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The Capitol Roundup

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

February 24, 2017

Crossing Over
At the Statehouse...

Capitol insiders call this week “Crossover Week” at the Arizona legislature. It’s a week that marks a major shift in the legislative session, as the House and Senate focus on floor debates and votes that send their bills across the Capitol mall for consideration in the other chamber. Most committees stop their work and legislators focus instead on long hours of voting on a wide variety of policy topics. This week alone, the House and Senate debated and passed hundreds of bills. 
 
Not all bills advanced. Legislators failed to pass a small number of proposals, including bills to alter reporting requirements for the Department of Child Safety, to ban municipal ID cards, and to set a new property tax classification for greenhouses. Few proposals ever really die at the legislature, however, and many of these failed proposals will receive another vote in the near future if the bills’ sponsors can convince their colleagues to vote yes.
The intense action of this week moves the session into the second half of bill consideration. The House and Senate policy committees now prepare to focus on proposals already approved in the first legislative chamber where they were introduced. There are fewer opportunities for amendments, and there is more pressure to fine tune agreements and language that could be enacted into law.

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One bill has already become law. Governor Ducey signed HB 2088, a proposal that was fast-tracked through the legislature and designed to allow residents of the San Tan Valley to incorporate. San Tan is an area currently governed by Pinal County, with a population of more than 81,000 in the 2010 census.
 
Legislation that advanced this week included the legalization of gambling in bars and clubs, a ban on photo radar, and change authority over end-of-life decisions. Debates unfolded over whether state senators should double the length of their terms in office or enhance penalties for protests that turn into riots, and how the state should fund priorities like a memorial of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and restoration of historic buildings on the Arizona fairgrounds.
 
The House approved bills to seek chances to enhance flu vaccinations in hospital patients over the age of 65, increase funding and streamline operations of the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program, and establish voluntary certification for community health workers. The Senate passed a study of the rate of psychotropic drug use in foster children on AHCCCS, an expansion of the scope of practice for pharmacists and nurse anesthetists, and an increase in fees for newborn screenings.
 
Legislators approved mandated recess time in schools, altered responsibility for school safety programs, and required computer coding instruction. Two bills to expand Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts stalled, due to a lack of necessary support in the Senate. Advocates and opponents alike say they’ll keep lobbying senators on the issue as the discussion continues.
 
Policy committees resume their work next week, and legislators will divide their busy days between floor votes and committee votes. Click here to see what is scheduled for consideration each day.
 
Budget Update
 
Two House Appropriations Subcommittees finalized their budget reports this week, providing insights and recommendations to the full House Committee on Appropriations. The subcommittees’ reports largely reflect the suggestions framed by legislative budget staff in their baseline spending report earlier this year, but with some changes that reflect legislators’ priorities.
 
The Subcommittee on Health & Welfare recommended an “ongoing review” of Proposition 206 impacts on providers of services for persons with disabilities. (The estimated total impact is a point of disagreement between executive and legislative budget experts.) The Subcommittee report also included recommendations that differ from the proposals released by the Governor and budget staff:
 
  • Restoration of lottery revenues for Mohave, Pinal, and Yavapai counties (the funds were previously returned to the state to balance the budget deficit)
  • Protection of revenues from the Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF)
  • A deeper examination of the state mandate that local governments fund the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections (another item adopted during the budget downturn)
Click here for the full recommendation from the health & welfare review.
 
The Subcommittee on Public Safety, Infrastructure & Resources’ report also recommended protection of HURF dollars for local governments, and also recommended an end to the local government payments for Juvenile Corrections. 
 
The budget subcommittees served as a way to connect House members with the details of the budget process – a factor that is important to Speaker J.D. Mesnard’s (R-Chandler) plan to build a budget from the priorities and requests of his caucus members. This process differs from the Senate, which plans to base its budget priorities on senators’ reactions to the Governor’s budget proposal.  
 
