As of Friday, the Opioid Special Session has concluded sine die. During the week we saw Democrats working diligently to pass the Opioid Epidemic Act, which is an initial step to address an ongoing crisis in Arizona. Through strong leadership from House and Senate leaders, Rebecca Rios and Katie Hobbs the Opioid Epidemic Act passed unanimously through the House and Senate Health committee and through the Committee Of the Whole (COW). Without Democratic leadership, this Act would have been more fluff and no substance from the Governor. Democrats pushed for real dollars to be added to this bill, to the tune of 10 million, which will support treatment for the underinsured and those with high deductibles. Additionally, Democrats pushed for a Good Samaritan clause that allows a person to call 911 when they witness a possible overdose without facing drug charges themselves.
Lastly, Rep. Bolding (LD 28) made a strong statement on Thursday evening during the late House vote, noting that many drug epidemics have plagued communities in Arizona for years, but that this epidemic is being handled differently due to the community it is affecting. Many have criticized that the Opioid Epidemic is receiving more attention, and is being treated differently than heroin and crack.
Beyond the special session, more work was accomplished by Democrats in the House last week. #HB2217 Primary Sponsor Rep. Hernandez removes the luxury tax placed on Feminine Hygiene products, baby formula, and infant and adult diapers. The bill did receive bi-partisan support from Republic representative Michelle Ugenti-Rita, however Republican representatives Kern, Payne, and Leach opposed the bill again this year. Rep. Leach stated that after hearing multiple testimonies from community members explaining that these products are necessary and can be extremely costly with regular use, that “I have heard nothing today that would change my (No) vote from last year.”
Next Up, Rep. Chavez (LD 27) introduced #HCM2001 which calls upon the President to renegotiate NAFTA. This bill received nearly unanimous support from the Local and International Affairs committee, except for a “No” vote from Rep. Nutt (LD 14).
While Democrats have pushed for trade agreements, more treatment for addiction, and tax relief for common necessities. Republicans have introduced several bills that seek to silence voters.
Sen. Allen introduced SCR1016 which would set on a cap on minimum wage at 10.50$ an hour and would prevent cities from setting a minimum wage greater than 10.50$. This bill also seeks to reduce the amount of paid sick time earned by part-time, minimum wage workers. This bill is a direct attack on the Prop. 206 which was passed by voters in 2016. This bill has been assigned to Commerce and Public Safety.
Rep. Lawrence has introduced many terrible bills this session, so far one of those bills has failed to pass committee due to community outrage. #HB2023 would have made city and town elections partisan elections. Currently, most cities do not have partisan elections which ensures that candidates run on issues, not party platforms.
Rep. Leach has introduced HB2153, which has been dubbed the #dirtymoney bill, makes it easier for large money donors and corporations to hide their contributions by shuffling money to non-profits. The bill seeks to prohibit campaign filing officer, enforcement officer or other local government officer from requiring an entity that claims tax-exempt status under section 501(a) of the federal Internal Revenue Code and is in good status with the Internal Revenue Service to register or file as a political action committee, disclose personally identifying information of individuals who have contributed to the entity, disclose a specified form that provides information on contributions to the entity, or submit to an audit or subpoena regarding a potential campaign finance violation. This bill caught the attention of many community members, who deeply oppose the legislation.
What to Watch for:
Look out for movement on HB2153 and SCR1016, these bills suppress the voice of the voters.
Additionally, watch for #HB2222 from Rep. Salman which guarantees female inmates access to feminine hygiene products. This bill is expected to be heard in Military, Veterans and Regulatory Affairs committee on Monday, February 5th.
Stay tuned for more updates from the session, and make sure to sign up for our email list: http://bit.ly/ADLCCSignup