SB1040, sponsored by John Kavanagh (R-3), would ban trans kids from using the school bathrooms, changing facilities and “sleeping quarters” that align with their gender identities. It would create a situation where trans kids couldn’t use any facilities at all without undue scrutiny of their bodies, calling that a “reasonable accommodation.” Anyone who “encounters” a trans person in a bathroom could file suit against public schools. A federal court found that these policies violate the US Constitution and Title IX, so in addition to being monstrously cruel, this would open Arizona to a host of lawsuits at taxpayer expense. Kavanagh also introduced the bill last year, but it did not receive a hearing. As with other divisive, manufactured culture-war bills, we expect Gov. Hobbs to veto this if it makes it to her desk. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Tuesday. OPPOSE.
SB1138, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would ban banks that do business in Arizona from “discriminating” based on political affiliation or social or environmental values. If the measure passes, most banks would not be able to work with any Arizona counties. Fourteen of Arizona’s 15 county treasurers (10 of whom are Republicans) oppose the bill; as the Coconino County treasurer says, “How are teachers going to get payroll if I don’t have a bank I can work with?” One recent study says such efforts could cost Arizona millions. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Tuesday. OPPOSE.
SB1323, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would put Arizona public school teachers (but not teachers at ESA-funded private schools) behind bars for up to two years if they so much as recommend a book to students that lawmakers consider too “sexually explicit.” This builds on last year’s ban, which has already essentially frozen the teaching of books like “The Color Purple,” “The Canterbury Tales” and “Atlas Shrugged,” preventing Arizona’s students from getting a well-rounded education. State law already makes it a felony to show pornography to children. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Tuesday. OPPOSE.
SB1559, sponsored by Steve Kaiser (R-2), would exempt from state taxes all of the first-year profits for a corporation in its first year of business, half the profits in its second year, and a quarter in its third year. It would also waive all fees. Arizona already gives away far more in tax loopholes and carve-outs than it spends in its state budget every year, while most corporations in Arizona pay only the minimum tax of $50. The bill’s fiscal note observes “a lack of detailed business income data” and estimates the cost at an “understated” $34.3 million in FY2025. State revenues are already forecast to crater over the next two years, impacting obligations to fund public education and other essential services; this is no time to further cut taxes. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Tuesday. OPPOSE.
SB1694, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would ban the state, including public schools, from requiring “diversity, equity, and inclusion programs” for its employees, spending public funds on such programs, or setting policies to influence the composition of its workforce on the basis of race, sex, or color. Any employee required to participate would be authorized to sue. Diversity, equity and inclusion is a philosophy designed to harness the differences, talents and unique qualities of all individuals. Of course, this bill does not impose any requirements on taxpayer-funded private schools receiving ESA vouchers. Paradoxically, the sponsor says his bill is what MLK would have wanted. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Tuesday. OPPOSE.
HB2291, sponsored by David Cook (R-7), is now subject to a striker that would continue the Arizona Schools for the Deaf & Blind (ASDB) for another 5 years. The school, which has educated students with auditory and visual issues since Arizona’s statehood in 1912, would have to close by July 1 if the bill does not pass. The delay on reauthorization, usually a clean and seamless process, has fueled suspicions of a more nefarious agenda. Earlier this session, Justine Wadsack (R-17) attempted to force ASDB to offer services to any child with a disability, forcing numerous staffing and programmatic changes and increasing ASDB’s annual operating costs. The school received a clean audit last year as part of its review; we urge lawmakers to continue ASDB for its full 8-year term so it can continue to help these children with unique needs as Arizona’s Constitution requires. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Tuesday. SUPPORT.