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The Capitol Roundup

The Arc of Arizona’s weekly recap of legislative happenings


January 20, 2017
Making Their Introductions

It’s Inauguration Day, and both Governor Doug Ducey and State Treasurer Jeff DeWit are in DC for the festivities. Another Arizona resident will be staying in the nation’s Capitol beyond this week: Stephanie Grisham, communications director to former Arizona House Speaker David Gowan and former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, was recently named as the White House Deputy Press Secretary for the incoming President.

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The focus on DC did not slow progress at the state Capitol, though. Legislative policy committees enthusiastically began their work on Tuesday, and legislators continued behind the scenes tasks to finalize details on bills still to be introduced. Over 500 bills have been proposed thus far this session – far lower than the average rate of bill introductions in past sessions. The slow pace may not last, though, since legislators still have time to introduce new legislation. 
 
Some proposals have already become hot topics, like texting while driving, school curriculum on ethnic studies, gas taxes, who should serve on the State Board of Education, how much car insurance should be required for Arizona drivers, and whether some functions at the Arizona State Hospital should be privatized.
Focus on those high-profile issues has allowed hundreds of other proposals to be quietly introduced without drawing attention. For example, one bill would establish an alcohol and drug monitoring program in the Attorney General’s office to track individuals with multiple DUI or DWI convictions. Another would require universities and community colleges to provide free tuition to an online education program for qualified residents in rural areas of Arizona, and others would clarify policy for taxing greenhouses and establish a state mineral (hint: it’s not copper!).
 
The pace of legislative action will speed up next week, as more bills are introduced and committee agendas grow longer. Click here for more information on next week’s schedule.
 
Legislators are motivated by deadlines that govern the time allotted for each step of the legislative process:
 
  • January 30:  Last day for Senate bill introductions
  • February 10:  Last Day for House bill introductions
  • February 17:  Last day for consideration of bills in the first legislative chamber
  • March 24:  Last day for consideration of bills in the second legislative chamber
  • April 14:  Last day for conference committees
  • April 18:  100th day of session
  • April 22:  Statutory last day of session (may be extended by legislative leaders)
 
Priority Legislation
  • HB 2207 (appropriation; nonmedical services; aging)
The bill would give funds to DES for the home and community-based services from area agencies on aging. (The bill does not yet include an amount of money.) It has not been heard in the Health or Appropriations Committees.
  • HB 2208 (inhalers; administration; schools; authorized entities)
The bill would give schools more authority to use inhalers when needed for their students. It has not been assigned to committee.
  • HB 2209 (family caregiver income tax credit)
The bill would create a new tax credit to provide up to $1,000 in credit for individuals who care for a family member, if that individual earns less than $75,000 a year. It has not been heard in the House Ways and Means Committee.
  • HB 2310 (appropriations; ALTCS; elderly; physical disabilities)
The bill would give funds to ALTCS to increase payment to providers for services to the elderly and  persons with disabilities. It has not been heard in the House Health and Appropriations Committees.
  • HCR 2013 (convention; balanced federal budget)
The referral would ask Arizona voters to petition for a Congressional convention to pass a balanced federal budget amendment. It has not been heard in the House Federalism, Property Rights and Public Policy Committee.
  • SB 1030 (AHCCCS; covered services; occupational therapy)
The bill would expand AHCCCS coverage to include occupational therapy. It passed the House Health Committee 6-1, but has not been heard in the House Appropriations Committee.
  • SB 1031 (dangerous; incompetent defendants; study committee)
The bill would create a Study Committee on Incompetent, Nonrestorable and Dangerous Defendants to evaluate short-and long-term treatment and supervision. The committee would include a person with expertise in developmental disabilities. It has not been heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • SB 1037 (special education; audit; cost study)
The bill would require the Arizona Auditor General to audit special education programs in Arizona. It has not been heard in the Senate Education and Appropriation Committees.
  • SB 1102 (appropriations; DES; developmental disabilities)
The bill gives money for ALTCS to increase reimbursement rates for services through the Division of Developmental Disabilities. (The bill does not yet include an amount of money.) It has not been heard in the Senate Appropriations and Health & Human Services Committees.
  • SB 1103 (appropriation; nonmedical services; aging)
The bill would give funds to DES for the home and community-based services from area agencies on aging. (The bill does not yet include an amount of money.) It has not been heard in the Senate Appropriations and Health & Human Services Committees.
  • SB 1104 (appropriations; ALTCS; elderly; physical disabilities)
The bill would give funds to ALTCS to increase payment to providers for services to the elderly and  persons with disabilities. It has not been heard in the Senate Appropriations and Health & Human Services Committees.

