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Arizona Senate votes down 4 conservative bills

PHOENIX -- Arizona Senators have voted down four conservative Republican bills targeting employee unions and a set of educational standards known nationally as Common Core.

The failure to pass those bills in the Senate was another sign of a rift between the more conservative wing of the party and moderates. Moderate Republicans last year banded with Democrats and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer to expand a key provision of President Barack Obama's health care expansion.

At the Senate on Monday, legislators voted down Senate Bill 1094, which would have required school districts to get annual authorization from employees to deduct union dues from paychecks. Bill sponsor Sen. Chester Crandell, R-Heber, says the bill just creates a uniform system across all state school districts.

"It becomes a good audit tool for the whole industry," Crandell said.

Opponents say imposing this rule would be costly for school districts. They say the bill would weaken employee unions.

"We are creating a bureaucratic nightmare for school districts. Once again the legislature is stepping over their bounds," Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, said.

Four Republicans voted with Democrats against the bill. The bill failed with a 16-13 vote. Legislators also voted down Senate Bill 1355, which would have required cities and towns to get authorization to deduct union dues from paychecks every two years.

Two anti-Common Core bills were also defeated in the Senate on Monday, following a trend in which Republicans are joining Democrats to keep the educational standards that Arizona adopted in 2010 in place. Five Republicans broke rank with their party on March 5 to defeat Senate Bill 1310, which would have banned Arizona school districts from continuing to adopt Common Core standards. Common Core standards aim to focus learning on comprehension and real life examples and were designed by a national, bipartisan group of governors and education leaders to better prepare students for college and the job market.

Gov. Jan Brewer has supported Common Core and renamed the standards the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards.

The Senate has now failed to pass two other bills that would have allowed school districts to opt out of Common Core and to develop their own set of learning standards.

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