First Bill Drops As Lawmakers Prepare For 2024 Legislative Session

Daniel Stefanski
5 Min Read

By Daniel Stefanski |

The engines are starting for the 2024 Arizona legislative session.

On Wednesday, the first bill for the upcoming session was filed by Democrat State Senator Priya Sundareshan, who introduced a proposal to “restore the authorization for the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind for 10 years.”

Senator Sundareshan’s introduction came on the first day that 2024 bills could be pre-filed. The lawmaker announced that all of her Senate Democrat colleagues cosponsored the legislation, which is SB 1001.

Both Sundareshan and one of her colleagues, Senator Mitzi Epstein, couldn’t resist taking a political shot across the aisle over the disagreements on the future of this state school. Sundareshan accused Republicans of “cruelly” cutting authorization to four years and “jeopardizing needed services for AZ children.” Epstein charged Republicans with attempting to “end” the ASDB.

During the most-recent legislative session, reauthorization of the ASDB proved to be a political hot topic between Democrats and Republicans. Legislation to continue the state’s authorization of this school, which was introduced by Republican State Representative Beverly Pingerelli, originally set the number of years at eight. Amendments in the Senate changed the yearly continuation figure from eight to two to four. Some Republicans argued that more legislative oversight was necessary for ASDB, supporting their efforts to shorten the length of authorization.

While most Democrat legislators went along with the changes when it came to their votes, their rhetoric told a different story. The Senate Democrats’ “X” account blistered these efforts to reduce the number of years of reauthorization for ASDB, asserting that “Republicans are performing a type of prejudicial bias that we cannot let go unchecked,” and that “discrimination against the disabled should never go unchallenged.” Governor Hobbs, who signed HB 2456 to continue authorization of this school for four years, also joined in with the attacks, stating, “the ASDB community was treated with a lack of respect and was not given equal access to participate in the legislative process.” The Democrat governor called on the Legislature to send her a bill in 2024 that continued ASDB for eight years.

Republicans disagreed with Democrats’ characterization of their attempt to protect taxpayer interests when it came to reauthorizing ASDB. Senator Jake Hoffman, one of the principals in pushing for more oversight and accountability of ASDB, told AZ Free News that his party was “committed to providing the best education possible to every child, including the deaf and blind, and allowing for greater oversight furthers that mission.” Before the bill was signed into law, the Arizona Senate Republican Conference posted, “Senate Republicans are fighting to ensure students and families of the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind receive the best education possible.”

The Second Regular Session of the 56th Arizona State Legislature will commence on January 8, 2024, in what promises to be another unpredictable year in a divided government in the Grand Canyon State.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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2023-11-20 07:18:00 , AZ FREE NEWS
Home Page Top Story,News,arizona legislative session,arizona school for the deaf and blind,asdb,SB1001,Senator Priya Sundareshan

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