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Session has Ended…More Work to be Done

az capitol building 203In the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, the Arizona Legislature adjourned its regular session. Most of CAA’s work this session has been centered on improving and properly funding efforts to protect children from abuse and neglect and to keep families strong. A few bills that impact children and families, however, were passed in the last days of the session; here’s the legislative update:

HB 2526 Consumer Lender Loans – HB 2526 raises the amount that can be loaned at the high 36% annual interest rate and doubles the origination fees that can be charged. After this bill passed the legislature, Children’s Action Alliance urged Governor Brewer to veto it but she gave it her approval on April 17th.

SB 1386 Supplemental Appropriation; External CPS Review – This bill provides $250,000 for the AZ Department of Administration to hire an independent consultant to review CPS. SB 1386 unanimously passed the House and Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

HB 2508 Insurance Navigator Regulations – HB 2508 requires Navigators and Certified Application Counselors to apply for a license though the AZ Department of Insurance (DOI) starting October 1, 2014. The DOI would facilitate background checks and fingerprinting for new health insurance assistors. Navigators and CACs who have already passed a background check before October 1st would not be required to undergo another check. The Governor signed the bill on April 22nd.

HB 2454 Human Trafficking; Prostitution – HB 2454 makes many changes to state law seeking to protect human sex trafficking victims. It increases criminal penalties for “johns” and “pimps” with a focus on children who are 15, 16 or 17 years of age. Sex trafficking victims (even children) are not immune from criminal prosecution, but it is an affirmative defense to prosecution if the acts of prostitution are a direct result of being a victim of sex trafficking. The Governor signed the bill on April 22nd.

Governor Brewer is expected to call a Special Session in May or June to address the set-up and budget of the new state Department of Child Safety and Family Services. There will be opportunities for you to be a strong voice for kids during that brief but important session.

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