#AZ House Debates, Passes Association Health Plans SB1085 (video)

Although we had a short floor calendar on May 1, we had some rousing debates. The highlight was a two-hour debate on SB1085, association health plans. (Watch the action here, beginning at 19:32 min.)

The Republicans have had three bills this year to lower healthcare insurance costs by encouraging people to leave the healthcare marketplace. I agree that the Affordable Care Act is too expensive, particularly for sole proprietors (like my husband who was offered a silver ACA plan for more than $1000 per month just for him.) This is why I voted for direct care contracts. I believe those are a better deal for sole proprietors than association health plans.)

Democrats debated valiantly, led by Health and Human Services Ranking Member Rep. Kelli Butler (right). Here, she does Q&A with Rep. Isela Blanc.

I get that costs are too high, but the association health plans are not the way to go. They could, indeed, lower costs for business owners, but they could be risky due to limited coverage. There are reasons why these plans will likely be cheaper. Remember the old adage “you get what you pay for”. If sole proprietor business owners want to take a risk with their own insurance and their own health, I have a mind to let them take their own risk. (Just don’t ask me to help you later with a Go Fund Me Request if it turns out I was right on limited coverage under cheap junk insurance plans.)

Where I object is when businesses are making these risky insurance decisions for their employees— just to save money.

Continue reading #AZ House Debates, Passes Association Health Plans SB1085 (video)

Smoke ’em If You Got ’em: #AZLeg Considers 15 Marijuana Bills

Senator David Farnsworth and Rep. Vince Leach want more regulation of small businesses in the cannabis industry and increased law enforcement against citizens who use a plant that never killed anyone. (The specter of the Nanny State rises again in the text of these regulation bills.)

Reps. Mark Cadenas and Pamela Powers Hannley (me) want decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana and want to make medical marijuana cards more affordable.

Senator Sonny Borrelli is bringing back industrial hemp bill, which passed with flying colors in 2017, only to be vetoed by Governor Ducey.

Two of Leach’s bills will be heard in committee this week– HB2064 in Commerce and HB2067 in Health. Details on all 15 below.

Anti-Cannabis Bills

Leach

HB2064: medical marijuana; packaging;labeling. HB2064 goes after the evil THC gummy bears. Republicans are afraid that irresponsible parents will leave THC gummy bears on the kitchen table where children can get them. I think the gun on the kitchen table is more dangerous than the cannabis. Parents should keep all harmful drugs and objects out of their children’s reach. This is another Nanny State law.)

HB2067 dictates felony charges for certification clinics that certify someone for a medical marijuana card who is not eligible. This bill is particularly bad because it says if a MMJ certification doctor breaks any law while certifying someone form medical marijuana, the doctor would be charged with a felony. If this is interpreted in include federal law (under which marijuana use is illegal), this could shut down the whole medical marijuana program.

HB2063 makes any active or inactive cannabis metabolites grounds for a DUI conviction. Cannabis metabolites can stay in your body for days; the presence of metatolites in the blood stream doesn’t constitute impairment. Inactive metatolites are inactive.

HB2068 revokes a patient’s medical marijuana card if they get a DUI.

HB2066 spends the millions of dollars in excess medical marijuana card fees on law enforcement. This doesn’t comply with the Citizens’ Initiative that created the MMJ card.

HB2284 blocks citizens’ initiatives that challenge legislation and requires monthly campaign finance reports. This sounds like unnecessary paperwork; it would burden everyone who wants to do a Citizen’s Initiative.

Continue reading Smoke ’em If You Got ’em: #AZLeg Considers 15 Marijuana Bills

Oct 2017 LD9 Constituent Update: News & Events

Congressman Raul Grijalva and Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

My October 2017 constituent update included an essay on the importance of healthcare stories and a few event updates. You can read I Want To Hear Your Healthcare Stories here. Below are some event photos.

AzPHA Conference on the Opioid Epidemic

Arizona Public Health Assoication
The September Arizona Public Health Association conference on the opioid crisis was a real eye-opener. As a public health advocate, tackling the opioid crisis has been one of my top priorities since I began running for office. For the latest Arizona information, check out these slides presented by Arizona Department of Health Services. In the above photo, I am with former Legislator Debbie McCune-Davis, AzPHA Executive Director and former ADHS Director Will Humble, and Dr. Daniel Derksen from the UA College of Public Health. Watch for opioid epidemic legislation from the Governor and from the House Democratic Caucus in 2018. I plan to reintroduce the 911 Good Samaratan bill which will save lives of people during an overdose situation.

