WEEK 5: Hours in Committee

Toby C -

Hi everyone!

It’s been an eventful two weeks, and I’ll try to dissect everything that’s happened.

The week of 3/18 was the last day that new legislation could be sponsored in the Arizona House of Representatives, so legislators and lobbyists were scrambling to get their bills through committee. I shadowed a Health and Human services committee hearing last Thursday, and most of the 4 hours I was there was dedicated towards two contentious bills. In the time I was there, I heard plenty of testimony for and against SB 1233 and SB 1238. You can read more about each bill, but in summary, one is intended to regulate how the Board of Chiropractors handles sexual misconduct cases, and the other is about the practice of mixed hotelling (putting guests and homeless populations in the same hotel) to tackle the homeless crisis.House Health and Human Services Committee hearing.

One issue brought up on the latter bill was that a substantial portion of the homeless population struggles with substances and addictions, and in a facility that is only partially dedicated to them, it is difficult to regulate substance use, as opposed to buying out the whole building. Jeff T., the lobbyist I shadowed also emphasized how critical it was to distinguish different homeless populations, like the elderly, chronically homeless, and more when analyzing the data – one of our largest failures in fighting this issue is not tracking the people after they leave shelters and sober living homes. How long do they stay sober for? Do they eventually fall into homelessness again? Oftentimes, the numbers say that a facility is successful in helping them recover, but fail to follow through over the course of several years, which is critical.

I was also invited to participate in a youth roundtable hosted by the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith, and Family on Thursday. I connected with youth from all over the state with different backgrounds, and we discussed issues like political polarization, civic education, and accessibility to social media. This sort of constituent outreach is just a way for the Governor’s Chief of Staff, Tracy Lopes, to stay engaged, as well as to set some priorities. It was an extremely tame conversation compared to the public testimony I heard from the House committee.Governor's Office Youth Roundtable.

As I’ve found out in the past few weeks, things come up and events don’t always go according to schedule. At this point, one of the biggest challenges is deciding what I want my final product to look like. Would a publicly available resource essentially outlining the candidate-side process of an election be helpful, or would it be just another document that’s lost in the void? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts – and I’ll see you next week!

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