Good news for the most part on the public health policy front last week. Many of the bills that we like passed out of the House or Senate on floor votes- and will be getting committee assignments in the other house this week. Some of the bills we like died in their committee, but you can't win 'em all. A couple bills that look problematic survived last week. Committee agendas will be lighter this week as bills come over from the opposite house of the legislature to be read and then assigned to committee by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House.
Good news on several bills that we supported last week, with most of them getting approved by their house of origin. A couple of bills that would be bad for public health progressed despite our efforts last week, Here’s a quick summary:
Community Health Workers
HB 2426 made it through the full House of Representatives last week by a score of 41-17-2 and will now head to the Senate. If it makes it all the way, it'll set up a pathway for Community Health Workers in AZ to voluntarily become certified which would be a big step forward for this important health profession... expanding the use of CHWs in Arizona’s healthcare system in part by making it easier to get reimbursement for their services. We should find out its committee assignment in the Senate this week.
Bad news on the oral health front last week. HB 2442 which would add some dental services for pregnant women enrolled in AHCCCS never made it to the House floor for a vote, so it's effectively dead. Gotta hand it to Rep. Kelli Butler for giving it the old college try.
HB 2208 which would (under certain circumstances) let school staff administer or help a student self-administer an inhaler for things like asthma episodes got through the House by a vote of 50-8-2. On to the Senate.
HB 2090 which would require hospitals to offer influenza vaccines to seniors during the cold and flu months got through the full House 58-0-2. On to the Senate.
Sunscreen & Tanning Beds
HB 2134 which would make it clear that kids can take sunscreen to school and camps... and that school and camp staff can help them put it on passed through the House 46-12-2.
HB 2194 - which prohibits kids under 18 from using tanning beds and prevents studios from claiming that tanning beds are risk-free passed through the House 39-19-2. Both will get Senate committee assignments this week.
HB 2082 which would require all schools to have 50 minutes of unstructured recess per day from K through 5th grade got through the House 39-20-1. On to the Senate. Good news for physical activity!
Tribal Courts and Involuntary Commitment
HB2084 is a new one for our list. Basically it would allow a mental treatment facility to admit a patient for involuntary treatment pending the filing of a tribal courts involuntary commitment order. This is good (and we support it) because it will provide better treatment logistics for patients. It passed through the House 60-0.
SB 1336 passed the Senate last week. It would basically let nurse anesthetists issue a medication order in the scope of his or her practice. We're for it because it would help improve access to care in rural areas by adjusting the prescribing authority for nurse anesthetists (helping fill a care gap). This passed through the Senate floor 25-5-0, so it's on to the House for this one.
Drug Overdose Review Team
HB 2493 which would set up a drug overdose review team at the ADHS (much like the child fatality review team) passed the House 52-6-2.
Traffic Safety Cameras
Let's face it. Getting a ticket in the mail for speeding or running a red light is no fun. But evidence suggests that photo enforcement of red lights and speeding is an effective public health intervention, which is why we don't like HB2525. It would ban traffic safety cameras in AZ. Unfortunately, this passed on a House floor vote 32-28-0. A close call, but it did pass. We'll be trying to inform the debate over in the Senate regarding how traffic safety cameras prevent injuries and save lives.
Teenage Texting & Driving
SB 1080 which would ban brand-new teen drivers from using their smart phone (for the first 6 months of their license if they're under 18) passed on a Senate floor vote 24-6-0. Not exactly a robust prohibition on texting and driving because it only applies to new teenage drivers for 6 months, but at least it's a start. The only other AZ state law that prohibits texting and driving applies to school bus drivers. AZ is behind the national curve in this area. Next stop is a Senate committee.
SB 1368, which would authorize the ADHS to collect the newborn screening fees needed to add Severe Combined Immune Deficiency syndrome to the list of newborn screening tests passed through the Senate 28-1-1.
A couple of weeks ago we signed up in support of and testified for HB 2335 which (if it had passed) would have moved the age at which folks can buy cigarettes and other tobacco products (including e-cigarettes) from 18 years old to 21. It passed in th House Health Committee 7-2, but was never heard in the Commerce committee and it effectively died last week because it didn't get a floor vote.
Voter Initiative Stuff
Perhaps some of the most troubling bills and resolutions in terms of public health have to do with the voter initiative process. Many of the real big achievements in public health have been voter initiatives (e.g. Smoke Free Arizona Act). A couple of the bills that would change how voter initiatives work would require voter approval, but a couple could be approved by the Legislature (with the Governor’s signature). We're not alone in our opposition to these proposals- lots of people are concerned about them. Here's a quick summary:
- HCR2002 & HCR2007 (which would need to be approved by voters to become effective) passed the House and would repeal the Voter Protection Act - which stops the Legislature from altering voter initiatives except under strict circumstances.
- HCR2029 hasn't passed the house yet but would require signature gatherers to get a certain number of signatures in each of the 30 legislative districts. This one would ultimately need to be approved voters.
- HB 2404 passed through the House (as amended) and would prevent signature gatherers from getting paid by the signature (for voter initiatives- not for candidate signatures). This one could become law without voter approval.
AzPHA submitted comments on the current AHCCCS 1115 Waiver application. Here’s a link to the waiver application and our response letter. We encourage all AzPHA members to look at our response letter and use what you think is useful to turn in your own comment letter to AHCCCS via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by February 28.
If you’re interested in joining our Public Policy Committee, you can contact email@example.com and she’ll get you on our list. We have a weekly call every Monday at11 am and someone from the committee is always down at the Legislature for key hearings.