By late January the state legislature is usually in full swing with jam packed committee agendas and a bewildering number of bills to go through. That’s not the case this year. House and Senate Health Committee meetings have been routinely canceled or not scheduled at all – and committee agendas are pretty light with just a few bills.

Maybe that’s because about half of the state legislature is new this year and members are still getting their sea legs. I’m not sure. 

Anyway – that’s good for at least right now, because we’re busy getting ready for our annual conference on February 23. We’re just about to get our agenda set and expect to announce that early next week. 

The Senate Health committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesdays from 2-4pm…  but Senate Health isn’t meeting this week. House Health is scheduled for Mondays from 2-4pm. They are meeting this week, but it’s a pretty light agenda.

I expect most of the action in House Health to be about HB2284; homelessness; housing; facilities. That bill would dictate how the Arizona Department of Housing should allocate funds for individuals experiencing homelessness. The drama is all about the details. 

It would require ADOH to use the money for parking areas that have access to potable water, electric outlets and bathrooms sufficient to serve that parking area and camping facilities. 

Importantly, it requires ADOH to spend money on those things before spending monies on permanent housing for individuals experiencing homelessness. It also prohibits people experiencing homelessness from camping and storing personal property anywhere except those designated areas. Here’s a more detailed review of the bill from Leg Council: HB2284 Discussion

It took us awhile to take a position on the bill because there are lots of pieces to it and it’s a bit out of my wheelhouse. A few of our Public Health Policy Committee members did some research and determined that the bill, as is, would do more harm than good – and we’ve signed up in opposition to the bill (although I don’t plan on speaking in Committee about it tomorrow).

The other bill we’re tracking with action so far is HB2001, which would exempt ADHS from the Administrative Procedures Act (that law provides the requirements for agency rulemakings). ADHS would be exempt only if the proposed rules reduce a regulatory burden without jeopardizing health and safety and don’t increase costs to the persons regulated. The public would have a minimum of 15 days to comment on the rules.

That bill passed through the House Health Committee 9-0. We signed up neutral on that bill. While I trust that Director Cullen will use the additional authority wisely and for good public health purposes, I’d like to see the exemption time limited to ensure that a future administration doesn’t use that authority to dismantle health and safety regulations at the Department. Hopefully that bill will be amended to limit it to just 3 years or something like that.

Here’s our bill tracking spreadsheet thus far. This list will grow substantially as the legislative session progresses.