Royals & Rescues At the Statehouse... For a week that started out “All Meghan and…
Who Was That Masked Man?
At the Statehouse…
Whoever he was, he may be riding off into the sunset, no longer welcome in these parts.Just a day after the Arizona House of Representatives gave its stamp of approval to a bill allowing businesses across the state to disregard local mask mandates – with one scientifically astute legislator pointing out masks were not required to prevent the spread of AIDS in the 1980s – Gov. Ducey issued a new directive allowing restaurants and bars, sporting events, gyms, and other recreation and entertainment venues to resume operation at full capacity. Although social distancing requirements remain in place, and masks may still be mandated (although, also, possibly ignored) occupancy limits are gone by the wayside. Surely someone smarter than us can explain the quantum physics involved.
Not In My Back Office
All you couples who got too many toasters or blenders or air poppers as wedding gifts – you’ll understand the Arizona Senate’s predicament: What do you do with 2.1 million of something you asked for – even filed a lawsuit to obtain – but, once you got it, decided maybe it really didn’t fit the décor?Such is the dilemma facing the Senate. With a bewildered and befuddled “What am I supposed to do with that?”, Senators were presented this week with the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County in the 2020 general election. The very ballots they had so high on their Christmas wish list. The very ballots they subpoenaed from the Maricopa County Supervisors, then sued the County to turn over after the Supes challenged the subpoena. The very ballots certain Senators believe may prove fraud was committed in November. And the very ballots the subpoena stated must be delivered to the Senate building.
They really, really seemed to have a jones for those ballots.
Except…that’s a lot of ballots (2,800 boxes on 73 pallets, as a matter of fact). And they take up a lot of space. And by law they must be kept secure. And it turns out the Senators had no plan in place for either accepting, storing or auding the ballots on their own turf. Instead, they expected Maricopa County to provide a venue for the audit – an idea the County says isn’t feasible because it has moved on to handling a new set of elections. Seems as though communication wasn’t the strong suit of this suit. Which leads some to wonder how an audit aiming to restore confidence in election integrity can achieve that aim if the public cannot be confident those calling for the audit are entirely on their game. And proves you really, really need to be careful what you wish for.
Asserting COVID-19 vaccines will now reach a larger number of the state’s most at-risk residents, on Monday the Arizona Dept. of Health Services and Governor’s office unveiled a new age-based “hybrid” model at two state-operated vaccination sites in Glendale and Phoenix. At the same time, they announced all individuals 55 years old and older would be eligible to receive the vaccine at the two state sites starting March 4. (As proof of how great the demand is, the 50,000 additional registration slots opened for this purpose on March 2 were filled in a matter of two hours.) The plan includes transition protocols and a projected timeline to help counties and private providers move from the original prioritization standards to the age-based system.As Arizona inched closer to the 2 million-shot mark statewide – a milestone reached on Friday – concerns linger about the reticence of many people, both in Arizona and nationwide, to trust the safety and efficacy of the shots. To combat mistrust and misinformation, ADHS has turned to posting personal testimonials on its social media accounts in hopes these will positively influence people who are eligible for vaccination but so far have shied away – especially in vulnerable communities that have experienced a disproportionate impact from the coronavirus.
Which also leads to…
The new prioritization structure elicited more than a few frowny-face emojis, however. Among those definitely not feeling the love from the age-based vaccination policy is a large number of Arizonans with intellectual, developmental or other disabilities, especially those served by the Arizona Long Term Care System.After months of trying to get ADHS’s attention to the special health vulnerabilities of individuals with disabilities and arguing in favor of prioritizing ALTCS members for access to the vaccines – only to be met with deafening silence from the state – self-advocates and advocates including The Arc of Tempe and The Arc of Arizona held a press conference on Thursday to express their frustration at having their pleas ignored. To date only ALTCS members residing in licensed group homes or other congregate facilities have been offered the vaccine – a group that represents a small fraction of the ALTCS population, despite the fact that those living in family homes or other community settings may have identical diagnoses, and therefore risks, to those in group homes. Existing policies also disregard the lifelong health vulnerabilities of individuals with disabilities which, advocates point out, are nowhere taken into consideration in Arizona’s new vaccine policy.
Individuals with I/DD are not alone in finding fault with vaccine rollout. Those who require mobility, communication or other assistance point to widespread lack of accommodations required under the Americans with Disabilities Act at vaccination sites around the state, leading to unacceptable challenges getting vaccinated. Advocates participating in the presser on Thursday called upon Gov. Ducey and ADHS Director Cara Christ to immediately address these issues.
- H2023 (SCHOOLS; EMPLOYEES; EMPLOYMENT; DISCIPLINE) – Dept of Education required to investigate written complaints alleging that a “noncertificated person” has engaged in immoral or unprofessional conduct. State Board of Education authorized to review complaint to determine whether to take disciplinary action against noncertificated person who has engaged in immoral or unprofessional conduct, including prohibiting person’s employment at school district or charter school for up to five years. School districts and charter schools required to conduct search of educator information system maintained by Dept on prospective employee and prohibited from employing in position that requires valid fingerprint clearance card either certificated person whose certificate has been suspended, surrendered or revoked and not reinstated, or noncertificated person prohibited from employment at a school district or charter school by Board under this legislation. Passed House 58-0 01/28/21. Substituted for identical bill S1061, passed Senate 29-0. Signed by Governor 02/05/21.
- H2046 (DISABILITY LICENSE PLATES; MINORS) – Dept of Transportation required to issue special disability license plates to person who is parent or legal guardian of minor with permanent physical disabilities. Person issued special disability license plate on behalf of minor under this requirement may only use designated and marked parking space when transporting minor with permanent physical disabilities. Passed Senate Transportation and Technology 03/01/21.
