With the signature-petition filing deadline just under a month away, three citizens’ initiatives say they’re on track to qualify for the Arizona ballot.
If the campaigns are right, Arizona voters will decide this fall on a trio of major issues: Smart and Safe Arizona, a proposal to legalize marijuana for adult use; Invest in Ed, a measure that would raise income taxes to fund K-12 education; and the Second Chances Act, which aims to loosen Arizona’s criminal sentencing laws.
Gathering enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot is a heavy lift in a normal election year; getting it done amid a pandemic has proved especially difficult. Multiple initiative campaigns called it quits last month after the Arizona Supreme Court rejected a bid to allow for online signature-gathering – an accommodation plaintiffs argued was necessary in the wake of stay-at-home restrictions and prohibitions on public gatherings.
The remaining initiative campaigns have until July 2 to submit their petitions. Given recent high-profile petition challenges, they’ll likely want to have a sizable cushion of signatures before trekking their petition boxes to the 7th floor.
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Diageo Announces $20 Million Community Fund to Support Social Justice in America, Helping Black Communities and Businesses Recover from COVID-19
Continuing its efforts to support under-represented groups and communities, especially those in the hospitality industry who have been so badly affected by COVID-19, Diageo today announces the creation of the Diageo Community Fund. With a commitment of $20 million, the Fund will help address the urgent needs of Black communities and businesses who have been disproportionately harmed by Covid-19.
The new Diageo Community Fund will support businesses, consumers and partners integral to the hospitality industry in Black communities across the U.S. This will include a combination of targeted donations supporting advocacy efforts as part of the economic recovery from Covid-19, training for business owners and employees, relief aid and more.
“Diageo has no tolerance for racism, injustice and unequal treatment. We stand together with the Black community in this defining moment”, said Ivan Menezes, Chief Executive of Diageo. “We are committed to taking every step necessary to champion equality everywhere and, while we have made progress, there is so much more to do. The Diageo Community Fund is just one of many steps we will take on this journey.”
Diageo has long-standing partnerships with the National Urban League and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and has already pledged over $1 million to these organizations and 100 Black Men of America, Inc., to support their work for racial equality and social justice. Diageo also announced to its employees last week it will double its existing matching program for charitable donations made during the month of June, contributing two dollars for every dollar contributed by employees.
[…] Diageo plans to announce specific investments from the Fund in the coming weeks.
Valleywise Hospital officials speak out amid fears of hospital overwhelming due to surge in COVID-19 cases
PHOENIX – During a news conference on Thursday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey spent a lot of time talking about hospital capacity, with numbers from the Arizona Department of Health Services showing statewide hospital capacity was, on Wednesday, at 83%.
On Thursday, numbers show Arizona’s hospitals are at 78% capacity. On the same day, officials with one Valley hospital sought to reassure Arizona residents, even after the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
“We had a day earlier this week when we see the most patients we have had throughout the course of the pandemic, but we were able to do a number of discharges within last few days, which brings our number down to baseline,” said Michael White, Chief Medical Officer with Valleywise Health.
Valleywise Health officials say as of Thursday, they are at 74%.
“Our admission rate has been stable over the last week, week and a half,” said White.
[…] At Valleywise Health, official say it is no surprise there is an increase in cases, with more testing available. They are hoping residents will continue to follow guidelines.
[…] There have also been reports that elective surgeries may need to put on hold once again. Valleywise Health officials say they will continue elective surgeries, for as long as they have the capacity.
PHOENIX — Three weeks after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey lifted his stay-at-home order, the state has seen a big spike in the number of coronavirus cases.
With nearly 1,100 dead and hospitalizations spiking rapidly, lawmakers and medical professionals are warning there might not be enough emergency room beds to handle what could be a big influx of new cases.
More than 1,500 new cases were reported along with 25 new deaths in the past 24 hours, officials said.
While Ducey has insisted this “is not a crisis situation” and suggested the rise in the number of cases is due to an increase in testing, critics say otherwise and accuse the Republican governor of setting a bad example by not wearing a mask while out in public.
