On Monday, Arizona legislators return to the State Capitol as they convene the 2nd Regular Session of the 54th Arizona Legislature. All eyes will be on Governor Doug Ducey when he delivers his sixth State of the State Address, outlining his policy agenda for the next 100 days. (fingers crossed)
Here’s what to watch:
A Last Hurrah for All-GOP Rule?
Republicans control the Arizona House by 1 vote, and the Senate by just two. With every legislative seat on the ballot later this year, speculation is rampant that Democrats may retake one or potentially even both chambers. Look for the Governor and GOP policymakers to try making the most of the 2020 session in terms of pushing conservative priorities.
Arizona enters 2020 with a $1 billion Rainy Day Fund and a projected $750 million surplus. But as veteran Capitol-watchers know, more money does not make for a smoother session. Quite the opposite. Expect fierce competition for the extra state funds. Given the cyclical economy, the spending lobby may not have it this good for a while.
See above. It’s safe to assume the lionshare of surplus cash will be devoted to Arizona public schools, and will include the final installment of the 20×2020 teacher pay raise plan. On Friday, Governor Ducey told a crowd gathered for the Arizona Chamber Legislative Forecast Lunch that he plans to emphasise “rewarding the schools, principals and teachers who are getting it done.” Meanwhile, talk persists of a likely ballot initiative to hike taxes for public education. Call it “Invest in Ed II: Joe Thomas Seeks Revenge.”
What’s it gonna be this session? Who knows?? That’s the point. But many legislative sessions are marked by The Unexpected – a legislator’s removal, string of resignations, massive controversy or something else – that upsets the political dynamic at 1700 W. Washington. The only question is what it will be and to whose benefit it will enure.
Veridus Clients in the news
Universal Technical Institute Announces Changes to Senior Leadership Team in Support of Company’s Growth Strategy
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Jan. 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Universal Technical Institute, Inc. (NYSE: UTI), the leading provider of transportation technician training, announced several changes to its senior leadership team to further support the company’s transformation and profitable growth, while continuing to deliver strong student outcomes and service to industry customers.
[…] Todd Hitchcock, who has been consulting for UTI for two years, has been named to the newly created position of Senior Vice President – Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, effective January 6, 2020. In this role, he will oversee implementation of the company’s current strategy and lead UTI’s work to identify and leverage new opportunities for growth.
[…] UTI also announced the promotion of Lori Smith to the position of Senior Vice President – Chief Information Officer, with responsibility for evolving the company’s technology and business intelligence strategies and infrastructure in support of its growth initiatives.
[…] As part of its ongoing work to evolve Marketing and Admissions, UTI has created and is actively searching to fill a new role, Senior Vice President – Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), which will lead the company’s new, integrated approach to student engagement. As a result of this shift in responsibilities, Piper Jameson, Executive Vice President – Chief Marketing Officer, has left the company to pursue other interests. […]
Arizona Public Media
In a letter to Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva wrote that the agency isn’t respecting tribal lands and sacred sites and echoed the concerns raised by Tohono O’odham Chairman Ned Norris Jr. last November.
In his own letter to Tucson Sector Border Patrol Chief Roy Villareal, Norris stated that border wall construction in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument has resulted in the discovery of human remains that would otherwise be protected under federal laws like Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and requested a map of where the Trump administration’s waiver of those laws is currently in effect. He also noted a report by the National Park Service last June that discovered numerous new archaeological sites that will be destroyed by barrier construction.
Norris restated the Tohono O’odham Nation’s categorical opposition to the border wall construction projects, and referred to the construction near Quitobaquito as “a direct assault on a sacred site of the Nation.”
Norris also asked CBP for a location and schedule of border wall construction, called for the establishment of buffer zones around critical water sources and cultural sites like Quitobaquito Springs, and requested the agency stop using groundwater for border wall construction. […]
Cigna Helps People Achieve Aspirational Health Goals at the 2020 Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend
Cigna’s Health Improvement Tour returns to the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo to offer free health screenings and promote the importance of whole person health.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. and BLOOMFIELD, Conn., Jan. 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Cigna returns as the proud sponsor of the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend, one of the largest marathon race weekends in the United States. More than 60,000 people will race through the park’s most iconic rides and attractions to celebrate the power of aspirational goal-setting, community support and personal achievement.
“Cigna and runDisney share a commitment to inspire people of all ages to come together and live their healthiest lives,” said Julia Huggins, senior vice president, U.S. Commercial and Enterprise Specialty Distribution and the 2020 Team Cigna executive sponsor. “Our continued sponsorship of the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend, one of the most respected race series in the nation, is an opportunity for participants to come together, set goals and achieve them with the backing of a strong community to support them along the way. Through our community of customers and employees, Cigna is also proud to support individual athletes and the many non-profit organizations represented at runDisney events.”
Team Cigna Laces Up
More than 1,300 Team Cigna members represent Cigna employees, Cigna and Cigna Foundation community partners Achilles International, Back on My Feet, St. Louis Children’s Hospital – Healthy Kids Express Asthma, Students Run Philly Style, Brightstar Community Outreach, Pace Center for Girls, Operation BBQ Relief, and Cigna clients and customers.
This year, Cigna has also added Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee and former NFL running back and philanthropist Warrick Dunn.
As part of Team Cigna, Joyner-Kersee and Dunn will guide runners with differing abilities throughout the weekend’s races. They will also be attending several activities in partnership with Cigna to promote the company’s approach to whole person health and well-being by discussing how they each find balance in their hectic personal and professional lives and focus on their total body health.