 
Budget Update
 
The week began with a focus on the state budget, as staff from the legislature and Governor Ducey’s office presented information on the budget options before them. Revenue forecasts, which often set the tone for debate on budget priorities, are approximately $37 million apart on their forecasts – a fact that makes the Governor’s office optimistic about what is a relatively small difference in predictions. Legislative staff and some Senate leaders, however, point to differences in predictions for growth in state-funded health care programs, as well, and are concerned the Governor’s rosier estimates may not properly prepare for large potential impacts like the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
 
While budget analysts focus on revenues, many legislators and advocacy groups are debating the priorities of the Governor’s spending proposals. Several top areas of disagreement between legislators and the Governor emerged this week, including a proposed sweep of highway infrastructure funds that local governments believe will negatively impact transportation across the state. A proposed raise for teachers is also generating early debate: the Superintendent of Public Instruction said more money is needed for teacher salaries, and leaders of Joint Technical Education Districts (JTED) expressed concern that the K-12 focus did not include support for their programs. The Governor’s office says those views do not consider the other education priorities in his budget, or the funding that flowed to schools from the approval of Proposition 123 last year. 
 
Early reactions to the budget will now merge into more in-depth analysis of the options and revenues. Appropriations committees in the House and Senate are scheduled to begin briefings on budget proposals and needs of major state agencies. As the negotiations on a budget continue, both the Governor and members of the legislature have said they are eager to participate in the ongoing discussion.
 
 
House Committee Repeals Fingerprint Mandate for State Assistance
 
A House committee unanimously approved the repeal of Arizona’s fingerprint mandate for SNAP and TANF benefits this week. Arguing that the mandate “just costs the state money unnecessarily,” the bill’s sponsor, Representative John Allen (R-Scottsdale), said the program does not significantly enhance fraud prevention efforts since other safeguards already exist.
 
HB 2091 is supported by a wide range of advocates for low-income individuals, food banks, and public health; Morpho Trak, a global fingerprinting and security company, was the only registered opposition.
 
The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.



House Policy Stalls Health Care Workforce Data Committee
 
A policy against the formation of new study committees prevented a bill on healthcare workforce data from advancing this week. Representative Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek) introduced HB 2135 to create a legislative panel tasked with evaluating how to best collect and use health care professional workforce data. But the bill was not heard in committee after House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) expressed opposition to all new study committees. Since legislators can host additional study and meet with experts without legislation, Mesnard said he believes formal committees are rarely needed. He agreed to consider requests from any legislator who believes a study committee is truly required.
 
 
Special Education Teacher Loan Program Funding Moves Forward
 
The Senate Committee on Education advanced new resources for special education teacher loan forgiveness programs this week, unanimously approving $600,000 in funding for the Mathematics, Science, and Special Education Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. The Program, which was established in 2007, grants up to $7,000 per year for up to three years; recipients agree to teach one of these subject areas for the number of years they receive loan forgiveness funding, plus one year, in an area of the state with teacher shortages.
 
SB 1034 extends the life of the Program, which would expire in July if the legislature does not act to extend it, and appropriates the funding. A companion bill, SB 1040, would expand access of the program to include any teachers willing to serve in rural, low-income, or tribal lands in Arizona. 
 
“It’s a wonderful program,” stated Senator Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake). She sponsored both bills, and believes her legislation will expand the impact and success of loan forgiveness in high-need areas.

Recent Federal Events

House Approves Bill to Advance Repeal of Health Care Law

On January 13, the House passed the fiscal year 2017 budget resolution, by a vote of 227 to 198, that was passed by the Senate the day before. The budget resolution begins the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and may result in other harmful provisions for people with disabilities. The measure provides "reconciliation instructions" to four authorizing committees so that ACA repeal legislation can move through a fast-track process and can advance with only a simple majority in the Senate instead of the usual 60 votes required to avoid a filibuster:
Each of these committees is charged with developing legislation to achieve at least $1 billion in deficit reduction over 10 years and submitting it to their respective budget committees by January 27, 2017. These instructions are intended to produce repeal of parts of the ACA that impact mandatory spending or revenue such as the individual mandate to have health insurance, federal subsidies to purchase health insurance, funding for Medicaid expansion, and various taxes that help fund the ACA. However, since the instructions are broad, the resulting legislation could include other provisions that could be threat to Medicaid or other federal.

