Arizona Lieutenant Governor? It could happen (and we’re NOT just saying that to get you to read this column).
The seemingly perennial question of whether Arizona should create an Office of Lieutenant Governor is back again. HCR2020, introduced by Rep. Becky Nutt (R-Clifton), has earned bipartisan support thus far, and passed out of the House Rules Committee on Thursday. Next stop: Committee of the Whole.
In addition to creating a new statewide elective office, the bill would require the Governor and Lt. Governor to campaign as a ticket. The legislation’s main objective is to ensure a smoother transition in the event of the Governor’s resignation, incapacitation, death or removal from office.Twice in recent memory, control of the 9th floor changed hands with the Governor’s departure – in 1988, when Rose Mofford succeeded Evan Mecham, and again in 2009 with Jan Brewer’s ascension following the resignation of Janet Napolitano.
The Lt. Governor debate is a familiar one at the State Capitol. Advocates of the change argue it would clarify for voters that the officeholder is first in the line of succession. On five occasions, Arizona’s Secretary of State has assumed the Governorship.
Skeptics of HCR 2020 consider it an unnecessary and costly growth of government. The Lt. Governor’s only formal responsibility (other than keeping watch on the Governor’s vitals) would be to direct the Arizona Department of Administration.
Even with HCR 2020 making a bit of progress, there’s no need for would-be candidates (cough-RodneyGlassman-cough) to start preparing for a Lt. Governor bid just yet. Even if approved, the measure would then face voters at the 2020 ballot.
The last time a proposal to establish an Office of Lt. Governor reached the ballot, in 1990, Arizona voters rejected it by 20 percentage points.
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More than 721,000 adults in Arizona do not have a high school degree, according to U.S. Census data. State lawmakers are considering a bill to allow tuition-free public high schools for adults to help move them up the career ladder and into higher income tax brackets.
The nonprofit Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona is proposing to start a pilot program here to duplicate the success of adult high schools in other states, called Excel Centers.
Research studies commissioned by Goodwill to measure the impact find that the model is putting adults to work and into post-secondary education in significant numbers, said Betsy Delgado, vice president of Education Initiatives for Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana in Indianapolis, where the first Excel school opened 10 years ago. Today, there are 22 schools in the state.
Delgado, who testified before Arizona’s House Education Committee this month, said the studies show that about 30 percent of students are employed upon enrollment. But within six months of graduating, 70 percent are working and 38 percent are in college.
On average, students who attend the schools experience a 50 percent increase in their pay, research shows. Many move off of public assistance rolls.
Rep. Michelle Udall, chair of the House Education Committee, said at the hearing that she proposed the bill because of the “incredible” results that are backed up by data.
Extending free high school beyond age 21
The bill, HB 2387, is needed because current Arizona law only provides a free high school education to students up to age 22. After that, there are a few alternatives like a GED.
More alternatives are needed to fill this gap in Arizona’s education system, Jay Kaprosy, a representative for Goodwill, told the committee.
“For 700,000-plus individuals, we’ve got to get them to step one, which is that high school diploma,” Kaprosy said. “There’s a huge untapped potential there.”
If the state Legislature approves the measure, Excel Center schools would be free for residents without a high school diploma who are 19 or older. The schools would operate as charter schools under the authority of the state Board of Education and Board for Charter Schools.
The bill appears to have bipartisan support. It passed through the House Education Committee by an 11-1 vote.
[…] The school model is designed to address educational barriers, accelerate coursework and career readiness, and increase college attendance among this population.
At Excel Center schools, students can access free childcare onsite, transportation assistance, career and life coaching, and other support services.
[…] If the bill is approved and signed by Gov. Doug Ducey, a pilot school would open in August 2021 in a Central Phoenix neighborhood where more than 50 percent of residents do not have a high school degree, said Katrina Thurman, executive director of the Excel Center Initiative in Arizona.
[…] An economic impact analysis for Arizona conducted by Rounds Consulting Group shows that at build-out with 22 schools, Arizona would see an estimated $1.9 billion growth in total wages and $5.3 billion in added economic input.
[…] Currently, there are Excel Center schools in five states and the District of Columbia.
They are located on or near college campuses, career and technical education schools, at corporate sites, and other locations where educational and workforce development partnerships can take place. One Excel school is located at the Lockhart Women’s prison near Austin, Texas.
An average student can expect to graduate in about a year with a diploma or workplace certification, Thurman said.
[…] For more information about Excel Center schools, go to: The Excel Center.
The head of the Native American Tohono O’odham tribe from Arizona on Wednesday denounced the federal government for blasting and bulldozing through culturally important archeological sites in its rush to build the southwest border wall.
Tohono O’odham Chairman Ned Norris Jr. told the House Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) contractors tore through tribal sites listed by the National Park Service, despite complaints from the tribe.
“This disrespect for our sacred sites and their desecration at the hands of our federal government is deeply painful. These sites are not only sacred to the Nation; they are a part of our shared cultural heritage as United States citizens,” Norris told the panel.
