Legislative Update

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A weekly update of legislative news with a reporter from the Arizona Capitol Times.

Ted Simons: Good evening, welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Some are still questioning the governor's claim that funding for certain medical transplants has been restored. Here with the latest on that and other goings-on at the capitol is Luige Del Puerto, of "The Arizona Capitol Times." Always a pleasure to see you. Thanks for joining us. What is the confusion other transplant fund something.

Luige Del Puerto: If the question is has the transplant services been restored, the answer is yes. The governor's office has taken a very strong position that the budget bill that the legislature submitted to her gives AHCCCS efficient authority to restore those transplant services. The governor's office is also quite adamant that AHCCCS can find enough money, some savings within its own system to fund those medical transplants. As to the confusion, was the bill confusing? I certainly was confused. And I initially reported the transplant services were not restored based on my own reading of the bill. Here's the reason why. The bill itself did not lift a statute that specifically disallows these transplant services. Also, there was no line item appropriation saying we are giving this amount for the medical services. However, the governor's office sent an email and informed us that there's notwithstanding clause in this bill that basically not with stand that language in the statured that says AHCCCS is not -- cannot provide for those medical services. And in that notwithstanding clause, there are also rule making exemptions, and in addition, that provision also says that this bill is retroactive to April 1st, which means that they can begin providing for this medical services as soon as the governor signs this budget bill.

Ted Simons: And we had the director of AHCCCS here. He said the funds are there, the transplants will happen, the governor authorized AHCCCS to restore with available appropriations -- why such a round about way? What's going on down there?

Luige Del Puerto: Well, is there -- is it possible that there was a clear way to write this bill, to restore those transplant funding? Certainly the answer is yes. I and Matt Benson, who speaks for the governor, lent a discussion about this one. His point is that at the end of the day, it achieves what their goal was, which was to restore this transplant services. And if you look at it, ultimately it's the governor saying this bill gives her the authority to provide for services, and when -- and I guess the only thing we're waiting for is when those services actually will be provided. No one in the legislature or at least no one among Republicans is questioning whether the governor was given this authority to restore those medical transplants.

Ted Simons: OK. Let's get to this birther bill now. Senate looking that this? What's happening here?

Luige Del Puerto: Today the senate debated the bill. It's called a committee of the whole debate. And what they do is it provides for -- it gets over that stage in the legislative process before they can actually vote on the bill. And in this particular cow debate, they amended the bill to essentially allow more documents to be offered and not just a birth certificate in order to prove that a candidate is a natural born American citizen. It makes the bill more inclusive, if you will.

Ted Simons: OK. Real quickly, wasn't there -- they had to show where the candidate was living for the past 14 years or something like that? What's that all about?

Luige Del Puerto: Well, if I'm not mistaken, the U.S. constitution says that you have to be living or residing in the United States for at least 14 years before you can run for president. So they're just taking that language --

Ted Simons: All right, OK. Last point before we let you get out of here, it sounds as though some of these immigration bills that were defeated earlier may be coming back. What's happening?

Luige Del Puerto: Only one of them may be coming back, and that's of course a big if. Representative John Kavanagh, who is an immigration hawk, close supporter of the senate president Russell Pearce, is working to find a way to revise the omnibus immigration bill which the president has authored, and basically he is saying that the Republicans in the senate have voted against that particular bill, did not all dislike all of the provisions in that measure so he's saying we're trying to find some consensus, and see whether we can get a bill out that contains only those provisions that would get enough support.

Ted Simons: It sounds like the ones that aren't going to be included include the ones about enrolling, having hospitals report someone who is not here with proper documentation, having parents and school officials, if a parent tries -- it sounds like schools and hospitals are being left out of it. Is that correct?

Luige Del Puerto: I haven't got then anything specific. What I do know is that he has asked those Republicans who voted against the bill specifically what they wanted in and what they wanted out of the bill. I would hazard to guess anything that's highly controversial and anything that was talked about and people had some heartburn about, those probably would be taken away if the bill were to be revised at all. Now, a caveat, they're nearing in the last few weeks of session, they've got to get this done. It's not clear whether they're going to do a striker or they're going to introduce a new bill or -- they have to go through the process, and of course they run out of time, that's it for the session.

Ted Simons: From what you've seen here, is there enthusiasm for this, addressing these things again?

Luige Del Puerto: You know, it's tough to say. Those bills that died in the senate died with very huge margins of losses. I get the sense that people are not enthusiastic about revisiting another immigration bill in the last few weeks of the session, but this is Mr. Kavanagh's effort, certainly I would presume he has the backing of the senate president and the senate president certainly has shown that he is very persistent when it comes to certain things, bills that he likes, legislation he likes, so we don't know if they would have the time, and we don't know if they can get consensus to get something out in the next few weeks or so.

Ted Simons: All right, thanks Luige. Good stuff.

Luige Del Puerto: Thank you.

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