Below is a general overview of Arizona’s 55th Legislature and what we can expect in 2020.
Arizona’s bicameral legislature is comprised of 90 legislators, 30 in the Arizona Senate (the upper house) and 60 in the Arizona House of Representatives (the lower house). Each legislator serves a two-year term and may only serve a total of four consecutive terms in each house (i.e., 8 years). After reaching a term limit, a legislator may seek election in the opposite house immediately, or in the same house after a two-year break.
Currently, Arizona has a Republican state government trifecta—meaning that Republicans simultaneously hold the governor’s office and majorities in both legislative houses.
Arizona’s legislators represent 30 distinct legislative districts. Each district elects one senator and two representatives. This combining of upper and lower house districts into a unified constituency is relatively rare and only exists in six other states in the U.S.
Until 1950, the legislature met two times per year in two separate legislative sessions. Currently, the legislature meets only once per year in a single legislative session that—per the Arizona Constitution—starts on the second Monday of January of each year. The governor may also call special sessions of the legislature.
The 2020 legislative session will start on January 13, 2020. In 2019, the Arizona Legislature was in session from January 14, 2019 through May 28, 2019.
Republicans in the Senate will maintain a stronger majority with a 17-13 split, the same division that existed last year. However, there are several noteworthy moderate Republican members in the Senate who have demonstrated a willingness to cross party lines, making a relatively moderate chamber when compared to other sessions in recent history. Democrats have not controlled this chamber since 1992.
Republicans will hold a one-vote majority in the House with a 31-29 split, making it the most closely divided House since 1966. This means that Republicans cannot afford to lose a single vote on partisan legislation, which should naturally lead to more compromise and coalition building.
In the 2018 election, Democrats gained control of three statewide offices. Now held by Democrats are the offices of Superintendent of Public Instruction (a clear referendum from the Red-for-Ed movement in 2018), Secretary of State, and one seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission.
While the Governor’s Office remains in Republican control, Governor Ducey has conveyed clear signals that he understands the need to take a more bipartisan approach in this political climate and has demonstrated his political will to do so. Most noteworthy, he appointed Fred DuVal—former Democratic Gubernatorial nominee—to the Arizona Board of Regents, and appointed the Honorable David Gass, former attorney for the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives—to the Arizona Court of Appeals.
Even though the Governor’s Office and both Legislative chambers remain in Republican control, there are many clear signs of change. The theme of the session has already emerged as one of moderation and compromise. Several members on both sides of the aisle have publicly affirmed their intentions to cross party lines to pass reasonable and important policy for the state.
Indeed, compromise is the key to quality policy making. Working together is the solution to addressing issues that impact working Arizonans like affordable healthcare, a stable public education system, and a strong job-producing economy. Ideally, with more cooperation and civility, partisan politics will take a backseat, paving the way for fresh ideas and meaningful legislation.
Below is some important information to keep in mind as we prepare for Arizona’s 55th Legislature, 1st Regular Session:
Opening Day: Monday, January 13, 2020
House 7-bill Introduction Limit: 5:00 pm on January 16, 2020
Senate Bill Request Deadline: January 21, 2020 (subject to extension by the Speaker of the House per Legislative Council Rule 28)
Senate Bill Intro Set Preparation Deadline: 5:00 pm on January 27, 2020
Senate Bill Introduction Deadline: 5:00 pm on February 3, 2020
House Bill Request Deadline: 5:00 pm on February 7, 2020 (subject to extension by the Speaker of the House per Legislative Council Rule 28)
House Bill Introduction Deadline: 5:00 pm on February 10, 2020
Last Day to Hear Senate Bills in Senate Committees and House Bills in House Committees: February 21, 2020
Last Day to Hear Senate Bills in House Committees and House Bills in Senate Committees: March 27, 2020.
Last Day for Conference Committees (By Senate and House Rule): April 18, 2020.
100th Day of 1st Regular Session: April 21, 2020.
The Arizona Legislative Bill Drafting Manual 2019-2020:
FY 2019 Budget Baseline Book:
FY 2019 Appropriations Report: