Coming meetings take on Prescott, statewide group-home issues

Arizona Legislature live video service/file photo<br>Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, testifies Feb. 16 in front of the Arizona House Children and Family Affairs Committee in favor of his bill to regulate alcohol and drug addiction recovery group homes.

Arizona Legislature live video service/file photo<br>Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, testifies Feb. 16 in front of the Arizona House Children and Family Affairs Committee in favor of his bill to regulate alcohol and drug addiction recovery group homes.

PRESCOTT - The group recovery-home issue will be back in the forefront during two September meetings - one set by the City of Prescott, and another by the Arizona State Legislature.

The City of Prescott has scheduled a meeting for 6 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 10, to update the public on recent code changes, enforcement activities, and regulations enacted to deal with substance abuse treatment centers and community residences in the city.

The meeting will take place at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

A city news release states that the meeting topics also would include code compliance and building safety reviews and actions, recent and upcoming state legislative action, registration and tax collection compliance, and law enforcement activity related to criminal activity associated with substance abuse.

City Manager Craig McConnell said Friday, Sept. 4, that officials with the police, fire, code enforcement, community development, city manager, and legal departments would be on hand at the meeting to talk about the issue. In addition, he said, City Council members are expected to be in attendance, although the meeting is not an official City Council meeting.

After the presentation, the city will invite community members to comment and ask questions - either verbally or in writing.

"The event will also allow for more informal group or individual discussions with local and state elected officials and city personnel representing the police, fire, building safety, code enforcement, planning/permitting, and legal departments," the news release states, adding that the meeting is part of an ongoing community dialogue on the substance abuse recovery industry.

Then, the next week, the State House of Representatives' newly formed Ad Hoc Committee on Drug Rehab Recovery Homes will conduct its first meeting at 10 a.m. Sept. 16, at the Arizona Senate, Room 109, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix.

State Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, said the Sept. 16 meeting would be the first of four committee sessions that are planned for discussion of various aspects of the group-home issue.

"The first meeting will be an overview," Campbell said Friday, Sept. 4. Future meetings will focus on licensing requirements, Department of Health Services involvement, and insurance issues ("who pays, and are they getting the getting the proper care?" Campbell said.)

The meetings will be open to the public and televised, Campbell said. "If people want to speak, they can sign up," he added.

During the Sept. 16 overview, Campbell said the committee would hear a presentation from officials with the City of Prescott and the City of Chandler about the issues those communities have encountered with the recovery homes.

Campbell said he hopes the committee meetings would lead to a recommendation for more effective regulations of the group homes. Currently, he said, "The city (of Prescott) is stymied," because the drug and alcohol rehab residents are "a protected class" under federal law.

Ultimately, Campbell said he may opt to propose legislation again in the upcoming session. His attempt for state legislation during the 2015 session failed, in part, because of the late start he got last year as a freshman legislator, Campbell said.

"The whole idea is to get an early start," Campbell said of the August formation of the ad hoc committee.

In an Aug. 12 letter to Deputy Prescott City Manager Alison Zelms, Speaker of the House of Representatives David Gowan stated that the committee would "review drug rehab recovery homes to examine how best to provide oversight through exploring the benefits and feasibility of licensing, regulating, registering or certifying drug rehab recovery homes."

In addition, the committee's review will document the number of drug rehab recovery homes and related treatment facilities and services operating in the state, according to Gowan's letter. It also will review the types of operational affiliations, the standards and requirements necessary to protect the health and safety of the residents of the homes, and the related community issues and impacts.

Zelms, Campbell, State Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott, and State Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, are among the 18 members appointed to the committee.

The House of Representatives website states that the committee includes three representatives (Campbell, Fann, and Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley) and three senators (Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, David Bradley, D-Tucson, and Pierce).

It also includes: two representatives from a licensed outpatient treatment facility; representatives from municipalities; behavioral health agencies; the Arizona Department of Corrections; the Arizona Council of Human Service Providers; the Arizona Recovery Housing Association; the health insurance industry; an unlicensed sober living facility; Arizona Adult Probation Services; and the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.

More information is available at: http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?format=print&inDoc=/icommittee/Ad+Hoc+Committee+on+Drug+Rehab+Recovery+Homes%2Edoc.htm.

The City of Prescott has grappled with the proliferation of group recovery homes in the community for years. Officials say the current number of group homes in the city totals about 160.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2034, or 928-642-0951.