- H2113 (CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTION; DEDUCTION; INFLATION ADJUSTMENT) – For tax years beginning with 2022, Dept of Revenue required to adjust percentage of taxpayer’s charitable deductions that are allowed in addition to standard deduction for personal income taxes according to average annual change in metropolitan Phoenix Consumer Price Index published by US Dept of Labor, except that adjusted percentage cannot exceed 100 percent. Revised percentage must be raised to nearest whole percent and cannot be revised below amounts prescribed in the prior taxable year. Passed Senate Finance 03/03/21.
- H2141 (APPROPRIATIONS; ALTERNATIVE PROSECUTION; DIVERSION PROGRAM) – Appropriates $11,264,625 from general fund in each of FY2021-22, FY2022-23, and FY2023-24 to Arizona Criminal Justice Commission for alternative prosecution and diversion programs. Specifies amounts to be allocated each fiscal year to each county attorney’s office. Monies may be used only to establish and operate alternative prosecution and diversion programs, and to explore, develop, apply and evaluate evidence-based best practices for alternative prosecution and diversion programs. Passed House, as amended, 56-4 02/23/21. Referred to Senate Judiciary and Senate Appropriations.
- H2186 (PROSECUTION; DEFERRED; DIVERTED) – County attorney no longer prohibited from diverting or deferring the prosecution of a person who has been previously convicted of a serious offense, a sexual offense, a dangerous offense, or a dangerous crime against children, or who has been convicted three or more times of either personal possession of a controlled substance or personal possession of drug paraphernalia. Passed House 52-7 02/11/21. To be heard in Senate Judiciary Thursday 03/11/21 9:00 AM, Senate Rm. 1. Watch here.
- H2298 (MEDICAL MARIJUANA; RESEARCH; GRANTS) – Arizona Biomedical Research Center in Dept of Health Services required to provide competitive grants from monies in Medical Marijuana Fund for marijuana research studies, including clinical testing for safety and efficacy of using marijuana and researching public health implications of medical marijuana use in Arizona and impacts of marijuana interactions with prescription drugs. Center authorized to provide up to $5 million annually for five consecutive years from Fund to administer and award competitive grants. Legislation requires affirmative vote of at least 3/4 of members of each house of Legislature for passage. Passed House 58-1 02/23/21. Referred to Senate Health and Human Services.
- H2299 (DHS; LONG-TERM FACILITY SURVEYORS) – Makes supplemental appropriation of $1 million and 13 FTE from the general fund in FY2021-22 to Dept of Health Services to hire additional long-term care facility surveyors. Passed House, as amended, 40-18 02/08/21. Referred to Senate Appropriations.
- H2334 (DANGEROUS; INCOMPETENT PERSON; EVALUATION; COMMITMENT) – Establishes new chapter in Title 36 (Public Health and Safety) governing procedures for dangerous and incompetent persons who are committed. Requires biannual examination of such persons, and requires court to hold hearing on examination report that indicates person is no longer dangerous or incompetent. Committed incompetent allowed to petition court for conditional release or discharge under certain circumstances; requirements for hearings and determinations on petition are established. Establishes requirements for detention and commitment and for revocation of conditional release. Committed incompetent cannot be transported from licensed facility except for specified reasons. Also makes various changes to statutes relating to determining whether defendant is dangerous or incompetent. Retroactive to January 1, 2021. Passed House 45-14 03/03/21. Referred to Senate Judiciary.
- H2409 (ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES; AUDIT; APPROPRIATION) – Auditor General required to engage independent consultant with expertise in adult protective services operations and investigations to examine current adult protective services and consider best practices to improve delivery of services in Arizona. Consultant required to submit report of its findings and recommendations to Governor and Legislature by July 1, 2022. Appropriates $300,000 from the general fund in FY2021-22 to Auditor General for this purpose. Passed House 55-4 02/24/21. To be heard in Senate Appropriations Tuesday 03/09/21, Senate Rm. 109. Watch here.
- H2454 (TELEHEALTH; HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS; REQUIREMENTS) – Modifies requirements for health and disability insurers to cover telehealth services, and applies these requirements to policies issued, delivered or renewed on or after January 1, 2021. Insurers required to reimburse health care providers at same level of payment for equivalent services whether provided through telehealth or in-person care. Definition of “telehealth” expanded to include use of audio-only telephone encounter between insured and health care provider if specified conditions are met. Medical examinations for workers’ compensation insurance may be conducted via telehealth with consent of both employee and requesting party. Health care provider regulatory board or agency prohibited from enforcing any statute, rule or policy that would require health care provider licensed by that board or agency and authorized to write prescriptions to require in-person examination of patient before issuing a prescription, except as specifically prescribed by federal law. Health care providers required to make good faith effort to use best practices in determining whether health care service should be provided through telehealth instead of in person. Health care providers licensed in another state authorized to provide telehealth services to person in Arizona if provider complies with list of requirements, including maintaining liability insurance and following community of care standards. Establishes 22-member Telehealth Advisory Committee on Telehealth Best Practices to review standards for telehealth best practices and relevant peer-reviewed literature. Emergency clause. Passed House 37-22 02/11/21. Referred to Senate Finance.
- H2521 (LONG-TERM CARE; HEALTH AIDES) – Subject to approval by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Director of AHCCCS Administration required to implement program under which licensed health aide services may be provided to Arizona Long-Term Care System (ALTCS) members under 21 years of age. Licensed health aide services may be provided only by parent, guardian or family member who is licensed health aide employed by Medicare-certified home health agency service provider. Person who wishes to practice as licensed health aide required to apply to Board of Nursing and pay application fee of $50. Establishes qualifications for licensure as health aide, including completion of training program approved by Board and competency examination. Passed Senate Health and Human Services 03/03/21.
