The 2020 regular session will stand out as one of the most unpredictable, unforgettable years ever. Session lasted 135 days but was suspended for more than 40% of that time because of the pandemic.  The year began with loud, crowded committee meetings and ended with near-empty buildings and remote voting.

Legislators introduced 1,734 bills this year (more than any session on record) but had the fewest number of bills signed into law in recorded history.  Only 5% of those bills made it to the Governor’s desk. Nearly 90% were bipartisan.

Just before the session was suspended, they approved a “baseline” budget which was basically a continuation of last year’s spending, adjusted to pay for projected growth in health care and education enrollment. It also included an additional $105M to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some of the bills that passed:

  • A bill requiring AHCCCS to ask for federal authorization to reimburse the Indian Health Services and tribal facilities to cover the costs of adult dental care.

  • A bill that increases federal funding for hospitals that provide care for AHCCCS patients by requiring the facilities to contribute the matching funds needed to bring more federal dollars to Arizona.

  • Increasing suicide prevention training for school counselors and social workers, and by providing more information about mental health resources to students and mandating all public and charter schools include information on school ID’s (grades 9-12) like the phone number for a national and local suicide prevention hotline and the number for a network of local crisis centers. 

  • A Mental health parity bill that expands access to mental health resources and creates committees responsible for identifying new ways to ensure students and other Arizonans have access to mental health care.

Most of our policy priorities were not achieved. Bills to provide dental services for pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid and encouraging women to complete post-partum visits didn’t pass.

We were also unable to get bills through that would classify electronic cigarettes as tobacco products so they would be covered by the Smoke Free Arizona Act. We also weren’t able to get a Tobacco 21 passed this year either. 

A bill that would have decriminalized evidence-based syringe service programs also didn’t make it. Likewise, no progress was made to improve access to care through additional graduate medical education enhancements nor the state loan repayment program.

There had been support for some limited criminal justice reform but the bills that would have improved sentencing standards including second chances didn’t pass in the end. Bills that would have made it harder for law enforcement to take a suspect’s assets, and require state agencies to give most occupational licenses to individuals who have been convicted of a drug offenses also didn’t get over the line.

As a refresher, here was our set of 2020 Legislative Session Priorities (ppt).