Will They or Won’t They: A Sine Die Story
As Arizona approaches the April 30 expiration of Governor Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order a similar re-opening debate rages among legislators at the State Capitol.
Lawmakers are conflicted whether to resume the session on May 1 for business-as-usual or formally adjourn with tentative plans to return at some undetermined future date.
Earlier this week, legislative leaders announced their intent to adjourn Sine Day on May 1. By Thursday, that plan appeared dashed as House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) bowed to House GOP members who would prefer to resume the session. That’s only one chamber, though; Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) continues to confer with her caucus and has not announced what steps the chamber may take.
House and Senate Democrats appear unified in their desire to adjourn the session. Republicans are more splintered, with factions favoring adjournment, a brief resumption for virus-related relief only or a return to normal legislative activity.
Meanwhile, reality intruded on the debate this week with news of the first confirmed COVD-19 case among Arizona legislators. Senate Minority Leader Lupe Contreras (D-Avondale)confirmed he has tested positive for the virus, along with members of his family.
Veridus Clients in the news
With stay-at-home orders still in place, many Arizonans’ cars are going unused for long periods of time. For some, this has raised questions about how best to care for their vehicles.
What do I do about insurance? Should I change the way I care for my car?
According to Jesse Campbell, staying at home shouldn’t get in the way of your car receiving proper care.
Campbell works with the auto tech instructors at Universal Technical Institute’s Maricopa County campus in Avondale.
[…] Whether you’re working from home or just staying at home, here’s how to make sure your car is in good shape when you get back on the road.
Care for your battery
Even if you won’t be going anywhere, make sure to turn your car on at least once a week.
[…] He said turning your car on periodically is also good for more than just your battery.
“The charging system brings (the battery) back up to a good, healthy voltage,” Campbell said. “This circulates lubricants through the engine and the transmission.”
Check your tire pressure
It’s important to keep track of the air pressure in your tires even if your car is just sitting at home.
According to Campbell, the difference between a tire with optimal air pressure and one that is too low is about four pounds per square inch (PSI), with most tires losing about one PSI a month.
[…] Do you still need insurance?
Some insurance providers are offering different alternatives to provide economic relief for policyholders going through financial hardships.
The Arizona Department of Insurance has urged insurance providers to work towards ensuring that policies across all areas of coverage remain active for the duration of the crisis, even if the customer has trouble paying.
[…] AAA Arizona announced it would be issuing a 20% refund on monthly premiums for any customer with an active policy as of April 30. This will apply to two months of monthly premiums.
[…] A number of other national car insurance providers are offering similar discounts, recognizing that there are fewer drivers on the road, resulting in fewer costly crashes for insurers to pay for. […]
MARICOPA — Cooper and Taylor Park start each morning with a flag-raising ceremony before settling in at the dining room table for another day of schoolwork.
With schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Maricopa seventh grader and fifth grader, respectively, are finishing out the school year with a learn-from-home curriculum.
“They rolled right into this work-from-home mode,” said their mom, Kim Park. “They’re doing great but they do miss their friends and their teachers.”
While area students adjust to at-home school routines, parents and guardians are juggling new challenges in ensuring that school work is completed at home and that schedules are maintained.
[…] Cooper and Taylor attend Legacy Traditional School, which normally starts its school day with an on-campus flag-raising ceremony followed by announcements. Since students are now working from home, the flag ceremony and announcements are online. Watching the ceremony every morning has helped Taylor and Cooper stay on task and feel as though they are maintaining a routine, even if they are sometimes in their pajamas for the morning event.
“The routine is the same as it was when they went to school every day,” Park said.
Maintaining a regular routine is key to the success of any learn-from-home scenario, educators say. […]
Phoenix Business Journal
Ride-hailing company Lyft said new fees at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport won’t stop it from offering service there, but Uber has yet to decide what it will do.
The new fees are coming after the Arizona Supreme Court unanimously ruled earlier this month that Phoenix can increase fees for ride-hailing when they operate at the airport. Both Lyft Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. had threatened to boycott the airport if the fees were instituted.
Going forward, services such as Uber and Lyft will have to pay a pick-up fee of $4 and a drop-off fee of $4 when operating at Sky Harbor. Before the change there was only a $2.66 pick-up fee.
[…] A spokeswoman for Uber (NYSE: UBER) told the Business Journal the company is still evaluating its options and has not made a decision on whether or not it will continue providing service to Sky Harbor once the new fees are implemented.
The spokeswoman adding that the company might have a more definite answer later this week or next. […]
AZ Big Media
Valleywise Health is one of the first health care systems in Arizona to acquire a new advanced Cepheid GeneXpert testing system that can detect COVID-19 in about 45 minutes or less. This system — for Valleywise Health patients only — is now on-site at the Valleywise Health Medical Center and being prepared for service this week.
