SB1323, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would make it a felony for any public school employee (but not an employee at an ESA-funded private school) to violate last year’s prohibition on referring students to or using any “sexually explicit” material. This 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, Monday. 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 the state’s obligations to fund public education and other essential services; this is no time to further cut taxes. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. 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. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1700, sponsored by Justine Wadsack (R-17), would double down on last year’s measures to ban many books from schools and institute public review of such books. Any parent would be allowed to ask a school to remove a book, ADE would be required to keep a list of banned books, and public schools would have to make a list of books available to the public for 4 months before giving them to students. The bill takes aim at “gender fluidity” and “gender pronouns,” and would introduce an inaccurate, weaponized definition of “grooming” into statute. Attempts to ban books in schools are on the rise nationwide, with a new focus on local school boards. This horrifying bill not only harms the fight against child sexual abuse, but harms our children’s ability to learn. Many of the books that some see as controversial reflect the realities kids across Arizona are living; choosing to pull reality out of libraries won’t create good citizens. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.