- H2533 (STATEWIDE ADA COORDINATOR; APPROPRIATION) – Governor’s Office of Equal Opportunity required to hire full-time statewide Americans with disabilities coordinator to implement annual plan to carry out requirements of Americans with Disabilities Act in Arizona. Appropriates $100,000 and 1 FTE position from general fund in FY2021-22 to Office for coordinator. Passed House 44-16 03/04/21. Ready for Senate.
- H2535 (MANDATORY REPORTING; VULNERABLE ADULTS; PENALTIES) – List of persons with duty to report reasonable belief that vulnerable adult has been victim of abuse, neglect or exploitation is expanded to include any “health professional” who has responsibility for care of vulnerable adult. If failure to report involves sexual offense, criminal classification is class 6 (lowest) felony, instead of class 1 (highest) misdemeanor. Emergency clause. Passed House 59-0 02/23/21. Referred to Senate Health and Human Services.
- H2538 (SUPPORTED DECISION-MAKING; SUPPORTER OBLIGATIONS) – Adds new article to Title 14 (Trusts, Estates and Protective Proceedings) regulating “supported decision-making agreements,” defined as agreement between adult with “disability” (defined as physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities) and “supporter” (defined) to enable adult to make life decisions without impeding adult’s self-determination. Adult is authorized to voluntarily enter into supported decision-making agreement to authorize supporter to provide supported decision-making, assist adult with accessing relevant information and understanding that information, and assist adult in communicating adult’s decisions to appropriate persons. Supported decision-making agreement is required to set forth rights and obligations of both adult and supporter. If supporter intimidates or deceives adult in procuring supported decision-making agreement, supporter is subject to criminal prosecution and civil penalties. Supporter prohibited from receiving compensation as result of supporter’s duties under supported decision-making agreement. An “interested person” (defined) authorized to file verified petition with superior court to determine validity of supported decision-making agreement. Supported decision-making agreement required to be signed by adult and supporter in presence of two or more subscribing witnesses or notary public. Supported decision-making agreement terminates if at any time adult becomes “incapacitated person” or on appointment of guardian. Establishes standard form for supported decision-making agreements and requires supported decision-making agreements to be in substantially that form. Supported decision-making agreement is added to definition of “governing instrument” for purpose of Title 14. Effective January 1, 2022. To be heard in Senate Judiciary Thursday 03/11/21 9:00 AM, Senate Rm. 1. Watch here.
- H2565 (AREA AGENCIES ON AGING; APPROPRIATION) – Appropriates $2.5 million from general fund in FY2021-22 to Dept of Economic Security to distribute to area agencies on aging for home and community-based services. Legislature intends that this appropriation be considered ongoing funding in future years. Passed House 45-14 02/24/21. Referred to Senate Appropriations.
- H2585 (OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS; FINGERPRINT CLEARANCES CARDS) – Beginning January 1, 2022, applicant for licensure by Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners is required to possess valid fingerprint clearance card, instead of being required to submit full set of fingerprints for criminal records check. Effective January 1, 2022. To be heard in Senate Health and Human Services Wednesday 03/10/21, Senate Rm. 1. Watch here.
- H2792 (EARLY BALLOTS; REQUEST REQUIRED) – Except for a voter who is on permanent early voting list or for an all mail-ballot election, a county recorder, municipality clerk or other election officer is prohibited from delivering or mailing early ballot to person who has not requested early ballot for that election. An election officer who violates this prohibition is guilty of class 5 (second lowest) felony. Passed House 31-28 03/04/21. Ready for Senate.
- H2811 (SAME DAY REGISTRATION; PROHIBITION) – An agency, department or division of Arizona or any person acting on its behalf, and any political subdivision or any person acting on its behalf prohibited from registering person to vote on election day and deeming that person eligible to vote in that election. Any person who violates this section is guilty of class 6 (lowest) felony. Passed House 31-28 03/03/21. Referred to Senate Government.
- HCR2016 (INITIATIVES; SUPERMAJORITY VOTE REQUIREMENT) – The 2022 general election ballot to carry question of whether to amend state Constitution to require approval by 60 percent of votes cast on measure for an initiative or referendum measure to become law, instead of majority of votes cast. Passed House 31-29 03/04/21. Ready for Senate.
- S1003 (EARLY VOTING; SIGNATURE REQUIRED; NOTICE) – If signature is missing from early ballot envelope, county recorder or other officer in charge of elections required to make reasonable efforts to contact voter, advise voter of missing signature and allow voter to add signature no later than 7:00 PM on election day. Information that must be printed in instructions to early voters must include statement that ballot will not be counted without voter’s signature on envelope. Session law states that Legislature intends these are clarifying changes only and do not provide for any substantive change in the law. Passed Senate 16-14 03/03/21. Ready for House.
- S1007 (PARENTAL RIGHTS; TERMINATION; SEXUAL ASSAULT) – At any time, parent of child who was conceived as result of “sexual assault” (defined) committed against that parent by child’s other parent may file petition to terminate parental rights of parent who committed sexual assault. Court authorized to grant petition to terminate parental rights if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that child was conceived as result of such sexual assault. It is presumed that termination of parental rights under these circumstances is in best interest of child. If parent who is subject of the petition pleads guilty to or is convicted of sexual assault, court must accept guilty plea or conviction as conclusive proof that child was conceived as result of sexual assault by that parent. Passed Senate 30-0 03/03/21. Ready for House.
