The Capitol Roundup

The Arc of Arizona's weekly recap of State & Federal legislative happenings

February 10, 2017

Wish Lists
At the Statehouse...

​This was the last week for members of the Arizona House of Representatives to introduce new legislation, and they introduced more than 100 bills in a last-minute rush to pursue their priorities for the year. More than 1,100 bills have been introduced since the beginning of the year, but it appears that approximately 60% of the proposed bills are unlikely to advance this year.
Both the House and Senate spent long hours debating and advancing proposals that are moving through the legislative process, including proposals to eliminate funding for desegregation programs in schools and gradually expand Empowerment Scholarship Account public funds to all students who want to attend a private school. Universities also would see significant changes under a House proposal to move oversight authority from the Arizona Board of Regents to new oversight boards for each university.
Numerous health policy changes moved forward this week as committees approved proposals to expand the testing and charges for newborn health screenings and allow children to use FDA-approved sunscreen at school and summer camps. A bill to increase transparency in operations and disciplinary actions of state health regulatory boards was approved, as was a proposal that would require the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) to establish an internal clinical oversight review committee to evaluate data and performance metrics for AHCCCS initiatives.​


House committees also approved an extension of benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, a controversial set of four bills that would alter the process of voter initiatives in Arizona, and a proposal that would ask voters to increase the state gas tax
Next week marks a significant turning point in the legislative session: February 17 is the last date for House and Senate committees to consider legislation introduced by one of their members. After that, the Senate will consider House bills and the House will consider bills already approved by the Senate. Expect the legislature to spend very long days in committee hearings as a result.
Budget Update
House and Senate Appropriations Committees focused on education funding priorities this week, as they heard from university presidents and the Arizona Department of Education. House budget subcommittees studied the funding levels of smaller state agencies, including tourism and financial oversight entities.
Behind the scenes, the House and Senate may not be on the same track as they prepare for budget negotiations. Senate President Steve Yarbrough (R-Chandler) told The Arizona Capitol Times this week that he is concerned the House process of building a budget from the “bottom up” with legislator input rather than beginning negotiations from the Governor’s budget proposal will slow their completion of a budget proposal. The House budget committee chairman claims they could be ready to release a budget proposal by March, however, and House members of both political parties say they appreciate the chance to better understand what is going into a proposal.
While quiet analysis of budget priorities and support continues behind the scenes, budget committees will continue their hearings. Next week, their focus turns to the Department of Child Safety and the Department of Economic Security. House subcommittees will consider smaller state agency budgets like the Department of Veterans’ Services.
Priority Legislation
  • 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 passed the House Committee on Ways & Means 7-2.
  • 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.
  • HB 2372 (public benefits; fee waivers; requirements),
The bill would extend TANF benefits from 12 to 24 months under specified circumstances, and would establish a variety of new reporting and fraud prevention measures. It passed the House Committee on Health 9-0 last week, and this week the House Committee on Appropriations approved the bill 13-0.
  • HB2504 (public accommodation; disability; discrimination; sanctions)
The bill would authorize a court to impose a sanction on a plaintiff if an action or series of actions are brought for the primary purpose of getting payment from the defendant due to the costs of defending the action in court. It is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety February 15.
  • 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 passed the House 33-25.
  • SB 1030 (AHCCCS; covered services; occupational therapy)
The bill would expand AHCCCS coverage to include occupational therapy. It passed the Senate 26-3.
  • 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 passed the Senate 30-0 last week and awaits a hearing in the House.
  • SB 1037 (special education; audit; cost study)
The bill would require the Arizona Auditor General to audit special education programs in Arizona. It was held in the Senate Committee on Education this week, and is not scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
  • 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 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.
  • SB 1198 (public accommodation; services; civil actions)
The bill would require a delay and specified notification before a lawsuit for ADA noncompliance. It has not been heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • SB 1317 (schools; specially designed instruction)
The bill would expand specially designed instruction to include instruction from a person certified by the Board of Education and determined to be an appropriate provider for the student’s needs. It passed the Senate Committee on Rules this week.

Alternative Offered on Issue of ADA Noncompliance

Seeking to present a mutually acceptable alternative to SB 1198 -- a measure that appears likely to cause great friction between the disability community and business operators -- Rep. Maria Syms this week introduced HB2504. Syms' bill provides for the sanctioning and fining of attorneys who file ADA- or AZDA-related lawsuits against operators of public accommodations on the pretext of forcing them to come into compliance with the law, when in fact it is little more than an attempt to extract hefty payments in order to avoid litigation.

The House bill has broad support from the state's disability and advocacy organizations. Unlike the Senate bill, HB2504 does not mandate a waiting, or "cure", period to allow a business to comply before a complaint may be filed. While disavowing the predatory practices of attorneys using the ADA to enrich themselves, disability advocates argue that nearly 27 years since passage of the ADA, most businesses have no excuse for not being in compliance already -- and that no other group is forced to wait an additional period of months before being allowed to exercise their legal rights.

