Chapter News

2018 Legislative Wrap Up

2018 Legislative Wrap Up

The Arizona Legislature convened on January 8th and concluded Friday, May 4th. A total of 1,328 bills were introduced and 369 bills passed. The last week of the session focused on the FY 2019 state budget and meeting #RedforEd demands. The statewide educator walkout lasted six school days and concluded when the Governor signed the budget. 

The budget gives teachers a 9% pay raise next year, which, combined with a 1% raise already given, gets them halfway to the 20% hike #RedforEd organizers demanded. The Governor promised that the second and third installments will come by 2020.  Most of the budgeted amount is allocated to districts; the districts have the discretion to grant raises that may result in teachers receiving differential pay increases.

The budget hikes state spending on schools by $200 million per year more than originally proposed by the Governor.

Besides the education focus at the end of the legislative session, NASWAZ tracked and commented upon legislation according to priorities identified in our member survey.  Below is a summary of those issues the Chapter tracked and monitored. A highlight of the budget items impacting health and human services is also listed.

NASWAZ 2018 Priorities

Ease of licensure through the Board of Behavioral Health Examiners

HB 2411 (NOW: health professionals; licensure; report): Requires the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners (AzBBHE) to research and compare other state’s licensing requirements for health professionals. AzBBHE will make recommendations regarding the reduction of administrative burden, streamlining of the licensure process, and reduction of licensure costs by December 31, 2018.  NASWAZ worked hard for our members and to protect the public to ensure that licensure through AzBBHE continued in light of national pressure to repeal licensure boards.

SB 1246 (behavioral health board):  Modifies licensure by endorsement for a person who is licensed or certified in one or more other states or federal jurisdictions making it easier for seasoned professionals to get licensed in Arizona. Fees are to be established by rule.  Any investigation must be by vote of the Board in an open meeting. Exempts certain Department of Child Safety (DCS) staff from licensure requirements.

HB 2197 (health professionals; workforce data): Requires each health professional regulatory board to collect information on applicants for initial or renewal licensure, certification, or registration beginning in 2020. This will allow us to quantify the need for additional social work professionals to meet the growing need for our services in Arizona. 

HB 2406 (behavioral health board; regulation; repeal): HB 2406 proposed the repeal of the AzBBHE and did not clear the House of Representatives.  NASWAZ advocacy, along with other partners, helped to defeat this bill.

Child welfare reform

SB 1071 (adoption; subsidy; review; nonrecurring expenses):  Requires that DCS Adoption subsidy reviews be conducted periodically or at least once a year. The maximum amount of nonrecurring adoption expenses is $2,000 for each adoption petition.

SB 1072 (DCS; contractor employees; fingerprint requirement):  Clarifies requirement to have a valid fingerprint clearance card for an employee of a contractor or subcontractor who has access to DCS information

SB 1166 (permanent guardianship; subsidy): Permits permanent guardians attempting to adopt a child to apply to DCS for an adoption subsidy with the guardianship subsidy rate established by DCS.  This helps families who would like to adopt the children in their care and provide “forever families” get the ongoing financial support they need to do that.

SB 1380 (children; out-of-home placement):  Requires DCS, for children placed in out-of-home care, to obtain the child’s social security card, birth certificate, non-operating identification and the immunization records within 60 days of placement.  Requires DHS to waive the fee for obtaining birth certificates. Establishes timelines for DCS to provide information. Children aging out of foster care need access to critical documents that enable them to live, work, and continue their educations.

SB 1395 (temporary custody without a court order):  Modifies circumstances for a child to be taken into temporary custody without a court order. The circumstances are defined as "exigent circumstances" when there is probable cause to believe that the child is likely to suffer serious harm in the time it would take to obtain a court order for removal. To obtain an order temporary custody, a law enforcement officer is permitted to use reasonable force to enter any building in which the person named in the removal authorization is or is reasonably believed to be. This bill allows judicial oversight of most child removals unless the child is in immediate danger.

SB 1473 (NOW: kinship care; aggravated circumstances; dependency):  Requires DCS to maintain a goal to place infants in their custody into a prospective permanent placement within 1 year of filing a dependency petition, consistent with the best interests of the child as outlined in the measure. If a child under 3 lived with a foster parent or kinship caregiver for at least 9 months, the child is presumed to have a significant relationship with the foster parent or kinship caregiver. Requires DCS, in a kinship foster care situation, to conduct an initial search with due diligence within 30 days of taking custody of a child to identify and notify adult relatives or persons with a significant relationship with the child. Requires the petition to include the existence of aggravating circumstances around substance-exposed infants or parents with chronic drug abuse.   