- S1028 (ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT; SPECIAL EDUCATION) – State Board of Education required to adopt rules that allow student to participate in alternative testing instead of required statewide testing if student is enrolled in special education program and meets criteria specified by Board. Establishes 13-member Alternative Assessment Study Committee to discuss alternative assessments and related issues. Passed House Education 03/02/21.
- S1029 (PSYCHIATRIC SECURITY REVIEW BOARD; HEARINGS) – Numerous changes to statutes relating to Psychiatric Security Review Board. Modifies process for examining defendant pleading guilty except insane. After plea of guilty or after disposition of matter where defendant has pled guilty except insane, court is required to order reports sealed, and may order that reports be opened only for list of specified purposes. Modifies actions that the Board may take after hearing requested by person who is placed under Board jurisdiction. Establishes requirements for person who is conditionally released by Board, including that supervised treatment plan must be in place. All hearings conducted by Board are subject to Uniform Administrative Hearing Procedures Act. Procedures for requesting hearing before Board are repealed and replaced. Board is independent state agency. One former judge is added to Board as chairperson and nonvoting member, except if necessary to break tie vote. Compensation for Board members changed. Board required to employ Executive Director to perform all administrative, operational and financial functions for Board. Beginning January 1, 2022, Board members required to complete 12 hours of training within one year after initial appointment to Board. Board is authorized to set hearing to monitor person’s progress on its own motion. Establishes process for treatment supervisor to request hearing by Board. Board is required to hold hearing for each person under Board jurisdiction at least once every 24 months. Establishes procedures for and conditions under which Board may order a person’s return to secure mental health facility. Establishes process for Board to transfer jurisdiction of person from Board to superior court. Before any hearing before Board, either party permitted to retain independent qualified expert to evaluate person and make recommendations to Board. Appropriates unspecified amount (blank in original) from general fund in FY2021-22 to Board for operating costs. Passed Senate 30-0, as amended, 02/23/21. Referred to House Judiciary and House Appropriations.
- S1030 (GUILTY EXCEPT INSANE; COURT JURISDICTION) – Repeals Psychiatric Security Review Board. Beginning from and after effective date of this act, superior court has exclusive supervisory jurisdiction over all persons under supervision of Board on the effective date of this legislation. Superior court vested with powers and duties of Board as they existed before effective date of legislation. Various sections of statute repealed and replaced or transferred to different section of statute. Impossible to determine new provisions without a line by line comparison. Effective July 1, 2022. Passed Senate 30-0 02/23/21. Referred to House Judiciary.
- S1058 (SCHOOLS; LEARNING MATERIALS; ACTIVITIES) – By July 1 of each year, each school district and charter school required to prominently list on publicly accessible portion of website “learning materials” and “activities” (both defined) that were used for student instruction at school during prior school year, organized by subject area and grade, and any procedures in effect for review or approval of learning materials and activities. Information that must be included in list is specified. Passed Senate 16-14 03/03/21. Ready for House.
- S1059 (MENTAL DISORDERS; CONSIDERATIONS; INVOLUNTARY TREATMENT) – For purpose of statutes relating to mental health services, including court-ordered evaluation and treatment, definition of “mental disorder” modified to remove language distinguishing mental disorder from conditions that are primarily those of drug abuse, alcoholism, or intellectual disability and from character and personality disorders. Person who has substance use disorder without any co-occurring mental disorder cannot be considered for involuntary treatment. Person who initially presents with impairments consistent with both mental disorder and substance use disorder eligible for screening and evaluation, and may be eligible for involuntary treatment if, after considering person’s history, appropriate examination and reasonable period of detoxification, impairments of mental disorder persist or recur. Person who has intellectual disability or character or personality disorder cannot be considered for involuntary treatment unless person also has mental disorder that would benefit from treatment. Passed Senate 29-0 02/11/21. Referred to House Health & Human Services.
- S1061 (SCHOOLS; EMPLOYEES; EMPLOYMENT; DISCIPLINE) – Dept of Education required to investigate written complaints alleging that a “noncertificated person” has engaged in immoral or unprofessional conduct. State Board of Education authorized to review complaint to determine whether to take disciplinary action against noncertificated person who has engaged in immoral or unprofessional conduct, including prohibiting person’s employment at school district or charter school for up to five years. School districts and charter schools required to conduct search of educator information system maintained by Dept on prospective employee and prohibited from employing in position that requires valid fingerprint clearance card either certificated person whose certificate has been suspended, surrendered or revoked and not reinstated, or noncertificated person prohibited from employment at a school district or charter school by Board under this legislation. Passed Senate Education 01/13/21. Identical bill H2023 substituted. Passed House 58-0 01/28/21. Signed by Governor 02/05/21.
- S1069 (PERMANENT EARLY VOTING LIST; ELIGIBILITY) – If voter fails to vote an early ballot in both primary election and general election for two consecutive primary and general elections for which there was federal, statewide or legislative race on ballot, county recorder is required to remove voter from the permanent early voting list and voter will no longer be sent early ballot by mail automatically. By December 1 of each even-numbered year, county recorder or other officer in charge of elections is required to send notice to each voter removed under this provision informing voter that if voter wishes to remain on permanent early voting list, voter must confirm in writing, sign notice, and return completed notice within 30 days after notice is sent. Failed Senate 15-15, as amended, 02/16/21.
- S1085 (NURSING-SUPPORTED GROUP HOMES; LICENSURE) – By July 1, 2022, “nursing supported group home” operated in Arizona by service provider under contract with Dept of Economic Security required to be licensed as health care institution. Effective July 1, 2022, nursing supported group homes added to various statutes regulating group homes. Nursing supported group home not required to comply with zoning standards for health care institution prescribed by Dept of Health Services. Passed House Health & Human Services 03/01/21.
