Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 3, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Gas Prices

  |   Video
  • Gas prices usually go up this time of year, but they’re going down. Michelle Donati of AAA Arizona discusses why that is happening.
Guests:
  • Michelle Donati - AAA Arizona
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: gas, gas prices, AAA, AAA Arizona, triple A,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
You might have noticed gas prices dipping at the pump recently, which is kind of odd during the summer driving months. There's also a big oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that doesn't seem to be affecting prices. Here to talk about all this is Michelle Donati, of Arizona Triple A. Thanks for joining us.

Michelle Donati:
thanks for having me.

Ted Simons:
Why are prices decreasing when the summer driving season is starting?

Michelle Donati:
You know, that's really atypical for prices to decrease heading into the summer driving months. Actually, over Memorial Day weekend we saw prices go down when typically they go up. That was the first time that happened since 2005. So a couple of reasons for that. One, inventories are healthy. Supplies are very healthyLy, fuel inventories are sitting at about a 17-year high. So that's one of the things. Also, there's been some pressure applied to crude oil as a result of some economic concerns in Europe. So that's driven down the price of the euro, therefore helping the price of oil go lower.

Ted Simons:
And I would imagine I've heard as well with the debt crisis over there may be killing demand a little bit as well. Correct?

Michelle Donati:
Right.


Ted Simons:
Concerns over the economy.

Michelle Donati:
Exactly. There's also been negative economic reporting out of China recently that's also applied downward pressure to prices, and in addition to that, we've seen profit margins for retailers have been very healthy. So typically during the summer months retailers use gasoline as a loss leader. That means that they will take a hit on the price of gasoline just to get people to come into their station and buy those convenient items, right now profit margins are healthy, which means that stations can afford to move prices lower to be more competitive.

Ted Simons:
That seems some what counter-intuitive. You think the gas station might be in trouble so they're raising prices, not necessarily the case.

Michelle Donati:
Not necessarily the case.

Ted Simons:
OK. Before we get any further, where do we stand right now? Here in the valley as far as gas prices are concerned?

Michelle Donati:
Right now Arizona's fuel price assist $2.72 a gallon. We've seen a drop over the last week of about three cents. Where we stack up to come -- compared to last year, we're higher by 35 cents.

Ted Simons:
Why is that?

Michelle Donati:
Last year a couple of things. We were experiencing -- we're coming down from a high price. So we were still kind of -- the environment was different than where we are this time last year. However, if you look at where we were this time last year just in terms of trends, we were trending upward, leading up to Memorial Day weekend.

Ted Simons:
It always seems as though Flagstaff has the highest, and Tuscon area has the lowest. Why is that?

Michelle Donati:
There's a couple reasons for that also. Flagstaff gets their fuel from -- there are two lines that bring fuel into Arizona. One to the east, one to the west. And so Flagstaff gets its fuel, it's shipped to Phoenix and then it's transported to Flagstaff. So there's additional transportation costs there. The bulk of fuel that comes in to Phoenix comes in from California, from the pipeline in California. The fuel that comes to Tuscon comes in from a pipeline that goes through the gulf. And so therefore there's not that additional transportation cost, and fuel tends to be cheaper in the southern part of Arizona. Tuscon in particular.

Ted Simons:
OK. If it comes through the gulf, there's a lot of activity going on right now in the gulf. Why is the fact that this disaster is happening down there not affecting gas prices?

Michelle Donati:
You know, the leak in the gulf has been happening, it's 40-plus days now. Initially there was a surge in the market once the explosion and the spill started. However, that quickly corrected itself and that's because this leak came from exploratory wells. So the market wasn't counting on the oil going directly into the market, it was an exploratory well. So therefore we've seen a minimal impact on prices, but where we could see some price effects in the long term would be clean-up efforts. Right now the spill is still happening, so clean-up efforts haven't been assessed or a plan hasn't been laid out for that. Should the government have to close a portion of the gulf for cleanup efforts once that plan is laid out, then we could see some long-term effects pricewise.

Ted Simons:
So this is not necessarily over as far as that particular incident is concerned. Also, the idea after moratorium, the president put a moratorium on offshore drilling will that affect prices and if so, when?

Michelle Donati:
This is kind of -- this is a recent announcement the president has made, and it's not going to impact the deep well operations. About 600 deep water well operations are currently in effect, or the thousand plus 500 feet operations in effect. But it will stop about 30-plus or minus exploratory operations. So minimal impact in the short-term, however, this will really be dependent upon whether or not the moratorium is extended beyond the six months, and also if we see any sudden spikes in demand, that could also cause a sudden shift upward, but right now both of those things are unlikely.



Ted Simons:
Something that's probably relatively likely is a hurricane coming through some of these areas, these oil-producing areas. Do we have supplies strong enough to withstand this kind of dissaster?