“This is an important step forward for Valleywise Health. It means we can give our patients results quickly instead of waiting hours or even days for lab results to come in,” said Dr. Michael White, Valleywise Health Chief Medical Officer. “In these critical times, access to advanced rapid testing is invaluable, and will help our caregivers to better allocate our resources to patients who need them the most.”
The test is only available to Valleywise Health patients at this time; if lab supplies become abundant, expanded testing could occur. […]
The farm industry is getting hit hard during this pandemic. Farmers say they have an excess amount of milk and food, and with businesses closing, their products are going to waste.
In fact, some farmers in Arizona have reported being forced to dump over 100,000 gallons of milk a day.
But now, some money is coming to those struggling.
The USDA says farmers and ranchers will be eligible for up to $125,000 per commodity with an overall payment limit of $250,000 per person or entity.
The USDA will also buy food from farmers to give to food banks.
“Instead of the farmer getting absolutely no return on that product, they’re able to get it to give it to a food bank for a certain amount and to actually re-coop some of the production cost on that,” Chelsea McGuire with the Arizona Farm Bureau said.
However, Keith Murfield, CEO of United Dairymen of Arizona, says he doesn’t think that will be enough to fix the financial trouble farms in Arizona are facing.
“I guess I would call it very disappointing because they put caps on it, so it’s more for a producer with 250-300 cows then it is to our family farms here in Arizona which are much larger than that,” Murfield said. […]
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In other news …
Arizona Capitol Times
The way the mayors of Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff see it, when the state’s founders required initiative petitions to be filed as “sheets,” they didn’t necessarily mean paper.
In a new legal filing, the attorney for the mayors is telling the Arizona Supreme Court that nowhere in the Arizona Constitution does it require that signatures be gathered on something people can hold in their hands. And attorney Shawn Aiken said what that means is that the court is free — and his clients believe should — give the go-ahead for groups seeking to put issues on the November ballot to use an electronic system for collecting signatures.
The mayors aren’t the only ones urging the justices to permit online signature gathering, at least during the pandemic.
In a separate legal filing, the attorney for the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona and others is arguing that requiring petition circulators to make face-to-face contact with would be signers both endangers the firefighters and paramedics who might be called on to treat these people if they contract COVID-19. And if nothing else, Danny Adelman said if circulators decide to try to continue making personal contact they will be using up gloves and masks that are in short supply for the first responders who need them.
For the moment, the question of the future of initiative campaigns this year rests with the state’s high court. That’s because the only other challenge to the requirement for in-person petition circulation was tossed April 17 by a federal judge, though an appeal is planned.
Central to the case is the constitutional right of voters to propose their own laws and constitutional amendments.
Putting issues on the ballot requires the valid signatures of a certain number of voters, with the total based on the turnout in the last gubernatorial election. This year that figure is 237,645 for statutory changes and 356,467 for constitutional amendments.
None of that is in dispute. Nor is the July 2 deadline for submission.
What is in dispute is the form of those petitions given the problems in the traditional face-to-face methods of collection.
The Arizona Constitution requires “each sheet” containing signatures to be attached to a full and correct copy of the proposal. It also says that “every sheet of every such petition” must be verified by the person who circulated it.
Aiken, representing Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, Kate Gallego of Phoenix and Coral Evans of Flagstaff, said there is no mention of the word “paper.”
What makes that significant, he told the justices, is that the framers of the Arizona Constitution did, in fact, use the word “paper” when setting out the requirements for recall petitions. […]
After two weeks of stalemate and days of frenetic negotiations, the Senate approved a nearly $500 billion coronavirus aid bill on Tuesday afternoon with the House set for passage later this week.
The agreement centers around providing $380 billion for small businesses and also includes $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for disease testing. It comes after a brutal conflict between party leaders over how to pass a massive bill with the Senate in recess. A pair of conservative Republicans senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, railed against the process on Tuesday afternoon but allowed the bill to go through without objecting.
The House is expected to take up and pass the legislation on Thursday with overwhelming bipartisan support, per senior House aides.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced the accord just an hour before the Senate tried to pass the agreement and rapped Democrats for blocking a previous proposal to give money to small businesses.
[…] The legislation totals $484 billion and delivers funding to small businesses, hospitals, and for testing. The quick Senate passage on Tuesday comes after Democrats and the Trump administration struggled to clinch the agreement over the weekend and failed to deliver it during Monday’s Senate session.
Passage of the massive bill was in doubt until just minutes before the Senate came in at 4 p.m. as last-minute haggling continued. Paul, who has recovered after contracting coronavirus, even hinted that he could block the bill, but would not do so due to the difficulty of getting senators back to Washington to hold a roll call vote. He then said instead of spending money to fight coronavirus the government should open back up the economy.
But President Donald Trump signaled he’d sign the legislation into law, tweeting Tuesday that he’s urging lawmaker to pass the bill “with additional funding for PPP, Hospitals, and Testing.” […]