- S1092 (DEAF; HARD OF HEARING; DEAFBLIND) – Duties of Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing expanded to include issues and services relating to needs of “deafblind” (defined), and to include making recommendations to Legislature on assessment standards that optimize language acquisition and literacy development of deaf and hard of hearing newborns, infants and children. Passed Senate 29-0 02/04/21. Referred to House Health & Human Services.
- S1093 (DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES; SPINA BIFIDA) – Definition of “developmental disability” is expanded to include severe, chronic disability that is attributable to “spina bifida”. Passed Senate 29-0 02/04/21. Referred to House Health & Human services and House Appropriations.
- S1097 (PUPILS; EXCUSED ABSENCES; MENTAL HEALTH) – Arizona Dept of Education required to identify absence due to mental or behavioral health of pupil as excused absence. ADE authorized to adopt guidelines and rules for determining what constitutes absence due to mental or behavioral health of pupil. Passed House Education 03/02/21.
- S1114 (SCHOOLS; REQUIRED POSTING; ABUSE HOTLINE) – School district schools and charter schools required to post in clearly visible location in public area of school that is readily accessible to students a sign that contains telephone number of centralized intake hotline concerning suspected abuse and neglect of children, instructions to call 911 for emergencies, and directions for accessing website of Dept of Child Safety for more information. Passed Senate 30-0 02/23/21. Referred to House Education.
- S1126 (APPROPRIATION; BEHAVIORAL RISK FACTOR SURVEY) – Appropriates $160,000 from general fund in FY2021-22 to Dept of Health Services to fund Arizona-specific behavioral risk factor surveillance survey on cognitive decline and caregiver modules. Passed Senate Appropriations 01/20/21. Passed Senate 28-1 01/28/21. Referred to House Health & Human Services and House Appropriations.
- S1135 (INCOME TAX SUBTRACTION; 529 CONTRIBUTIONS) – Subtraction from Arizona gross income for purposes of individual income taxes for contributions to college savings plans established under section 529 of federal Internal Revenue Code modified to allow taxpayers to subtract up to $2,000 per beneficiary, instead of $2,000 total, for single individual or head of household, and to subtract up to $4,000 per beneficiary, instead of $4,000 total, for married couple filing jointly. Retroactive to tax years beginning with 2021. Passed Senate 18-12 02/16/21. Passed House Ways & Means 03/03/21.
- S1141 (HEALTH CARE INSTITUTIONS; ACCREDITATION; INSPECTIONS) – Dept of Health Services authorized to accept accreditation report in lieu of compliance inspection for any health care institution, instead of only behavioral health residential facility providing services to children, only if institution is accredited by independent, nonprofit accrediting organization approved by Secretary of the US Dept of Health and Human Services, and institution has not been subject to enforcement action within year preceding annual licensing fee anniversary date. Passed Senate Health and Human Services 01/20/21. Passed Senate 29-0 01/28/21. Substituted in House for identical bill 2290. Passed House 59-0. Signed by Governor 02/12/21.
- S1142 (SMI; EMPLOYMENT; INCOME TAX CREDITS) – For tax years 2022 through 2024, establishes individual and corporate income tax credit for taxpayer who employs 100 employees or fewer and who employs at least one Arizona resident who is “seriously mentally ill” (defined elsewhere in statute). Amount of credit is $2 for each hour worked by eligible employee during calendar year, capped at $20,000 per taxpayer. If allowable amount of credit exceeds taxes due, unused amount may be carried forward for up to five consecutive taxable years. Credit is subject to aggregate cap of $5 million for any calendar year. Passed Senate 25-5 02/23/21. Referred to House Ways & Means.
- S1221 (VULNERABLE ADULTS; JURISDICTION; GRAND JURIES) – Any violation of Title 13 (Criminal Code) or Title 46 (Welfare) where victim is a “vulnerable adult” is added to list of offenses or violations of law that state grand jury’s authority to investigate and return indictments for is limited to. Passed Senate Judiciary 01/28/21. Passed Senate 29-0 02/4/21. Referred to House Judiciary.
- S1256 (VICTIMS’ PRIVACY; CRIMINAL CASE INFORMATION) – A victim’s identifying and locating information obtained, compiled or reported by law enforcement agency or prosecution agency must be redacted from records pertaining to criminal case involving victim, including discovery disclosed to defendant’s attorney or any of attorney’s staff. Passed Senate 21-9 02/16/21. Substituted in House for identical bill H2428. Passed House 58-2 02/22/21. Signed by Governor 02/26/21.
- S1292 (APPROPRIATION; DYSLEXIA AND LITERACY SERVICES) – Appropriates $2.5 million from general fund in FY2021-22 to Dept of Education for list of specified dyslexia and literacy services, including designating dyslexia specialist, implementing dyslexia screening plan, improving reading proficiency of pupils in kindergarten through 3rd grade, and distributing to school districts and charter schools to provide additional funding to support students with language-based learning struggles, including dyslexia. Passed Senate 22-8 02/17/21. Failed Senate on reconsideration 15-15 02/17/21.
- S1319 (APPROPRIATION; AGENCIES ON AGING; OMBUDSMAN) – Appropriates $1 million from general fund in FY2021-22 to Dept of Economic Security to distribute to area agencies on aging for ombudsman services. Legislature intends that appropriation be considered ongoing funding in future years. Passed Senate 23-7 02/23/21. Referred to House Health & Human Services and House Appropriations.
