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Health care, open records among Legislature's topics


The new session of the Arizona Legislature won't start until Jan. 14, but the list of proposed bills is already growing.

Freshman Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, said he hasn't had a chance to sit down and read the details of the proposed bills, but a bill at the top of the Arizona House of Representatives' list doesn't sound too bad to him.

HB 2001 simply states, "This state may not establish or administer a state-based health care exchange."

The Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress in March 2010 requires states to have a central website where residents can shop for health insurance. States can either set up and control the website themselves or the federal government will do it for them.

Gov. Jan Brewer has already said that the state would not be creating its own insurance exchange.

"I can agree with that, but I would have to see the details," Borrelli said.

Rep. Doris Goodale, R-Kingman, and Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, were contacted for this story but did not return phone calls before deadline.

Leaving the setup of the insurance exchanges to the federal government is a better idea, Borrelli said.

"The whole thing is just another way to shove taxes up," he said. "Taxpayers will have to pay not only for the health insurance of government employees but their dependents as well."

"I'm a firm believer in slowing down new legislation. I think we need to streamline the laws we have. I think we need to just tweak the laws we have a little bit. I don't think we need to add new ones."

He plans to read every bill that comes across his committee desk and hopes to meet with Rep. Michelle Ugenti on her proposed bill that would require organizations whose members pay dues with taxpayer money, such as the Arizona League of Cities and Towns, to follow Arizona Open Meetings Laws.

Open meeting laws require local, county and state governments to hold all of their committee and board meetings in full view of the public and opens nearly all state or local government records to public scrutiny. Some records and meetings can be closed to the public, but governmental entities must provide a reason why the meetings or records are closed.

According to a news release, Ugenti proposed the bill after she had a hard time getting the results of a survey the League did on another bill, HB 2826.

That bill consolidated the election dates of city council members with the state's fall election date.

Borrelli said he hasn't read the bill yet and he couldn't really comment on it.

Two other bills he hasn't had a chance to read yet and couldn't comment on are HB 2002 and HB 2004.

HB 2002 would make it a felony if a caregiver or parent doesn't report a missing child after 24 hours. HB 2004 would make it a felony to impersonate someone on social media, through email or on a website.

"I can't tell if it's good or bad," he said. "Before I make a decision on anything I like to reach out to people. I want to know how it's going to affect people."

Borrelli did say he's gotten a sneak peek at the preliminary 2013/2014 budget numbers and was amazed that three-quarters of the state's general fund goes to support education, prisons and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Arizona's version of Medicare/Medicaid.

As the vice chair of the House Transportation Committee, he plans to take a hard look at the projects the Arizona Department of Transportation has lined up for the next few years.

"I want to see if I can nudge some of those projects slated for Mohave County along," he said.

He's also hoping, as a member of the House Committee on Military Affairs and Public Safety, to encourage the state to accept military training in lieu of formal schooling for some careers and licensing requirements.

"For example, when I was in the military I trained to drive tractor-trailers, but I can't get a commercial truck license in Arizona without having to go through a truck driving school," Borrelli said.

"Why should someone have to pay for training they already have in order to get a civilian license?"




 

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