High Pressure System

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The Capitol Roundup

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

June 16, 2017

High Pressure System
At the Statehouse...

Both the weather and the electoral dynamics are heating up in Arizona, though it is early in the year and the election cycle. Three Democrats have announced their run for Governor in 2018: Senator Steve Farley (D-Tucson), David Garcia, and Noah Dyer. January Contreras, who served as an aide to former Governor Janet Napolitano, plans to run against Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
 
Though the legislature is adjourned, changes to Arizona policy continue. Governor Ducey used his executive order authority to call for additional action against wrong-way drivers – a growing problem that has caused numerous deaths on Arizona freeways. The action fast-tracked an Arizona Department of Transportation project that will implement a $3.7 million thermal-detection system on I-17, designed to detect wrong-way drivers and enhance alerts to authorities and other drivers.
 
Attorney General Brnovitch continues his legal action against a group of attorneys that filed numerous lawsuits regarding compliance with the Arizonans with Disabilities Act, and a judge recently said those attorneys will be required to testify under oath as the case advances.
 
Legislators are also signaling the policies they plan to work on throughout the summer. House and Senate leaders created a new committee to evaluate how digital goods and services are taxed in Arizona. Several members of the committee said state laws on digital taxation are inconsistent and a deterrent to businesses in the state.
 
A coalition of business leaders have pledged their support for an extension and expansion of Arizona’s sales tax for education. Proposition 301, which set a one-sixth of a cent sales tax rate to generate funding for education, will expire in 2021. These leaders say Arizona needs more revenue to enhance education success. Their proposal would raise the rate to 1.5 cents. Diane Douglas has previously expressed support for the tax increase, but while Governor Ducey once signaled he may be interested in extending the tax, his office has expressed doubts about the proposal to expand the rate.
 
Child welfare advocates are calling for state leaders to consider funding for other programs, as well, after a recent report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation said that Arizona ranks low in child well-being. Several factors determined the critical rating, including the number of children in high-poverty areas, access to healthcare, and limited enrollment in early-childhood education.
 
Nation Awaits Details of Federal Healthcare Proposal
 
Healthcare changes are, of course, not limited to Arizona. The U.S. Senate Republicans appear poised to move toward approval of their own changes to federal healthcare funding and policies in the near future, but without details it is unclear how it will impact Arizona’s own Medicaid services.
 
While a healthcare proposal is shaped, state leaders and a wide range of advocacy groups, including The Arc, continue to ask U.S. senators to avoid policy changes that will increase state costs or reduce Medicaid services for the millions of Arizonans who rely on them. Medical experts say the rumored provisions of the Senate proposal could drastically cut funding for programs that help low-income Arizonans, children, individuals with disabilities, and those living outside the urban areas of the state.
 
Governor Makes Changes to Cabinet Positions
 
Governor Ducey appointed Michael Trailor to serve as the new director of the Department of Economic Security. Trailor has led the Department of Housing since 2009. Governor Ducey also named Ty Gray as Director of the Game and Fish Department; Gray will replace Larry Voyles, who is retiring after 43 years at the Department.
 
Fight Against Opioid Abuse Expands
 
This summer, the Governor used executive action to make significant changes to the fight against opioid abuse, designating the problem as a public health emergency that broadened the authority he and his agencies have at their disposal. The Governor’s action came shortly after the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) released a report highlighting the significance of Arizonans’ opioid addictions: there were almost 800 opioid-related deaths in 2016 – up more than 16% over similar deaths in 2015. Heroin-related deaths have also increased. Using the additional authority given by the Governor’s order, DHS opened an operations center to design and coordinate new programs and actions against opioid abuse, and one of Ducey’s top aides met with public policy leaders in DC to urge changes to opioid regulations.  
 
The DHS Director also issued including  a standing order for any licensed pharmacist to provide naloxone to any individual who requests it, and established a new requirement that physicians provide daily reporting on suspected opioid overdoses and deaths, as well as cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome. Ducey and DHS believe it will create better tracking of the problem – a step that officials concede will not solve the problem, but could help inform a solution. The policy change is significant but may not require legislative approval since the Governor believes existing laws on epidemics permit it. As Arizona collects more information, leaders are working closely with other states who also seek solutions through things like new time-release caps on prescription bottles, alternative pain management options, and maybe even legal action against drug makers. 
 
Click here for information and resources from DHS.
 
State Rules Change for Stroke Education
 
Last week, the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council (GRRC) signed off on a proposal to change the way the Arizona Department of Health Services cooperates with other medical entities to offer care and education on how to help individuals who have a stroke. The change was requested by the legislature in 2015, and both Representative Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek) and Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) registered support for the rule change. It becomes effective July 1.
 
Despite the longstanding moratorium on state rule changes, GRRC plans to change its own rules for state agency rulemaking to meet state leaders’ desire for streamlined and reduced regulations. It will also consider changes to rules that govern the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s programs for individuals with developmental disabilities.


​On the Federal Front...



Major Events Ahead

Health Care/Medicaid:
Senate Plans Vote on Health Care Act by End of Month

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has placed the American Health Care Act on the Senate calendar with a vote planned by the end of June. The Senate is planning to skip the committee process. The bill is expected to be substantially similar to the version that passed the House. Very few details of the bill have been made public. One likely change is extending the time frame for phasing out the Medicaid expansion. However, Medicaid per capita caps are likely to remain in the bill, jeopardizing the availability of services for people with I/DD. The Arc is continuing its efforts to defeat the bill, and recently released a new video.

Javi, a man with autism and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and his mother Linda have benefitted from Medicaid. Linda became a single parent when Javi was just seven years old, and was able to work full time because of the support Javi received through Medicaid. Last week, The Arc released their story, the sixth in a series featuring people who rely on Medicaid and/or the Affordable Care Act. Please share this video widely with your networks to show the impact of cutting Medicaid and repealing major health care protections. For an especially easy option, retweet The Arc of the US and share our Facebook post.
If you missed The Arc's first five videos, check them out & share them now: "If I could say one thing", "Calvin's Story", "Meet Thelma", "Meet Bryan.", and "Meet Soojung & Alice".

Major Recent Events

Transportation:
Senate Introduces Bill to Improve Airline Accessibility

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has introduced the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act (S.1318) along with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Ed Markey (D-MA). This bill will strengthen the Air Carrier Access Act by providing a private right of action and increasing civil penalties for injury of a passenger with a disability or damage of a wheelchair or other mobility device. Additionally, it requires a study of in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems that would allow individuals to sit in their wheelchairs during a flight and to put forward guidelines based on those findings. The Arc supports this legislation.
 
Announcements
 
Social Security/Income Support:
The Arc Releases Video on Proposed Social Security Disability Program Cuts


The Arc has released a new video on the proposed $72.4 billion cuts to Social Security disability programs, and its contrast to President Trump's promise to save Social Security without cuts. The video features Will, a child with a disability who relies on Supplemental Security Income to pay for his seizure medication, and Heather, who needed Social Security Disability Insurance when she was unable to work due to her cancer. Please share this video widely with your networks to show the impact of cutting Medicaid and repealing major health care protections. For an especially easy option, retweet The Arc of the US and share our Facebook post.
 
Data Collection:
Census Bureau Releases "Facts for Features"


In commemoration of the 27th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Census Bureau is releasing a "Facts for Features" report providing a demographic snapshot of the U.S. population with a disability and examining various services available to them. The demographic snapshot includes information about institutionalization, transportation, employment, accessibility, and other useful information.





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

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 and periodically between sessions 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!