PHOENIX — This year Arizona made significant new investments in education, public safety and health.
In May, the governor signed a budget that funded his plan to provide a 20 percent boost in teacher pay over the next three years — including 10 percent in school year 2018, PLUS an increase in flexible dollars to Arizona schools for support staff, new textbooks, upgraded technology and infrastructure.
The budget also included increased investments to developmental disabilities, skilled nursing facilities, Medicaid, critical access hospitals, the arts, food banks and higher education.
During the 2018 legislative session, important reforms were passed to help protect public safety and improve the quality of life for Arizonans — many of which passed with bipartisan support — and those pieces of legislation take effect today, August 3.
In all, Governor Ducey signed 346 bills and vetoed 23 bills during this legislative session.
Here are some of the highlights:
SB 1390 — Extends Prop 301 for another 20 years, protecting a $667 million a year funding stream to Arizona schools. Prop 301 is a voter-approved initiative passed in 2000 and provides millions of dollars annually in education funding. Originally set to expire in 2021, this legislation extends it to 2041, providing certainty to Arizona schools.
“Nearly 20 years ago, Governor Hull and Arizona voters passed Proposition 301. Today, elected leaders have worked together, in a bipartisan fashion, to keep this funding stream alive for our schools, teachers and students,” said Governor Ducey at the signing of the legislation.
SB 1083 — Requires each school district and charter school to provide at least two "recess" periods during the school day for students in kindergarten through third grade this year, and beginning August 2, 2019, each school district and charter school is required to provide at least two "recess" periods through fifth grade.
The Arizona Republic’s Joanna Allhands proclaimed, “Long story short, that free play time is as critical for kids’ social development as it is their ingenuity.”
HB 2088 — To improve the health and safety of Arizona’s students, this bill requires schools to notify parents if their child is being harassed, threatened or intimidated at school. It also requires schools to notify parents if their child is suspected of sustaining a concussion in a practice session, game or other interscholastic athletic activity.
HB 2651 — This important piece of legislation removes a barrier for victims of sexual assault or rape to access safer living environments by allowing them to break housing leases without having to pay costly fees associated with ending the lease.
HB 2243 — In his state of the state address, the governor made it a priority to crack down on wrong-way driving — which too often is linked to drugs or alcohol.
“Those reckless enough to put lives on the line by driving the wrong-way on our highways, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, should face a felony conviction and prison time. No exceptions.” — Governor Ducey, 2018 State of the State Address
Beginning today, this effort is now the law of the land, and wrong-way drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol will face felony charges.
HB 2522 — Pam’s Law improves public safety by imposing stricter penalties on those who drive with a suspended license and commit traffic violations that result in serious injury or death. This bill seeks to close the loopholes that allowed a driver to walk away with no jail time and only a misdemeanor charge after he ran a red light and took the life of Pamela Hesselbacher and injured both of her children. The driver had a suspended license and failed to maintain high-risk insurance after a conviction for driving under the influence.
HB 2502 — First responders who experience a traumatic event on the job will now be able to access more covered counseling sessions under the Officer Craig Tiger Act.
In 2016, Governor Ducey signed legislation creating the Traumatic Event Counseling Program which provided up to 12 counseling sessions. With the Officer Craig Tiger Act, up to 36 counseling sessions may now be covered if a licensed mental health professional determines further counseling will be beneficial.
“Arizona is grateful to the first responders who put their lives on the line every single day to protect our communities. With these commitments and sacrifices, we want to ensure that those who experience trauma on the job have access to the support they need,” said Governor Ducey.
HB 2371— Thanks to the Food Truck Freedom Bill, food truck operators can now concentrate more on their customers than complying with varying regulations as they travel the state. This bill streamlines the operation of mobile food vendors by creating a statewide licensing framework developed by the Arizona Department of Health Services to establish a cohesive standard for health, safety and operating practices.
“Food truck operators are entrepreneurs who are offering a great product that Arizonans love. Creating a level playing field and a uniform standard for Arizona’s food trucks is a commonsense move. This is a step in the right direction to help the rapidly growing food truck industry in Arizona by eliminating the confusion and barriers caused by varying regulations,” said Governor Ducey.
HB 2434 — Arizona became the first state in the nation to establish a regulatory sandbox allowing startups and entrepreneurs in the fintech sector to test new financial products without incurring regulatory burdens that might otherwise hamper innovation.
“We recognize that FinTech is going to fundamentally transform banking, finance, investing, data analytics, and more – and we’re going to be the first to truly embrace it,” said Governor Ducey.
SB 1517 — Arizona now officially has a state dinosaur: the Sonorasaurus! This year 11-year-old Arizonan Jax Weldon advocated for a state dinosaur to the governor and the state legislature. Impressed by Jax’s passion and initiative, Governor Ducey invited Jax to the Capitol for a meeting to hear more about the dinosaur. Governor Ducey signed the law designating the Sonorasaurus as the official state dinosaur on April 10, 2018.