House Committee Approves Family Caregiver Income Tax Credit
Families who serve as caregivers to a loved one would qualify for an income tax credit in Arizona under a proposal approved by the House Committee on Ways & Means this week. HB 2209, which would give a credit of 50% of qualifying expenses up to $1,000 for individuals making $75,000 or less per year, received bipartisan support from the committee. AARP, which supports the legislation, said there is a growing population of Arizonans responsible for elderly adults and other family members who require costly live-in care. “Budgets are tight,” acknowledged one supporter, “but family caregivers are truly the unsung heroes. I think this will be a great move for our state.”
The bill drew some opposition from committee members who opposed the use of resources for what they viewed to be growing demands on government. The majority of the committee, however, supported the bill for that same reason, praising it as a small step toward funding for individuals who had not received assistance from underfunded state health and welfare programs.
The proposal now moves to the full House for consideration.
Committee Advances Newborn SCID Screening Proposal
In his State of the State speech to kick off the 2017 legislative session, Governor Ducey called for an expansion of newborn screenings to include testing for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, or SCID. “We have the power to save these precious human lives,” the Governor said. “So let’s act with urgency.”
This week, the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare agreed with the Governor’s wishes, unanimously approving a proposal that would raise testing fees and expand the newborn screening panels.
SB 1368 was supported by parents of children who had suffered from SCID, and by a variety of health care advocacy organizations. It now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
House, Senate Advance New Licensing Options for Those Convicted of Crimes
House and Senate committees have approved proposals that would expand professional licensure to those who have been convicted of non-violent crimes. The sponsor of HB 2290, Representative Tony Rivero (R-Peoria), said Arizona needs to provide the ability for those who have served time for crime to return to work. Supporters of the bill agreed with him, citing evidence that employment reduces recidivism.
The bill, and an identical proposal in the Senate, would authorize a short-term professional license for up to a year, with some reporting and oversight requirements for those on community supervision, probation, or other post-conviction measures. The idea drew bipartisan support from legislators who believe the bill will offer a path forward for those who have served time for a past mistake. 
The identical bills in the House and Senate will allow the legislature to fast-track the bill to the Governor’s desk.

On the Federal Front...

Major Recent Events
House Holds Joint Hearing Series on Social Security's Representative Payee Program

The House Ways and Means Committee's Social Security and Oversight Subcommittees is holding a series of hearings on Social Security's Representative Payee Program. The first hearing in the series took place on February 7 and was entitled "Examining the Social Security Administration's Representative Payee Program: Determining Who Needs Help." Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearings.

Senate Approves Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation

On January 24, the Senate confirmed Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao with a vote of 93-6. The Department of Transportation's mission is to "Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future."
Senate Committee Approves Nominee for Attorney General

On February 1, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to favorably report the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be Attorney General. The Attorney General is a cabinet level position in charge of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to view archived video of the hearing.
Senate Committee Approves Nominee to Head HHS

On February 1, the Senate Finance Committee voted to favorably report the nomination of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS is the cabinet level department that administers most federal health and social service programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act programs, Developmental Disabilities Act programs, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Additionally, it oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to view archived video of the hearing.
Senate Committee Approves Budget Office Nominee

On February 2, the Senate Budget Committee voted to favorably report the nomination of Rep. Mike Mulvaney (R-SC) to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB is the largest division within the Executive Office of the President. It is charged with developing the budget and overseeing the implementation of the President's agenda across the Executive Branch. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access the archived video of the hearing.

Civil Rights - The Arc Issues Statement on Leaked Draft Executive Order

In light of a recently leaked draft Executive Order that would impact people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who are legally residing in the United States as well as people with I/DD who are hoping to legally immigrate, The Arc released a statement:

"We are facing a civil rights crisis in our nation and people with disabilities are in the crosshairs with the latest draft Executive Order being circulated in the White House. The Executive Order, if finalized and signed by the President, would discriminate against immigrants with disabilities, making it harder to legally enter or remain in the country. To deport individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are in our country legally or prevent them from immigrating, goes against the values of our nation."
Read the full statement on The Arc's blog.

2017 Disability Policy Seminar - Registration is Open

The 2017 Disability Policy Seminar will be held in Washington, D.C from from March 20-22. This event is the premier opportunity to cultivate champions on Capitol Hill and advance the grassroots movement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). For over 40 years, this unique platform has offered the opportunity to come together with passionate advocates, self-advocates, experts, and professionals in the field to learn about key issues.

The first 100 days of any new Administration and Congress are key to setting the agenda-and this year, more than ever, The Arc needs you in Washington, DC to advocate for the lifeline programs. Access to health care and community living supports, bedrock civil rights protections, and the lifeline Medicaid program are at risk. The Disability Policy Seminar is your chance to make an impact! Register here.
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. The Arc invites 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

The Arc of Arizona


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