The 52nd Legislature wrapped up its first session in record time. New legislation will take effect July 3. We passed laws forwarding businesses like Uber, Lyft and Microbreweries and thankfully provided Arizonans the option to obtain a REAL ID for uninterrupted air travel come 2016.
My focus this session was education, child safety and our vulnerable populations. A brief recap:
I could not support the budgets for K-12, Higher Education, Health and Human Services. There was no path forward for sustainable, reliable funding for K-12, and the cuts to the universities were devastating. It didn’t make sense to me that health providers agreed to a 3% cut only to be cut 5%. Deep cuts to preventive services for struggling families means the state will be spending more dollars on crisis intervention. I believe that with more time and more effort, we could have crafted a structurally-balanced budget that would not result in greater cost to the state in the future.
HB 2166 Department of Child Safety (DCS) Transparency and Disclosure; HB2640 Angel’s Law
Transparency is the key to solving the problems with Arizona’s child safety system. HB2166 requires DCS to promptly release information to the public regarding prior DCS involvement with child victims and/or their perpetrators. This closes a big loophole in disclosure requirements. I deeply regret that Angel’s Law, requiring background checks on adults where a DCS child is returned home, was held in the Senate. It will be my focus this next session.
HB 2373 AHCCCS Orthotics Services
HB 2373 requires AHCCCS contractors to cover orthotics services if they are the least costly, medically preferred treatment option. Medicaid patients are denied orthotic services because they aren’t covered, while qualifying for more costly treatments that are covered. For example, a custom leg brace costing $1,500 is not covered, but an amputation and wheel chair, costing thousands of dollars, is covered. This makes no sense. HB2373 allows patients the option of orthotics if it is the least expensive treatment.
HB2167 Client Trust Fund; Developmentally Disabled
Appropriated $100,000 to the Client Trust Fund for Developmentally Disabled. The Trust Fund provides one-time assistance mini-grants to people with developmental disabilities so they can stay in their homes. The fund was swept during the 2009 budget crisis. While this bill died when the budget was adopted, I was able to move the bill forward as an amendment to another bill.
I continued work on legislation that would make it possible to successfully prosecute escalating neglect, cruelty and hoarding of domestic pets in my district and throughout urban areas. The legislation was crafted by first responders, prosecutors and agricultural interests, and would separate commercial purposes from domestic pet ownership. Regretfully, the Governor vetoed the legislation. This issue is important to me because it is a precursor to domestic violence and child abuse – those who abuse animals also abuse family members and children. I will continue work on a legislative solution for the problems of domestic abuse of animals, children and family members.
I look forward to continued representation of our district and state with the persistence, thoughtful consideration and common sense I have demonstrated the past five years. Big issues await on the horizon. I will be a passionate advocate for education and our vulnerable populations going forward.