NAACP Gala Featured Rep. Bolding

Rep. Reginold Bolding (far right in the above photo) was the keynote speaker at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) annual gala in Tucson in October. We were surprised and honored to be seated at the front table with Rep. Bolding and Arizona NAACP President Charles R. Fanniel and his wife Lucille (above) and local NAACP President Doris J. Snowden and her husband (not pictured).
My seat mate Dr. Randy Friese and his wife Susan were also there. Here are Jim and I with the Frieses.

Continue reading Oct 2017 LD9 Constituent Update: News & Events

2017 Legislative Report Card

Pamela Powers Hannley

In 2016, I ran for the Arizona House on a platform of economic reform, equality, and tackling the opioid epidemic. I stood up to big-money politics and ran as a Clean Elections candidate, despite much advice to take the money and run.

I am honored that you elected me on Nov. 8, 2016. This year in the Legislature, I fought for fairness and stood up for your rights with my voice, my votes, and my bills.

I am running for re-election in 2018. As a Clean Elections candidate, I have pledged not to take big-money donations from special interests. This is my report card to you, the voters of Legislative District 9. It has been an honor to serve you.

Economic Reform & Public Banking 

Continue reading 2017 Legislative Report Card

Bills! The Good, the Bad, the Ugly & Mine

Moms

After the first three weeks of the 53rd Legislature, things are starting to heat up. Hundreds of bills have been filed, and as usual, they run the gamut from boring to hopeful to dangerous.

I want to personally thank Speaker J.D. Mesnard for assigning some Democratic Party bills and some more moderate Republican bills to committee. (In recent Legislatures, bills from these sponsors were never assigned to committee. Of course, it’s up to the committee chair to put the bills on their agendas, but getting assigned to a committee is a welcome first step, in my book.)

Assignment to committee and very orderly and cordial floor meetings are positive notes in what has been a fast-paced time. Last week we shift from third gear to fifth gear and floor debates start on Tuesday, January 31. If you like reality TV, you should watch your Legislature in action. (The Arizona Capitol Television link on the Arizona Legislature’s website will take you to live proceedings and archives.)

All action and inaction on the floor of the House and Senate is televised– as are the Democratic and Republican Caucus Meetings (10 a.m. on Tuesdays, where we discuss the bills with staff, audience members, and paid lobbyists) and all committee meetings. Representatives have TVs on our desks, so we can keep up with the action while doing email, etc. Rep. Randy Friese’s motorcycle bill (HB2046) crashed and burned in the Transportation Committee but not without over an hour of testimony pro and con (bikers vs doctors). It was TV worth watching– as was the lengthy preemption discussion about local IDs and “illegals”.

When a variety of bills are heard, more constituent voices are heard. Here are a variety of bills that are coming down the pike this week (or in the near future). This is by no means an exhaustive list. Every committee meets every week, and agendas can include any number of bills. (Translation: there’s a lot happening.)

My Bills

HCR2012 (Powers Hannley) ratifies the Equal Rights Amendment in Arizona. (Assigned to Judiciary Committee in the House, headed by Rep. Eddie Farnsworth.) We only need three states to ratify the ERA to meet the requirement for a new amendment to the US Constitution. The ERA deserves to be debated in committee and on the Floor of the House and the Senate. Senator Martin Quezada has sponsored SCR1003— a mirror bill in the Senate (assigned to Government, headed by Senator John Kavanagh). Farnsworth and Kavanagh are blocking the ERA in the Legislature. If you think women’s rights should be debated and voted on in the Arizona Legislature, contact those two and your representatives and senators this week to get it on an agenda.

HB2172 (Powers Hannley) offers medical treatment instead of arrest in overdose situations. (Assigned to Judiciary, Farnsworth, again.) Thanks to the Arizona Republic‘s EJ Montini for giving a shoutout to this bill every time it has been proposed. Yes, this will save lives. Unfortunately, Farnsworth told me that he “doesn’t want to offer immunity to criminals” and refuses to hear this. If you think drugs addicts deserve a second chance at life, contact his office and encourage him to allow public testimony on this. There are several Moms lobbying Legislators to hear this bill– including the two pictured with this blog post.