Subcommittee Democrats also panned the administration for the destruction of sacred and archaeological sites during wall construction at Quitobaquito Springs and Monument Hill, two locations in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I want to be clear: When sacred cultural sites are destroyed in international conflict, it is considered a war crime,” said the subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.). […]
Zovio & Blue Shield of California to Provide Opportunities for Debt-free Education to BSCA Employees & Their Families
CHANDLER, Ariz., Feb. 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Zovio (Nasdaq: ZVO), an education technology services company that partners with higher education institutions and employers to deliver educational programming and benefits, has partnered with Blue Shield of California, a health plan provider serving over 4 million plan members and nearly 65,000 physicians in California, to provide debt-free educational opportunities to their employees.
Through this partnership, full-time Blue Shield employees who have been employed for six months can obtain free associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees at Ashford University without taking out student loans or incurring additional tuition expenses. In addition, immediate family members of Blue Shield of California employees can also enroll in Ashford University degree programs at a discounted tuition rate. […]
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In other news …
A new civilian oversight office will have the power to investigate Phoenix police shootings and offer residents more insight into law enforcement policies and practices, the Phoenix City Council decided Tuesday following hours of community debate.
Mayor Kate Gallego and Councilman Carlos Garcia each introduced different proposals to address community concerns about police shootings and use-of-force incidents. Garcia’s proposal offered more outside oversight of the department, and ultimately won support in a 5-4 vote.
The adoption of Garcia’s proposal, which also includes an independent investigator as well as a civilian review board that would hear residents’ complaints about the Phoenix Police Department, came as a surprise to many.
In the end, Gallego also threw her support behind Garcia’s proposal, eliciting cheers and applause from the crowd.
“I’m proud of the forward momentum we have made in this past year. No single policy lives in a vacuum,” she said. “We’ve invested in better training, better cameras, more resources. All of that works together. I’m grateful to our Police Department.”
Garcia thanked the mayor and police reform advocates who testified for about four hours before the vote.
[…] The oversight proposals came in response to public outcry following a high number of police shootings over the past nine years, a number of use-of-force cases that resulted in legal settlements and a May 2019 viral cellphone video showing a white police officer pointing a gun at a black man and his family during a shoplifting investigation. […]
PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Republicans are advancing legislation that would give the attorney general control over reports of suspected voter fraud and allow police at polling places — a measure Democrats charge will lead to intimidation of voters of color.
The measure would create a new telephone number and website run by the attorney general to take reports of suspected voting fraud. State and county election officials, who have traditionally managed accusations of misconduct, would be required to refer any calls or reports to the attorney general.
Law enforcement officers would gain the explicit authority to enter polling places and question anyone on site.
Democrats said Republicans are scaremongering, noting there have been only a handful of voting fraud cases despite millions of votes cast. They warned that the measure would likely lead to unfounded complaints of fraud, prompting a police response that would intimidate voters, especially in minority neighborhoods.
[…] Republicans said the measure it would create one destination for people to point out suspected election irregularities and increase their confidence in the integrity of elections.
[…] Election administrators said the measure is unnecessary and would likely confuse voters by creating one more portal for election information. The secretary of state, currently Democrat Katie Hobbs, already runs a hotline where callers can get information about voting or report fraud. Suspected illegal activity is referred to county prosecutors for investigation.
The House approved the measure in a 31-29 party-line vote late Tuesday, sending the measure to the Senate, where Republicans also have a majority. […]
New York Times
Federal health officials starkly warned on Tuesday that the new coronavirus will almost certainly spread in the United States, and that hospitals, businesses and schools should begin making preparations.
“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a news briefing.
She said that cities and towns should plan for “social distancing measures,” like dividing school classes into smaller groups of students or closing schools altogether. Meetings and conferences may have to be canceled, she said. Businesses should arrange for employees to work from home.
“We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare, in the expectation that this could be bad,” Dr. Messonnier said.
Shortly after the news conference, stock markets plummeted for the second day as investors dumped stocks and turned to the safety of government bonds. The S&P 500 fell by more than 3 percent, following a 3.4 percent slide on Monday — the worst day for the American markets since February 2018.
As of Tuesday, the United States has just 57 cases, 40 of them connected to the Diamond Princess, the cruise ship overwhelmed by the coronavirus after it docked in Japan. Those patients are in isolation in hospitals, and there are no signs of sustained transmission in American communities.
But given the outbreaks in more than two dozen countries, officials at the C.D.C. seemed convinced that the virus’s spread in the United States was inevitable, although they did not know whether the impact would be mild or severe.
[…] Preparations to respond to a potential outbreak have begun, government officials said, but are far from complete.
It still is difficult to diagnose the infection. The C.D.C. performs most of the testing, and samples must be sent from state and local laboratories to the agency in Atlanta, a process that takes days.
[…] While the nation’s hospitals have had to handle only a few dozen cases to date, many are ramping up efforts to prepare for a widespread outbreak. […]