Senate leaders have expressed concern that the more in-depth House process may delay budget progress, but it is too early to gauge whether that is the case. There are no clear signs of budget progress in either the House or Senate, and neither chamber has released a schedule or update on serious budget negotiations.


Priority Legislation
  • 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 was not heard in committees, and will not move forward though the issue may be discussed in budget negotiations.
  • HB 2372 (public benefits; fee waivers; requirements)
The bill extends TANF benefits from 12 to 24 months under specified circumstances with a variety of new reporting and fraud prevention measures, passed the House 31-29. It was amended to require semiannual reporting on job, wage, and benefit information from employment contractors and to add a long list of requirements and restrictions on TANF benefits.
  • HB 2408 (disability parking; wheelchair uses)
The bill would require some van-accessible parking spaces to be limited only to wheelchair users. (NPR recently highlighted the bill and the arguments against it.) It passed the Senate 33-25.
  • 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. Last week, the House Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety unanimously approved the bill. It is not yet scheduled to move to the full House for discussion.
  • 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 and was assigned to the Senate Committee on Government.
  • SB 1030 (AHCCCS; covered services; occupational therapy)
The bill would expand AHCCCS coverage to include occupational therapy. Earlier this month, 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 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety on March 1.
  • SB 1037 (special education; audit; cost study)
The bill would require the Arizona Auditor General to audit special education programs in Arizona. It passed the Senate Committee on Appropriations 9-0 and was approved by the Senate Committee on Rules.
  • 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 include an amount of money.) It was not heard in committees, and will not move forward though the issue may be discussed in budget negotiations.
  • 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 was not heard in committees, and will not move forward though the issue may be discussed in budget negotiations.
  • SB 1198 (public accommodation; services; civil actions)
The bill would require a delay and specified notification before a lawsuit may be filed alleging ADA noncompliance. Despite strong opposition from The Arc of Arizona and other advocacy groups, it passed the Senate Committee on Judiciary 4-3 last week.  This week, the bill passed the Senate Committee on Rules.
  • 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 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Education February 27.
 
Senate Advances Audit of Special Education Programs
 
This week, the Senate Committee on Appropriations unanimously approved a review of special education programs. SB 1037, which previously passed in the Committee on Education, is intended to help legislators and policy makers understand the resources dedicated to special education programs and identify ways to improve them.
 
“I want this [audit] to really provide the information and data we need…to understand how much money we’re putting into these programs and if we’re reaching the children we need to,” summarized the bill’s sponsor, Senator Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake).
 
The review will be performed by the Arizona Auditor General, who will submit findings by 2020 (the legislation previously required the report by 2018, a timeline the Auditor General said was unrealistic). The Committee also amended the bill to require school districts to submit information on special education programs in a format requested by the Auditor General, to facilitate the analysis, and adjusted the information included in the audit to better gauge the status of special education programs across the state.
 
The bill now advances for consideration from the full Senate.
 
Legislators Disagree on Need for Changes to U.S. Constitution
 
If you spend any time at the Capitol this year, you are likely to hear the term “Article Five.” It’s a reference to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, which outlines the process for amending the Constitution. There are two mechanisms for amendments – both of which allow states to play a critical role. Congress can propose an amendment with two-thirds support of both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives; such an amendment becomes effective only if three-fourths of state legislatures ratify the proposal. States themselves can also propose Constitutional changes if two-thirds of state legislators call for a discussion of potential amendments: a “constitutional convention”.
 
Constitutional conventions have been a hot topic at the Arizona legislature for many years, but the discussion has been sidelined – often because of objections from former Senate President Andy Biggs. Biggs literally wrote the book against the need for constitutional changes and what he believed to be the dangerous step of opening an unstructured discussion of changes to the governing document of our country.
 
