Long Days' Journey Into a Long Night

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The Capitol Roundup

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

May 5, 2017

Long Days' Journey Into a
Long Night
At the Statehouse...

As the 17th week of the 2017 legislative session comes to an end, it appears the session itself may also wrap up soon. Legislative leaders reached a budget agreement with the Governor early this week, and spent the week negotiating with members of the Republican caucus to obtain the votes needed to pass the proposal.

Legislators worked through the night on Thursday to approve the budget largely along party lines, and adjourned as the sun rose this morning. The House and Senate will convene again on Monday to finalize debate and action on fewer than 100 remaining bills that are eligible to be considered before the session closes.

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This week legislators focused almost entirely on the budget through the long days and late nights at the Capitol, but did advance a small number of other bills. Those included two proposals aimed at expanding workers’ compensation coverage for firefighter cancer and cardiac conditions that passed the Senate, and the creation of a professional development pilot program for teachers that unanimously passed the House.

A wide variety of bills had reached Governor Ducey’s desk before a budget was introduced, and he signed more than 20 new laws. They included the creation of an alternate teacher certification method for individuals with subject knowledge, an allowance for children in foster care to purchase car insurance, a new authority for the use of electronic billboards, protections against abuse by moving companies, and a new Drug Overdose Fatality Review Team to help study ways to reduce deaths related to opioid overdose in Arizona.
Priority Legislation 
  • HB 2372 (public benefits; fee waivers; requirements)
The bill would extend TANF benefits from 12 to 24 months under a long list of requirements and restrictions; it did not advance this week and was not addressed in the budget.
  • SB 1030 (AHCCCS; covered services; occupational therapy)
The bill would expand AHCCCS coverage to include occupational therapy. The issue was included  in the final budget proposal.
  • SB 1037 (special education; audit; cost study)
The bill would require the Arizona Auditor General to do an audit of a representative sample of 60 special education programs in Arizona. It did not advance this week.
  • SB 1317 (schools; specially designed instruction)
The bill allows specially designed instruction aligned with an IEP to be delivered by general education teachers or other certified personnel, and requires the State Board of Education to amend its rules to eliminate confusion on the instruction options for students with special needs. It passed the Senate 27-0 last week and awaits a final vote in the House.
  • SB 1406 (public accommodation; services; civil actions)
The House amended the bill to establish a “cure period” timeframe and detailed requirements an individual with a disability must file before taking legal action against a business that does not comply with the requirements of the Arizonans with Disabilities Act. It also exempts websites from ADA requirements. The bill passed the House 38-20 and the Senate 18-11, and was signed into law by Governor Ducey.

Budget Update

The approved state budget totals $9.8 billion in spending for fiscal year 2018– an increase over the $9.6 billion budget last year. It includes a 1.9% increase in state spending, and predicts a 4.3% increase in state revenues in the coming year.

It includes some targeted tax cuts that will align a personal income tax exemption with inflation, and provide an income tax credit to reimburse eligible costs for those who need to retrofit a business to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

For full details on the budget, click here.  Major priorities include:

Education
The budget has a total increase of more than $150 million in new education initiatives, including:
  • $34 million this year for a 1.06% raise to all Arizona public school teachers (Unlike the Governor’s proposal, which would have phased in the raise over five years, the legislative budget will implement a raise of 2% within two years.)
  • $37.6 million for results-based funding, distributed based on the percentage of free and reduced lunch students and AzMERIT scores
  • $17.2 million in one-time funding for building renewal through the School Facilities Board, $64.9 million for new school construction, and $38 million in one-time funding for new previously-approved school facilities
  • $8 million in early literacy funding
  • $2.6 million from state funds for assistance to schools that primarily serve homeless or special needs pupils and schools in rural areas outside of Maricopa and Pima counties
  • $3 million in state funds to match federal resources for a broadband to high-need, rural, and tribal schools
  • $1 million for JTED completion grants available for students who have graduated from high school (continues to fund large JTEDs at 95.5%)
  • $500,000 for school resource officers
  • $100,000 in one-time funding for geographic literacy programs
  • $100,000 for a Jobs for Arizona Graduates program that reduces school dropouts
  • $250,000 for school leadership training
  • $200,000 for a computer science coding initiative
The budget also includes $15 million from the state general fund for a one-time appropriation to the universities, and commits to $27 million a year (in fiscal years 2019 – 2043) to provide funding for university infrastructure. 
 
It includes Governor Ducey’s goal of a teacher education program that will offer free tuition to any of the state’s public universities, in exchange for teaching in an Arizona public school once the educator has their degree.
 
Criminal Justice and the Judiciary
The budget includes $1.5 million for growth in inmate health care, and $500,000 for recidivism reduction initiatives for prisoners.

