Despite the fact that the Senate Appropriations committee approved Democratic legislation to help with Arizona’s housing and diabetes crises, the Arizona Senate’s Democratic Caucus offered a pejorative nickname for the Senate Appropriations Committee, calling it a “garbage can.”
The caucus’ discontent may concern the fact that the committee schedule included bills that were rewritten to include language from other bills killed previously in the House. This included HB2637, prohibiting financial institutions from discriminating against others based on their “social credit score” — it took on the language of HB2656, a controversial bill killed on the House floor by Democrats with the help of two Republicans.
Insults aside, the committee passed several bills from Democrats on that day unanimously. These included HB2528, appropriating $100 million from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) to the Housing Trust Fund (HTF); and HB2083, requiring the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) to cover costs of up to 10 annual program hours of diabetes self-management training (DSMT) services.
The caucus then referred followers to the committee agenda for that day: 39 bills, and another two that were struck from the agenda.
Noteworthy bills included HB2633, requiring hospitals to develop visitation policies for daily, in-person visitation; HB2637, prohibiting banks from discriminating against individuals based on their political affiliation or “social credit scores” including their environmental, social, governance, or similar values-based or impact criteria; HCR2001, altering the state constitution to prohibit compelled or solicited beliefs constituting critical race theory (CRT) tenets from K-12 and collegiate institutions; HB2493, establishing a $12 million election integrity fund; HB2278, eliminating Algebra II as a required course for high school graduation and instead requiring an alternative course such as personal finance, computer science, statistics, or business math; and HCR2027, asking voters to approve the difference of $1 million plus death benefits to the surviving spouse or defendant of a first responder killed in the line of duty.
A contentious bill to enshrine a critical race theory (CRT) ban in the state constitution, HCR2001, passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. No committee Democrats spoke up during their vote, save for one who repeated the same claims made by her party: that CRT tenets were not only supportive of historical fact but critical to K-12 education.
State Senator Raquel Terán (D-Phoenix) said that CRT properly informed children of both the good and the bad of American history. Terán shared that she taught her kindergartener son about the “ugly truths” of this nation’s racial relations with Latinos as a supplement to what he’d learned in school during Black History Month.
“Every child deserves an accurate and honest and quality education no matter the color of their skin or where they call their home,” said Terán.
State Senator Vince Leach (R-Tucson) cited an AZ Free News report of how over 200 Arizona teachers pledged to teach CRT regardless of what the law or school board determined.
“To some degree, I commend them because they signed up and said the truth. Anyone in this room that thinks K-12 education is gaining kids would be mistaken. We’ve lost 40,000 kids [from public schools] through COVID. And they’re not coming back. There’s a reason they’re not coming back. Parents are pulling their kids left and right. Just check your emails, or if you don’t get those emails, talk to me,” said Leach. “And yes, there are spots in our history that are blemished. Some would even go so far, and maybe I would be included, that they are rotten [spots]. And as we see them we take care of them. Granted, not soon enough, but we are a deliberative country set up by our founders and we don’t do things quickly. That annoys people on both sides.”
Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy Matt Beienburg cited studies that teacher candidates have been screened on their beliefs of CRT tenets as part of their qualifications to teach.
After the vote, State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) dispelled a rumor that the resolution would ban educators from teaching specific parts of hard, “ugly history.” She bemoaned that her Democratic colleagues were accusing Republicans of thwarting efforts to teach history.
“What it does say is that you can’t teach that one race or ethnic group is inherently, morally, or intellectually superior to another race. Cause that’s racism,” said Townsend. “If you could sum this up, it says that you can’t teach racism. You can’t be racist in the way you teach. It doesn’t say that you cannot teach history. Every year it seems like now we’re going through this, where we’re being accused of trying to stop kids from learning our history. That is not the case. We are saying that you cannot guilt a kid because of the color of their skin. You cannot say one race is better than the other. I’m growing weary of it, and I would like some honesty in our discussions, especially from what we’ve heard today. It’s pretty shameful, and if that’s what we’re doing is saying that this bill is about denying history, then I think we need to look at the language of the bill.”