- S1321 (APPROPRIATION; ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES) Makes supplemental appropriation of $3 million and 43 FTE positions from general fund in FY2021-22 to Dept of Economic Security for Adult Protective Services. Passed Senate 28-2 02/18/21. Referred to House Health & Human Services and House Appropriations.
- S1355 (DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES; PROVIDER INCREASES) – Appropriates following amounts in the following fiscal years to Dept of Economic Security (DES) to provide reimbursement rate increases for services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities: $30 million from general fund and unspecified amount (blank in original) in Medicaid expenditure authority in FY2021-22, and unspecified amount (blank in original) from general fund and unspecified amount (blank in original) in Medicaid expenditure authority in FY2022-23 and FY2023-24. DES required to use FY2019-20 rate rebase study to provide reimbursement rate increases for all services provided to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in FY2021-22, FY2022-23, and FY2023-24 so that each service receives increase in each of three fiscal years. DES required to ensure all reimbursement rates for services provided to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are at 100 percent of benchmark rates by end of FY2023-24. DES is required to report to Joint Legislative Budget Committee by September 1 each fiscal year describing its plans to implement these provider rate increases. Contains a legislative intent section. Passed Senate 28-0 02/24/21. Referred to House Health & Human Services and House Appropriations.
- S1373 (HEALTH FACILITIES; DUTY OF CARE) – Licensed health care institutions that provide congregant or residential care and institution’s employees and agents have affirmative duty of care for their residents. These institutions are required to provide basic life support and first aid, in accordance with resident’s advance directives and do-not-resuscitate order, including initiating immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before arrival of emergency medical services, to resident who experiences symptoms of cardiac arrest or cessation of respiration. Staff certified in CPR and first aid must be available at the health care institution at all times. These institutions prohibited from implementing policies that prevent employees from providing immediate CPR, first aid or emergency care to institution’s residents. Passed Senate 25-5, as amended, 02/23/21. Referred to House Health & Human Services.
- S1374 (CRISIS STANDARDS OF CARE; REQUIREMENTS) – If Department of Health Services (DHS) adopts or establishes a crisis standards of care plan to address resource allocation when demand for certain health care services exceeds supply of necessary resources, a list of specified tenets and requirements apply to plan, including requiring individual assessments made on basis of best available objective medical evidence. A health care provider or health care institution staff member is prohibited from pressuring or coercing patient or patient’s health care decision maker to sign do-not-resuscitate order or make particular health care treatment decision. DHS required to modify any existing crisis standards of care plan within 60 days after effective date of this legislation to comply with these requirements. Emergency clause. Retained on Senate COW calendar 02/22/21.
- S1376 (SCHOOLS; CURRICULUM; MENTAL HEALTH) – State Board of Education must require that all health education instruction include mental health instruction. Mental health instruction may be included in health course or another existing course and is required to incorporate multiple dimensions of health by including mental health and relationship of physical and mental health to enhance student understanding, social and emotional learning, and attitudes and behavior that promote health and well-being. Passed House Education 03/02/21.
- S1381 (DISABILITY-SELECTION ABORTION; PROHIBITED) – It is class 2 (second highest) felony to perform an abortion knowing that abortion is sought based on disability, sex or race of child or child’s parent, and to solicit or accept monies to finance disability-selection, sex-selection or race-selection abortion. Previously, it was class 3 (upper mid-level) felony to perform abortion knowing that abortion is sought based on sex or race of child or child’s parent, and to solicit or accept monies to finance sex-selection or race-selection abortion. Increases maximum civil penalty for physician, physician’s assistant, nurse, counselor or other medical or mental health professional who knowingly does not report known violations of this section to appropriate law enforcement authorities to $20,000, from $10,000. Passed Senate Judiciary, as amended, 02/18/21. No further action to date.
- S1389 (INCAPACITATED PERSON; SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR) – In domestic relations proceeding, if court finds reasonable cause to believe an adult party is or may be “incapacitated person” or “person in need of protection” (both defined elsewhere in statute) and that party is or may be in need of guardianship and/or conservatorship, court is authorized to appoint special investigator to conduct investigation concerning need for guardian and/or conservator. If deemed necessary, on request of special investigator or on court’s own motion court is authorized to order independent evaluation by licensed physician. A special investigator appointed by court and any evaluator designated by court may receive reasonable compensation for work performed, which must be paid for by person alleged to be incapacitated or in need of protection or paid from appropriate available marital community property fund or asset. Passed Senate 28-0 02/25/21. Ready for House.
- S1390 (GUARDIAN AD LITEM; PROTECTIVE PROCEEDING) – Court is authorized to appoint guardian ad litem for individual if court determines that individual’s best interest otherwise would not be represented or adequately protected. If conflict of interest does not exist, a guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent multiple individuals or interests. If not otherwise compensated, guardian ad litem is entitled to reasonable compensation from estate of ward or protected person. Passed Senate 28-2 03/03/21. Ready for House.
- S1415 (GUARDIANSHIP PROCEEDINGS; SEALING OF RECORDS) – If petition for guardianship is withdrawn before adjudication of incapacity or is denied based on finding that allegation of incapacity is unproven, or if petition for guardianship was filed frivolously or without merit, court is permitted to order that file and records contained in file be sealed. A file that is sealed may only be unsealed pursuant to court order after showing of good cause. Passed Senate 30-0 02/24/21. Referred to House Judiciary.
- S1417 (HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES; CONTACT ORDERS) – An agent who is appointed under health care directive is required to encourage and allow contact between principal and other persons who have significant relationship with principal, but is authorized to limit, restrict or prohibit contact between principal and any person if agent reasonably believes that contact will be detrimental to principal’s health, safety or welfare. A person who has significant relationship with principal may petition court for order compelling agent to allow person to have contact with principal. Establishes list of factors court must consider in determining what, if any, contact between person and principal is in principal’s best interest. Establishes requirements for modifying, suspending, or terminating contact order. Passed Senate 28-0 03/01/21. Referred to House Health & Human Services.
