Wins, Losses and Draws
By Amina Donna Kruck, VP of Advocacy, Ability360
Photo by by Gage Skidmore
Oh my! This was the most active legislative session in the last 10 years for bills that affect the disability community. Advocates, be proud of your achievements!
Due to your actions, we made some real gains this year with the addition of dental for Long Term Care Medicaid members and podiatry services added back for AHCCCS members. Thanks to Governor Ducey, an additional $2 million in Vocational Rehabilitation services funding will draw down federal matching funds, with a total gain of almost $10 million to help Arizonans with disabilities get employment assistance. VR has been woefully underfunded most of the last 25 years, and this will benefit many more people.
Other disability wins include:
HB 2388 establishes the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) savings account for qualified individuals disabled under age 26 to be used for disability-related expenses. (Sponsor: Allen, R-LD15)
KidsCare health plan was reinstated, raising family income from 138% of federal poverty level to 200% ($32,000 to $48,000), allowing more children to benefit from healthcare at no cost to the State for the next two years. (Original Sponsor: Cobb, R-LD5)
SB 1382 (Sponsor: Burgess, R-LD22) was amended after stakeholder meetings to eliminate the penalty for falsely identifying a dog as a service animal and now simply relates to service animals in a public place. Adds that it is not discriminatory to exclude a service animal (or any animal) from a public place if:
• The animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control the animal; or
• The animal is not housebroken.
HB 2461 extends the Lifespan Respite program until 2025. No funding was attached to pay for services so we will have to work on that next year. (Sponsor: Brophy McGee, R-LD28)
HB 2099A makes adjustments to the statutes for a person with a developmental disability and adds a special certification for a child developmental certified home. (Sponsor: Allen, R-LD15)
HB 2442 outlines procedures for a foster or adoptive parent to obtain urgent behavioral health services for a child. (Sponsor: Farnsworth, R-LD12)
HB 2355 allows a pharmacist to dispense naloxone hydrochloride (Naloxone) without a prescription to a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose, or a family member or community member in a position to assist that person. (Sponsor: Carter, R-LD15)
SB 1169 makes changes to the provisions related to a mental health care power of attorney. (Sponsor: Barto, R-LD15)
SB 1442 concerns release of information or records relating to a patient examination, evaluation or behavioral or mental health treatment. (Sponsor: Barto, R-LD15)
SCR 1005 urges the Arizona Legislature to recognize the rights of family members, caregivers and guardians of individuals with serious mental illness. (Sponsor: Barto, R-LD15)
We successfully defeated:
SB 1284 that would have delayed business compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines for accessibility; SB 1316, a predatory lending bill. (Sponsor of both: Kavanagh, R-LD23)
HB 2258 that would have made changes in conflict with the ADA and the Fair Housing Act related to live-in supportive care and assistive animals for mobile home tenants. (Sponsor: Brophy McGee, R-LD28)
We avoided more restrictions on SNAP (food stamps) and the elimination of the First Things First program for early childhood intervention.
We had a big loss when the Governor signed HB 2023. It prohibits anyone other than a voter’s family member, household member, or caregiver of the voter to collect early ballots from another person. The new law prescribes a Class 6 felony (a presumptive one year of incarceration/fine up to $150,000 plus surcharges) for knowingly collecting early ballots. (Sponsor: Ugenti-Rita, R-LD23) That means I can’t help my friend by taking her early ballot to the poll with me on Election Day if she forgot to mail it!
Why Register and Vote?
The entire Arizona Legislature is re-elected every two years. Fifteen legislators are leaving the Legislature this year, and your votes will help replace them.
This is a big election year for President, the U.S. Senate and your Congressional Representatives. This is a chance to make a change.
Consider candidates that are friendly to the bills and programs that benefit people with disabilities and their families when you vote In the Arizona Primary in August and in the General Election in November.
Sponsors for all the above bills were Republican. That is because very few bills by the minority party (Democrats) can get through the Legislature. The only bill shepherded through by a Democratic legislator (McGuire, D-LD8) that was signed by the Governor was SB 1283, the service animal bill.
Amina Donna Kruck
VP of Advocacy
Donna Kruck is the Vice President of Advocacy programs at Ability360. Kruck is a state Professional Licensed Counselor with a master’s of Counseling from Arizona State University.
Kruck supervises several programs, including the volunteer program which includes a 65-member peer mentor volunteer team, the This Is MY Life self-determination program for persons with developmental disabilities, the AZ Freedom to Work Program, Social Security Work Incentives Benefits Planning Assistance and Outreach Program and Ability360’s Advocacy Program, which addresses individual issues and community/systems change.
As Vice President of Advocacy, Kruck creates programs which empower individuals with disabilities and their families through advocacy related workshops, one-on-one mentoring, facilitating wellness groups, providing technical assistance for the development of consumer-driven initiatives, and developing community partnerships to address barriers to consumer choice, equal rights and self-determination. Kruck also provides workshops on the legislative process, disability oppression, self-advocacy skills, and is a regular contributor to Ability360’s quarterly magazine, LivAbility.