Category Archives: Drug Policy

#AZLeg Passes Landmark, Bipartisan Opioid Bill

There were a lot of conversations going on in advance of the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act.

January 25, 2018 was one of the most dramatic days at the Arizona Legislature, since I was elected.

Not only did we have ~75 Luchadores visiting their Legislators and five extremely aggressive anti-immigrant, pro-Trump protesters heckling them, we also had the big vote on the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act (SB1001).

We have been working on SB1001/HB2001 for weeks. Unlike much of what we do in the Arizona Legislature, the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act was a truly bipartisan effort. The governor even gave the Democrats the bill language in advance and asked for our input. The Republicans included us in the bill development process because they needed our votes and because didn’t want us to blow it up on the floor with our speechifying, as we did with the stingy TANF and teacher raises in 2017.

As someone who worked in public health and nicotine addiction treatment for years, I was proud to serve on the Democratic Caucus team that reviewed the bill and offered suggestions for revision. It was very heartening that they included several Democratic ideas in this bill. Four of my suggestions were included: offering treatment instead of jail during an overdose situation, AKA the 911 Good Samaritan bill (HB2101), which has been proposed by Democrats for four years in a row; providing funds to counties for life-saving NARCAN kits (HB2201); providing a non-commercial treatment referral service; and offering treatment in a brief intervention after an overdose scare (when your doctor says, “You didn’t die this time. Maybe you should quit!”). The Democrats also suggested including the Angel Initiative (where addicts can drop off their drugs and ask for treatment, without fear of arrest) and $10 million for drug addiction treatment services for people not on AHCCCS (Medicaid) or private insurance.

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Smoke ’em If You Got ’em: #AZLeg Considers 15 Marijuana Bills

medical marijuanaFive Arizona Legislators have proposed 15 different bills to regulate … or deregulate… the use of cannabis in Arizona, and there could be more.

Senator David Farnsworth and Rep. Vince Leach want more regulation of small businesses in the cannabis industry and increased law enforcement against citizens who use a plant that never killed anyone. (The specter of the Nanny State rises again in the text of these regulation bills.)

Reps. Mark Cadenas and Pamela Powers Hannley (me) want decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana and want to make medical marijuana cards more affordable.

Senator Sonny Borrelli is bringing back industrial hemp bill, which passed with flying colors in 2017, only to be vetoed by Governor Ducey.

Two of Leach’s bills will be heard in committee this week– HB2064 in Commerce and HB2067 in Health. Details on all 15 below.

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Rep. Powers Hannley: 2017 Legislative Report Card (video)

Rep. Pamela Powers HannleyIn 2016, I ran for the Arizona House on a platform of economic reform, equality, and tackling the opioid epidemic. I stood up to big-money politics and ran as a Clean Elections candidate, despite much advice to take the money and run.

I am honored that you elected me on Nov. 8, 2016. This year in the Legislature, I fought for fairness and stood up for your rights with my voice, my votes, and my bills.

I am running for re-election in 2018. As a Clean Elections candidate, I have pledged not to take big-money donations from special interests. This is my report card to you, the voters of Legislative District 9. It has been an honor to serve you.

Economic Reform & Public Banking 

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The Yin & Yang of Public Policy: Can We Achieve Balance?

The Yin and Yang mosaic

The Yin and Yang.

On one hand, the news media often tells us that we are a country divided. Social media fuels this idea with countless stories of political and ideological intransigence despite mounting societal needs.

On the other hand, the news media also often tells us how much the general population agrees on certain topics. For example, although Congressional Republicans have been working for seven years to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) and return to the glory days of market-driven health insurance, polls show an increasing majority of Americans “believe the federal government has a responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage.”

An Associated Press story published today reported that “Americans overwhelmingly want lawmakers of both parties to work out health-care changes, with only 13 percent supporting Republican moves to repeal ‘Obamacare’ absent a replacement.”

“Nearly everyone wants changes to the Obama law, while hardly anyone wants to see it abolished without a substitute in place,” according to the AP. If 80-90% of Americans think Republicans and Democrats should work together on healthcare insurance reform, why not do this? Why the complete disconnect between what the people want, what’s good for the health of the population, and what the Republicans in Congress are doing?

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Across the Arizona border

Arizona’s merchandise exports to Mexico totaled $1.87 billion for the first quarter of 2017, a decline from the $2.04 billion reported for first quarter 2016. Among the states, Arizona ranked fifth in first quarter 2017 exports to Mexico, behind Texas ($58.2 billion), California ($6.2 billion), Michigan ($3.2 billion) and Illinois ($2.3 billion). Despite the political ambiguity created by the Trump administration, estimates of Mexico’s 2017 economic growth rate have continued to inch up. Mexico’s economy is projected to grow by 1.9% in 2017. By way of comparison, the economy of the United States is expected to grow 2.2% during the year.

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3 Things You Don’t Know that Democrats Are Thinking About

Jobs

When Democratic candidate for governor Steve Farley said that “driver” is the #1 most threatened job, I made a mental note.

Today’s New York Times article about The Real Threat of Artificial Intelligence fleshed out his thought for me. Modern technology dooms the following jobs:

bank teller

customer service rep

telemarketer

stock trader

paralegal

radiologist

factory worker

construction worker

delivery worker

driver

This is because computers, machines, and robots can do these jobs better than humans. If this is your source of income, start training for something else now.

Jobs with a future involve “people skills.” This is because artificial intelligence lacks the ability. Modern technology creates demand for the following jobs:

“service job of love” — sponsor at Alcoholics Anonymous (non-paying job)

social worker

bartender

concierge

For the details, read Farley Kicks Off Bid for Governor with 3-Point Plan for Education.

Highway fatalities

If you drive on Tucson roads, you will be interested to know that 24 percent more people were killed last year in Pima County.

Prominent among the dead are:

males

vehicle drivers (as opposed to passengers)

people not using seat  belts

speeders

reckless drivers

impaired drivers

If this describes you, you may die on the road in 2017.

I can’t wait for my self-driving car, which will eliminate these demographic hazards. I want to dial in my destination and read a magazine on the way. Until this happens, I am chastened by reading

Scarlett remembers that horrible day when she got the phone call that her son had been killed by a drunk driver who was going the wrong way on the Loop 303.

US Supreme Court

Finally, Justice Kennedy may step down on Monday and there is no worse time for this to happen.

It would open the door up for nominees like Robert Bork, racist Kentucky lawyer John Bush (who equated slavery with abortion) or would-be federal judge Damien Schiff, who says anti-bullying laws are “teaching ‘gayness.'”

Hell is on our doorstep, and it’s only as far as the “on” button on a TV remote.

Scuttlebutt

Neophyte Billy Kovacs launches his bid for Congress on Tuesday, June 27 at 5:30. He offers a New Voice…New Direction…New Generation of Leadership! Interestingly, it is taking place at a bar on N 6th Ave. What does alcohol have to do with it?

After that event, I must go to the Legislative District 9 meeting of precinct committeemen. It is at 6:30 pm, 10 minutes away at the Water of Life Metropolitan Community Church.

Happy trails.