This Week in Arizona Politics: 5 Things to Know

June 12,2017 | Triadvocates

1. On Monday, June 5, Gov. Doug Ducey declared a statewide health emergency in light of newly released data from the Arizona Departmnet of Health Services ("DHS") showing that 790 Arizonans died from opioid overdoses in 2016 alonean average of more than two people per day. As part of the declaration, DHS has been tasked with developing guidelines to educate healthcare providers on responsible prescribing practices, as well as creating a real-time data system that will track opioid overdoses and deaths. With the state of emergency, law enforcement will be trained on administering the overdose reversal drug Naloxone.

2. Very few people were surprised this week when Democratic state Sen. Steve Farley announced his intentions to run for governor in 2018. Farley has served in the Legislature since 2006 and is currently the Assistant Minority Leader in the Senate. While he has had many successes during his tenure at the Capitol, he is best known for two signature items: 1) he is a strong champion against any tax credits and pushes legislation every year to eliminate those already on the books; and 2) he is not a hand shaker—rather, he likes to give hugs, which is sometimes a welcome relief after a rough-and-tumble political battle. Farley will face David Garcia in the primary. If successful, he would be the first Democratic governor since Janet Napolitano won in 2002.

3. A little musical chairs is happening with the governor’s cabinet, as Gov. Doug Ducey asked his housing director to be the new director of the Department of Economic Security (“DES”). Michael Trailor has been the head of the Department of Housing since 2009. Last November, the governor fired Tim Jeffries from DES over concerns of mass firings, questionable e-mails and the use of state resources. DES is the largest agency in the state with more than 7,000 employees and is responsible for unemployment benefits, child care assistance and food assistance, among other programs.

4. Clarence Carter
– the former head of the Arizona Department of Economic Security (“DES”) – has landed a spot in the Trump administration. Carter led DES from November 2011 until resigning when current Gov. Doug Ducey was inaugurated in January 2015, and was on board when the agency’s Child Protective Services division was rocked by a scandal after more than 6,000 child abuse and neglect hotline calls went uninvestigated. In his new role as director of the Office of Family Assistance at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, he will oversee a $17 billion budget for programs such as child care, refugee resettlement and TANF—the cash-aid program for low-income families that has been hotly debated in Arizona.

5. Last week at the annual summit of the Arizona-Mexico Commission, Gov. Doug Ducey and Claudia Pavlovich, his Sonora counterpart, signed a deal designating Puerto Peñasco, or Rocky Point as we know it, the newest cruise ship port of entry. This breathes new life into the idea of a “Port of Arizona” after construction, which began four years ago and is nearly halfway complete, stalled. The governor said he sees having a cruise port within three hours of the state’s largest city as a new and unexpected economic benefit, as he expects the deal will create new jobs and increase business.

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