Category Archives: Drug Policy

Fully Funding Education is the Top Issue as LD 18 Democrats look to take both State Representative Seats in 2018

State Representative Mitzi Epstein

State Representative Mitzi Epstein

Education, Education, Education. That is the top issue for all three candidates competing for the two Representative seats for LD 18 as they vie to continue the trajectory of making this district increasingly blue in this year’s election.

As reported in a previous overview of LD 18, it is a district that includes Ahwatukee-Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, and Mesa. Socioeconomically, it is a mostly upper-middle-class district. It is where the main campus of Mesa Community College is located as well as technology powerhouses GoDaddy and Intel.

Jennifer Jermaine

Until recently, the district has predominately elected Republican candidates for its local seats. Democrats made their first electoral gains in the district this decade with victories for State Senator Sean Bowie and State Representative Denise “Mitzi” Epstein in 2016.

The party hopes to continue this trend by re-electing Bowie and Epstein to their current positions and electing either Jennifer Jermaine or LaDawn Stuben who will run against Republican State Representative incumbent Jill Norgaard.
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Marijuana to Bump Stocks to Tax Giveaways: How Did your #AZHouse Rep Vote?

Arizona House Democrats

There have been many lively debates in the Arizona House in 2018. This team of House Democrats fought for consumer protections and fought against risky financial deals in a “regulatory sandbox.” (Pictured are Reps. Mitzi Epstein, Kelli Butler, Athena Salman, Pamela Powers Hannley, Ken Clark and Isela Blanc.)

In the middle of each Legislative Session, there is a frenetic time period called “crossover week”. It is characterized by a flurry of debates and votes in a compressed timeframe. The purpose is to pass on as many wacky bills as possible in each chamber of the Legislature before successful bills are passed to the other chamber. (Hence, the name “crossover week”).

In the last two weeks, the Arizona House has voted on more than 100 bills. I think the House is up to ~250 bills that we have sent to the Senate. Of course, this list includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Below the fold are a few of the recent votes on gun violence, tax giveaways, mandatory sentencing, and drugs. All of these bills are still alive and have been sent to the Arizona Senate. If you don’t like these bills, tell your Senators and Representatives. (On the voting below, green = yes, red = no, purple = excused absence, yellow = absent.)

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#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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