To be continued?
It felt that way this week as the Arizona Legislature formally adjourned, bringing an abrupt end to a 2020 regular session that was anything but.
The 2nd Regular Session of the 54th Arizona Legislature matched the 2019 session at 135 days – interrupted, of course, by a nearly two-month pandemic-forced hiatus from the Capitol. A record 1,607 bills (plus 127 memorials and resolutions) were introduced, though just 89 measures received final passage. To date, the governor has signed 58 bills into law and has yet to issue a single veto. He has until June 6 to take action on remaining legislation on his desk; any measure not acted upon after that time will become law automatically. The general effective date for new laws is Aug. 25.
Given the disrupted nature of the session, it’s not surprising few legislative hot-button issues were resolved. A push to reform short-term rentals fizzled out, as did legislation to ban transgender students from competing in girls’ sports; a proposal to double Arizona’s gas tax over the next three years; a suite of criminal justice reforms, including a bill to scale back Arizona’s “truth in sentencing” law; and a number of Ducey administration priorities – including efforts to eliminate income taxes on military pensions, close the achievement gap in struggling public schools, raise salaries for correctional officers and more.
Lawmakers did succeed in passing a spending plan for the coming year, a tread-water budget that mostly maintains state programs at existing levels. Notable exceptions include an additional $50 million in COVID-19 assistance, as well as a separate bill that provides a $55 million boost to Arizona’s Public Health Emergency Fund.
With twin economic and public health crises raging, at least one special session is all but guaranteed between now and legislators’ usual return to the State Capitol in January. Already there are calls to begin budget cutting as soon as possible in order to mitigate more severe reductions in the future. Another dynamic to watch: it’s Governor Ducey’s prerogative to call the special session and set the parameters of debate. Amid growing uncertainty whether Republicans will maintain control of the House and Senate following the election in November, might the Governor call a particularly expansive special session with an eye toward resolving unfinished business?
Stranger things have happened.
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Students at Universal Technical Institute Receive Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund CARES Act Grants
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., May 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Universal Technical Institute (NYSE: UTI), the nation’s leading provider of transportation technician training, has begun distributing $17.6 million in Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) CARES Act stimulus grants to more than 10,000 students training for careers as transportation technicians, welders and computer numerical control (CNC) machinists.
The cash grants will help students impacted by the pandemic with expenses such as food, housing, child care, transportation and technology. UTI is allocating grants based on need consistent with guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education.
“This funding is vitally important for our students, who have been especially hard hit by this crisis. With unemployment at record levels, our students need the essential training UTI provides now more than ever,” said Jerome Grant, UTI’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our mission is to prepare students for success in stable, rewarding careers. The HEERF CARES Act funding helps to keep them on that path. We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Education for supporting our students in their time of need and we appreciate the opportunity to facilitate the process.”
In the face of significant unemployment, there continues to be a demand for UTI graduates. In a recession, people and businesses keep their vehicles longer and technicians and mechanics remain in strong demand to service and maintain them.
TUCSON, Ariz. — The Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise announced Monday that gaming operations will resume at all four Desert Diamond Casinos June 5 at 1 p.m.
According to a press release from Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise, all four of the Desert Diamond Casinos near Tucson, Sahuarita, Glendale, and Ajo are implementing new changes to its health and sanitization measures to provide the best protection for guests, employees and the community.
TOGE says deep cleaning of each location has already been in place during the closure of its operations. The facilities are also be organized to fit social distancing measures, including installing protective equipment such as plexiglass.
There will also be new precautions like temperature scans of guests and daily screenings of employees for any symptoms. All team members and guests will be given a mask, which are required to wear.
The reopening of each location will happen in phases. There will be some amenities that will remain closed and facility hours will be reduced to allow for cleaning. There will also be a temporary limit on occupancy. […]
Casper Star Tribune
Areworked body tasked with overseeing gambling regulation in Wyoming has a new member after Gov. Mark Gordon appointed a tribal citizen with years of experience in the industry to the group.
Gordon appointed Jenni Wildcat, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, to the Wyoming Gaming Commission, formerly known as the Pari-Mutuel Commission, the Northern Arapaho Tribe said Thursday.
Wildcat has more than 15 years of experience in tribal gaming and regulation, most recently ensuring compliance with federal and tribal gaming laws and serving as a liaison with the National Indian Gaming Commission and other agencies for the Northern Arapaho Gaming Agency. She has also had worked for the Eastern Shoshone Gaming Agency and Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission.
“(Wildcat’s) experience, background and integrity will make her a tremendous addition to the Wyoming Gaming Commission,” Northern Arapaho Business Council Chairman Lee Spoonhunter said in a news release. “She has a keen understanding of gaming issues and will be a strong voice on the Commission for the wagering public.” […]
This week, the foundation held a virtual graduation for more than two dozen of these special kids to celebrate a big milestone.
30 special pre-kindergarten graduates received their pomp and circumstance via a Zoom call.
“That milestone to wake across the stage is such a big deal,” said Jared Kittelson from the Foundation. “We wanted to take this opportunity to honor those students and those familes.”
About 150 people joined in the 30-minute virtual ceremony.
[…] The Foundation has had a huge presence online during quarantine, turning their website into what they call a portal of resources for visually impaired kids, parents and educators.
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In other news …
PHOENIX – Attorney General Brnovich announced today the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) awarded nearly $300,000 in grants to community organizations that provide support services and shelter to survivors of human trafficking. Nearly 150 individuals, including children and babies, are expected to benefit from services funded by the grants.
Four different grants were awarded to organizations including the Phoenix Dream Center, Starfish Place, Our Family Services, and A New Leaf. The funds will help the organizations expand survivors’ access to temporary or permanent shelter, counseling, education, medical care, vocational training, and other related essential support services for trafficking victims.
“Whether it be holding perpetrators accountable, educating the public on the signs of trafficking, or helping survivors heal, we must do everything we can to end this despicable crime,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “It will take the community coming together in order to help victims recover and I am proud our office can provide additional resources to organizations that are making a real difference in the lives of survivors.” […]
Joe Biden said that he expects to announce his vice presidential pick around Aug. 1.
The information on the expected running mate announcement timeline came during a virtual fundraiser on Wednesday featuring former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, with around 200 donors, according to a pool report.
That means the Democratic vice presidential presumptive nominee will be known a few weeks before the Democratic National Convention, scheduled for Aug. 17 to 20 in Milwaukee, but may largely take place via virtual speeches due to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden said earlier on Wednesday that he could see the convention taking place over two days with 5,000 people.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former vice president has pledged to pick a woman to be his running mate and said that the selection committee process is in its beginning stages.
[…] He has previously said that more than a dozen women are being considered for the job. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Florida Rep. Val Demings, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar are among the women who have been asked to start the vetting process.
[…] In addition to aligning with his policy priorities, Biden has said that he is looking for a running mate who is able to assume the presidency on day one because “I’m an old guy.”