- S1456 (SEX EDUCATION INSTRUCTION; PARENTAL RIGHTS) – School districts and charter schools prohibited from providing sex education instruction before 5th grade. Prohibits charter schools, in addition to school districts, from providing sex education instruction to student unless student’s parent provides written permission. Written permission from a parent is also required for student to participate in instruction on AIDS and HIV. School districts and charter schools required to make any sex education curricula, including curricula related to instruction on AIDS and HIV, available for parent’s review, and to notify parents where curricula is available before parent provides written permission. Before school district or charter school offers sex education instruction, school district governing board or charter school governing body required to review and approve sex education course of study and ensure compliance with statute. Before approval, board must make any proposed sex education course of study available to public for review and comment. Public educational institutions required to obtain signed, written consent from student’s parent or guardian before providing sex education instruction or instruction regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to student. When public educational institution seeks consent, it must at same time inform student’s parent or guardian of parent or guardian’s right to review instructional materials and activities. By December 15, 2021, each school district and charter school that offers any sex education instruction required to review its course of study and revise to comply with legislation. Passed Senate 16-14 03/03/21. Ready for House.
- S1457 (ABORTION; UNBORN CHILD; GENETIC ABNORMALITY) Numerous changes to statutes relating to abortion. Laws of Arizona are required to be interpreted and construed to acknowledge, on behalf of an “unborn child” (defined elsewhere in statute) at every stage of development, all rights, privileges and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents of Arizona, subject only to U.S. Constitution and decisional interpretations thereof by U.S. Supreme Court. Does not create cause of action against woman for indirectly harming her unborn child by failing to properly care for herself or failing to follow any particular program of prenatal care. Except in medical emergency, it is class 3 (upper mid-level) felony to knowingly perform abortion knowing that abortion is sought because of “genetic abnormality” (defined) of child. It is class 3 (upper mid-level) felony to knowingly use force or threat of force to coerce abortion because of genetic abnormality of child or to solicit or accept monies to finance abortion because of genetic abnormality of child. A facility run by or that operates on property of public educational institution, and person who is employed by public educational institution acting within scope of employment are prohibited from performing or providing abortion, unless abortion is necessary to save life of woman having abortion, counseling in favor of abortion, or providing referral for abortion. Public monies or tax monies of Arizona or political subdivision, including federal pass-through monies, and monies paid by students as part of tuition or fees to state university or community college are prohibited from being expended or allocated for research project that involves abortion or human somatic cell nuclear transfer. Dept. of Health Services required to adopt rules relating to final disposition of bodily remains from surgical abortion, which must include that woman has right to determine final disposition of bodily remains and be informed of available options. Abortion-inducing drug may be provided only by qualified physician in accordance with statutory requirements. Manufacturer, supplier or physician or any other person prohibited from providing abortion-inducing drug via courier, delivery or mail service. More. Legislature, by concurrent resolution, may appoint one or more members who sponsored or cosponsored legislation in member’s official capacity to intervene as matter of right in any case in which constitutionality of legislation is challenged. Severability clause. Passed Senate 16-14 03/04/21. Ready for House.
- S1466 (FAMILY CAREGIVER GRANT PROGRAM) – Family Caregiver Grant Program expanded to include individual’s qualifying expenses during a calendar year due to caring for and supporting qualifying family member in qualifying family member’s primary residence, in addition to in individual’s home. An individual who receives Program grant ineligible to apply for another Program grant after receiving $1,000 for each qualifying family member, instead of being ineligible for three consecutive calendar years after receiving a Program grant. Session law allows individual who received Program grant before effective date of this legislation to apply for additional grant monies if individual has not received grant monies totaling $1,000 for each qualifying family member. Passed Senate 30-0 02/18/21. Referred to House Health & Human Services.
- S1512 (VULNERABLE PERSONS; INSPECTIONS; NEGLECT) – Increases criminal classification for improper, abusive treatment or neglect of person with developmental disability to class 1 (highest) misdemeanor, from class 2 (mid-level) misdemeanor. Definition of “neglect” for this purpose expanded to include intentional failure to report client’s health problems or changes in client’s health condition to an immediate family member or client’s guardian, health care advocate or health care power of attorney within 24 hours, and intentional failure to attempt to restore client’s health to equilibrium as soon as reasonable. Dept of Health Services (DHS) required to visit each adult developmental home and child developmental home without prior notice at least two times each calendar year, instead of annually, and inspect the premises. During each visit, DHS required to communicate with each resident without presence of home’s staff. Office of State Long-term Care Ombudsman required to visit each long-term care facility in Arizona without prior notice at least two times each calendar year to speak with each resident without presence of the facility’s staff. Senate COW approved, as amended, 03/04/21.
- S1593 (EARLY VOTING; TIME LIMITS; ENVELOPE) – Early ballot distribution cannot begin more than 22 days, decreased from 27 days, before election, and early ballots must be mailed no later than 19th day, instead of 24th day, before election. Officer charged by law with duty of preparing ballots is required to provide second internal envelope that bears ballot affidavit and is designed to contain voted ballot and be placed inside ballot return envelope. If voter mails voted ballot and affidavit to county recorder or other officer in charge of elections, ballot is valid only if postmarked on or before Thursday before election day and received no later than 7PM on election day. Retained on Senate COW calendar 03/01/21.