It provides $149,000 for staff at the court of appeals, and $500,000 for probation caseloads. $75,000 is allotted for court-ordered removals, and Pima County receives $250,000 for a drug treatment alternative to prison program.
 
It reduces funding from the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM) for Maricopa County by $1.6 million. Democrats protested the change, which they said was caused by Sheriff Paul Penzone’s victory over former Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the election; Republicans disagreed, saying the funding was better used to help Pima County and reduce the backlog of rape kits in the state.
 
Proposition 206
 The budget includes $9.7 million for a provider rate increase through AHCCCS to partially cover costs associated with the voter-approved minimum wage increase. The Department of Economic Security (DES) receives $33 million in fiscal year 2018, and $8.1 million in the current fiscal year.

Providers and advocates for people with disabilities had called for additional resources to meet the increased costs from Prop. 206. Instead, the budget requires AHCCCS to submit a report by February 2018 outlining the impact of Prop. 206 implementation on the adequacy of the provider network for ALTCS enrollees, and provides $200,000 to cover the costs of the study.
Health and Welfare
Though the Governor called for a restoration of two-year benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the budget does not extend the benefit. It remains at a limit of one year.

It directs DHS to apply for federal Title 10 funding - a change that some hope will put the state in charge of distributing family planning resources instead of the non-profit entity that currently does so.

The budget also adds a new trigger to funding for the KidsCare program. If federal funding drops below 100% of program costs, new enrollment in the state program will immediately be frozen. (Existing law allows the AHCCCS director to stop enrollment if federal funding drops below 100%.)

The budget includes:
  • $2 million for the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) at DES, which provides evaluations to children three and under who may have developmental delays
  • $2 million in continued funding for adult protective services at DES
  • $2 million for one-time funding to room and board cost increases for individuals with developmental disabilities in DES programs
  • $221,000 for programs at AHCCCS to prevent opioid abuse
  • $1.5 million to AHCCCS for emergency dental benefit coverage for adults in AHCCCS programs
  • $130,000 to include adult occupational therapy in AHCCCS services
  • $183,000 for renal transplant drugs
  • $2.1 million for Alzheimer’s disease research
It authorizes DHS to access $500,000 only if a health emergency – like a Zika outbreak – requires it.
 
And it permits DES to use up to $25 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund for reimbursable grants – funding which must be repaid when the grant funding is received.
 
Child Safety
The budget provides less funding for new child safety initiatives than the Governor originally proposed, but does include $1 million for financial assistance to grandparents and other family members that take in foster children and $2 million for adoption services.
 
It also includes reporting requirements, and benchmarks and guidance for Department of Child Safety caseload goals.
 
Healthcare Update

While the Arizona legislature focused on a spending plan, the U.S. House of Representatives rushed to approve a repeal of the Affordable Care Act before Congress adjourned its session. House Republicans and the President rejoiced in the passage, while Democrats protested the bill and the fact that the vote occurred before a non-partisan assessment of the proposal could be created. The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate.

Governor Ducey, who has consistently advocated for state flexibility in any changes to federal healthcare policies, told reporters that the House is “the first step in this process, not the last.” He committed to working with Arizona Senators Flake and McCain to “ensure the bill is improved in a way that addresses Arizona’s concerns and still achieves the ultimate goal, which is repealing Obamacare and restoring insurance markets that function so Arizona can have access to high-quality and affordable health care.”
 
On the Bright Side…

AHCCCS received $24 million in federal dollars to help provide treatment that can reduce opioid addiction.


​On the Federal Front...


Vote on American Health Care Act Leads to House Passage

As mentioned above, the U.S. House of Representatives on May 4 passed, by a vote of 217-213, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The measure now goes to the Senate for its review and likely revision, then a Senate vote. Among the most worrisome elements of the AHCA for The Arc and Americans with disabilities is the bill's elimination of $880 billion in Medicaid funding over the next 10 years, funds which will be used to provide a tax cut to primarily upper-income taxpayers, as well as severe weakening of the Affordable Care Act's provisions ensuring coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

The Arc has released a video with people with disabilities and their families discussing the importance of Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act in their lives.
 
Last Minute Short Term Funding Bill Enacted,
FY 2017 Omnibus Funding Bill Text Released

Within hours of a partial government shutdown, the House and Senate approved and President Trump later signed a continuing resolution, H.J.Res. 99, that would extend government funding for one week beyond the midnight April 28 deadline to give lawmakers time to wrap up negotiations on a spending package for the remainder of FY 2017 that ends on September 30. The text of the longer-term Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 spending package was released in the early hours of May 1. The measure includes $15 billion increases for both defense and nondefense discretionary funding (NDD) over the FY 2017 caps. This "extra" amount over the sequester caps is what was agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which faced objection by conservatives. The deal includes $1.5 billion for border security (technology and existing wall repairs), but not for construction of a wall on the border with Mexico. Democratic leaders are saying that they succeeded in excluding 160 poison pill riders, including exclusion of Planned Parenthood funding. House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey has posted a summary of what the bill does and does not include here. The House and Senate are both expected to vote on the FY2017 omnibus spending bill this week.
 
