One of the shortest legislative sessions in recent memory produced some good results for the business community. Before discussing some of the specifics, let me remind you of how the chambers around the state work together on state legislative matters.
Our work starts each summer at our chambers’ annual conference where a tentative platform of issues is developed. Chambers then take the platform to their respective boards for approval. Approximately forty chambers in Arizona signed their name to the 2015 Legislative Agenda for Arizona Business. That document was then delivered to each legislator at the beginning of the session.
On a day-to-day basis when the legislature is in session, the large chambers (Arizona, Phoenix and Tucson) have lobbyists who are at the legislature daily and keep us informed of important bills. Each Friday, chambers statewide can join a conference call specifically to talk about bills of interest and what bills are expected to be heard in the coming week.
If we want to add support to a bill being heard in a committee, for example, we can register electronically and be recognized as the bill comes up on the agenda. If the bill is part of the Chamber platform, a Phoenix Chamber lobbyist, for example, can discuss that bill with a legislator, letting that legislator know that the bill is supported by the Phoenix Chamber and 40 other chambers around the state. Now to the results.
All indications are that the business community fared well. Gov. Ducey was a key factor in the results, making difficult decisions that weren’t supported by everyone, but that’s typically what happens when you look at the legislative process. The Governor signed fifteen bills into law that were part of the chambers’ legislative agenda.
The very first bill the Governor signed fell under the “education” section of the chambers’ agenda, requiring students to pass a civics test in order to graduate from high school. The Governor also signed bills dealing with worker’s compensation insurance reform measures and unemployment insurance.
The latter bill now requires DES to notify the claimant’s most recent employer of the claim filing in a reasonable time period. One thing is certain. The bills that the legislature deals with are very complex. Our legislative district has been blessed with strong leadership over the years. Senator Steve Pierce has been a leader in the Senate for many years.
District 1’s two members in the House of Representatives, Karen Fann and Noel Campbell, also served us well. Steve Pierce is term-limited in the Senate and Rep. Fann has already announced her intention to run for the Senate seat. The election will take place in 2016. Thanks to our legislators and Gov. Ducey for a productive legislative session this year.