Here are a few bills entering the Arizona State House and Senate Committee hearings the week of February 6th, 2023.
SB1243 is a bill designed to repeat the individual Credit for Contributions to Certified School Tuition Organizations (STO) and increases the cap on individual Credit for Contributions to STOs. This rolls the contribution into one category, increasing the maximum contribution amount, reducing oversight of contributions, and increasing profit by removing administration costs. Scheduled for the Senate Finance Committee on Monday, February 6th.
Sponsor: B. Parker
Co-Sponsor: Dunn, Gillette, Harris, Heap, Hendrix, Jones, Marshall, McGarr, J. Parker, Peña, Smith
HB2523 will require students in K-12 public and charter schools to recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the time set aside by the school district or charter school. It does “mandate each student recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the time set aside.” A student can be excluded if they are over the age of 18, or upon a parent’s request. However, this is a direct violation of the First Amendment as the US Supreme Court has ruled that no school or government can compel someone to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Scheduled for the House Education Committee on Tuesday, February 7th.
Co-Sponsor: Livingston, Carroll
HB2538 allows district and charter schools to offer remote instructional courses for 9-12th grade students, providing incentive bonuses for students who pass an eligible live course. It appropriates a blank amount from the state General Fund for these incentives while exempting live courses from the statutory remote instructional time limitations for a school. Scheduled for the House Education Committee on Tuesday, February 7th.
Co-sponsors: Carroll, Farnsworth, Shamp
SB1163 will prevent anyone who contributes to an entity promoting the passage of a school district bond or override from bidding on a contract funded as a result of the bond or override. Scheduled for the Senate Education Committee, Wednesday, February 8th.
SB1026 will prohibit the use of state and federal money passing through the state treasury by any person or entity, including any state-funded institution or facility, for a drag show targeting minors. If convicted, that entity would lose and be prohibited from spending or receiving any state money for three years. Defines drag show targeting minors as a show or performance for entertainment in which a single performer or group of performers who dress in clothing and makeup opposite of the performers’ gender at birth to exaggerate gender signifiers and roles; and engage in singing, dancing, or a monologue or skit to entertain a target audience of persons under 18 years of age. This broad definition could impact school plays such as Shakespeare or the traditional powderpuff football/cheerleader celebrations – situations like this could result in the schools participating being completely defunded for 3-years. Scheduled for the Senate Government Committee, Wednesday, February 8th.
Co-Sponsors: Alston, Burch, Diaz, Epstein, Fernandez, Gabaldôn, Gonzales, Miranda, Terech
SB1231 will repeal the results-based-funding fund and appropriate $68.6 million in the fiscal year 2024 from the state General Fund to the Early Childhood Development and Health Fund (ECDH Fund). It would add Pre-K students to the grade levels for which ADE must distribute Early Literacy Program Fund grants. This removes the use of test scores for results-based funding, which can negatively impact students with lower socioeconomic status. Scheduled for the Senate Education Committee, Wednesday, February 8th.
Co-Sponsor: Bennett, Borrelli, Farnsworth, Hoffman, Kern, Kerr, Petersen, Shamp, Shope, Wadsack
SB1305 prohibits a public school, school district, or state agency involved with students or teachers of PK-12the grades from providing instruction to students or employees that promotes or advocates for specified concepts relating to race and ethnicity. It outlines procedures for complaints, enforcement, and the civil penalty of up to $5,000. This bill is identical to a bill from last year, which did not pass. While it does include public school districts and charter schools, taxpayer-funded ESA private schools are excluded. Within this bill, teachers can be disciplined up to losing their teaching certificate, and districts can face penalties of up to $5,000. While there are provisions to allow for historical movements, the verbiage will likely prevent real discussions about uncomfortable facts throughout history. Scheduled for the Senate Education Committee, Wednesday, February 8th.
Co-Sponsor: Kern, Shamp, Wadsack, Chaplik, J. Parker
SB1323 would classify a violation of the prohibition on a public school referring students to or using any sexually explicit material in any manner as a class 5 felony. There are exceptions for material that possesses serious educational value for minors or serious literacy, artistic, political, or scientific value, so long as there is written parental consent on a per-material basis before referring a student to or using the material. However, this bill will prevent using classic books that provide students with a well-rounded education, as sexually explicit is very broadly defined. Scheduled for the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wednesday, February 8th.
Co-Sponsor: Carroll, Gowan, Hoffman, Rogers, Shope, Wadsack, Smith
SB1331 allows a student’s parent to possess a firearm on school property if the parent possesses a valid concealed weapons permit. It exempts concealed weapons permit holders from “misconduct involving weapons” on school grounds. It also prohibits a governing board from adopting or enforcing a policy or rule that restricts or prohibits a student’s parent with concealed weapons permit from carrying or transporting a firearm on or in the property of the education institution. This directly conflicts with the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, which protects nearly every school as a gun-free zone. Scheduled for Senate Education Committee, Wednesday, February 8th.
SB1564 would require a public school to allow a child with an Empowerment Scholarship Account who attends a private school with fewer than 100 students and lives in the school’s attendance area to try out for interscholastic activities. There is no provision for the cost of participation to be covered by the ESA or private school student, meaning that the public school district will be responsible for covering the non-attendees’ extracurricular costs. Scheduled for the Senate Education Committee, Wednesday, February 8th.
SB1599 would subject a school district that does not correct a violation, within 60 days, of the law that requires teacher salary posting. It would impose a penalty of $5,000 and an additional $5,000 each day the violation continues. This fine is significant compared to the offense and does not apply to taxpayer-funded ESA programs at private schools. Scheduled for the Senate Education Committee, Wednesday, February 8th.
SB1657 would re-establish the requirement for a statewide K-12 exit test through the Arizona Department of Education. ADE would establish a method and standard to determine the minimum performance level on the adopted statewide assessment to qualify for high school graduation. There are no provisions or exceptions for students with special needs or who struggle to pass standardized tests. Scheduled for the Senate Education Committee, Wednesday, February 8th.
Co-Sponsor: McGarr, Wadsack
HB2546 would require the County Superintendent to call an election for any school district that exceeds an average daily membership (ADM) of at least 35,000 students to determine whether the school district should be divided. The election must be called within one year after the end of the fiscal year, with no appropriation to pay for the required election. Scheduled for the House Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee, Wednesday, February 8th.