The Arizona Legislature adjourned its historic session early Friday, after plowing through piles of bills that had stacked up during the stalemate over Medicaid expansion and the budget.
The stalemate ended this week when Gov. Jan Brewer called a special session to get Medicaid and the budget dealt with. Both chambers approved the measures Thursday and concluded the special session, clearing the way for a return to the regular session.
The regular session lasted 151 days, half again as long as legislative leaders' original goal of 100 days. The Medicaid proposal as part of the budget was the biggest barrier to lawmakers completing their work. It was settled in the special session. (Read the Medicaid story here.)
Also in the special session, legislators passed the state budget for 2013-14, a $8.8 billion package that is 3.4 percent higher than the current spending level. (Read the budget story here.)
Chief among the remaining business was Brewer's proposed overhaul of the state sales-tax system. It passed late Thursday, centralizing tax auditing and collections with the state and changing some of the taxation formulas.
Those changes had Arizona's municipalities working against the proposal, holding off passage after raising worries they would lose revenue. Brewer made major compromises, allowing the municipalities to give grudging support.
The simplification of what is called the transaction privilege tax, or TPT, would not affect what consumers pay at store checkouts. Instead it is designed to make it easier for businesses that pay the TPT. The deal leaves in place a tax on new construction that funds many city projects but eliminates it for companies that do home and other repairs.
One other major priority for legislative Republicans, a series of reforms to early voting and elections, had its ups and downs before final passage in the last hours. The measure will trim the state's permanent early voting list and limit who can return mail ballots for voters. Opponents say it will hurt Democratic and Latino voter turnout.
One bill that did not survive the last-day action was proposed expansion of a school voucher program allowing students to use public money for private schools. The bill failed in the Senate 15-14.