SB 1518 (department of child safety; reports):  Requires DCS to make available program and outcomes data on its website on a monthly, quarterly, semiannual, and annual basis. DCS is to continue to work with stakeholders to identify the necessity of the information and to share information with the Legislature

Funding of Health & Human Services

AHCCCS: No expansion in services nor eligibility. Eliminates prior quarter coverage providing a $2.5 M savings to the state with costs passed onto members or providers. Increases by $35.2 M the hospital assessment due to reconfiguring fund mixes. It provides a 2.5% provider increase for hospitals to overcome the increases in the Hospital Assessment. Allocates an additional $3.0 M for behavioral health services at schools (previously included in the school safety bill). Provides $100.0 K for a Suicide Prevention Coordinator at AHCCCS. Failed to provide funding for dental care for pregnant women.

DHS: Ends County payments to AZ State Hospital for treatment of Sexually Violent Persons by increasing state funds by $3.0 M. Provides $100.0 K in Health Lottery Funds for a homeless pregnant women program in Maricopa County with no referrals for abortion services.

DCS:  Increases by $1.2 M funding for adoption services.  Allocates $2.0 M of TANF Kinship stipend fund which replaces the General Fund.  Gives $5.0 M (OF) TANF from DES caseload savings to DCS to fund services.

DES:  Gives one-time funding of $13.0 M (GF) for DD programs for DD Room and Board and Prop 206.  Allocates $0.2 K (GF) for a skilled nursing provider rate increase for DD ALTCS. Allows Special Administration Fund to be used for adult services and domestic violence prevention.  Reduces TANF by ($5.0 M) (OF) due to lower TANF Caseload with the funds shifted to DCS.  Shifts $2.0 M (OF) TANF Kinship Stipend to DCS.  Moves $2.7 M (OF) TANF funds to Child Care Development Fund (CCDF).  Provides one-time funding of $1.0 M (GF) for Food Banks. Utilizes Spinal & Head Injury Trust Fund of $1.9 M (OF) to cover increased referrals to the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP). Fails to provide appropriation authority to expend federal $60.0 M in federal child care funds.

Housing:  Sweeps $2.0 M from the Housing Program Fund to General Fund. Pulls $400 K from the Housing Trust Fund to General Fund.

Other Items of Interest:  Continues eligibility for the foster care tuition waiver.   Allocates $600 K (OF) to ACJC to upgrade criminal histories that was part of school safety bill.

Other bills of interest:

SB 1001 (controlled substances; regulation; appropriation.):  Passed during a Special Session that establishes requirements for prescribing, administering and dispensing schedule II opioids in response to the Opioid Crisis in Arizona. The bill makes various changes relating to the regulation of controlled substances. Outlines in which medical professionals are allowed to dispense opioids unless involved in “medication-assisted treatment” for substance abuse disorder. Limits the dosage amount allowed for those authorized to prescribe. Outlines some exceptions to these restrictions.  Establishes specific requirements that apply to prior authorization requests related to prescription drugs for chronic pain conditions. Requires dispensers to verify patient usage with the prescription monitoring program's central database. Outlines requirements for an opioid abuse prevention campaign targeted to youth and at-risk populations. It requires county health departments to provide naloxone or another opioid antagonist. Appropriates $10 M to be administered by AHCCCS to contract for services. 

HB 2548 (health professionals; continuing education; opioids), HB 2549 (controlled substances; dosage limit) and HB 2558 (drug disposal; education) addressed issues raised, but not addressed, around the opioid bill passed during special session. Those issues included:  three hours of opioid-related continuing education for health professionals authorized to prescribe or dispense schedule II medications, clarifies the 90 mm limit outside health institutions, and establishes a drug disposal and education program.

HB 2228 (AHCCCS; annual waiver; applicability.):  Requires AHCCCS to seek a waiver to exempt American Indians from the 5-year lifetime limit on benefits, cost-sharing requirements, and work requirements.  

Bills that failed include:

SB 1519 (NOW: school safety; protective orders; appropriations) was introduced in response to the Parkland shootings. The bill cleared the Senate bust was not heard in the House The bill would have allowed a superior court to issue a severe threat order of protection (STOP order) for persons found to pose a significant danger of causing death or serious physical injury to self or others and who meet additional criteria.

KidsCare: Efforts to assure the ability of AHCCCS to continue the health program for children should the federal funding levels drop below 100% did not make it through the process neither as a bill nor as a footnote to the state budget. Should the funding drop, Arizona could face a freeze in enrollment or even a discontinuance of the program. The “drop dead” date or when Arizona gets impacted is as early as October 2019.

HB 2535 (DCS; prohibited acts; firearms): This measure would have prohibited DCS, a child welfare agency, or governing board of a child welfare agency from adopting, implementing or enforcing a rule or policy relating to the possession, transfer or storage of a firearm. This measure failed to make it through the process.  However, the DCS Director announced this past week, plans to examine the current DCS policy to allow for gun ownership for foster parents. The process is undefined at this time.