Republican Rep. T.J. Shope Reacts To Ducey's State Of The State
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: And now let's get a reaction from one of the governor's party mates, Republican Rep. T.J. Shope (R-Coolidge) is a member of GOP leadership in the state House of Representatives. He joins us now. Representative, let's start with what stood out to you, even what was surprising about yesterday's address?
T.J. SHOPE: Well, I think one of the most unusual aspects of the speech was its longevity. I read several things on social media prior to walking into the Capitol about how these things are usually about 20 to 30 minutes long from this particular governor. And yesterday, I think we we darn near reached an hour, if I'm not mistaken. But ... I thought there was there was a lot of there were a lot of things for a lot of different constituencies in the speech. I think there were some things that some of the more hardcore conservatives in my caucus truly loved and appreciated. There were some things that more middle-of-the-road folks would have appreciated. And I think, you know, there was there was lot of stuff in there that really — I don't know if I want to call it spiking the football — but really talking about how great things are going in Arizona overall.
GOLDSTEIN: Well, did it feel long to you, and did it feel like there were too many things stuffed in? We know how these addresses are sort of laundry lists.
SHOPE: No. Great question, because I think that sometimes it can get so long that there's almost no flow. And I didn't get that impression or vibe at all. I thought it did have some some flow to it and overall did a very fine job of pointing some things out ... I would say calling out this low-hanging fruit that was going to get applause lines. I don't know if we keep track. If we're like ... watching the U.S. State of the Union address, if we keep track of applause lines and things like that. But I feel like there were a lot more yesterday than I've noticed before.
GOLDSTEIN: So we're going to have to wait obviously till Friday to know what is officially in the governor's budget proposal. The budget is obviously the main reason that you folks are down there, of course. So are there things that, trying to look ahead — do you feel like even, did you pick up any hints from the speech and where there might be great areas of agreement or maybe some contentious areas based on the budget?
SHOPE: I think that it is going to be fun to take a look at that document on Friday. I think for me personally — and this this may be just a district specific for me, since I do represent a large portion of the incarcerated population in the state — the issue of the Florence Prison complex is going to be one where I'm very keen on working. I've already been in contact with folks from the town of Florence who are very concerned about job losses, which we have to determined will be no job losses. Every officer and staff member will be moving over to a facility about three miles away still in Florence, but also about where the 3,000 or so inmates end up going. I know that, for example, part of the mention was that perhaps it was time — and I've been a big proponent of this — to reach out to our counties. A lot of our counties have open beds. And it's a shot in the arm, not just for for our counties and such, but also many times for the inmates families if they're able to be housed, especially if they're a little lower level offenders, oftentimes nearer to their homes. It does provide families with more opportunity to visit their loved ones who are incarcerated, which I think does help with the rehabilitation process.
GOLDSTEIN: Well, people would comment as well about the governor's push to actually change the name of the department to include rehabilitation. What does that say to you about the actual commitment going forward there?
SHOPE: I think it's a great, great first step. I've been a huge proponent of more of that type of feeling in the department, especially where it comes to work training and the ability to find jobs for folks once they are no longer incarcerated. There are some great programs going on at Eloy as well as in Florence that we, in my opinion, need to double down on. And even if we're just talking about a name change, I feel as though it's a great first step in that direction.
GOLDSTEIN: You mentioned something about certain things that maybe some conservative members of your caucus would like. One of those is the governor's continued push to get rid of old regulations. Certainly.
SHOPE: Yes. Yes, I did notice that. Got a great applause line.
GOLDSTEIN: Well, one thing I did want to ask about is there's been so much talk about health care, of course, and mental health care. The governor did talk about having a mandate requiring insurance companies to cover mental health care. Did you have thoughts on that first of all? But also, how does that jibe for you with the governor's push to end a lot of regulations? This almost sounds like it could be a new one.
SHOPE: That's a great question because I think that that was one that was a little surprising — I didn't I didn't see that one coming. Definitely gonna have to go ahead and take a look at that. I would have to imagine that the insurance companies are probably scratching their heads a little bit today, wondering how they're going to implement that. But I assume that we'll get more information on it and how that is going to be detailed on Friday. I am looking forward to that.
GOLDSTEIN: All right. Republican Rep. T.J. Shope is also the House speaker pro tem. Rep. Shope, thank you. Have a good session.
SHOPE: Thank you.