I have had two phone meetings already this morning [March 19, 2020] about the Democratic response to the novel Coronavirus on the state and federal level.
The first call was with House Dems, and we discussed our budget amendments that address the Coronavirus crisis. The second call was with Senator Kirsten Sinema, who outlined what the Congress is doing. She strongly emphasized that we lean on Governor Doug Ducey and Legislative Republicans to take the crisis and the potential loss of life seriously.
Currently, House Republicans plan to push the FY21 budget through with no Coronavirus Crisis Response Plan attached.
I recorded this video just a few minutes ago as I wait to be joined in to the Arizona House Floor debate on the budget.
House Democrats plan to introduce multiple budget amendments to guide spending and help the people of Arizona and to beef up our crisis response. Here is a list of the House Democratic budget amendments. (I was unable to propose any amendments because I was voting remotely. I was involved in crafting these priorities and developing the Coronavirus Crisis Response Plan.)
HB2900 criminal justice; budget reconciliation; 2020-2021.
Engel amendment to prevent price gouging on goods or services necessary for the health, safety and welfare of consumers.
HB2902 K-12 education; budget reconciliation; 2020-2021.
Pawlik amendment gives flexibility to educational entities and to the Department of Education in responding to the Coronavirus.
HB2904 human services; budget reconciliation; 2020-2021.
Epstein amendment #1 permits the Department of Economic Security (DES) to expand eligibility for unemployment and for the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP, food stamps).
Epstein amendment #2 increases the amount of unemployment insurance a person can receive, extends unemployment, and waives job search requirements during the COVID-19 emergency declaration.
Butler amendment prohibits evictions, automobile repossessions, utility disconnects, and property foreclosures during a health crisis state of emergency.
Sierra amendment increases TANF cash assistance from 36% of the 1992 federal poverty level to 40 percent of the 2020 federal poverty level and increases TANF from the current two years to the full five years allowed by the federal government. It also appropriates $13 million from the general fund in FY21 increase TANF payments to the national levels. [This amendment may sound familiar. My two bills would have accomplished this: HB2066 (increase eligibility to five years) and HB2839 (increase the amount).]
AHernandez amendment give flexibility for service delivery alternatives for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities during the COVID-19 emergency.
HB2905 health; budget reconciliation; 2020-20921.
Meza amendment adds to conditions presumed to arise out of employment, any disease, infirmity or impairment of a firefighter’s health that is causes by ovarian or breast cancer and makes other changes related to firefighter health.
HB2907 budget procedures; budget reconcillation; 2020-2021
Chavez amendment establishes a small business assistance fund for businesses with 100 or fewer employees and appropriates $30 million to it. The intent clause says, “The purpose of the fund is to provide working capital to small businesses in Arizona to assist them in remaining financially viable during the COVID-19 state of emergency.” [Why don’t we establish a public bank?!]
DeGrazia amendment allows counties to conduct all mail-in elections for the 2020 primary and general elections if the governor declares a state of emergency.
HB2909 general appropriations act; 2020-2021
Cano amendment appropriated $5 million for hunger prevention services and $5 for food bank storage and distribution costs.
Teller amendment appropriated $40 million to the Department of Housing: $20 million to the Housing Trust Fund, $10 million for rental assistance and mortgage payment assistance, and $10 million for eviction prevention services. [This amendment is similar to two of my bills. My HB2583 increased funding for the Housing Trust Fund, and my Truth in Renting bill HB2886 would strengthen tenant/landlord laws and reduce evictions.]
Andrade amendment appropriated funds to the Department of Veterans’ Services to hire additional benefits counselors.
DHernandez amendment appropriates $10 million for eviction prevention services.
You can watch the live action on Capital TV at azleg.gov.