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Education Tax Hike Initiative Bounced from Arizona Ballot

School funding continues to be a hot topic in Arizona.

 

The state’s teachers were hoping that the Arizona residents would vote “yes” on a November initiative to raise taxes in order to provide more money for education. They gathered enough signatures to place this question before voters. However, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that signature gatherers misled the public, yanking the “Invest in Ed” initiative from the ballot.

 

This initiative comes after thousands of teachers spent days protesting at the capitol earlier this year. They staged a walkout in April in an attempt to force legislators and the governor to spend more on education. Unsatisfied with the resulting legislation that provided pay raises for teachers and additional education funding, teaches and activists turned to a ballot initiative to provide dedicated revenue for the state’s schools.

 

The “Invest in Ed” initiative would have increased taxes and used the resulting revenue specifically for education. For Arizonans making more than $250,000, the initiative would have imposed an 8% income tax (up from the current 4.25% tax). For those making $500,000 or more, the initiative would have imposed a 9% income tax rate. In addition, the initiative would have reset tax rates for Arizonans making incomes under $250,000 while also ending the indexing of tax rates for inflation.

 

The summary of the initiative used by signature gathers focused on the increased taxes for higher-income Arizonans while leaving out information about how it would affect other taxpayers. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce sued, contending that leaving this information out of the summary misled those who signed petitions to place the initiative on the ballot.

 

A majority of supreme court justices agreed. They said that this omission could create confusion or unfairness, so these signatures were invalid. The court ordered the initiative removed from the ballot.

 

This ends the possibility of Arizona voters deciding whether or not to raise taxes to fund education spending this year. Backers of this effort vow to keep up the fight to pressure legislators to increase school spending, however.

 

Do you think that taxes should be increased to pay for higher school spending?

 

Should Arizona Expand Education Savings Accounts?

 

Arizona legislators want to expand student access to state-funded savings accounts that could be used to pay for private school tuition. A group called Save our Schools Arizona doesn’t like that idea. In November, the state’s voters will decide the future of education choice in the state.

 

In 2017, Arizona legislators passed a law that Governor Doug Ducey signed that would expand the use of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs). These accounts were first established in 2011 for students with disabilities whose parents opt them out of the public school system. The state Department of Education funds ESAs at 90% of the state’s spending for a student in his or her public school district. The money in an ESA can be used for education expenses such as private school tuition or textbooks. Under the 2017 legislation, any Arizona student would be eligible for an ESA.

 

Save our Schools Arizona collected enough signatures to place this issue on the ballot as a “veto referendum.” This will allow voters to overturn the law if a majority votes “no” in November.

 

The opponents of expanded ESAs contend that this is nothing more than a way to funnel taxpayer money to private schools. They argue that this will drain funding from public schools that do not have enough money. They also say that it will hurt the state’s efforts to improve education, something that will slow job growth.

 

Supporters of allowing more students access to ESAs counter that this is simply giving parents more control over the money being spent to educate their children. They say that parents, not bureaucrats, can better manage the money so that their children receive a better education. They also note that the opposition to expanding ESAs come from people who want to prop up public schools, no necessarily improve education for individual students.

 

Do you think that Arizona should provide resources so that parents have more education choices for children? Or are state-funded education savings accounts a way to undermine Arizona public schools?

 

Arizona Takes Side in Frozen Embryo Debate

 

Who gets the frozen embryos?

 

In divorce cases around the country, judges are facing this question. Arizona legislators recently passed a law that attempts to settle these disputes. That has made some pro-choice activists nervous.

 

An increasing number of Americans are using fertility services to assist them in having children. Many times those services involve fertilized embryos that are subsequently frozen. As this practice becomes more popular, it also means there are legal questions about who takes possession of these embryos in the case of a divorce.

 

These cases often involve a dispute between a husband or a wife who wants custody of the embryos in order to have a child and a spouse who wants the embryos destroyed. In many instances, judges side with the party who wants the embryos destroyed, holding that no one should be forced to be a parent.

 

To deal with these situations, Arizona passed a law that requires judges to award custody to the parent who intends to develop the embryos to birth. This law is the first of its kind in the U.S., and it has prompted concern from abortion rights supporters. These critics say that this law essentially establishes embryos as persons, which could lead to further restrictions on abortion.

 

Supporters of the law say that the two parties who fertilized embryos took proactive steps to create life, so this life should not be destroyed on a whim.

 

Governor Doug Ducey signed this bill into law in April. It is now up to courts to determine how to apply it in future cases involving frozen embryos in Arizona.

 

Do you think that when there is a dispute over frozen embryos, judges should award these embryos to the party who will develop them to life? Or will giving frozen embryos something like personhood lead to more restrictions on abortion?

