The Capitol Roundup

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

January 19, 2018

Praying for Rain
At the Statehouse...

Talk of budgets, KidsCare, car insurance, and many other policy priorities unfolded this week at the state legislature. After a day of remembrance for Martin Luther King, Jr., on Monday, state leaders returned to the Capitol on Tuesday to start a week of committee hearings and budget presentations. On Thursday, the Senate got a new member when the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors appointed Rick Gray to fill the seat left vacant when Senator Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria) resigned last week to run for Congress. Senator Gray is a familiar face at the Capitol: he served in the Arizona House for six years before retiring early last year.​


Policy committees have advanced more than 50 bills already this session, including a new tax credit for individuals who care for an adult family member, a restriction on the use of service animals by individuals that do not have disabilities, and a new requirement that Arizonans notify authorities if they see someone in a life-threatening emergency. A hearing on a proposal to create a new Lottery game that would fund priorities like public safety, education, local governments, and opioid addiction treatment programs was delayed until next week.

Education committees approved bills to dedicate funding to programs for gifted pupils, outline parental notification procedures for pupil concussions, require schools to share specific information related to health dangers of interscholastic activities, mandate recess in grades K-5, and allow substitute teachers to count their classroom experience when seeking certification. 
Legislators also were briefed on several key issues, including the Arizona Management Program that Governor Ducey has extended throughout state agencies.

In the coming days, legislators are likely to focus their discussions on the state’s approach to opioid abuse and how to best fight it. Governor Ducey is expected to call a special legislative session that will focus only on opioids, even while the work of the 2018 legislative session continues into its third week.
Budget Update
While budget negotiations with the Governor’s office and legislative leadership begin behind the scenes, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will spend the coming weeks in educational forums on budget details and state agency requests. Legislative staff’s comparison of Governor Doug Ducey’s budget proposal with a “baseline” legislative budget highlighted key areas for negotiation. (The baseline budget is essentially last year’s spending plan updated to reflect caseload and formulaic spending growth for the new fiscal year, without any new spending priorities added.)

State revenues are a key point of disagreement, as is often the case between legislative and executive forecasts. The Governor predicts excess revenues, while legislative staff forecasts a shortfall of at least $108 million in the next fiscal year. Predicted caseload growth is another area for debate (the Governor predicts lower growth in health and education caseloads than the legislature).

The source of state revenues will also be a point of discussion. The Governor’s budget relies on several high-profile shifts of funds and responsibilities – including a $35 million increase to the hospital assessment mechanism that was established to restore Medicaid coverage in 2013, a $30 million shift from Prescription Drug Rebate funds, and $9 million cut from funds AHCCCS and the Department of Health Services use for interagency service agreements.

Most disagreement, however, is likely to center on discretionary spending priorities. The Governor has outlined his spending priorities, which are largely centered on education programs. The legislature will spend the coming months evaluating those spending items and considering their own appropriation requests.
The legislature is also likely to enact changes to prevent new revenues caused by federal changes to tax policy. Because federal changes alter deductions and other rules, state income taxes could increase by more than $200 million. Some Republican leaders, though, have pledged to alter state tax policies to prevent taxpayers from paying more.
Health Committee Seeks KidsCare Options as Congress Fails to Act
In his State of the State address earlier this month, Governor Ducey called on Congress to “Do. Your. Job.” and continue the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The program provides insurance for approximately nine million children nationwide, and federal inaction has led state officials across the U.S. to plan a path forward. 
Arizona has a plan to fund the state’s KidsCare insurance program through the spring, but statute specifies that if federal funding for the state’s KidsCare program drops below 100%, the program must immediately stop processing new applications. A bill approved by the House Health Committee this week would amend that statute to expand Arizona’s options for the program. It outlines a 30-day notification process to contractors and members of the program if federal funding is eliminated. The proposal also allows for continuation of KidsCare if federal funding drops below 100% but is not eliminated completely, outlining a process for suspension of new applications while AHCCCS seeks alternate revenue sources to continue the program.
The legislation passed through its first committee hearing unanimously, but some legislators expressed continued optimism that Congress would find a way to reauthorize the program before changes to the KidsCare services are required.

On the Bright Side…
Arizona is the first state in the U.S. to offer live closed-captioning service with its online broadcast of legislative proceedings. The Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing provides the resources for the live captioning, which is requested in advance through an online form
Last year, the legislature added looping technology in Capitol committee rooms to better serve individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.


