Capitol Update

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We hear from legislative leaders about the latest bills and issues from the state capitol.

TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON." I'M TED SIMONS.

TED SIMONS: EACH WEEK WE INVITE STATE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS FOR AN UPDATE ON ISSUES BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE. WE ROTATE BY PARTY, LAST WEEK WE WELCOMED DEMOCRATIC LEADERS. THIS WEEK, IT'S THE REPUBLICAN'S TURN. JOINING US TONIGHT SENATE PRESIDENT STEVE YARBOROUGH AND SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, J.D. MESNARD. THANKS FOR JOINING US. LET'S GET STARTED WITH SOMETHING THAT HASN'T QUITE HAPPENED YET BUT EVERY ONE IS KIND OF KEEPING AN EYE ON IT. THE IDEA OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY NEEDING A WARRANT BEFORE REMOVING A CHILD FROM A TROUBLED HOME. THIS COULD BE PROPOSED WHEN?

STEVE YARBROUGH: WELL, IT'S A POTENTIAL HOUSE BILL.

J.D. MESNARD: THE MAJORITY LEADER IN THE HOUSE, AND THERE HAS BEEN INTEREST WITH THE MAJORITY WHIP AS WELL ARE WORKING THROUGH WHAT THIS WOULD LOOK LIKE. IT'S TRYING TO BE SENSITIVE TO THE FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS IN TERMS OF FOLKS INVADING YOUR HOME AND PRIVACY. BUT ALSO WE HAVE THE DUTY TO PROTECT KIDS IN HARM'S WAY. IT'S GOING TO BE EXPLORED. WE ARE WORKING OUT WHAT IT WILL LOOK LIKE IN ANTICIPATION FOR COMPREHENSIVE LEGISLATION NEXT YEAR. IF WE PUT SOMETHING FORWARD IT WILL BE A STRIKER OR A BRAND NEW NEW BILL.

TED SIMONS: WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY NEEDING A JUDGE'S WARRANT TO REMOVE A CHILD FROM THE HOUSE BUT THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS?

J.D. MESNARD: CORRECT. YOU DON'T WANT TO LEAVE A CHILD IN SERIOUS DANGER WHILE YOU'RE TRYING TO GET THE PAPERWORK. THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS FOR EXTREME SITUATIONS, BUT OTHERWISE, IT WOULD REQUIRE A COURT ORDER TO GO INTO A HOME TO REMOVE A CHILD. THE FLIP SIDE, YOU TAKE THE CHILD AND IT'S POTENTIALLY DAYS AS IT WORKS THROUGH THE PROCESS TO GET THE CHILD HOME. WHEN THE CHILD IS REMOVED, IT'S TRAUMATIC. PEOPLE'S HOMES ARE INVADED, IF YOU WANT TO USE THAT WORD. WE ARE TRYING TO KEEP A BALANCE IN PROTECTING CHILDREN SAFE AND PROTECTING PRIVACY.

TED SIMONS: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THERE?

STEVE YARBROUGH: IT'S A COMPLICATED PROCESS. THERE ARE SOME OTHER STATES THAT HAVE TRIED TO GO THIS. THE CHALLENGE IS TRYING TO GET A SEARCH WARRANT, YOU HAVE TO HAVE A JUDICIAL OFFICER, I WOULD THINK, ON CALL 24/7, A CASEWORKER TO DESCRIBE THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND PERSUADE THE JUDICIAL OFFICER TO DO A WARRANT TO DO THE REMOVAL. THERE ARE GOING TO BE A LOT OF MOVING PARTS TO THE PROCESS. AS THE SPEAKER INDICATES, IT'S AN IMPORTANT DECISION THAT HAS TO BE MADE. WE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE AS MANY APPROPRIATE SAFEGUARDS AS POSSIBLE.

TED SIMONS: THE PENDULUM SWINGS BACK AND FORTH AS FAR AS TAKING CHILDREN FROM HOMES AND LEAVING THEM AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. THERE'S ALWAYS A CONCERN THAT MORE KIDS WILL WIND UP STAYING IN UNSAFE HOMES. HOW DO YOU WORK THE BALANCE?

STEVE YARBROUGH: I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU DO THAT. WE ARE STRIVING TO FIND HOW THE PROCESS SHOULD BEST BE MANAGED. THIS SEEMS TO BE AN OPTION THAT MIGHT BE WISE.

TED SIMONS: WHY A STATE LAW INSTEAD OF DEPARTMENT POLICY?

J.D. MESNARD: THERE IS TALK ABOUT THAT AS WELL. YOU ARE SEEING REACTION FROM THE PUBLIC, EGREGIOUS SITUATIONS WONDERING WHAT SAFEGUARDS ARE IN EFFECT. THIS IS ABOUT REBUILDING THE TRUST WITH THE PUBLIC THAT THE GOVERNMENT ISN'T VIOLATING SOME FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS, PRIVACY RIGHTS, PARENTAL RIGHTS. AS THE PRESIDENT SAID, THIS IS NO EASY TASK. STRIKING THE RIGHT BALANCE IS AN UNENDING ENDEAVOR.