 

Gov. Ducey Stands Behind Evolution Education in Arizona

 

In light of proposed changes to Arizona’s science curriculum standards, Governor Doug Ducey has come out firmly in favor of teaching evolution in the state’s schools. His stance puts him at odds with Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. She has proposed weakening the state curriculum’s language regarding evolution, and has expressed her personal support for teaching intelligent design.

 

The occasion for this disagreement comes as Arizona is looking to revises its existing high school science standards. As part of that, Superintendent Douglas has proposed changing how these standards refer to evolution. For instance, instead of references to “evolution,” the standards would say, “the theory of evolution.” She would also like to replace the use of “evolution” in some areas of the standards with terms like “biological diversity.”

 

Personally, Superintendent Douglas has also expressed that she thinks that intelligent design should also be taught in public schools. Intelligent design is a theory that an intelligence created and designed the universe, rather than it evolving through natural selection. She points out, however, that this is her own opinion and that none of the state’s science standards refers to or teaches intelligent design.

 

Asked about the controversy, Governor Ducey said that he believes the state should teach evolution as part of its science curriculum. He notes that creation stories can be taught in other areas, such as in literature courses. The governor has no direct say over school curriculum.

 

The state science standards will be set after public comments are taken into account.

 

Do you think that intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution in public schools?

 

Renewable Energy a Hot Topic in Arizona

 

In November, Arizona voters may decide how much of their electricity must come from renewable energy. In anticipation, legislators are already passing bills on this issue. Renewable energy advocates, however, are not happy with what lawmakers are doing.

 

California billionaire Tom Steyer is bankrolling a movement to put a strict renewable energy mandate on the state ballot. This initiative would require that 50% of all electricity in the state must be generated from renewable sources by 2030. Nuclear power could not be counted as “renewable energy.” Current Arizona regulations mandate that 15% of all electricity must be from renewable sources by 2025.

 

Legislators responded by passing legislation specifying that if voters approve the initiative, the maximum fine that utilities would face for violating it would be $5,000. They are also considering placing an alternative measure on the ballot that would also impose a 50% renewable energy mandate, but allow it not to be implemented if it would raise consumers’ electricity rates.

 

Renewable energy advocates say that the legislature is trying to undermine their goal of forcing state utilities to produce cleaner energy. They contend that the legislation capping fines for non-compliant utilities essentially gives these utilities a license to ignore the new mandate, since the cost for violating it would be minimal. They also say that the alternative ballot proposal is a blatant attempt to confuse voters.

 

Those backing these legislative renewable energy measures counter that they are protecting Arizonans from out-of-state interest groups that are looking to confuse voters with an initiative that will impose heavy costs on consumers. Legislators say that they are merely giving Arizonans an alternative choice through another ballot measure. With renewable energy sources less reliable and more expensive than traditional energy sources, they contend, this referendum would give voters who support renewable energy more flexibility.

 

It remains to be seen if either of these measures will be on November’s ballot.

 

Do you think it is a good idea to mandate that 50% of Arizona’s energy must come from renewable energy sources?

 

 

Arizona Key Votes – Education & Kids

 

Check out these key votes made by elected officials in Arizona earlier this year, and go to www.votespotter.com to sign up and see how your elected officials voted on these and other issues that impact your daily life.

 

Senate Bill 1036, Make guidelines for state charter school agency stricter: Passed 30 to 0 in the Senate on February 20 and 35 to 22 in the House on April 17

To add new administrative requirements to the operational guidelines of the State Board for Charter Schools, including new opportunities to challenge rules and regulations and new requirements for responding to rule challenges.

 

House Bill 2388, Modify state college grant program by easing some requirements and tightening others: Passed 46 to 12 in the House on February 21 and 26 to 0 in the Senate on April 19

To extend the life of a government program that gives state taxpayer subsidies to college students, while modifying certain program qualifications including more stringent GPA and graduation time frame requirements, expanding program eligibility to other fields, and other similar changes.

 

Senate Bill 1431, Expand school vouchers: Passed 16 to 13 in the Senate and 31 to 28 in the House on April 6

To expand eligibility for the state's Empowerment Scholarship Account program to every student in Arizona by August 2020. However, while any student could apply, the voucher-like program would still only be able to accommodate about 3 percent of the statewide school population.

 

Senate Bill 1204, Allow public to review high school text books: Passed 21 to 9 in the Senate on February 13

To require school districts to provide an opportunity for public comment for proposed high school textbooks prior to approval.