Michelle Donati:
Supplies are ample. Hurricane season comes once a year, last year very, very mild season. We had a couple of storms that were threats, but they didn't really do much damage. We're expecting a little more of an active season this year, and should a mild season come into play, the amount of supplies we have could really insulate the effects that we seen see in terms of pricing, but if we see a severe season happen or a severe event, it could be one storm, then obviously we could feel lasting effects.

Ted Simons:
With calm weather we should see an increase in prices not -- when? What should we see in the next two months?

Michelle Donati:
In the next couple months, barring unforeseen circumstances which should abmajor hurricane or storm that damages infrastructure, we should see prices continue on their current path with mid- to high $2 per gallon range.

Ted Simons:
Very good. Thanks for joining us.

Michelle Donati:
thanks for having me.

Illegal Immigration Myths

  |   Video
  • There is a lot of misinformation about illegal immigrants. Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute has completed a research study, busting some of those myths. Study author Bill Hart will discuss his findings.
Guests:
  • Bill Hart - ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy
Category: Immigration   |   Keywords: immigration, illegal immigrants, ASU,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Lots of information is being tossed around regarding the impact of illegal immigrants on society. Some of that information is factual, some, not so much. Here to do some myth busting on illegal immigration is Bill Hart, the author after recent immigration report from ASU's Morrison institute, a public policy research organization. Thanks for joining us.

Bill Hart:
Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons:
Why a report on the perception against the reality of immigration, and talk about the process.

Bill Hart:
Well, Morrison institute is, our mission is to try to bring fact-based, evidence-based information to debates over public policy issues. So that policymakers and citizens can figure out what they want to do. In a more rational framework of information. We decided to put this out because clearly the debate over immigration over illegal immigration is being conducted at a very high decibel level, and in the process we've heard a number of sort of fairly dramatic statements that seem to be either untrue, or probably untrue, or unknowable. And so we thought we might contribute to the debate by putting this out.

Ted Simons:
And contribute in a sense that the more than I son institute has not taken a stand on senate bill 1070.

Bill Hart:
We're not advocates. We're analysts. We don't take positions on anything, really. We're not for 1070 or against it, and actually this process began prior to 1070's passage. So we've been -- obviously the immigration debate's been big one for a long time, so we started putting this together before 1070 came out.

Ted Simons:
Let's hit a couple of these perceptions. Most violent crime is committed in Arizona by undocumented immigrants.

Bill Hart:
Right. That's almost undoubtedly false. For one thing, there's little or no record kept by law enforcement agencies when they arrest people as to whether or not they're documented or undocumented. There's some, more than there used to be, but there's very little. Also, even before that, most crime is of course not reported to police by anyone. Here or elsewhere. And also, I think people tend to conflate concerns about violence in northern Mexico, which is among the drug cartels, which is really horrifying, they conflate that with crimes that are committed by human smugglers against the people they smuggles, or conflicts between smugglers, and that's of course bad, but it really is limited to a fairly small part of the community. And thirdly, they may conflate it with drug crimes and drug cartels while the vast majority of undocumented immigrants have no connection with drugs or crime.


Ted Simons:
But with all these perceptions, there is an element of not knowing. Isn’t there?

Bill Hart:
There is. There's -- I think there's less of a percentage, perception or degree of not knowing in this than some of the others. It's pretty clear that we can say that undocumented immigrants represent a relatively small percentage of crimes in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
Let's hit another perception, that illegal immigrants are entering as at unprecedent the numbers.

Bill Hart:
Yeah, that's also almost completely clearly not true. I think everyone, all demographers regardless of where they stand on this issue, agree that there's been a sharp decline in the number of people entering illegally in the past two years because of the economic slowdown. And even prior to that, probably the height of undocumented immigration, probably occurred in the -- in about eight years ago. And it's been declining slowly since then. So it's pretty clear that that's not true, that the number of people coming in has dropped. Significantly in Arizona, and elsewhere. And in addition, a lot of undocumented people are thought to have left Arizona to go elsewhere in the U.S. to find jobs.

Ted Simons:
OK, conversely, the idea that tougher laws, immigration laws, tougher border enforcement will rid Arizona of undocumented immigrants.

Bill Hart:
Right. That is -- it depends a lot on what you mean by a lot. But I think most people feel that most observers feel that the Arizona's recent laws against undocumented immigrants have probably had some effect on driving people out of Arizona or discouraging them from coming in. One has to assume that. You have to assume that, but I think most observers think that much greater impact has been had by the recession. And that that's why people have left. As far as sealing border and getting rid of all the undocumented, I think it's probably physically impossible to seal border. I think border patrol people will tell you this, number one, and number two, large numbers of undocumented immigrants have children who are born in the U.S., and so are citizens. And it seems unlikely to me that they're going to leave very easily. It will be a big decision for them to leave, take their children out of school, etc.