Undefeatable: A Profile on Candice Caesar
An Achilles Freedom Team member and participant on Team Cigna, Candice Caesar, has overcome tremendous challenges to participate in this year’s races. Caesar is participating in the highly-regarded Dopey Challenge, a four-day series of races, including the Walt Disney World® Marathon, Walt Disney World® Half Marathon, Walt Disney World® 10K, and Walt Disney World® 5K.
A military veteran, Caesar suffered a motorized vehicle accident that left her with a brain injury and physical difficulties that included being unable to swallow or use her voice properly. Caesar went on to regain her ability to speak and swallow and ultimately became a speech pathologist for Autistic children.
[…] Caesar will be guided by a group of Cigna employees. Cigna employees will serve as guides for several other racers with differing abilities, many of whom are athletes with Achilles International and The Achilles Freedom Team. Achilles International is a non-profit organization dedicated to enabling people with disabilities participate in mainstream athletic events. The Freedom Team is comprised of military veterans who have come back from the battlefield to participate in running events.
[…] This year marks the 12th consecutive year that Cigna is the presenting sponsor of runDisney. […]
Phoenix Business Journal
White Claw, the alcoholic seltzer that became a fast favorite at pool parties and tailgates will soon be produced in the West Valley.
Chicago-based Mark Anthony Brewing Inc., which distributes White Claw Hard Seltzer and Mike’s Hard Lemonade in the U.S., is building a 916,000-square-foot facility in Glendale near Reems Road between Peoria and Olive Avenues.
[…] The facility, which will cost $250 million to develop, is anticipated to create 200 jobs when it opens in June 2020, according to an announcement from the city. The facility will be along Loop 303 in Glendale, an area that has become a draw for manufacturing facilities.
“The primary reason we selected Glendale was the innovative thinking and personal support of Gov. Doug Ducey, the city of Glendale, the Arizona Commerce Authority, and their willingness to embrace our vision and commit to the support required for our rapid build-out and aggressive timeline,” Mark Anthony Brewing President John Sacksteder said in a statement. “Once complete, this new facility will be a beacon for the advanced manufacturing capabilities of the city of Glendale and the state of Arizona.”
The facility will include a brewery and “PureBrew” facility, which is used to make White Claw, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Cayman Jack Cocktails.
In 2019, Mark Anthony Brewing became the fourth-largest brewer in the U.S. and is the fastest-growing top 10 brewer, according to the city of Glendale announcement.
“This facility will help keep up with consumer demand for White Claw while bringing additional jobs and investment to Glendale,” Mayor Jerry Weiers said in a statement. […]
Veridus is proud to represent a true “who’s who” roster of premier members of the business community. The Veridus Weekly has proven to be an excellent opportunity to highlight key announcements, activities, etc. If you would like to feature something in an upcoming issue, reply to this email or send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other news …
Arizona Capitol Times
An elected official in metro Phoenix resigned Tuesday, months after being charged with running a human smuggling operation that paid pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to give up their babies in the U.S.
The resignation of Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen came after leaders in one of the nation’s most populous counties suspended and pressured him to resign after his arrest nearly three months ago. The county’s governing board voted in late December to start the process of removing Petersen, who also works as an adoption attorney.
He is accused of illegally paying women from the Pacific island nation to come to the United States to give up their babies in at least 70 adoption cases in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas over three years. Citizens of the Marshall Islands have been prohibited from traveling to the U.S. for adoption purposes since 2003.
In a statement released by his attorneys, Petersen proclaimed his innocence and said he never neglected his duties as assessor, responsible for determining the property values in the county. The Republican said county officials and news organizations presumed he was guilty.
[…] Petersen has pleaded not guilty to the charges in Arizona and Arkansas. He hasn’t yet entered a plea in Utah.
[…] Petersen previously rejected calls to resign and was fighting his 120-day unpaid suspension.
[…] Lynwood Jennet, who was accused of helping Petersen in the scheme, pleaded guilty last month in Arizona to helping arrange state-funded health coverage for the expectant mothers, even though the women didn’t live in the state. She has agreed to testify against Petersen.
QUESTION: How much impact will the new robocall bill really have?
ANSWER: Anyone with a phone knows the growing irritation with getting nuisance phone calls from computers and wants it to stop. Americans are being deluged with tens of billions of calls per month, and there’s nothing to suggest that it won’t grow larger if left unchecked.
Our legislators in a bi-partisan effort created new legislation known as the TRACED (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence) Act with the intent of fighting the problem. Some parts of it aren’t going to change much, while others could go a long way to cutting down on spoofed calls from bad actors.
The law now allows for fines up to $10,000 per call, which sounds like a deterrent until you understand how ineffective fines have been in the past.
According to a Wall Street Journal report from early last year, the Federal Communications Commission had fined robocallers $208 million but when it came to actually collecting the fines, they recovered just under $7,000. That’s a paltry .000033% of the fines issued since 2015.
The Federal Trade Commission has fared a little better by collecting $121 million of the $1.5 billion that it has issued — at 8%.
[…] Increasing fines will only deter legitimate companies with real assets at risk, which is why many view this portion of the bill to be nothing more than grandstanding.
Changing an existing law that’s currently being ignored by criminals isn’t going to change much.
It’s already illegal to use fake numbers on caller ID, but since the technology that allows people in foreign countries to easily spoof any number they want, the law has no teeth.
The portion of the new law that is likely to have a solid impact is the requirement for wireless carriers to implement a caller authentication process that will make it much more difficult for bad actors to fake their caller ID number.
The telecom industry has been working on a platform that will let customers know when a caller ID has been verified or if it’s a suspected junk call.
Additionally, the FCC has made it clear that cellular providers can block unwanted calls without having to ask customers first, which will lead to automatic call-blocking services.
[…] Unfortunately, all of the current technology under development won’t work on landlines, so the FCC and phone companies will have to come up with an alternative solution for folks still using landlines.