HB2336 (Powers Hannley) allows terminally ill patients to make the decision to take their own lives with the help of their physician and medical team. (Assigned to Health Committee.)

HB2401 (Powers Hannley) requires medical providers to reveal the services they will not provide due to their religious beliefs. This is a major issue for women, particularly pregnant women. If you’re in a pregnancy-related emergency, you don’t want to end up in a hospital with services restricted by religious beliefs. Also – we should know which pharmacies dispense medications based upon the religion of the pharmacist and not based upon what is best for the patient. (Assigned to Health Committee.)

HB2400 (Powers Hannley) lengthens the renewal period for medical marijuana cards from every year to every five years. We have heard multiple bills to make other newals easier and less cumbersome, why not make the medical MJ card easier to renew? If you have arthritis, it’s not going away in a year– so why do patients have to renew every year and get a new ID card every year. Seems like too much bureaucracy to me. (Not assigned to committee.)

HB2439 (Powers Hannley) requires home health aides to have the same training, regardless who pays for the care. Currently, in Arizona, home health aides whose care is paid for my Medicare or Medicaid have to meet certain basic training requirements, but there are no standard training requirements for home health aides who are otherwise funded. (For example, an individual could pay for home health themselves.) There has been a rise in elder abuse cases, and I think better training could help that situation. This is a topic that the Health Committee has tried to fix in the past but didn’t have the votes for change. (Not assigned to committee.)to committee.)

HB2531 (Powers Hannley) expands the Clean Elections system to county and local, unpaid boards. There was a backlash against big money politics in the 2016. The original “chosen candidates” with the most money– Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush– lost. Multiple Clean Elections candidates beat traditionally funded candidates in Legislative races. I think candidates running for county and unpaid boards (like school boards, water boards, etc.) should have a Clean Elections option. (Not assigned to committee.)

HB2532 (Powers Hannley) establishes a feasibility study to create a state public bank. The Arizona Legislature is hearing multiple economic development bills that theoretically boost our economy by giving away more taxpayer funds. The basic premise behind all of them is giving a tax break to someone who will develop land. Is development our only economic development tool? When will we jump off this merry-go-round? At every level– city, county and state– politicians say we don’t have the money we need to have the schools and roads we want. Then… why do we continue to give away tax money? Setting up a public bank would give us an alternative, sustainable economic development tool. We could offer low-interest loans to local, small businesses and college students, while strengthening our community bank system. The return on our low-interest loans who go back to the state to pay for public education and/or transportation infrastructure. (With our current economic development system based upon giveaways, there is not direct return on investment of taxpayer funds… only promises of jobs and prosperity in the future.) I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the trickle down.

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Here are some other bills you may be interested in.

Continue reading Bills! The Good, the Bad, the Ugly & Mine

Prince: Another Life Lost to Presciption Opiates

Prince mural in Tucson

Prince– the enigmatic rocker and creative genius– collapsed at his home a few weeks ago and passed from this world into the next.

Initially, the cause of death was unclear. Now, as the stories come out, we learn that Prince was likely abusing prescription painkillers. Decades of jumping and dancing on stage in platform shoes had left the 57-year-old musician in chronic pain.

Another life lost to prescription opiate overdose.

This article in the New York Times talks about Prince’s clean lifestyle– no meat, alcohol, marijuana or other drugs– but legal prescription drugs were OK. People think that prescription drugs are safe because they’re legal. That’s not necessarily so. Painkillers build up in your body. There is an additive effect when you take too many pills, and this is how innocent people in pain die from legal drugs. Prince’s denial and secret struggle with addiction and his tragic death should be a wake up call regarding the dangers of prescription painkiller abuse. Ironically, if he had switched to medical marijuana for pain, he would still be alive.

In Arizona, more people die from prescription opiate overdose than from heroin overdose. Prince’s friends reached out for addiction treatment help too late. If you know someone who may be abusing prescription drugs, heroin, alcohol or other dangerous drugs, there are multiple hotlines and online resources.

Wake up, Arizona. People are dying.

[Image credit: Prince tribute mural in downtown Tucson by local artist Joe Pagac.]