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The Capitol Roundup: October 26, 2018

The Capitol Roundup: October 26, 2018

On Every TV Screen
​At the Statehouse…

Arizona’s political races continue to be at the center of local, state, and national news – a fact that has brought current and former political leaders to Arizona and made Phoenix the #1 market for TV campaign ads in the country.
TCR-10-26-18-pic1.jpgThough campaigns dominate the headlines, there have been many important stories unrelated to the ongoing election season. This week, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced that she has dementia – a declaration that continued her efforts to educate the public on dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. The Arizona Attorney General revived his legal challenge to tuition at Arizona’s public universities and withdrew a filing that challenged the legality of medical products with marijuana extracts – an action that adds to the ongoing uncertainty about the legality of such products.

The Arizona Republic published a new report on the use of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), and KJZZ provided a history of state policy changes associated with ESAs.

Puerto Rico canceled plans to send its prisoners to Arizona facilities, the Arizona State Board of Education adopted new science standards for school curriculum, and developmental disability services providers continue to ask state leaders to provide more funding for costs associated with the state’s minimum wage increase.

A pilot program designed to inform parents about the value of vaccinations for their children and their schools stalled, but leaders at the Arizona Department of Health Services say they will consider other ways to educate parents about the value of vaccines for schoolchildren.

The federal government enacted a new law to provide resources for treatment and prevention of drug addiction, including funding for programs to assist families and childrenwho are impacted by addiction. The director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, who has been closely involved in Arizona’s recent fight against opioid abuse, was at the White House for the bill signing ceremony. (Click here for a review of how Arizona compares to other states in its use of federal opioid addiction treatment funds that were previously allocated.)

It’s Time to Vote!

Early voting is open throughout Arizona – be sure to mail your early ballot by October 31 to ensure it arrives in time to be counted! Don’t have an early ballot? You can still vote earlyor go to the polls on November 6.

Click here for information on candidates in your district, and click here for more information on the statewide ballot propositions – and the views from those who support and oppose them.

On the Bright Side…

Next year, mothers with substance abuse addictions in Tucson will have a new place to care for their families while they overcome their addiction.


​​On the Federal Front…
Action Alerts

Major Recent Events
DHS Issues Proposed Rule Limiting Immigration

On October 10, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a proposed rule that will greatly expand the what is known as the “public charge” test. The public charge test allows for denying entry to or permanent residency in the United States based upon the likelihood an individual will need government benefits. Currently, the only benefits considered are cash benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), comparable state and local programs, and institutional long-term care (including through Medicaid). Under the proposed rule, an individual could be considered a public charge for using or applying for a broader range of benefits including most Medicaid programs, housing assistance, or food assistance. The Arc opposes the proposed rule because it will result in discrimination against legal immigrants with disabilities. Read The Arc’s full statement here.

President Appoints OSEP Director

On October 11, President Trump appointed Laurie VanderPloeg as Director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Ms. VanderPloeg currently serves as president of the Council for Exceptional Children. Additionally, she has experience as a district special education administrator in Michigan. OSEP is the office within the Department of Education charged with administering the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

SSA Announces Cost of Living Increases for 2019

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced a 2.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in 2019. The Social Security Act provides for annual COLA increases based on inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Because the CPI-W rose modestly over the last year, the 2019 COLA will increase benefits modestly. According to SSA, the average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker will increase by $39, from $1,422 in 2018 to $1,461 in 2019. The average monthly benefit for a Social Security disabled worker beneficiary will increase by $34, from $1,222 in 2018 to $1,234 in 2019. In addition, the SSI Federal Payment Standard will increase from $750 per month in 2018 to $771 per month in 2019. Important work incentive thresholds for Social Security and SSI beneficiaries with disabilities will also increase, including the Substantial Gainful Activity level and the Trial Work Period earnings level. View SSA’s fact sheet for more details on the 2019 Social Security COLA.

CAP Releases Report on For-Profit Virtual Charter Schools

The Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report titled “Profit Before Kids”. The report detailed the low performance of for-profit virtual charter schools as well as their financial practices. The report recommends a ban on for-profit companies from operating virtual charter schools, increased regulation of non-profit virtual charter schools, and a ban on compensation incentives for enrollment of all public schools, similar to the ban that currently applies to higher education institutions. The percentage of students with disabilities in the schools studied varied considerably, from 0 to 32%.

Congress Adjourns Until After the Elections

The House and Senate have adjourned until November 13, 2018. The Arc will resume publishing Capitol Insider when Congress returns.

​​​​Prepared by:
Peters, Cannata & Moody, PLC

The Arc of Arizona


The Arc of the United States

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 to start or renew your Membership today!
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