TED SIMONS: SAME QUESTION TO YOU THOUGH. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A LAW AS OPPOSED TO TELLING DCS, HEY KNOCK IT OFF OR GO IN THIS DIRECTION. WHY GO THE STATUTE ROUTE?

STEVE YARBROUGH: I THINK THE REASON WE WOULD CONTEMPLATE GOING THE STATUTE ROUTE IS THAT WE WANT TO DEFINE THIS THE BEST WE CAN. THERE ARE SERIOUS CONCERNS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ISSUE. YOU DON'T WANT TO LEAVE A CHILD IN THE HOME WHERE THERE IS REAL DANGER. AS THE PROCESS MOVES FORWARD, THERE HAS TO BE AN EXIGENT SERVICES PROVISION SO IF YOU CAN'T GET THE WARRANT, YOU CAN MAKE THE DECISION.

TED SIMONS: YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THOSE ARE.

J.D. MESNARD: RIGHT. WHAT WE ENVISION FOR THIS SESSION, IS AT LEAST STARTING TO PUT SOMETHING OUT THERE TO ALLOW THE DEPARTMENT TO EXPLORE WHAT THIS LOOKS LIKE. ALLOWS THE COURTS TO DECIDE WHAT THIS LOOKS LIKE. YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT JUDGES BEING ON HAND 24/7, HOPING NEXT SESSION THERE IS COMPREHENSIVE LEGISLATION.

TED SIMONS: IN GENERAL SEEING A LOT OF SUPPORT FOR THIS?

J.D. MESNARD: I THINK SO. EACH PERSON HAS THEIR TAKE ON WHAT THIS IS SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE. THIS IS A GOOD STEP FORWARD. WE ARE STILL CRAFTING THE DETAILS. THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS, BUT I THINK IT'S A GOOD STEP.

TED SIMONS: SENATE SIDE IN FAVOR OF THIS?

STEVE YARBROUGH: GENERALLY, CONCEPTUALLY, BUT EVERYONE IS LOOKING TO SEE HOW YOU WILL ACCOMPLISH THE OBJECTIVE.

TED SIMONS: THE HOUSE BUDGET PLAN HAS BEEN RELEASED. IT'S DIFFERENT THAN THE GOVERNOR'S PLAN AND IDEA. ODDLY ENOUGH. LET'S TALK IN GENERAL. LET'S START WITH NEW INITIATIVES, GOVERNMENT WANTS $125 MILLION, HOUSE IS LOOKING AT $30 MILLION. WHY THE DISCONNECT?

J.D. MESNARD: TO CLARIFY A COUPLE OF THINGS, THE HOUSE BUDGET THE APPROPRIATION'S COMMITTEE PUT TOGETHER A FRAMEWORK TO PUT SOME PARAMETERS IN AS WE EXPAND THE CONVERSATION TO THE ENTIRE HOUSE CHAMBER. SOME OF THE GOVERNOR'S WISHES OVERLAP WITH THE HOUSE'S, SO IT'S THERE WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK ITSELF. BEYOND THOSE ITEMS, THERE IS 125 MILLION IN ONGOING REQUESTS. THE APPROACH PROCESS PUTTING TOGETHER A $30 MILLION CAPACITY. I'M SURE THE GOVERNOR WILL DISAGREE WITH THAT AND HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE PROPER SIZE OF THE BOX IS. THERE IS A LOT OF OVERLAP BETWEEN THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE. EDUCATION IS AN OVER LAP. WE HAVE TO MAKE THE PIECES FIT TOGETHER.

TED SIMONS: WE HAVE A HOUSE PLAN. WE CAN'T TALK ABOUT THE SENATE PLAN BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T RELEASED THAT. ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE AN OUTLINE?

STEVE YARBROUGH: EVENTUALLY THERE WILL BE COMMUNICATION. WE SPENT FOUR HOURS TODAY IN TWO SMALL GROUPS GOING THROUGH A LINE BY LINE CONVERSATION ABOUT WHAT WE ARE CONTEMPLATING PUTTING FORWARD. WE ARE WORKING ON THAT. ONCE WE FEEL WE HAVE AT LEAST PART WAY TO A CONSENSUS, THEN WE'LL COMMUNICATE THAT.

