By Sen. Steve Smith
Now that the Arizona Legislature is well underway into the 2017 session, I wanted to give you an update on some of the bills I have authored this year and to give a little insight as to what they are and why I drafted them as several of them have gained significant attention.
Senate Bill (SB) 1209 – This bill will alter the formula on performance pay for teachers as to allow more of what happens in their classroom determine their bonus pay rather than relying more on the results of a single standardized test like how it is now. I have communicated with literally hundreds of teachers in Arizona and this overwhelmingly has been the issue they have asked to fix, to judge them on the entirety of their year teaching not just off the results of the AZMerit test.
SB 1278– This bill would establish a pre-trial intervention program for drug offenders in order to rehabilitate them first instead of sending them to prison. The offender would have the option to take something like Vivitrol (a medication that makes them incapable of feeling the effects of opiates) along with intensive rehabilitation to give them a second chance at life by allowing them to kick their habit and rehab instead of being incarcerated. This would not only rehabilitate the offender to help them be a more productive member of society, but would in turn prevent overcrowding in our prisons which will reduce the cost to the state significantly.
SB1279– This would ensure that illegal aliens who are convicted of a felony serve jail time if their illegal status was a contributing factor to the crime (known as Grant’s Law after 21 year-old Grant Ronnebeck was murdered recently in Mesa by an illegal alien who had previously broken into a women’s home and allegedly held her hostage and sexually assaulted her repeatedly for over a week yet was only given probation and never served a day in jail). Had this law been in effect, many believe Grant and others like him would be alive today.
SB1367– This bill deals with babies that survive an abortion (born alive) that says the Department of Health Services will instruct hospitals and clinics where abortions take place to have proper medical equipment to care for children who are born alive. This is in response to some tragic cases in Arizona recently where babies survived an abortion but no medical attention was given and they died (in one case, the baby laid helpless for an 1 hour and 18 minutes until she died). I have received bi-partisan support on this bill as this discussion is not dealing with pro-life vs. pro-abortion, rather this addresses when the baby is now outside of their mother with clear signs of life (moving, heartbeat, etc.).
In addition to these bills, I authored other legislation that removes current barriers to allow for increased economic development, a bill that would allow farmers and residents in our district to retain their groundwater credits that they may be losing soon, and legislation to reduce regulations in government agencies just to name a few.
I hope this update helps and as always, please contact me directly with any questions, if there is anything I can help with, or if you want to sign up for update emails I send regularly at 602-926-5685 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Smith is the state senator from District 11, which includes Maricopa.