Ted Simons:
OK, let's get another perception here. The idea that undocumented immigrants, illegal immigrants, take jobs from Americans and depress wages.

Bill Hart:
That is more after mixed bag, we think. There's truth to that. I think it's clear that if you're a low-wage worker in the U.S. and you don't have, for example, don't have a high school education, are not particularly skilled, you are in direct competition with the great bulk of undocumented immigrants, so you probably will suffer. Your wages will be depressed, or your job might be more difficult to get. So for certain sectors of the population, that is true. As far as overall, if you're an employer, employing these people, it's a positive benefit for you. So for that sector of the population, it's a benefit as it is for the undocumented people themselves. As far as an overall drain on the economy, the -- it's certainly true that the bulk of undocument the immigrants are low-income, low-wage workers. And they thus don't earn a lot of money and don't pay as much in taxes as they might if they were higher wage. But they do pay taxes, and so that contributes and balances to a certain degree the costs they impose on the system.

Ted Simons:
Last point, a couple of minutes left. We can combine a couple of perceptions on the general drain on the economy. Public Services, public health, crime, prisons, education, that illegal immigrants are straining all of these systems.

Bill Hart:
Unfortunately people like me are unpopular because we often end up saying, yes, maybe, a little bit here, or it's unknowable. There are about 19 -- I think 15% of prison inmates are undocumented immigrants. About the same percentage of jail inmates in the Maricopa system, the largest in the state, on the other hand, they don't commit a lot of crimes, they contribute to the economy, they pay taxes, they pay social security taxes, which they'll probably never recover. They do impose costs on the health system, but of course laws now make them ineligible for most health care costs. So again, it's unfortunately not a very satisfying answer.

Ted Simons:
We'll leave it at that. Thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

Bill Hart:
thank you.

Medical Marijuana

  |   Video
  • An initiative that would legalize medical marijuana has qualified for the ballot. Andrew Myers of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project will discuss the measure.
Guests:
  • Andrew Myers - Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: medical marijuana, marijuana,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," a medical marijuana initiative qualifies for the November ballot. We'll hear from backers of the measure. A local research group puts out a paper debunking myths about illegal immigration. We'll tell you what they found. And gas prices are actually going down during the summer driving months. Even with the big oil leek in the Gulf of Mexico. We'll take a closer look at gas prices, coming up next on "Horizon."

Welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.

Governor Brewer met with President Obama today to talk about illegal immigration. The governor said the half hour meeting at the White House was cordial and that she and the president agreed to work on opening up lines of communication. The governor also said that the president told her that most of the 1200 National Guard troops he plans to send to the border will likely go to Arizona. The president did not address the idea of a federal suit against Arizona's new immigration law, except to say that such a decision will be up to the justice department.

The city of Mesa today announced a new financing plan for a spring training complex to keep the cubs from moving to Florida. The city will ask Mesa voters in November to approve an increase in the city's bed tax for hotels and to allow special funds from golf course and other facilities to pay for the new complex. The city could also sell land it has in Pinal county to help fund the $84 million plan.

Arizona medical marijuana policy project turned in enough valid signatures this week to get a medical marijuana measure on the November ballot. Here to talk about the measure and its new name, it's likely new name, proposition 203, is Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the Arizona medical marijuana policy project. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Andrew Myers:
Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons:
Why the need to legalize medical marijuana, or let's just to use marijuana for medicinal purposes?

Andrew Myers:
Well, the reason there's a need for the law, there are already thousands of patients across Arizona who are already using marijuana with their doctor's recommendation. Seriously and terminally ill patients. Right now they face a terrible choice. They have to continue to suffer with a debilitating medical condition or go to the criminal market and acquire a product they don't know where it came from, what's in it, and ultimately they realize they may be financing violent criminals. In addition to subjecting themselves to arrest and prosecution. This is a cruel and unnecessary policy and something that needs to be changed.

Ted Simons:
how does this initiative differ from past measures? We've seen these things come and go.

Andrew Myers:
It's a night and day difference. Arizona passed their first medical marijuana law in 1996, the same year California passed their law. It would have been the first law in the country had gone into effect in 1996. That law didn't really have any statewide regulation in place. So -- and it was similar to the law that California enacted. We've seen California's issues since they passed the law in 1996. We've learned a lot about how to draft medical marijuana bills, and 14 years later we're able to put together a complete initiative that will serve the needs of patients while not affecting the community in a negative fashion.

Ted Simons:
Let's talk about the measure and what qualifies as -- constitutes as a qualified patient.

