Legislature ends 2019 session




Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

With the protracted budget fight over, the legislature called it quits for the year shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, wrapping up its business after 134 days.

The House of Representatives ended the night after a brief hiccup that saw lawmakers vote down a companion bill to the budget, then move to adjourn sine die rather than take up a motion to reconsider the legislation.

Lawmakers made the rare move of coming in on Memorial Day after reaching a deal to end a contentious fight over a proposal to extend the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse victims to sue their abusers or the organizations that protected him. Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Glendale, who championed the plan, and Sen. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, pledged not to vote for a budget until the legislature approved the proposal.

When lawmakers passed the plan unanimously, it cleared the way for the Senate to pass the $11.8 billion budget, which the House had already done two nights earlier.

The Senate also voted down a plan to provide $2.5 million for a hotline that would refer pregnant women to services that promote childbirth and away from abortion providers. Carter and Sen. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, sealed the proposal’s fate when they joined with the Democrats to vote against House Bill 2759.

In another high-profile move, lawmakers voted to increase their per-diem reimbursement to match federal rates. The rate for state legislators hasn’t changed since 1985.

Lawmakers unanimously approved Senate Bill 1310, which would reduce Arizona’s strict sentencing requirements for people who are convicted primarily of drug charges. Under Arizona’s “truth-in-sentencing” law, people must serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. SB1310 would reduce that to 70 percent.

It appeared that the legislature might take up a proposal to classify vaping products as tobacco, which was the part of a session-long battle between public health advocates and the vaping industry. But the legislature adjourned without taking up the bill.

Jeremy Duda
Associate Editor Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”

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