the ERA encountered legal challenges and to preserve its reputation. Arizona’s history as a leader in women’s equality. The state gave women the right to vote eight years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment, had more female governors than any other state, and has one of the highest proportions of women in the legislature.
“Even if they (Virginia) do it first, we don’t want Arizona to be on the historic shortlist of states that have never ratified,” she said. “We can show the women and girls of Arizona that we care about them.”
Republican Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita, Heather Carter, Kate Brophy McGee and Tyler Pace signed bills to ratify the ERA last year, but supporters will need to convince at least two House Republicans to vote for the resolution and persuade influential committee chairs to give it a hearing.
Farnsworth, meanwhile, has embarked on a brawl between the securities lending industry and its critics with several bills that would add more regulations to the industry. Securities lenders, who offer short-term loans at generally high interest rates with a car as collateral, would be prohibited from making these loans to people who do not actually own their cars.
Two other attempts are worded differently to cap annual interest rates on securities lending at 36%. Both provisions are included in the Arizona Fair Lending Act, a 2020 voting initiative backed by the same advocates who fought to stop payday lending in the state.
A competitive voting initiative backed by the securities lending industry would overturn nearly all laws that limit annual interest rates and prohibit state and local governments from passing new ones. Farnsworth is embarking on this fight with a series of bills aimed at adding more regulations to the securities lending industry.
Another measure Farnsworth tabled this morning would require the Department of Child Safety to provide a monthly report to state officials listing the dates children go missing in state custody, the ages of those children and a description of how they disappeared.
It is the culmination of months of meetings with detractors of the department, who described an epidemic of missing children.
“My top priority is to demand that DCS go into more detail on these reports of missing children,” Farnsworth said.
On the House side, Representatives Isela Blanc, D-Tempe and Aaron Lieberman, D-Paradise Valley, kicked off the opening salute with a bill to repeal a controversial 2016 law that bans municipal governments or county to regulate or ban short-term rental companies like Airbnb.
This law has been touted as something that could facilitate local economic growth, but critics and some city governments say the uncontrolled spread of short-term rentals has driven up housing costs and reduced the amount of long-term rental inventory. on the market.
“A large majority (of rentals) are not a grandmother renting a second bedroom,” Blanc said. “They have been converted to unregulated motels.”
Blanc and Lieberman said they were confident the repeal effort could garner bipartisan support because the bill does not add any additional regulations.
Representative John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, was one of the few lawmakers from either party to oppose the 2016 law. He said he was happy that Blanc and Lieberman took over. a blow to a repeal, but it’s not so optimistic that they convince both the legislature and the governor to essentially concede that three years ago they backed legislation that hurt the state.
“Minds don’t change that quickly,” he says. “People are reluctant to admit their mistakes.”
For Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, the first bill of the year was a replay of the marijuana legislation he tried to push through last year that was killed by Democrats of the Senate. It would allow the Department of Health Services to inspect any nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary during normal business hours, without giving notice of inspection.
Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act, passed by voters in 2010, made the Department of Health Services responsible for managing the program and inspecting dispensaries and their “brew kitchens,” where edibles are produced. based on marijuana. But because of the notice clause, ministry officials were unable to inspect these kitchens.
Any attempt to change an initiative approved by voters takes a three-quarters majority in both legislative chambers and can only be made to promote the intent of the law. Before reintroducing the bill, Borrelli told the Arizona Capitol Times he expected it to pass now that the public knows more about how inspections work.
“Hopefully Democrats now understand what the bill is,” he said. “I guess Senator Borelli was a visionary.
Arren Kimbel-Sannit contributed reporting for this story.