Bill would make recalls more difficult

The state Senate gave preliminary approval to legislation that could make it a lot harder to oust public officials through recall in the future.

HB 2282 would require both a partisan primary as well as a general election, in place of the system of having all recall candidates run in a single race.

To keep the change constitutional, HB 2282 guarantees the recalled official makes it to the general election, regardless of whether he or she won the party primary.

At that point, the recalled official then would face at least two foes, one from his or her own party and one from the other political party. That raises the possibility that the two challengers split the anti-incumbent vote - and the recalled official is returned to office.

Jobless-benefit borrowing advances

State senators on Tuesday approved borrowing up to $200 million to pay off the money Arizona owes the federal government for paying jobless benefits.

The state provides unemployment insurance through a fund fueled by a tax on employers. But the length and depth of the recession resulted in that fund going broke, forcing Arizona to borrow what, at one point, reached $420 million.

State officials estimate the improving economic situation will have the balance down to about $200 million by September. But if it is not paid off by then, the state faces an interest payment, and the federal government will impose a new surcharge on what employers have to pay in premiums.

HB 2173 has the state borrow the money, with plans to repay it from future employer premiums. The measure needs House approval before going to the governor.

New exceptions added to resign-to-run rule

On a 20-10 vote, the Senate agreed Thursday to broaden the exceptions to the state's resign-to-run law.

The 1980 voter-approved law makes it illegal for any elected official to formally announce a bid for another office with more than a year remaining on his or her term.

But individuals can form exploratory committees, gather petition signatures and even raise money years away from a future race as long as they do not make a formal "announcement."

Even with scrapping the announcement provision, an official who actually filed nominating papers for another office more than a year from the end of a term would lose his or her current office. HB 2157, which already has been approved by the House, now goes to the governor.

Senate votes to ease the firing of teachers

The Senate voted 19-11 Tuesday to make it easier for schools to get rid of teachers who are not performing up to expectations.

HB 2500 permits districts to put not only some new teachers on probation, but also permits a district to give that same status to veteran teachers whose evaluations show they are not properly doing the job.

That would trigger performance improvement plans and regular evaluation.

The measure now goes to the governor.

Capitol Media Services