President Trump Releases Outline of Tax Reform Plan

On April 26, President Trump released a one page outline of his tax reform plan that he billed as "the biggest individual and business tax cut in American History." Individual reform includes reducing the number of tax brackets, doubling the standard deduction, and providing tax relief for families with child and dependent care expenses. The proposals for corporate tax reform are to lower the top rate to 15%, institute a territorial tax system, provide for a one-time tax on corporate profits held overseas, and to eliminate tax breaks for special interests. The plan also notes that the Trump administration will hold listening sessions with stakeholders throughout the month of May to receive their input and will continue working with the House and Senate to develop the details of a plan. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the plan will add $3 to $7 trillion to the nation's deficits and debt over 10 years. Read The Arc's blog post for more information.
 
Senate Approves Alex Acosta as Labor Secretary

On April 27, the Senate confirmed Alex Acosta as Secretary of Labor by a vote of 60-38. 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.
 
House Holds Hearing on Stopping Disability Fraud

On April 26, the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing on "Stopping Disability Fraud: Risk, Prevention, and Detection". Witnesses were Sean Brune, Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Budget, Finance, Quality and Management at the Social Security Administration; and Seto J. Bagdoyan, Director of the Forensic Audits and Investigative Service at the Government Accountability Office. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to review testimony or access live video the day of the hearing.
 
Senators Introduce Bill to Protect Social Security Benefits from Garnishments

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and 10 cosponsors have introduced the "Protection of Social Security Benefits Restoration Act" (S. 959). The bill would repeal a 1996 change in law that allowed earned benefits to be garnished by the federal government to collect federal debts, such as student loans and home loans owed to the Veterans Administration. The bill would prevent garnishment of Social Security retirement, survivors', and disability benefits -- as well as other earned benefits -- to collect federal debts. View Senator Wyden's press release to learn more and to access a summary. The Arc strongly supports this much-needed legislation to maintain basic living standards for Social Security beneficiaries struggling to pay student loans and other federal debts.
 
Senate Committee Holds Briefing on Aging and Social Isolation

On April 27, the Senate Committee on Aging sponsored a briefing entitled, "Aging Without Community: the Consequences of Isolation and Loneliness." The hearing examined the consequences that social isolation and loneliness can have on older adults and those with disabilities as well as highlighting resources and programs to reduce and prevent isolation. One of the panelists, Richard Creech of Harrisburg, PA, discussed how technology can help maintain and enhance interpersonal relationships. Mr. Creech, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, offered his testimony using an augmentative communication device. Watch the archived briefing on the Committee's website.
 
State of Arkansas Executes Ledell Lee, a Man Who May Have Had Intellectual Disability

On April 20, the state of Arkansas executed Ledell Lee, a man with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder who also may have had intellectual disability. The Arc wrote a letter to Governor Asa Hutchison (R-AR) asking for a commutation. To learn more see The Arc's blog post.
 
Announcements

The Arc Seeking Reports of Activity During Congressional Recess

The Arc is seeking records of how its constituents engaged their Members of Congress during the April recess. If you engaged your Member of Congress on the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid, whether in the form of calling or emailing their offices, meeting directly with them or their staffs, or attending a town hall, please share your experience using our action alert. We thank you for being part of our efforts.
 
Paul Marchand Internship Application for Fall 2017 Session -
Deadline extended to May 15

The Paul Marchand Internship Fund will provide $3,000 per semester or summer session to assist interns interested in pursuing careers in public policy advocacy for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD). For 38 years, Paul Marchand was a dedicated disability policy advocate and recognized leader working on behalf of people with I/DD and the larger disability community. Upon his retirement in 2011, The Arc, with substantial contributions from United Cerebral Palsy, other organizations, and individuals with whom Paul worked during his decades in Washington, D.C. established an internship to honor Paul and to continue to cultivate disability policy advocates. See more information here.

Nominate Your Catalyst Today!

Nominations are officially open for The Arc's 2017 Catalyst Awards! The Catalyst Awards recognize individuals, businesses, and other organizations that are champions for achievement in the lives of people with I/DD. Each awardee illustrates what can be achieved and how we must move forward to create a fully inclusive society. Nomination categories range from education to employment, and include advocacy-both community and government! Know someone who deserves to be honored? Nominate them today! Deadline: Friday, May 26.





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The Arc of Arizona
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and

The Arc of the United States

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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!