 

Senate Bill 1080, Ban young drivers using cell phones: Passed 24 to 6 in the Senate on February 13 and 32 to 24 in the House on April 20

To prohibit instructional permit holders from operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless communication device and prohibit provisional licensees under age 18 from using those devices other than for audible navigation.

 

Senate Bill 1377, Allow cannabidoil to treat pediatric epilepsy: Passed 29 to 1 in the Senate

To allow any compound, mixture or preparation that contains cannabidiol to be prescribed in the state if federally approved and legalized by the federal FDA & DEA.

 

Arizona Senate Bill 1186

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Arizona, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 1186, Update Fingerprinting and Background Check Laws for Alarm Installers: Passed 56 to 0 in the state House on April 20, 2017.

 

To modify fingerprinting and background check requirements for application and renewal of state licences for alarm installers eliminate gaps in oversight, and to change the renewal period from 2 years to 3.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Arizona Senate Bill 1186!

 

 

Arizona House Bill 2482

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Arizona, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 2482, Expand Exemption for Mandated Workers Compensation: Passed 29 to 0 in the state Senate on April 24, 2017. 

 

To allow business owners who own at least 25% of a limited liability company to opt out of state mandated workers compensation insurance.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Arizona House Bill 2482! 

 

 

Arizona House Bill 2022

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Arizona, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 2022, Legalize Rat-Shot and Snake-Shot Ammunition: Passed 35 to 25 in the state House on February 1, 2017. 

 

To permit the use of rat-shot or snake-shot ammunition within a municipality by exempting it from laws against discharge of firearms.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Arizona House Bill 2022!

 

 

Arizona House Bill 2388

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Arizona, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 2388, Modify State College Grant Program by Easing Some Requirements and Tightening Others: Passed 26 to 0 in the state Senate on April 19, 2017.

 

To extend the life of a government program that gives state taxpayer subsidies to college students, while modifying certain program qualifications including more stringent GPA and graduation time frame requirements, expanding program eligibility to other fields, and other similar changes.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Arizona House Bill 2388!

 

 

Arizona Senate Bill 1071

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Arizona, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 1071, Create a System of Provisional Licencing for Ex-Offenders: Passed 56 to 0 in the state Senate on April 4, 2017.

 

To allow, with certain structural protections focused on public safety, for provisional or permanent licencing under the various state occupational licencing laws for former non-violent criminal offenders.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Arizona Senate Bill 1071!

 

 

Arizona Senate Bill 1293

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Arizona, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 1293, Remove licensing requirements for small vocational training programs: Passed 29 to 0 in the state Senate on February 20, 2017 and 43 to 12 in the state House on April 20, 2017

 

To exempt private instructional programs that have fewer than 40 in-class or online hours and charge less than $1,000 from state licensing requirements.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Arizona Senate Bill 1293!

 

Arizona House Bill 2366

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Arizona, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 2366, Maintain property tax breaks for farmers: Passed 30 to 0 in the state house on February 22, 2017 and 59 to 0 in the state Senate on April 20, 2017

 

To allow property tax reductions to remain in place on inactive agricultural land if it is inactive because of limits on water allocations.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Arizona House Bill 2366!

 

Arizona House Bill 2166

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Arizona, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 2166, Affirm that retired state employees returning to work must pay into retirement system: Passed 39 to 20 in the state House on February 13, 2017 and 28 to 2 in the state Senate on April 20, 2017

 

To clarify that an employer is required to pay into the Arizona State Retirement System on behalf of a retired member who returns to work in state employment.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Arizona House Bill 2166!

 

Arizona Senate Bill 1080

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Arizona, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 1080, Ban young drivers using cell phones: Passed 24 to 6 in the state Senate on February 13, 2017

 

To prohibit instructional permit holders from operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless communication device and prohibit provisional licensees under age 18 from using those devices other than for audible navigation.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Arizona Senate Bill 1080!

 

Arizona House Bill 2406: Limit county authority to acquire land within a city or town

 

Check out this key bill passed by elected officials in Arizona, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 2406, Limit county authority to acquire land within a city or town: Passed 51 to 7 in the state House on February 16, 2017 and 16 to 14 in the state Senate on May 4, 2017

 

To require that a management agreement agreed to by a city or town be in place before a county is allowed to acquire land in that city or town.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Arizona House Bill 2406!

 

Arizona House Bill 2022: Legalize rat-shot and snake-shot ammunition

 

Check out this key bill passed by elected officials in Arizona, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 2022, Legalize rat-shot and snake-shot ammunition: Passed 35 to 25 in the state House on February 1, 2017

 

To permit the use of rat-shot or snake-shot ammunition within a municipality by exempting it from laws against discharge of firearms.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Arizona House Bill 2022!

 

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