Andrew Myers:
We're talking about seriously and terminally ill patients. People with conditions like cancer, HIV aids, Parkinson's disease, serious conditions. There are three main symptoms that marijuana has been shown in clinical studies to safely and effectively treat. The first one is nausea. Most often times associated with chemotherapy treatment. The second is neuropathy, pain caused from nerve damage. And the third is tremors. So a lot of our conditions that we outline within the initiative stem from those symptoms.

Ted Simons:
But I got a backache, someone broke their hand, how far does it do?

Andrew Myers:
It doesn't go that far at all. No. You need to be a seriously ill patient. There is a pain provision included within the initiative, but it's the type of pain you would be on opiate based pain killers for. So we want to provide a safer and more sustainable treatment option for those types of severe and chronic pain patients. But we're not talking about someone who has a toothache or a backache. This is not California.

Ted Simons:
OK. So we find out what constitutes the qualified patient. What about a caregiver? The caregiver would be allowed to procure the marijuana. Correct?

Andrew Myers:
Right. Many of these patients are going to be very ill. And will have a difficult time leaving their home. The initiative allows that patient to appoint someone to act as a proxy for them to be able to go to a dispensary and require medication.

Ted Simons:
And they would have access to marijuana. What qualifies as access? What does that mean?

Andrew Myers:
Well, if a physician believes that one of their patients would benefit from of marijuana, and they qualify with one of the conditions as outlined within the initiative, the patient and the physician will apply jointly to the Arizona department of health Services, and then the patient will be issued an identification card. That patient will be able to access or the caregiver, will be able to access the dispensary.

Ted Simons:
The department of health clinic services regulates the process? What’s going on here?

Andrew Myers:
The department of health Serviceless regulate the entire process. The clinics, the application process, and issue the identification cards.

Ted Simons:
Where does the marijuana come from?

Andrew Myers:
The dispensaries have to cultivate it, or there's a provision within the law, if a patient lives within 25 miles within a registered dispensary they can cultivate a limited number their own plants.

Ted Simons:
here do you come from, and how much is being funded by this group?

Andrew Myers:
WellI'm the campaign manager for the project, which is the Arizona-based campaign committee. We have a sponsor called the marijuana policy project, they're out of Washington, DC. They sponsored many medical marijuana initiatives across the country. They're a membership-based organization, they have 30,000 dues paying members nationally. So in a way, we're getting the money wove been putting into the organization back here in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
So the group is pushing for this. We're going to get critics, and they're going to basically say, we'll have them on the show, they're basically going to say this is a back door attempt to decriminalize marijuana. How do you respond?

Andrew Myers:
It's not that at all. Arizonans don't support the idea of decriminalizing marijuana. We polled on that question when we polled on medical marijuana. 65% of Arizonans support medical marijuana. Only 23% support full legalization of marijuana. So voters know what they're voting on. They understand the difference between medical use and recreational use. And almost half the electorate supports one and not the other. So we believe that voters can study an issue, see what's in front of them, make an informed decision and the question of legalization is something different.

Ted Simons:
But the question of safeguards to make sure the caregiver is proper to make sure patient really needs this particular medication, those you think are addressed in the initiative?

Andrew Myers:
Absolutely. That's why our initiative is so long. We were very sensitive to the issues that have kept up in other states that haven't had as complete of a law when it went into effect at first. And California still lacks a system of statewide regulation. That's an experience we didn't want to repeat in Arizona. And we're convinced that we have done everything that we can to make sure that we're going to have a tightly regulated program that will help patients, but will not have a negative impact on the community.

Ted Simons:
There are, I don't know, two, maybe at least well-known synthetic forms of marijuana in pill form, medication form, these sorts of things, that critics of this bill will say, if that's what you need, you can already get that. That's what you got. Why do you have to have marijuana, why do you have to smoke it?

Andrew Myers:
Because if you talk to patients or physicians, MARiNOL is one of the medications you're referring to. Marinol is just not effective anti-nausea medication. And it's a pill, it takes more than a half an hour to take effect, which is not good for an antinausea med, and getting the dosing correct is difficult. Many times it's not strong enough or way too strong, which is an even less desirable outcome. What we're providing is a direct natural alternative, something that's easier to get the dosing right and that patients respond better to.

Ted Simons:
Last point, 2½ ounces every two weeks with a doctor's recommendation. A doctor, your doctor, whose doctor?

Andrew Myers:
A licensed physician in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
So not necessarily your doctor.

Andrew Myers:
Not necessarily your doctor.

Ted Simons:
Is that a problem?

Andrew Myers:
No, I don't think so. I think we have physicians across the -- physicians across the state already prescribe controlled substances on a regular basis. What we're talking about is something that's less dangerous than many of the substances they're already prescribing. And ultimately we have to trust physicians to make sure that they are only dispensing and prescribing medications to patients who need them.

Ted Simons:
All right. Andrew, good to have you here.

Andrew Myers:
Thanks so much.

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