Biggs is no longer at the legislature, however, and a variety of interest groups are trying to add Arizona to the states calling for an unprecedented constitutional convention. This year, seven proposals would pursue this option, and they are seeing varying levels of success:
 
  • HCR 2010/SCR 1002/SCR 1024 (application; Article V convention) are identical proposals that attempted to fast-track approval of a call for a constitutional convention to limit the federal government’s power, jurisdiction, and fiscal authority and establish Congressional term limits. The House narrowly approved the concept by a vote of 31-27, but the Senate failed to pass it by a 13-17 vote.  Supporters of the measure successfully motioned for another vote on the bill, however, which could occur at any time. If passed by the Senate, Arizona would officially join the states calling for a constitutional convention.
  • HCR 2013 (convention; balanced federal budget) issues a more limited call for constitutional change, asking for a constitutional convention only to limit federal spending to align with federal revenues each year. The proposal is sponsored by House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler), and it passed the House 33-25 earlier this month. It is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Committee on Government.
  • HCR 2022 (balanced budget convention; delegates) requires Arizona to send delegates if a Constitutional convention on a balanced budget is successfully convened, and outlines the process of delegate selection and delegate responsibilities. The House approved the proposal by a 34-24 party-line vote this week and sent the resolution to the Senate.
  • HCR 2023 (Article V convention; term limits) calls for a constitutional convention limited to the creation of term limits for members of Congress. It was approved by a House committee and awaits a floor debate in the House.
  • HCR 2006 (Article V convention) calls for a constitutional convention on a wide range of changes, including Congressional term limits, limits on federal spending, a reduction of Congressional authority over economic regulations, and a return to state legislatures selecting U.S. senators rather than voters. The proposal failed in the House by a vote of 27-31, due to opposition to either the full proposal or specific items contained in the broad call for constitutional changes.
It is not yet clear how these discussions will unfold as the legislative session continues. Unlike legislative memorials, however, which are often called “postcards to Congress”, these resolutions are not just a message without action. As more states submit applications for a constitutional convention, the issue is drawing more attention nationwide.

The Arc of Arizona and The Arc of the United States oppose proposals calling for a balanced budget amendment, citing concerns related to the funding of federal programs providing supports and services to individuals with disabilities and other economically vulnerable groups within American society.
 
House Committee Disagrees with Across-the-Board Budget Cut
 
Members of the House Committee on Appropriations overwhelmingly rejected one way of approaching budget cuts, failing HB 2509 by a margin of 2-9. The bill, sponsored by freshman Representative Kevin Payne (R-Peoria), would have required a 1% reduction to every appropriation in the state budget except for those given to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Department of Child Safety, and funding required by the Arizona Constitution (some education funding and resources for the Independent Redistricting Commission). Payne said he thought it was a way to find funding for tax cuts or education. Many members of the Committee disagreed, though, arguing that the proposal would arbitrarily and inequitably impact state agencies and tie the hands of future legislators.
 
House Approves Certification of Community Health Workers
 
The House gave bipartisan approval to a proposal designed to conform and inform the actions of community health workers in Arizona. HB 2426, sponsored by Representative Charlene Fernandez (D-Yuma), would allow the Arizona Department of Health Services to create a voluntary certification process for community health workers and would establish an oversight Board for community health worker training and conduct. The proposal was requested by the Arizona Community Health Workers Association, and was previously approved through the sunrise application process.
 
Community health workers work with hospitals, county and tribal facilities, and other health providers to help patients navigate treatment options, support groups, and support services associated with health problems. The bill passed the House 41-17, with little discussion. Representative Pamela Powers-Hanley (D-Tucson) spoke in support, and praised community health workers as “a critical part of the care team” to help patients better understand their medical care. HB 2426 now moves to the Senate for consideration.




​On the Federal Front...

