In terms of state legislation – I expect more of the same from the state legislature. But the fact that we have Governor-elect Hobbs on the 9th floor means that we can spend less energy fighting bills that are bad for public health during the legislative session. During the Ducey years we knew we had to stop bills in one of the chambers because he was a sure rubber stamp bad bills. Over the next couple of years, we’ll have checks and balances in the system because of the executive branch which will require less defense.
The real progress in public health over the next couple years won’t be related to legislative action. It’ll be associated with executive branch action. Here’s why.
Governor Ducey had a cap on the number of employees state agencies could have (commonly referred to in state government as the head-count cap). This caused state agencies to decide not to apply for federal grants, because if they get the award, their agency director wouldn’t let them hire the persons necessary to manage the grant.
Governor Ducey also had a ‘moratorium’ on state agency rulemaking, meaning agencies were by and large stuck with the administrative code (regulations) that they have on the books. We hope to see Governor Hobbs lift that moratorium on administrative rulemaking – allowing agencies to modernize their Administrative Code to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities.
We also expect to see persons appointed to agencies that are more in sync with public health principles. Having an ADHS director that sees county health departments as true partners in public health will go a long way in improving the working relationship between state and county and tribal public health.
We also expect there will be far less micromanagement of ADHS… meaning ADHS staff will feel freer to brainstorm and propose new ways to address health disparities without worrying what a 9th floor that is hostile to public health will think. This healthier environment will also make it easier to recruit talented agency leadership.
We expect the Hobbs Administration will have an easier time recruiting talented folks into state agency and commission leadership positions which will greatly improve the quality of decision-making and execution in state government.
In short… I’m optimistic that we can make real strides in public health over the next 4 years – because of progress in the executive branch.