- S1660 (CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN; DEPENDENCIES; OMNIBUS) – Numerous changes to statues relating to dependent children. For purpose of Criminal Code relating to sexual offenses, definition of “position of trust” expanded to include adult school employees, minor’s employer, employee of group home or residential treatment facility where minor resides, and more. On motion of prosecution, court may order that pro se defendant in prosecution for sexual abuse or child sex trafficking is prohibited from directly questioning minor victim if court determines direct questioning by pro se defendant would prevent minor victim from being able to reasonably communicate. Term “child sex trafficking” replaces term “prostitution” in various statutes. State Board of Education required to establish best practices for social media and cellular telephone use between students and school personnel, including teachers, coaches and counselors, and encourage school district governing boards and charter school governing bodies to adopt policies that implement these best practices. Dept of Education required to develop statewide training curriculum on child abuse mandatory reporting laws for public school personnel, and each public school must require its personnel to complete training. Senate COW approved, as amended, 03/04/21.
- S1680 (NEWBORN SCREENING PROGRAM; TESTING) – Newborn screening program is required to include all congenital disorders included on recommended uniform screening panel adopted by Secretary of U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services for both core and secondary conditions. Beginning January 1, 2022, disorders added to core and secondary conditions list of recommended uniform screening panel must be added to Arizona’s newborn screening panel within two years after addition. Session law requires Dept of Health Services (DHS) to add spinal muscular atrophy and x-linked adrenoleukodystrophy to Arizona’s newborn screening panel by December 31, 2021 and add all remaining core and secondary conditions included on recommended uniform screening panel as of December 31, 2021 to Arizona’s newborn screening panel by December 31, 2023. Additionally, within 60 days after DHS adjusts fee for newborn screening program, each health insurer is required to update hospital rates that include newborn screening to reflect increase. Passed Senate 28-1 03/01/21. Referred to House Health & Human Services and House Appropriations.
- SCR1001 (STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARATION; TERMINATION) – Legislature declares Declaration of Emergency issued by Governor on March 11, 2020, due to COVID-19 outbreak is terminated. Secretary of State is directed to transmit copy of resolution to Governor. Senate COW approved 03/04/21.
On the Bright Side…
When it comes to rebounding from a bad relationship, Arizona is in a pretty good spot once it breaks off the engagement with COVID-19. Despite the state losing 300,000 jobs through the early months of the pandemic, economists in the US and abroad say the state is outperforming the nation as a whole and will experience a relatively rapid return to full economic health in the next one to two years – even going so far as to call prospects “explosive”.
On the Federal Front…
Major Recent Events
House Approves COVID Relief Reconciliation Bill
On February 27, the House passed the COVID relief reconciliation package. Notable provisions include:
- Funding for HCBS: 7.35% FMAP increase for HCBS for one year.
- Extension of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit increase through September
- Economic Impact Payments of $1,400 per person, including for adult dependents
- Temporary increase in premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act
- Extension and expansion of paid leave tax credit
- Expansion of Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults
- Temporary increase and extension of unemployment benefits
The bill now will be considered in the Senate. Once passed by the House, a reconciliation bill can be passed by the Senate with a simple majority.
Senate Committees Hold Hearings on Becerra Nomination
On February 23, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Xavier Becerra to be Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on his nomination on February 24. 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.
Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Garland Nomination
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held two days of hearings on the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to be Attorney General. The Attorney General is a cabinet level position in charge of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Visit the committee website (Day 1, Day 2) for more information or to access video of the hearing. The committee is scheduled to vote on his nomination today, March 1.
Senate Approves Vilsack Nomination
On February 23, the Senate approved the nomination of Tom Vilsack to be Secretary of Agriculture. The Department of Agriculture oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as “food stamps,” which provides vital food assistance to low income people, including many people with disabilities.
House Committee Holds Hearing on Equity in Transportation Safety Enforcement
On February 24, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a hearing titled, “Examining Equity in Transportation Safety Enforcement.” Witnesses were Larry Sandigo, Former Chair, Community Advisory Board, Maricopa County, Arizona; Lorraine Martin, President and CEO, National Safety Council; Michelle Ramsey Hawkins, Victim/Survivor, Mothers Against Drunk Driving; Ken Barone, Project Manager, Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy Central Connecticut State University; and Rashawn Ray, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, University of Maryland. Visit the Committee website for more information or to view video of the hearing.
CMS Announces Special Enrollment Period for Health Coverage
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that it will open a special enrollment period for federal marketplace health coverage. Typically, individuals can only enroll in marketplace health coverage or change plans toward the end of the year or after a major life event. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS opened a special enrollment period from February 15 – May 15 for individuals in states that use the federally facilitated marketplace (healthcare.gov). Additionally, several states with states-based marketplaces have also announced special enrollment periods.
Amtrak Accepting Claims in DOJ Settlement
The Department of Justice recently announced the opening of the Compensation Fund in their 2020 settlement with Amtrak. More information on how to submit a claim can be found here: $2.25 Million Fund Available in Justice Department Settlement With Amtrak.
Registration Is Open for the Disability Policy Seminar
You’re invited to join us for the 2021 (virtual) Disability Policy Seminar, April 19 – 22. With sessions available from the convenience of your computer, it’s never been easier to attend. And with a new Administration, a new Congress, and renewed calls for equity and progress amidst a continuing pandemic, your advocacy has never been more important. Join us to protect and advance the programs and supports that make community life possible for people with disabilities. Register now!
FCC Creates Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
On February 25, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. This program provides low-income families with discounts on broadband of $50 per month or $75 per month on tribal lands. Additionally, it provides a discount of up to $100 per month for a computer or tablet. Learn more here.