Action Alerts
 
Major Recent Events

House Releases Outline of ACA Repeal

In advance of the President's Day recess, the House Majority Leadership released an outline of a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and restructure and cut the Medicaid program. The outline indicates that the ACA's Medicaid expansion would be repealed. While states that have already accepted Medicaid expansion would be grandfathered, the federal match rate would be reduced from 90 percent to the state's traditional rate, reducing the incentive for states to continue the program. It would allow for an unspecified transition period, and then states that chose to keep the program open to new adult enrollees would be reimbursed at their traditional rate.

The plan would further destabilize the Medicaid program by reducing and capping federal spending. The proposal, known as a per capita cap/allotment, is a financing tool that will dramatically cut Medicaid funding. Unlike the current funding system, the amount provided under a per capita cap will not automatically increase when the cost of providing covered services to eligible individuals goes up. The intent of the per capita cap is to reduce federal spending by restructuring the program and significantly cutting the cost to the federal government. It is unlikely that states will be able to achieve these cuts without scaling back benefits, reducing reimbursement rates, or shifting costs to beneficiaries. Furthermore, states will no longer receive a federal match beyond the cap for changes that increase costs, such as increasing direct support professional wages. States would have the option to accept the per capita cap approach or a block grant (which would also have many of the same features).

The savings from the Medicaid per capita cap would help pay for the tax cuts included in the proposed plan. The outline proposes repealing the taxes on corporations and providers that helped pay for the ACA and the provisions that helped make health insurance affordable to the individual. The ACA replacement plan would combine a universal, refundable health care tax credit, based on age rather than income, to purchase insurance, changes to health savings accounts, and state funding for high risk pools or other projects. Health savings accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts, tied to high-deductible plans.

The bottom line is that during the week of February 27 the House is expected to begin legislative action on a proposal to restructure the Medicaid program in a manner which will undermine the federal/state partnership upon which it has been built. If successful, this restructuring would result in cost savings to the federal government that will shift costs to the states and to individuals and their families. It will also ultimately reduce the availability of supports and services to people with disabilities in the community and through the health care system. Read The Arc's statement on the plan here.
 
Budget & Appropriations - Senate Approves Mick Mulvaney as OMB Director

On February 16, the Senate confirmed Mick Mulvaney as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by a vote of 51-49. 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.
 
Andrew Puzder Withdraws as Labor Secretary Nominee, President Nominates Alexander Acosta

On February 15, Labor Secretary-Designate Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination. The next day President Trump nominated Alexander Acosta, Dean of the Florida International University School of Law. The Department of Labor is the agency responsible for the implementation of federal labor and employment laws, including those relating to wages and hours. Additionally, it includes the Office of Disability Employment Policy which is a non-regulatory agency that promotes employment of people with disabilities.
 
Employment - RSA Releases Technical Assistance Manual

The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) released its Fiscal Year 2017 Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Supported Employment Services Programs Monitoring and Technical Assistance Guide. The guide covers the Vocational Rehabilitation program under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act and the supported employment program under Title VI of the Rehabilitation Act. It covers five focus areas to be addressed during technical assistance visits: 1) performance of the VR and Supported Employment programs, including competitive integrated employment outcomes; 2) transition services and employment outcomes for youth with disabilities, including pre-employment services; 3) supported employment for individuals with the most significant disabilities, including youth; 4) fiscal integrity of the programs; and 5) progress of VR agencies toward implementing planning and accountability requirements.

Announcements

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.

Registration for the 2017 Disability Policy Seminar is Open

The 2017 Disability Policy Seminar will be held in Washington, DC, 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 more than 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. Access to health care and community living supports, bedrock civil rights protections, and Medicaid are at risk. The Disability Policy Seminar is your chance to make an impact! Register here.

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Prepared by:
Peters, Cannata & Moody, PLC
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The Arc of Arizona
www.arcarizona.org

and

The Arc of the United States

www.thearc.org


The Capitol Roundup is provided weekly throughout the Arizona Legislative session as a benefit of Membership in The Arc of Arizona. To continue receiving this publication, visit www.arcarizona.org/become-a-member to start or renew your Membership today!