In other irresponsible actions, the governor also vetoed two bills that would have helped governance of important state government functions. Both bills are low profile but important. Both got unanimous support from the legislature.
Vetoed: Better Oversight at the Arizona State Hospital
SB1716 would have provided for some badly needed additional oversight at the Arizona State Hospital (ASH). The ADHS both runs and regulates ASH. That lack of check and balance creates a ‘fox watching the henhouse’ situation in which the ADHS Director can send the message to her or his licensing team to ‘go easy’ on ASH or send in rookie inspectors that are unlikely to find deficiencies or substantiate complaints.
The bill that he vetoed would have made some modest reform that would have helped with oversight some (although far less reform than is needed).
The bill would have required the ADHS to add information in their reports about certain patient information and information on admission by civil commitment. It would have also forced the ADHS to buy a surveillance system at ASH that has audio and visual capability and adequate storage.
The original bill would have created a badly needed independent Governing Board, but pressure from the ADHS resulted in an amendment that removed that provision.
I think Director Christ and Governor Ducey like things just the way they are… a status quo scenario in which there is little accountability because the ADHS both runs and ‘regulates’ ASH.
Vetoed: Needed Reform of the Psychiatric Security Review Board
For the last 25 years persons that have been determined by the courts to be ‘guilty except insane’ (GEI) of a crime are placed under the jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Review Board housed at the ADHS. The PSRB maintains jurisdiction for the length of their presumptive sentence while they are committed at the Arizona State Hospital’s Forensic Unit (operated by the Arizona Department of Health Services).
The PSRB decides whether to release any person determined to be GEI person from ASH to the community if the they meets statutory release criteria (A.R.S. § 13-502). A big problem has been that the PSRB doesn’t have nearly enough resources to properly carry out their function and as a result due process suffers.
SB 1030 (which the governor vetoed last week) would have moved the PSRB responsibilities to the superior court in 2023, which is in a MUCH better position to make these decisions. The bill also makes important reforms of practices and the procedures of the PSRB.
This is a complex issue and many people spent countless hours working out the details of how to provide better governance of GEI system. The bill passed with unanimous support.
Nevertheless, the bill fell victim to a whimsical governor who is more interested in posturing than good public policy.