End of session brings bipartisan achievements

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PHOENIX — The Arizona House and Senate adjourned tonight Sine Die, capping off a productive four-month session that had one clear theme – growing opportunity for all Arizonans.

“In January, I stood before the Legislature and called on everyone at the Capitol to rise up and do everything in our power to create boundless opportunity for Arizonans,” said Governor Ducey. “Over the last four months, I am proud to say, we have met that challenge and more.

“Just some of the achievements from this session include: providing funding to eliminate the rape kit backlog and ensure every kit gets tested going forward; establishing a review team to investigate every overdose death in Arizona; expanding programs and resources to give those exiting prison a true second chance; improving the safety and well-being of children in state’s care; and providing a hand up for those most in need. These achievements come on top of the landmark investments we passed for public schools, teachers, and universities that will benefit our state for years to come.

“None of this would be possible without the hard work of those in the Legislature. I thank our legislators, especially Speaker Mesnard, President Yarbrough, and Leaders Hobbs and Rios, for working together to accomplish these priorities and for all the hours and late nights they put into this session. I also thank the staff working around the Capitol for all they do to keep this place running. I look forward to building on these successes and doing even more to grow opportunity in Arizona.”

Highlights from this session that were reflected in Governor Ducey’s State of the State address include:

Providing a Hand-Up To Those In Need

* Passed legislation extending TANF benefits for 12 additional months for those engaged in job search activities and getting their kids to school on a regular basis; expanding SNAP eligibility for former drug offenders; and waiving occupational licensing fees for those living in poverty and looking to climb out. (House Bill 2372)

Providing A Second Chance to Those Exiting Prison

* Provided $1.5 million to establish a post-release fire crew (budget)

* Provided $517,900 for a reentry planner and six substance abuse counselors (budget)

* Provided $2.75 million to expand the Felony Pretrial Intervention Program beyond Maricopa County (Senate Bill 1278)

* Passed legislation removing barriers for former inmates to serve as peer coaches in certain substance abuse treatment and re-entry programs (House Bill 2196)

* Passed legislation empowering licensing boards to issue licenses to otherwise qualified applicants with criminal records (House Bill 2290)

Clearing The Rape Kit Backlog

* Provided $1.2 million to completely eliminate the state’s sexual assault kit backlog (budget)

* Passed legislation to ensure all future rape kits In Arizona are tested (House Bill 2268)

Combating Opioid Addiction

* Provided $220,900 for AHCCCS to combat opioid addiction (budget)

* Established the Drug Overdose Review Team to investigate every overdose death in Arizona and provide policy recommendations to prevent future deaths (House Bill 2493)

Ensuring the Care and Safety of Our Kids

* Provided $1 million to increase funding for kinship caregivers, often known as the “grandma stipend”

* Passed legislation requiring full fingerprint background checks before placing a child under DCS care back into a home (Senate Bill 1109) Passed reforms making it easier to prosecute child trafficking and achieve justice for victims (House Bill 2238)

* Passed “Good Samaritan” legislation providing protections for individuals who break into a car to save an animal or child (House Bill 2494)

* Passed legislation ensuring newborn babies are screened for Severe Combined Immuno Deficiency (SCID) (House Bill 2491)

Investing In Our Schools, Teachers, and Students

* $68 million for a permanent 2% teacher pay raise over two years (budget)

* $27 million in ongoing capital investments for universities that will enable over $1 billion in bonding (budget)

* $37.6 million for results-based funding at public schools, half of which is earmarked for teacher raises (budget)

* $80 million for the construction and maintenance of school facilities (budget)

* $3 million in matching funds for rural school access to internet (budget) connectivity/broadband generating approximately $100 million in total (budget)

* Passed legislation reforming teacher certification and empowering principals (Senate Bill 1042)

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