The votes are in …
On Wednesday – for just the third time in U.S. history – the House voted to impeach the President. (He seems to be handling it really well.)
The articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – were approved along party lines; every Republican voted ‘nay,’ and just two Democrats broke with their caucus to vote in opposition, while Rep. Tulsi Gabbard made waves by voting “present.” The partisan divide held true among members of the Arizona delegation. Democratic Reps. Gallego, Grijalva, Stanton, O’Halleran and Kirkpatrick voted to impeach, while GOP Reps. Lesko, Gosar, Biggs and Schweikert in opposition.
What now? That’s unclear, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she would delay sending the impeachment articles to the Senate until she is confident in its willingness to hold a fair trial. At least one constitutional expert cast doubt on whether the House vote would quality as impeachment at all if the articles aren’t conveyed to the Senate for consideration.
In the meantime, we can think of two Arizona senators likely crossing their fingers in hoping Speaker Pelosi decides to sit on the impeachment articles indefinitely.
Veridus Clients in the news
An Arizona lawmaker wants Attorney General Mark Brnovich to investigate whether Phoenix’s plan to increase fees for car services like Uber and Lyft violates the state Constitution.
The Phoenix City Council voted 7-2 on Wednesday to charge a $4 fee for pickups and drop offs at the airport using apps like Uber and Lyft. The new fee will take effect Feb. 1 and increase by 25 cents annually until reaching $5 in 2024.
While Phoenix has already charged a $2.66 fee for rides from Sky Harbor and other cities have imposed fees on ridesharing services at airports in recent years, the move prompted heavy opposition from Uber and Lyft.
Both companies are threatening to end curbside service at Sky Harbor, raising the prospect of mass confusion as travelers step out of an airport that prides itself as America’s friendliest.
State Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, not only disagrees with the fee but argues it violates a provision of the state Constitution approved by voters as Proposition 126 last year that prohibits new or increased taxes on services.
[…] Under Arizona law, any legislator can direct the attorney general to investigate local government policies that might violate the state constitution.
An offending local government has 30 days to change its policies if the attorney general finds it is running afoul of Arizona’s constitution, or the state can cut off funding. Known as an SB 1487 investigation, the process has been used to quash local regulations of vacation rentals, plastic bags and confiscated firearms.
Barto filed a complaint under the process on Thursday.
Phoenix says fee is for use of airport curb
[…] The Attorney General’s Office said it is too early to comment on the complaint. It has 30 days to investigate.
GOLDEN VALLEY, Ariz. — A rough, freckled hand reached up to round-rimmed glasses and pushed away a tear.
The sound of sniffles and muffled coughs hung in the air for only a moment before the dozen or so men simultaneously turned back to their computer screens and began their quiet, meticulous work yet again in the small, stark classroom.
If it weren’t for their matching bright orange jumpsuits, you’d probably forget these men were prisoners.
Inside Arizona’s Kingman Prison you’ll find a lot more than you’d expect.
Some of the men are graphic designers, others musicians or computer whizzes, all holding the same title: braillist.
Nearly 60 inmates currently residing in Arizona prisons are responsible for creating and transcribing the textbooks, novels, quizzes and tests used by blind students throughout the state.
According to the American Printing House for the Blind and the National Prison Braille Network, Arizona is one of 28 states taking part in the nearly 43 different prison braille programs across the U.S. made up of nearly 1,000 inmates.
However, Arizona’s inmates have catapulted the state into national acclaim for their high level of production.
Last year alone, they transcribed more than 164,000 individual pages of braille for Arizona students. This includes quizzes and tests produced for the Braille on Demand program, which are transcribed within 48 hours so visually impaired students can take quizzes and tests alongside their sighted peers.
“[Arizona’s programs] are highly rated for the mere fact that they have support from the vision community,” National Prison Braille Network coordinator Jayma Hawkins told KTAR News 92.3 FM in an email.
“They have vision officials who come in and support the program [and] the people and provide resources. Other programs may just have a correctional officer who oversees it.”
This support comes from the Foundation for Blind Children, a Phoenix-based nonprofit.
There are five foundation-funded prison braille programs in place in Arizona, with the organization footing the bill for nearly 20 years.
(The privately funded program ensures that neither blind students nor the state have to pay a dime for school materials that would be freely provided to sighted students.
Without the program, visually impaired students would have to spend thousands of dollars on a single textbook, an expense Marc Ashton, the foundation’s CEO, knows all too well. […]
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In other news …
When the new 22-mile segment of the Loop 202 opens later this month, not only will the commute for tens of thousands of people change, but so will open countryside that has long defined the landscape in that area.
Housing, obviously, will be what much of the now vacant land and farmland converts to along the freeway. Dairy farms and alfalfa fields already are transforming to rooftops along the route from southwest Phoenix to Chandler.
But with the entire length of the extension in Phoenix, that city anticipates a host of new retail, industrial, and hopefully, technology businesses, along with the homes.
“We have an exciting opportunity in front of us in Phoenix,” said Mayor Kate Gallego, who lives in southwest Phoenix near the new freeway. “We already are one of the largest cities in the country, but we have a new freeway opening up in our city, and there is significant land likely to be redeveloped along it.”
A challenge for city officials going forward, however, is maintaining their vision for a high-tech job corridor as housing developers seek to turn the land into more rooftops.
The new Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway branches off the Interstate 10 in west Phoenix, heading south across Van Buren, Buckeye, Baseline and other surface streets all the way to Elliot Road, where it bends slightly to the east between the Gila River Indian Reservation and South Mountain. Then it turns directly east all the way to Chandler, where it again intersects the I-10.
Phoenix officials hope to attract jobs to prevent residents from commuting out of the city. […]
Phoenix Business Journal
A community-wide outbreak of mumps has hit metro Phoenix — the first the Valley has seen in decades.
This contagious disease can be avoided with the MMR vaccine, which covers measles, mumps and rubella, but some parents are skipping this vaccine for their 18-month-old infants for fear of triggering autism.
But it’s not widely known that many employers can require workers to be vaccinated, said John Balitis, chairman of the labor and employment department at Jennings, Strouss & Salmon PLC law firm in Phoenix.
[…] Some religious beliefs prohibit individuals from being vaccinated, while some forms of disability preclude other individuals form receiving a vaccination. In these cases, the employer must reasonably accommodate the impacted workers unless doing so would cause an undue hardship.
[…] Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director for disease control at Maricopa County Department of Public Health, said it’s important to get vaccinated for diseases that can be prevented.
Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus that spreads through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat from an infected person. It can be spread by kissing, sharing food, drinks, eating utensils, cigarettes, lip gloss or other items that come into contact with an infected person’s saliva.
Meanwhile, the flu is on the rise across Arizona, with 929 laboratory confirmed influenza cases in the past week, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
The House passed a $1.4 trillion federal spending package that averts a government shutdown and maintains some funding for a southern border wall.
The measure passed Tuesday despite the objections of liberal Democrats and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who said they opposed the $1.375 billion allocated for the construction of a southern border wall as well as other border security provisions.
The spending bill would provide funding through the rest of fiscal 2020. It passed in two different measures in order to avoid sending President Trump one “omnibus” package, which he had vowed to reject.
The measure now heads to the U.S. Senate, where lawmakers are expected to pass it on Thursday and send it to Trump’s desk.
[…] Republicans told reporters on Thursday they believe he’ll sign the bill. […]