the veridus weekly

03-22-2019

days of session: 68

Regular sessions shall be adjourned sine die no later than Saturday of the week in which the one hundredth day from the beginning of each regular session falls. The President and Speaker of the House may by declaration authorize the extension of the session for a period of not to exceed seven additional days. Thereafter, the session can be extended only by the Senate and House by a majority vote of the members present in each body. 


in focus


There’s a new Mayor in town.

Mayor Kate Gallego was officially sworn into office this week – becoming the 61st Mayor of Phoenix and first woman elected to the position since 1976.

 Mayor Gallego’s inauguration struck a celebratory and upbeat tone, with themes of optimism, opportunity, inclusivity and unity throughout. That’s quite a contrast to the city council she now leads – which is perhaps more fractured than any in recent memory.

 We got a glimpse of that division just one day before the swearing-in ceremony when the council voted 5-3 to delay indefinitely a planned light rail line for west Phoenix – opting instead to use that money on road repairs.

 Light rail has for years been a source of contention at City Hall. In recent months, Phoenix City Council also voted to put on ice plans for a light rail extension connecting downtown with Paradise Valley Mall. Meanwhile, a planned extension of the system into south Phoenix is up in the air pending an election in August. Funding has already been collected for the South Phoenix route, but an activist group collected enough signatures to put the matter back on the ballot; light rail opponents would prefer the money be spent on other transportation needs, like buses and roadwork.

 Outside of the light rail tempest, Phoenix City Hall has been riven by the attempted (but failed) recall campaign against Councilman Michael Nowakowski. Plus, the fate of a couple City Council seats remains up in the air as four candidates head to a May 21 runoff election to decide who will represent districts 5 and 8. That means it may be a couple more months – at least – before a sense of political calm and normalcy returns to City Hall. Unity may have to wait.


Arizona ends participation in national voter registration database

KTAR

PHOENIX — Arizona’s top elections official has removed the state from a national voter registration system that critics have called inaccurate and vulnerable to hackers.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs announced Tuesday that the state has been withdrawn from the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck program.

“I am not willing to take any chances with the security and accuracy of our voter registration list,” she said in a statement, adding that her office will not send any information to Crosscheck.

“Arizona voters will not be put at risk of having their voter registration wrongly canceled based on inaccurate information.”

State Elections Director Sambo Dul sent a letter to administrators confirming that Arizona will not participate in the program and requesting that any data Arizona submitted be removed.

“Our office was assured that Crosscheck did not retain voter lists after running their comparison reports,” Dul said.

[...] Read more HERE.

Governor Ducey Names New Vice Chair And Appoints Board Members To Arizona-Mexico Commission Board Of Directors

News Release

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today announced the appointments of Calline Sanchez and Daniel Palm to the Arizona-Mexico Commission (Commission) Board of Directors (Board). In addition, Juan Ciscomani, the Governor’s Senior Advisor for Regional and International Affairs, was announced as Vice Chair of the Board. He is replacing Kirk Adams as Vice Chair, who will remain on the Board.

"Arizona’s ties to Mexico run deep, and the Arizona-Mexico Commission plays a vital role in this special relationship. I'm proud to welcome Calline and Daniel as part of the Commission's board of directors. Their expertise and backgrounds will help move our relationship forward, building on the gains we've already made," said Governor Ducey. "It is also with great enthusiasm that I announce Juan Ciscomani's new role as the Vice Chair of the Board. I'm confident his experience and leadership will continue to support our strong partnerships with Mexico.”

“The Arizona-Mexico Commission is proud to welcome additional strong leadership to our Board,” said Jessica Pacheco, President of the Arizona-Mexico Commission Board of Directors. “This is an exciting time for the Arizona-Mexico relationship, and we’re looking forward to growing our efforts through the involvement of these Arizona leaders.”

[...] Read more HERE.

US official declares drought plan done for Colorado River

Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Seven states that rely on a major waterway in the U.S. West have finished a yearslong effort to create a plan to protect the Colorado River amid a prolonged drought, the federal government declared Tuesday.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman commended Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming for reaching a consensus on the Colorado River drought contingency plan. Now the states are seeking approval from Congress to implement it.

[...] The Colorado River serves 40 million people and 7,812 square miles (20,232 square kilometers) of farmland in the West.

Under the drought plan, states voluntarily would give up water to keep Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border and Lake Powell upstream on the Arizona-Utah border from crashing. Mexico also has agreed to cuts.

The push for federal legislation comes after the Colorado River Board of California voted Monday to move ahead without a water agency that has the largest entitlement to the river’s water.

[...] Read more HERE.

veridus clients in the news

Car-sharing app users don’t seek free ride

Arizona Capitol Times

My name is Damon Crutcher and I’m a veteran of the U.S. Army. As a member of the 4th Infantry Division, I deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan twice. Since leaving the military, I’ve been back twice more as a security contractor for the State Department.

While deployed to Afghanistan last year, I tried a new car sharing app called Turo to help me earn a bit of extra cash by letting Phoenix-area Turo users drive my 2013 Toyota Tacoma while it was sitting idle at home. It was an easy way for me to make some money during a time in my life when I needed it – remember: car payments, rent and other everyday expenses don’t go away for service members, security personnel and our families when we get deployed.

Besides, my vehicle was collecting dust while I was overseas; placing it on Turo seemed like a no-brainer.

Imagine my surprise to hear opponents of Turo and similar car sharing apps say there’s something wrong with what I did. They talk about Turo users like we’re deadbeats, rattling off concerns about how car sharing may impact revenue to local governments or to build Cactus League stadiums.