The Arc strongly opposes repeal of the ACA and structural changes or cuts in funding to Medicaid. See our action alert and our Lifeline campaign.

 
Supreme Court Hears IDEA Case

On January 11, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of a Colorado student with autism, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. Endrew's parents withdrew their son (known as Drew) from public school and enrolled him in a private school after his individualized education program (IEP) proposed goals for fifth grade that closely resembled goals for earlier years. This case addressed the following question: what level of educational benefit must school districts confer on children with disabilities to provide them with the free appropriate public education guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act? The Arc joined other disability advocates in filing an amicus brief in November that argues that Congress's move to standards based education, combined with the specific language of the amendments to the IDEA, make the Tenth Circuit's merely-more-than-de-minimis standard untenable. The brief argued that these amendments make clear that a school district's educational interventions must provide a child with a disability an equal opportunity to meet the standards the district applies to all children and that any deviation from that universal standard must be tied to the unique needs of the child. For more information about the oral argument, see the argument analysis from SCOTUSblog. A decision is expected this summer.

 
HUD Releases Final Rule on Children's Lead Levels in Blood

On January 16, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a new rule to ensure a quicker response when young children living in federally owned or assisted housing experience elevated levels of lead in their blood. The rule lowers the Department's threshold of lead considered safe in a child's blood to match the more protective guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 20 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (µg/dL) to 5. It also establishes more comprehensive testing and evaluation procedures for the housing where such children reside. Childhood lead poisoning has long been documented as causing reduced intelligence, low attention span, and reading and learning disabilities, in additional to behavioral challenges. Read HUD's new rule here.


U.S Department of Education Releases ESSA Guidance

On January 10, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education released a series of resources to support States in their transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The guidance documents are intended to provide additional clarity on the role of States, districts, and schools under the ESSA to ensure that all students receive a high-quality education and that they graduate from high school prepared for success in college and careers.
  • The Consolidated State Plan guidance is intended to help States plan to meet requirements regarding improved student academic achievement and increased quality of instruction.
  • The State and Local Report Cards guidance is intended to help implement requirements regarding increasing transparency and informing students, parents, and educators on the success of students and schools.
  • The High School Graduation Rate guidance is intended to help calculate a four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, disaggregated by subgroups (including students with disabilities).
 
Access Board Issues Final Rule on Accessible Medical Diagnostic Equipment

On January 9, the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) issued a final rule on Standards for Accessible Medical Diagnostic Equipment (MDE). The accessibility standards provide minimum technical criteria for MDE, including but not limited to, examination tables, examination chairs, weight scales, and mammography equipment. The MDE Standards do not impose any mandatory requirements on health care providers or medical device manufacturers. However, other agencies may issue regulations or adopt policies that require health care providers to acquire accessible MDE that complies with these Standards.


Access Board Issues Final Rule on Information and Communication Technology

The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board or Board) released a final rule on January 9 that updates accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) in the federal sector covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The rule also refreshes guidelines for telecommunications equipment subject to Section 255 of the Communications Act. The rule was developed in response to market trends and innovations in technology. The updated requirements specify the technologies covered and provide requirements for hardware, software, and support documentation and services. Access is addressed for all types of disabilities, including those pertaining to vision, hearing, color perception, speech, cognition, manual dexterity, and reach. The rule restructures provisions so that they are categorized by functionality instead of by product type due to the increasingly multi-functional capabilities of ICT products. The rule will take effect in one year. The Board will conduct a webinar on the rule on February 2.


The Arc Seeking Caregivers for FINDS Survey

With the new year comes a new Family and Individual Needs for Disability Supports (FINDS) Survey. We need your input! The Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota, in collaboration with The Arc, is seeking caregivers to share their perceptions on a range of life-span issues impacting individuals with I/DD. We are inviting people aged 18 years or older who provide frequent primary support to a person with I/DD to participate. Take the survey here.




Prepared by:
Peters, Cannata & Moody, PLC
www.pcmlawaz.com

and

The Arc of the United States

www.thearc.org


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