TED SIMONS: BEFORE THE SHOW I WAS ASKING YOU FOR IDEAS OF WHEN THE LEGISLATURE COULD ADJOURN. IT SOUNDS AS IF YOU THINK THINGS COULD MOVE ALONG SWIMMINGLY. THE HOUSE PLAN FOR UNIVERSITY SPENDING, I'M NOT SEEING ANYTHING CLOSE TO WHAT THE GOVERNOR IS PLANNING ON. THEY SEEM STRONG IN THEIR DETERMINATION TO GET BONDING ABILITY FOR UNIVERSITIES UP AND OPERATIONAL.

J.D. MESNARD: THE GOVERNOR MADE CLEAR THAT'S ONE OF THE TOP PRIORITIES IN HIS BUDGET. THERE ARE MEMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE INTERESTED IN THAT IN SOME VERSION. THERE IS INTEREST. THEN THERE WILL BE OPPOSITION AS WELL TO BONDING AS THERE HAS BEEN IN THE PAST. THAT'S A DELICATE NEGOTIATION BETWEEN THE GOVERNOR AND HOUSE AND SENATE, I SUSPECT. THE SENATE SENTIMENTS ARE SIMILAR. EVERY BUDGET IS A CHALLENGE ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. THERE IS INTEREST IN ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO THE UNIVERSITIES. TO THAT EXTENT, THERE IS OVERLAP IN OUR PRIORITIES.

TED SIMONS: $15 MILLION IN ONE TIME SPENDING WITH THE HOUSE VERSION AS OPPOSED TO THE GOVERNOR, $30 MILLION ONGOING TO HELP WITH A $1 BILLION BONDING CAPACITY. THE BONDING CAPACITY, THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE IS SPEAKING STRONGLY ABOUT THIS.

STEVE YARBROUGH: YES, THE SPEAKER AND I HAVE SAT WITH THE GOVERNOR PERSONALLY. HE'S BEEN FORTHRIGHT AND INDICATED HOW STRONGLY HE FEELS ABOUT THAT ITEM IN THE BUDGET. LAST WEEK WE DID THE SMALL GROUPS AND DEVOTED THE ENTIRE MEETING TO THE ISSUE OF BONDING. THE CHALLENGE, OF COURSE, BECOMES THE FACT THAT THERE ARE MEMBERS WHO THINK IT'S A GREAT IDEA, AND THERE ARE MEMBERS WHO FEEL STRONGLY THAT IT'S NOT A WISE THING TO DO. SO, IT'S THAT CHALLENGE OF HOW DO YOU GET 16 OF THEM TO SUPPORT SOMETHING. THE TPT SET ASIDE REALLY HAS VIRTUALLY NO TRACTION, MAYBE A COUPLE OF MEMBERS IN MY CAUCUS.

TED SIMONS: TPT SET ASIDE IS?

STEVE YARBROUGH: TAKING THE TRANSACTION PRIVILEGE TAX FUNDING GENERATED ON THE UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES AND GIVING IT DIRECTLY TO THE UNIVERSITIES, IN THIS CASE FOR BONDING.

TED SIMONS: YET CITIES AND TOWNS NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS. ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY IS ONE OF THE FEW MAJOR UNIVERSITIES THAT STILL PAYS A TAX. IS THERE WIGGLE ROOM IN THERE?

J.D. MESNARD: IT'S TRUE THEY ARE ONE OF THE FEW. THAT'S BECAUSE WE HAVE A DIFFERENT SYSTEM THAN MANY. OTHER STATES HAVE A SALES TAX. WE REFER TO IT AS A SALES TAX BUT IT'S ACTUALLY QUITE DIFFERENT, IT'S A TRANSACTION PRIVILEGE TAX. THEY DON'T WORK THE SAME BUT BECAUSE WE WORK UNDER A TPT, THAT'S WHY PUBLIC ENTITIES AND OTHER UNIVERSITIES DON'T KEEP THEIR TPT. THERE IS CONCERN THAT ONCE YOU GO DOWN THE ROAD, NOBLE AS THE INTENT MAY BE, OTHERS WILL HAVE NOBLE INTENTS FOR THEIR USE. THIS OPENS A DOOR THAT HASN'T BEEN OPEN BEFORE.

TED SIMONS: AND CITIZENS END UP WITH NOTHING IN THE COFFERS.

J.D. MESNARD: AT LEAST WITH THAT PORTION. $7 MILLION FOR THEM, 30 MILLION FOR THE STATE. WE SHARE WITH THE CITY AND COUNTIES, SO THEY ARE IMPACTED.

TED SIMONS: CAN THIS TAKE LONGER THAN THE PROJECTED END THAT YOU SEE?

J.D. MESNARD: I'M HOPING FOR THE END OF APRIL. I BELIEVE THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE HAS HEARD WHERE THE LEGISLATURE'S AT. WE'VE JUST GOT TO FIND THE COMMON GROUND. THAT'S PART OF THE PROCESS.