Excuse me? I paid sales tax when I purchased the vehicle, plus Vehicle License Tax every year. Not to mention my truck is my personal property. If I want to supplement my income by letting someone else use my vehicle for a day or more that should be my decision.

Who would want to stand in the way of that? I’ll tell you who: Enterprise.

Enterprise is the nation’s largest car-rental company, a mega conglomerate spanning 9,000 locations and more than $24 billion in annual revenue, according to Forbes. You read that right – a $24 billion company is worried about competition from the likes of me.

Now, Enterprise is pulling out all the stops to kill car sharing in Arizona. They’ve enlisted lawmakers to write heavy-handed legislation (SB 1305) that would regulate car sharing apps like Turo out of existence.

Enterprise says I’m a rental car company and that Turo users like me don’t pay our fair share. No, I’m just a guy with a truck who wanted to make a few extra bucks while I was posted overseas. In fact, 1 in 5 Arizona Turo users are active duty military or veterans just like me.

What Enterprise doesn’t mention is the sweet deal that allows car rental companies in Arizona to purchase their vehicle fleets tax-free – a $24 million giveaway each and every year. Where do I sign up?

Those of us who use a car sharing app aren’t asking for a free ride. We simply believe this is a new and unique industry worthy of its own set of regulations, just as Arizona has carved-out for ridesharing, short-term rentals and other aspects of the sharing economy.

HB 2559 strikes the right balance. This legislation establishes guidelines for public safety and insurance – every Turo user is covered by a $1 million liability policy – and ensures car sharing transactions are taxed appropriately. This way, municipalities, the Cactus League and the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority receive their same share of revenue regardless of whether a vehicle is reserved via an Enterprise car-rental counter or Turo car sharing app.

The question for Arizona is whether our state is going to remain welcoming to sharing economy innovations or bend to the whim of a $24 billion company scared of a guy with a 2013 Toyota Tacoma.

Damon Crutcher, 30, is a veteran of the U.S. Army and security contractor for the U.S. Department of State. He lives in Gilbert.

Read HERE.

Cigna Employees Go Local to Improve Health of Their Communities

BLOOMFIELD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Health improvement starts in the community and for the second consecutive year, a group of Cigna employees will be working in close collaboration with local nonprofit organizations across the country – and beyond – to help achieve that goal. Through Cigna’s Community Ambassador Fellowship program, employees will partner with an organization of their choice to positively impact the health and well-being of people in their communities.

Introduced in 2017, the Community Ambassador Fellowship program offers eligible employees an opportunity to take a sabbatical-style paid leave from work to support projects that exemplify Cigna’s mission. After a competitive application process, selected employees embark on a one- to three-month fellowship, while receiving full salary and benefits plus a stipend to support their community work.

“The Cigna mission doesn't have walls. We asked employees to think about how they could broaden Cigna's impact and help others if they could take time away from work, and we were incredibly impressed by the number of proposals from employees driven to combine their passion and expertise to serve their communities,” said John M. Murabito, executive vice president, human resources at Cigna.

The program is consistent with Cigna’s commitment to reach deep into communities to develop meaningful partnerships at the grassroots level, and to help make communities more vibrant and healthy.

[...] To learn more about Cigna's community impact, visit the Cigna Newsroom.

Read more HERE.

House bill for study of Arizona’s missing and murdered Indigenous women moves to Senate

Tucson Local Media

Last Wednesday, the Arizona House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 2570, which intends to create the first study committee on violence against Indigenous women and girls in the state.

If passed by the Senate and approved by the governor, a committee of statewide experts and stakeholders will conduct a comprehensive study to identify causes of systemic violence against Indigenous women and girls and establish methods for tracking and collecting data.

The issue has recently picked up attention in the mainstream media, but has been a reality in tribal communities for generations.

[...] The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that murder is the third-leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women, and that rates of violence against these women can be up to ten times higher than the national average.

Ignacio said that Native women are 85 percent more likely to be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. In her research alone, 90 percent of the cases she studied involved domestic violence.

The study from UIHI offers a valuable look at the problem nationwide, but the authors acknowledge their numbers are likely an undercount and do not accurately depict the severity of the issue. Ignacio and other experts also believe the official numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls are lacking. No study can obtain accurate numbers without the cooperation of various law enforcement agencies on the local, tribal, state and federal levels.

[...] Read more HERE.

Sandra Barton, Tucson IDA board member, named Tucson Woman of Influence

KOLD

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Sandra Barton, a member of the Tucson Industrial Development Authority’s Board of Directors, was recently named a Tucson Woman of Influence.

Barton, a senior vice president of commercial real estate for Alliance Bank of Arizona, was named Financial Banking Champion during the annual awards celebrating Tucson’s best and brightest women.

"To be honored along with these inspirational women is gratifying and humbling," Barton said. "I love Tucson and I'll continue to work hard and contribute to any and all efforts to make it the best community it can be."

[...] Barton serves on the board of directors of the National Charity League and Pima County Real Estate Research Council. She is a member of Tucson Commercial Real Estate Women, Executive Connection, Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, Pima County Real Estate Research Council and Southern Arizona CCIM. She also has held leadership positions at Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase.

She is a Tucson native and obtained her bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Arizona.

The Tucson Industrial Development Authority is a nonprofit corporation designated as a political subdivision of the State of Arizona, authorized to provide lower-cost financing for qualified projects through the issuance of revenue bonds.

[...] Read more HERE.

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