AZ Meth Project Releases New Study, Seeks Fundraising Support
The Arizona Meth Project released a new study at their quarterly board meeting in Phoenix last week, and hopes to leverage the study into more dollars to support the next phase of the Project.
The study, titled "Arizona Meth: Use and Attitudes Survey 2008," tracks the changes in the ways Arizona's young people use and perceive methamphetamines since the launch of the project's prevention campaign a year ago. Compared against the baseline survey conducted when the project began, the 2008 survey found:
A 12 percent increase in the number of teens who see "great" or "moderate" risk in trying meth even once or twice;
A significant increase in the number of teens who "strongly disagree" that meth leads to benefits, including happiness, increased energy, weight loss, and escaping boredom or problems;
Twice as many parents citing "TV commercials" as the impetus for starting a conversation with their teens about meth.
The study did not yet find a significant change in the rate of meth use among teens or young adults but Amy Rex, director of the Project, said this result was not unexpected. "Just like we have seen in Montana, [which launched the Meth Project in 2005] attitudes typically shift before we see a behavior change. That's why it's so critical that we are able to fundraise so that we can continue the next phase of the campaign and reach that behavior change."
After presenting the survey to board members, Ms. Rex prepared to make the pitch to potential donors at an evening reception. Donors, including Delta Dental, Lifelock Inc, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of AZ, also listened to presentations from former methamphetamine addicts. The Project will continue to raise additional funding to launch Phase 3 of the campaign.
For more information, visit the Arizona Meth Project's website.
This Week at the Legislature: Issue Updates
Discussions on a permanent repeal of the state's education equalization property tax rate (tax rate) popped up again this week, when the House Rules Committee authorized the late introduction of two new proposals on the topic (new bills must be approved, since the deadline for introduction of proposals passed long ago). No actual proposals have been released, though it appears they will both be potential ballot questions on cuts of the tax rate.
The tax rate, which funds state education efforts, was suspended for three years but is scheduled to resume in 2010. Governor Napolitano vetoed a bill earlier this year that would have permanently eliminated the rate, citing concerns that the current budget deficit did not yet allow for an elimination of the tax. The new proposals to eliminate the tax rate would be sent to the ballot, thereby avoiding another potential veto from the Governor.
In addition, the Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider another ballot proposal to eliminate the rate. The committee will vote on a strike-everything amendment to HCR 2026.
Rep. Russell Pearce's (R-18) HB 2751, which would have changed driving without a license from a civil traffic offense to a misdemeanor, ran out of gas during a Senate vote on Monday. The bill would have allowed someone driving without a valid license to be arrested and detained for the offense. It encountered opposition from both sides of the aisle, with only 5 members voting for the measure. Democrats raised concerns about the bill's potential impact on the Hispanic community, while Phoenix Republican Chuck Gray (R-19) asked about impacts on rural residents. "This is just overboard," he stated. "People driving their tractors across a rural street could be arrested if they didn't have a license."
Senator Ron Gould's (R-3) attempt to reconsider the bill also failed.
Low attendance in the Senate also led to the failure of HB 2485: unlawful public sale of animals (J. Weiers) this week. The proposal would establish new animal control regulations in Maricopa and Pima counties, making it a class two misdemeanor to sell animals from along a public highways, streets and parks. The regulations originally applied statewide, but the proposal was limited when rural senators resisted limitations on actions they did not believe were a problem in their districts.
The bill is expected to be reconsidered, and if it passes it may be amended to include all areas of the state rather than just Maricopa and Pima counties. CSA has asked the bill's sponsor to consider permissive, rather than mandatory, authority to Arizona's rural counties. This would allow counties who need additional animal control ordinances to address their problems, while not limiting the local authority of counties who do not experience difficulty with the public sale of animals.
After a lengthy process through the legislature, a proposal that allows counties to enact emergency fire bans on all unincorporated areas was signed into law on Thursday. Governor Napolitano signed SB 1238: outdoor fires; counties (Flake) after the Senate passed the measure with 16 "yes" votes. Unfortunately, not enough senators were present to obtain the 20 votes necessary to make the bill effective immediately. The measure will, however, establish much-needed authority for counties to prevent wildfires and is an essential tool in the statewide effort to fend off costly damage caused by unintentional fires every year.
Senate Welcomes Newest Member, Senator Allen
Senator Sylvia Allen was sworn in as the new state senator for district five on Monday, filling the vacancy left by the loss of our friend Senator Jake Flake. Senator Allen immediately faced a whirlwind of activity in her new position, beginning her first day by standing up for a controversial CSA agenda item (SB 1238: outdoor fires; counties). She was also gracious enough to meet with CSA staff for numerous briefings throughout her first week. Despite the fast pace, she was very eager to represent the interests of rural Arizona.
Senator Allen is a longtime advocate for rural issues, and was appointed to fill the district five vacancy by the Navajo County Board of Supervisors. "We are all very saddened by Senator Flake's passing," remarked Supervisor David Tenney. "No one could ever replace him, but I believe that Sylvia Allen is the most qualified to carry on his legacy."
Senator Allen committed to do just that: "I will fight for our rural issues," she stated. "I will move forward to work as well as I can. I will do everything in my power to ensure you do not lose faith in me."
CSA looks forward to working with our new senator and is grateful for her support on important county issues.
CSA Agenda: Bills Signed into Law
Deadline Looms for FY09 State Budget Agreement
Conversations on the state FY09 budget became more frantic this week, as legislators and observers alike began to worry about the looming end of the 2008 fiscal year, which wraps up June 30. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees held a joint hearing to discuss possible implications if the new fiscal year began without a finalized budget proposal; the answer did not become any clearer, however, as Mike Braun (Executive Director of Legislative Council) informed the committees that the situation had never previously occurred and there is no statutory mechanism to address a lapse in state appropriations.
Bipartisan negotiations continue to take place among House and Senate leadership, but no details have been released and most rank-and-file legislators are not included on the discussions.
The Senate Appropriations Committee has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday, June 25, and is expected to consider a 30-day extension of appropriations for certain state agencies. The content of this temporary budget is unclear, as are the impacts of delaying a budget solution yet again.
Proposals Move from Rumor to Reality
Numerous concepts that have quietly circulated around the legislature took center stage this week when the House Commerce Committee hosted an informative hearing on a package that supporters believe would assist the state's economy by creating new jobs. "This is about creating jobs for people who might not have them within a year," stated the proposal's sponsor, Representative Michelle Reagan (R-8).
The proposal is composed of four main ideas:
Solar Tax Credits - This would offer incentives for qualifying new businesses that manufacture solar energy components in Arizona.
Research and Development Tax Credits - This would enhance current corporate and income tax credits for new research and development projects.
Cactus League Baseball - This would allow Pima County voters to approve targeted taxes, proposed by a private Tucson-area group, to pay for improvements to new and existing Cactus League ballpark facilities, and is targeted at keeping baseball teams in their southern Arizona location.
Urban Redevelopment Project - This would establish new entertainment districts, targeted at urban downtown areas.
The informational hearing was brief, but additional conversation on the items will occur next Tuesday, when the House Commerce Committee is scheduled to vote on the amendment to SB 1433.
This week, the legislature considered the following bills with county impacts. Click here to obtain archived videos of legislative proceedings.
Next Week at the Legislature
Two prominent committee hearings are scheduled to take place next week: the House Commerce Committee will consider a "jobs creation package" amendment to SB 1433 on Tuesday, and the Senate Appropriations Committee will hear budget and property tax-related proposals on Wednesday (visit the above articles for additional information on these items).
Visit the legislature's daily calendar for up-to-date information on next week's activities.