On the Federal Front...

Action Alert

Tell Congress to Protect Medicaid & Other Critical Programs

Major Events Ahead

Budget & Appropriations: Congress Facing a Government Shutdown

Congress has until today - Friday, January 19 - to reach an agreement on funding most of the federal government. There are four key issues that Congress is grappling with in its negotiations on a spending bill - protections for persons covered by the Deferred Action for Early Arrivals (DACA) program, extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), increases for the caps for defense and non-defense discretionary programs established by the Budget Control Act of 2011, and additional disaster relief funding. If agreement is not reached Congress may pass another temporary extension of funding or face a shutdown of the federal government.

Major Recent Events

Family Support: RAISE Family Caregivers Act Awaiting President's Signature

The Senate passed H.R. 3759, the Recognize, Assist, Include, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act by voice vote on January 8. The Arc supports this bipartisan legislation introduced Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representatives Gregg Harper (R-MS), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) that calls for the development of a national strategy to support the nation's more than 40 million caregivers. The RAISE Family Caregivers Act would bring together stakeholders from both the public and private sector to create an advisory body. This advisory body would then develop recommendations for how government, communities, providers, employers, and others can better recognize and support family caregivers.
Medicaid: CMS to Allow States to Impose Work Requirement for Medicaid Eligibility

On January 11, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance about how states can require some Medicaid recipients to work in order to receive coverage. While the guidance requires states to exclude some people with disabilities from the requirement, it acknowledges that such an exception will not cover all people with disabilities. To learn more, read The Arc's statement on the guidance.
Miscellaneous: Senate Democrats Announce New Committee Assignments

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently announced new committee assignments for the second session of the 115th Congress. Senate Democrats gained a seat as a result of Alabama's special election, bringing the partisan balance to 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats and Independents. As a result, Senate Democrats have additional seats on committees, giving them a one-vote margin on all committees except the Joint Economic Committee. Newly-elected Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) will serve on the Committees on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (Banking); Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP); Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC); and Aging. Newly-appointed Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) will serve on the Committees on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; Energy and Natural Resources; HELP; and Indian Affairs. Other new assignments on key committees include Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) on the Finance Committee, and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) on the Judiciary Committee.

Key Committees with new members that have jurisdiction over The Arc's priority areas include Finance, HELP, and Judiciary. The Finance Committee has jurisdiction over tax laws, Social Security and SSI, Medicare, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and many other health and human services programs. The HELP Committee has jurisdiction over education policy, employment policy, medical research, public health, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, and parts of the ACA. The Judiciary committee has jurisdiction over civil rights laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Health/Medicaid: Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing on HHS Secretary Nomination

On January 9, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Alexander Azar to be Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). During the hearing, Azar stated that he supported elements of last year's health care bills, including the repeal of Medicaid expansion and per capita caps on traditional Medicaid. 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, including archived video of the hearing.
Medicaid/LTSS: The Arc and Partners Hosts Congressional Briefing on Community Integration for People with Disabilities

The Arc and other disability rights organizations joined the offices of Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI), and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in hosting a briefing on January 11 for Congressional staff titled "Community Integration for People with Disabilities: Policy Opportunities and Challenges." Julia Bascom, Executive Director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, moderated the briefing. Panelists were Cathy Ficker Terrill, national disability services expert and parent; Alison Barkoff, Director of Advocacy, Center for Public Representation; Nicole Jorwic, Director of Rights Policy, The Arc of the United States; Ken Capone, Public Policy Director, People on the go Maryland; and Pam Wright, a parent advocate.


Tax: Webinar on 2018 ABLE Act Changes

The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) will host a free webinar on changes to the ABLE Act taking place in 2018, including an increased contribution limit, the ability to roll over funds from 529 College Savings Accounts, allowing additional contributions by employed beneficiaries, and access to the Saver's Credit. Chris Rodriguez, Director, ANRC, will moderate the panel. Panelists include Michael Morris, Executive Director, National Disability Institute; Mary Morris, Chief Executive Officer, Virginia 529/ABLEnow; Stuart Spielman, Senior Policy Advisor, Autism Speaks; David Bell, Managing Director, Oregon ABLE Savings Plan; and J.J. Hanley, Director, Illinois ABLE. The webinar will take place on Thursday, January 25 from 2:00-3:30 pm EST. Register for the webinar here.

Prepared by:
Peters, Cannata & Moody, PLC

The Arc of Arizona


The Arc of the United States

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