They say that Arizona residents, who initially took the coronavirus threat seriously, have grown lax about social distancing and face coverings, and that the result is a rise in new cases.
[…] Three days ago, though, state Department of Health Director Dr. Cara Christ sent out a letter telling hospitals to prepare for crisis care and to suspend elective surgeries if they start running short of beds. She cited an executive order from Ducey that calls for adding hospital beds first by 25 percent, then by 50 percent.
[…] Already, 11 Arizona hospitals have hit ICU capacity, Ann-Marie Alameddin, the president of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, said.
“Three weeks ago, the stay-at-home order was lifted and since then, if you look at the streets of Arizona, people are conducting themselves as business-as-usual at times,” she said. “They are not taking the precautions that we are, being socially distanced, wearing masks, making sure they are staying at home when they are sick.”
“Correspondingly, we’ve seen an increase in cases,” Alameddin said. “We are concerned that this will be an increasing trend in the wrong direction, so we need to make sure Arizonans are doing everything that they can to stop the spread and really mitigate what’s going on in our communities.”
Arizona can do it, she added.
“We flattened the curve and we can do it again,” she said. […]
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In other news …
Arizona Capitol Times
An attorney for the state asked the Arizona Court of Appeals to block the Citizens Clean Elections Commission from enforcing certain laws that regulate how much candidates and others can spend on campaigns.
Tim Berg told the judges on Wednesday that the Republican-controlled Legislature was within its power in 2016 in crafting exceptions to campaign finance laws. He said the changes were not directly part of the Clean Elections Act which voters enacted in 1998.
But commission attorney Joseph Roth said that the 2016 alterations violated the Voter Protection Act, which bars legislators from tinkering with what voters have enacted, because it effectively nullified what voters had approved because of the way lawmakers crafted the proposal. And that, he said, unconstitutionally undermined the intent of the 1998 law which was designed to reduce the influence of money on politics.
What the appellate court decides ultimately will determine the legality of what foes of the 2016 changes be considered loopholes that legislators put in the law. That includes including one that allows supporters to effectively provide unlimited amounts of cash to get candidates elected without having to disclose who they are.
The 2016 law was championed by then-House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler.
He said that existing laws interfered with the rights of free speech and people to participate in the political process with their dollars without giving up their right of privacy. It was approved on a largely party-line vote and signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey.
But the flip side of that, according to foes of the law, is that any decrease in disclosure requirements denies voters of at least some indication of who is spending money to try to influence the outcome of campaigns. That, they said, is why voters in 1998 gave broad powers to the commission to police campaign contributions.
That 1998 law set up a voluntary system of public financing for statewide and legislative candidates who agree not to take money from special interests. It also imposed other limits on not just spending, both by candidates and supporters, but also disclosure requirements for those who spend money to influence races.
[…]The appellate judges gave no indication when they will rule.
President Donald Trump will headline a June 23 Students for Trump event in Phoenix, the group announced Wednesday. The visit would mark Trump’s third trip to Arizona in five months.
The event, billed as the Students for Trump convention, is scheduled at Dream City Church and Trump is set to deliver “an address to young Americans,” according to the group’s website. The event will be broadcast to satellite-viewing parties across the country, the group said in a news release.
[…] The Phoenix event expects “thousands” of attendees identified in a news release for the event as student activists between 16 and 24 years old.
Neither the White House nor the Trump campaign could be immediately reached Wednesday night to confirm the president’s travel plans. But the Arizona trip is consistent with remarks Trump made earlier in the day.
Trump mentioned upcoming campaign rallies in states including Arizona during comments at the White House about his continued frustration with North Carolina’s governor over crowd limits for the Republican National Convention in Charlotte.
“We’re going to be starting our rallies. The first one, we believe, … in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A beautiful, new venue — brand-new,” Trump said. “We’re going to be coming into Florida — do a big one in Florida — a big one in Texas. They’re all going to be big. We’re going to Arizona.” […]