It’s just the beginning…
After the second week of the legislative session, it’s too early to tell which bills will progress and which will stall. Below are quick summaries of some bills that caught our attention for potentially helping or hurting children and families.
Tomorrow, January 28th at 2pm, the Senate Appropriations Committee will hear SB 1224 – Supplemental Appropriation for Child Safety positions. This legislation, sponsored by Senate President Andy Biggs and others, calls for $5.7 million for the new Child Safety and Family Services Division to hire 192 full-time staff ASAP to manage CPS investigations and cases.
Usually funding bills passed during the session wouldn’t take effect until July 1, but SB 1224 would make this critical funding available as soon as it is signed by the Governor. The bill does not fund other supplemental funding proposed in the Governor’s budget, including funding for family services and children in foster care.
Other bills to watch that have not yet been scheduled for a hearing:
HB 2231 – Children’s Health Insurance Program; Appropriations. (sponsored by Representative Larkin and then-Representative Dalessandro) – On January 31, the temporary KidsCare II health coverage will end. The enrollment freeze on KidsCare continues so KidsCare will phase out completely – making Arizona the only state without a KidsCare program and leaving a gap in children’s health coverage. This bill reinstates funding for KidsCare and opens enrollment.
HB 2399 Prostitution; Children; Trafficking (sponsored by Representative Saldate) – Currently, children who are forced into sex trafficking can be treated as perpetrators instead of victims and can be arrested and prosecuted as prostitutes. This bill says that minor victims shall NOT be criminally charged for prostitution and opens the door to getting help to the young victims.
HCR 2003 Early Childhood Fund; Protective Services (sponsored by Representative Kavanagh) – This bill would ask Arizona voters to require that First Things First spend one quarter of its annual budget on families who are involved in CPS. CAA opposes this bill. State lawmakers must live up to their responsibility for funding and governing CPS. First Things First has been ramping up prevention and family support services and is already part of the solution helping families avoid the type of crises that lead to CPS involvement.
Bills can be introduced in the Senate until February 3rd and in the House until February 10th. Stay tuned as we continue to identify new promising or threatening pieces of legislation. Keep track of the updates by checking on our 2014 Legislature page.