Legislative briefs for March 18 - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Legislative briefs for March 18

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Posted: Thursday, March 18, 2010 6:22 pm | Updated: 3:41 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Third grade

Children could not go on to fourth grade unless they prove they can read at third-grade level under the terms of legislation given preliminary House approval on Thursday.

HB2732 contains exceptions including for students with disabilities and those classified as "English language learners." Any child with a reading deficiency who has been previously retained twice also is excepted.

The legislation also requires the state Board of Education to develop intervention and remedial strategies and sets up a task force to study the experience of teaching and promotion tests in other states. A final roll-call vote will send the measure to the Senate.

Land swaps

Without debate, the Senate gave preliminary approval Thursday to two measures designed to help preserve military bases.

Current constitutional restrictions place limits on the sale or exchange of state land. SCR1047 would allow trust lands - those lands given to Arizona by the federal government when it became a state - to be exchanged for other property without putting it up for auction.

The idea would be to have the state-acquired land around military bases off limits to development and to keep encroachment from interfering with each facility's mission. A companion measure, SB1410, sets up the procedures.

A final Senate vote would send the measure to the House. But the ultimate decision will be up to voters, who would have to approve the required constitutional amendment.

Elections

On a voice vote, the Senate agreed Thursday to ask voters to kill the system of public financing for elections.

A 1998 voter-approved measure sets up a system that allows candidates for statewide and legislative office to get public dollars if they don't take cash from elsewhere. SCR1043 technically would not repeal the law. But it would put in place a constitutional ban on the use of public dollars for elections, effectively putting the system out of business.

The measure would go to the House after a final roll-call vote.

Judicial appointments

The Senate voted Thursday to attempt to repeal the current system of choosing judges for the state's appellate-level courts and in the two largest counties.

Under that system, screening panels review applicants and make recommendations to the governor, with at least three names on each list, no more than two of whom can be from the same political party. The governor must choose from that list.

SCR1002 would permit the governor to name whoever she or he wants to the Arizona Supreme Court, state Court of Appeals and the superior courts in Pima and Maricopa counties. But the picks, unlike now, would be subject to Senate confirmation.

Pending final Senate approval and a House vote, the measure would require voter ratification because it would amend the state Constitution.

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