Journalists Roundtable: Opioid Epidemic, Arizona Education System, Arpaio Senate Run
Jan. 26, 2018
Journalists from throughout Phoenix joined Arizona Horizon tackled topics dealing with Gov. Doug Ducey’s Opioid Epidemic Act, the status of the state’s education system, predictions of Arpaio staying in the race and more about Arizona’s legislature.
Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act
One of Ducey’s highlights in his State of the State Address was the necessity of attacking the opioid epidemic. The act passed unanimously and bipartisan.
Solving this issue is not easy. While it does help that both parties are agreeing that it needs to be addressed, there will most likely be conflict dealing with funding in the future, as Jeremy Duda, capitol reports assistant editor for the Arizona Capitol Times, points out.
The Democrats were focused on making sure there were parts in the act that talked about recovery and treatment. Politics and State Government Reporter for Associated Press Bob Christie says Republicans were nervous of the act being rammed through and what effects it would have on patients and how much it would cost doctors.
There are a small number of bad actors, Duda says, that ruin the reputation of other doctors who prescribe opioids for good reason. In order to prevent the faulty doctors from over-prescribing, there will be stricter rules doctors will have to follow in order to prescribe opioids to those who really need it. Democrats don’t want to seem like they’re trying to play doctor, and Republicans are concerned that these restrictions will cause doctors to hesitate when they are prescribing medication, Christie says.
Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, was on Arizona Horizon last week to discuss how with plan will impact the state.
Ducey’s full plan can be read here.
Ad Campaign Promotes AZ Schools
“If you ask the people funding the [education] system, they’ll say how great the Arizona school system is and how unfairly it’s been maligned,” Duda says.
Duda and Christie agree that Ducey and those funding the schools only talk about how great the system is in the state. Duda says that those who are unsure about the schools, they turn to Ducey for answers.
Governor’s Officer Reporter for Arizona Capitol Times Rachel Leingang says she spoke with the Arizona Education Association and they say they haven’t been negative toward teachers or education but to policymakers who aren’t giving education enough money and they will continue to hold them accountable.
Arpaio vs GOP
Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio is still in the race for the Senate seat along with Republicans Kelli Ward and Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.
Duda thinks the Ward campaign would love to see Arpaio step down from the race, and McSally would be the one to benefit if the ex-sheriff stayed in. There is a lot of overlap between Ward and Arpaio’s audience so they will be pulling votes from each other, Duda says. McSally attracts a different kind of Republican audience.
Leingang says many people believe Arpaio is in the race for fundraising means, but there are strict rules in place that limit what that money can be used for. All three journalists agree that they don’t see Arpaio dropping out of the race.
Arizona Republic columnist Lauri Roberts and Jaime Molera of Molera Alvarez were on Arizona Horizon after Arpaio announced his run to predict what effects he may have on the race.
Race to Replace Trent Franks
Rep. Trent Franks served in Arizona’s 8th District from 2003 to 2017, and the seat for the district is currently vacant. The 8th District covers much of west Phoenix, “suburbs about as red of a district in a red state that you can get,” says Christie.
The problem with the current race for that district, Christie says, is the five candidates can’t be differentiated. They all support the president and have “nearly identical talking points,” Christie says. Right now it’s name game or it’s in favor of the one who gets an endorsement.
Duda says he has never heard of a Democrat trying for this district.
Bill: Lawmakers Choose U.S. Senate
Rep. Travis Grantham, who represents Arizona’s District 12, wants to take away the vote for Senate because, Leingang says, he thinks that the people who are in the U.S. Senate have lost touch with the state and are not representing the state’s interests anymore in D.C. He wants them to b accountable to the legislature, she says.
Duda points out this would involve overturning the 17th Amendment which states two senators from each state will be elected by the people for a six year term.
Bill: Triples Lawmakers’ Salary
Being a lawmaker in Arizona is considered to be a part-time job. One of the arguments for a salary increase is that the county supervisor receives a larger paycheck, but as Christie says, the role of county supervisor is a full-time job.
Leingang and Christie agree that the real question is will the state get better quality lawmakers if they are paid more, and the answer is probably yes. Christie says that he doesn’t see the bill going very far though.