TED SIMONS: A LIVE BIRTH BILL WAS SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR, OBVIOUSLY PASSED BY THE LEGISLATURE. ALL AVAILABLE MEANS, DOCTORS, ALL AVAILABLE MEDICAL SKILLS USED TO PROMOTE, PRESERVE AND MAINTAIN THE LIFE OF A FETUS EMBRYO. DOCTORS -- MANY DOCTORS, WERE NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS. IT TAKES AWAY THE OPTION, THEY SAY, OF GRIEVING FAMILY MEMBERS TO DO WHAT THEY THINK IS BEST IN THE FINAL MOMENTS OF A LIFE. WHY DID YOU PASS THIS? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR ARIZONA TO HAVE IN LAW?

STEVE YARBROUGH: WE ARE NO LONGER TALKING ABOUT AN ABORTION. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A LIVE BIRTH OF A BABY ENTITLED TO BE TREATED AS A HUMAN BEING AND HAVE ALL REASONABLE MEANS APPLIED TO TRY TO PRESERVE THE LIFE OF THE BABY. IT'S A RARE OCCURRENCE, BUT WHEN IT DOES OCCUR, IT'S FUNDAMENTALLY OFFENSIVE TO THINK A LIVING BABY WITH THE OPPORTUNITY FOR LIFE IS ALLOWED TO LIE THERE AND PASS AWAY.

TED SIMONS: DOCTORS SAY IT'S OFFENSIVE TO THEM TO SUBJECT A SEVERELY DEFORMED BABY TO EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES THAT WILL NOT SAVE THE LIFE, THE PARENTS MAY BE COMFORTED WITHOUT THIS. DO THEY HAVE A POINT THERE?

STEVE YARBROUGH: I WILL CONCEDE IT'S A POINT, BUT IT'S A POINT OVERCOME BY THE SIGNIFICANCE OF TRYING TO PRESERVE THE LIFE OF THE BABY. THE BILL WAS AMENDED IN THE HOUSE TO ADDRESS THE CONCERNS. WE WENT ALONG WITH THE AMENDMENT.

J.D. MESNARD: THE AMENDMENT WE ADOPTED IN THE HOUSE MAKES IT CLEAR IF THE BABY IS GOING TO DIE AND HAS NO CHANCE TO SURVIVE, IT REMOVES SOME OF THOSE REQUIREMENTS THAT ALL EFFORTS BE GIVEN TO SAVE IT. THE PRESIDENT IS RIGHT, IF AT THE END OF THE DAY, SOMEBODY -- A PERSON, IS DYING, IT'S THE ROLE OF THE STATE TO STEP IN AND DO OUR BEST TO SAVE ITS LIFE.

TED SIMONS: AGAIN, DOCTORS THERE WOULD SEE THE SAME SITUATION AND SAY THREE MONTHS, HARD TO SAY, PRE-DIAGNOSIS, HARD TO SAY. EASY TO SAY THIS IS A SITUATION IN WHICH IT MIGHT BE BETTER TO COMFORT WHAT EXISTS AND COMFORT THE FAMILIES THAT EXIST. THAT'S AN EXTRAORDINARILY DIFFICULT SITUATION. IF THEY WANT THAT, IS IT UP TO THE GOVERNMENT TO SAY THEY CAN'T HAVE THAT.

J.D. MESNARD: WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A PERSON DYING. I DON'T WANT TO SOUND UNSYMPATHETIC. IT'S DIFFICULT A SITUATION AS IT CAN BE, BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, IF THERE IS A CREDIBLE, REASONABLE CHANCE TO SAVE SOMEBODY'S LIFE, WE ARE GOING TO TRY. A LOT OF SITUATIONS, IT CAME ABOUT THAT IF SOMEONE HAS GONE IN TO HAVE AN ABORTION, IT'S HARD FOR SOME OF US TO GRASP COMPASSION IN A SITUATION WHERE THEY HAVE ENDED UP IN THE SITUATION WHERE THE BABY IS GOING TO DIE. I KNOW IT'S A TOUGH SITUATION AND YOU CAN MAKE CASES ON BOTH SIDES. AT THE END OF THE DAY MANY OF MY COLLEAGUES AND I FELT THAT TRYING TO SAVE A LIFE IS THE HIGHER PRIORITY.

TED SIMONS: AND YOU FELT THIS WAS NECESSARY TO BECOME A LAW.

STEVE YARBROUGH: THERE IS EVIDENCE THAT DEMONSTRATED THAT BABIES WHO HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SURVIVE HAD BEEN LEFT THERE TO DIE. LIKE I SAY, MANY OF US FIND THAT OFFENSIVE.

TED SIMONS: WE HAVE TO STOP YOU RIGHT THERE. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE. WE APPRECIATE IT. YOU ARE WATCHING "ARIZONA HORIZON." COMING UP HEAR WHY ONE SOUTH AMERICAN TRIBE IS HEART HEALTHY.

Senate President Steve Yarbrough and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard.
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