GLENDALE, Ariz (AP) — The Arizona Senate plans to return to the Capitol on Tuesday to deal with measures the House enacted this week. It also will take up 28 House bills that have been awaiting votes since the Legislature halted major work in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Republican Senate President Karen Fann said Friday the 28 bills are non-controversial measures that only need votes. The House took similar steps when it returned this week, passing 32 bills that had already passed the Senate. Most of those measures were non=controversial, although some triggered heated exchanges between Republicans and minority Democrats. The Senate only has to transmit them to the governor.
The House also passed two new measures focused squarely on the epidemic — one that provides businesses sweeping protections from virus-related lawsuits and another that directs how to spend $88 million in emergency federal cash designed to help child care centers return to operation.
The liability protection bill also removes criminal penalties from any emergency declarations Gov. Doug Ducey issues related to the pandemic, and bars the state from suspending or revoking licenses of business that refuse to follow those orders.
The Republican governor has declined to say if he would veto that measure if it reached his desk.
Fann would not say if she planned to put those two new measures up for votes, only saying she would be taking some sort of action.
“We will be addressing it,” she said. “That’s all I ’m saying.”
A list of the 28 House bills she plans to put up for votes is expected to be made public later Friday. But Fann said they should not raise concerns from minority Democrats, including minority leader David Bradley.
“They’re all non-controversial bills, which is what I promised Sen. Bradley,” Fann said.
The Senate and House halted the session on March 23 as the virus began shutting the economy. The Senate returned on May 8, but only to formally end the session.
The House balked, with many Republicans pushing for a full resumption of work on hundreds of bills. Republican Speaker Rusty Bowers then came up with the plan put in place this week - run a series of relatively innocuous Senate bills through the House, pass the two virus bills and adjourn for the year.
The House did just that and adjourned for the year Thursday night. The Senate hopes to do the same at the end of Tuesday's session, Fann said.
Both chambers expect Ducey to call them back for a special session at some point later to deal with fallout from the virus. If the business liability and child care bills fail to pass the Senate Tuesday, that could happen quickly because both are top priorities for the governor.
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