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days of session: 96


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

Phones down - it’s (almost) the law.

This week, the Arizona Legislature passed a pair of bills to crack down on texting behind the wheel and distracted driving. 

HB 2318, a strike-everything measure crafted by Sen. Kate Brophy McGee (R-Phoenix), bans texting and any hand-held use of an electronic device while behind the wheel. Legislators also gave the OK to SB 1141, sponsored by Sen. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler), which goes after all incidences of distracted driving. The measure prohibits “any activity that is not related to the actual driving of the motor vehicle, in a manner that visibly interferes with safely driving the motor vehicle.” The measures, which now head to the desk of Governor Doug Ducey, make texting and similar offenses “primary” – meaning law enforcement officers need no additional justification to pull over drivers.

Passage is a breakthrough for anti-texting advocates. The issue has been perennial at the State Capitol, where similar measures have been introduced unsuccessfully every session for the past 11 years. The bills met a roadblock each session as opponents argued the proposed regulation was onerous or unnecessary in light of existing distracted-driving laws.

But the political dynamic changed in 2019, especially following the death of Salt River tribal police officer Clayton Townsend. He was making a routine traffic stop along the Loop 101 in January when he was struck and killed by a motorist who was texting and driving.

Governor Ducey has indicated he will sign both measures – making Arizona the 48th state in the nation to enact a statewide ban on texting while driving.

Arizona schools' measles risk is even worse than it appears, Republic finds

Arizona Republic

For a third year in a row, the share of Arizona parents exempting their children from school-required vaccines has increased, but the situation is even more perilous as schools have allowed unvaccinated students to attend even without the required exemption.

An Arizona Republic analysis of the state's immunization data, which was released Friday, found more than half of the state's kindergartens have immunization rates below the level required to fend off an outbreak.

This year, more than 555 cases of measles have sprouted in 20 states, including Arizona, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Arizona law says children attending school and child care must obtain certain vaccines, unless they are exempted by a doctor for medical reasons, or by a parent for personal or religious reasons.

Non-medical "personal belief" exemptions for Arizona kindergarten students have more than quadrupled since 2000, and they've jumped sixfold for sixth-graders, according to state Department of Health Services numbers for the 2018-19 academic year.

The Arizona Republic found two large groups of unimmunized students attending schools:

-Those with the required exemptions. That group includes nearly 4,000 kindergartners.

-Those that schools allow to attend even though they don't have an exemption or immunization record on file with their school. Almost 900 kindergartners — enough to fill 12 average-size kindergartens — have neither a vaccination record nor an exemption on file with their schools.

[...] Read more HERE.


Arizona ranked third in economic momentum

Chamber Business News


Arizona was recently ranked third in the nation for economic momentum by State Policy Reports, which is a two-spot improvement from last year.

State Policy Reports is issued semi-monthly by Federal Funds Information, which analyzes the impact of federal activity in an effort to assist states in managing their federal funds.

The momentum is based on the state’s growth of personal income, employment and population, according to the report.

[...] As Arizona grows and more jobs become available, many of the state’s developments produce high-paying jobs.

[...] While Arizona was ranked third in the nation for economic momentum, the work to improve economic health is never done, according to Rounds.

“What we want to do is we want to keep improving our position,” Rounds said. “So, it’s not necessarily ‘Are we winning a basketball game?’ It’s more like playing golf. Can we improve our score each time we go out there and can we better ourselves?”

Read more HERE.

Trump signs Colorado River drought plan

Associated Press


PHOENIX (AP) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a plan to cut back on the use of water from the Colorado River, which serves 40 million people in the U.S. West.

The Colorado River drought contingency plan aims to keep two key reservoirs, Lakes Powell and Mead, from falling so low they cannot deliver water or produce hydropower. It was negotiated among the seven states that draw water from the river.

Mexico also agreed to store water in Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border if the U.S. legislation was approved by April 22.

The legislation was supported by all 14 senators from the Colorado River basin states, though Trump announced his action in a tweet that singled out Arizona Republican Sen. Martha McSally, who is in a tough fight for re-election next year.

[...] Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, celebrated the approval as “a monumental, bipartisan achievement.”

[...] Read more HERE.

veridus clients in the news

Got Milk?


Cow-milking for a cause: On Thursday, Department of Agriculture Director Mark Killian challenged state agency directors and other officials to a cow-milking contest at the Arizona State Capitol. Proceeds will go to the State Employee Charitable Campaign, which supports more than 400 charities and has raised more than $27 million in the past 25 years.

The United Dairymen of Arizona provided the cows for this event, whose participants included: Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan; Department of Highway Safety’s Alberto Gutier; AHCCCS’ Jami Snyder; Department of Gaming’s Ted Vogt; and Sen. Sine Kerr (R-Buckeye), who just so happens to own a dairy farm.

The winner? You guessed it: Sen. Kerr!

Blind and sighted runners compete in 5K for good cause in Scottsdale

AZ Family

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Hundreds of runners laced up their shoes and had to rely on their other senses beside their sight for a special 5K race in Scottsdale.

The Stride for Sight 5K was held on Sunday morning where blind and sighted runners competed together.

Those who can see could be blindfolded and another person would help guide them.

Adonis Watt was the first blind person to cross the finish line at the race. He is also the first blind person in the family.

[...] Sunday's 5K help fund the comprehensive programs at the foundation, which works with Phoenix Children's Hospital and provides services to blind people.

Read more HERE.

Guinness maker Diageo removes plastic from multipacks


Drinks giant Diageo has announced that it is removing plastic from multipacks of its Irish stout brand Guinness.

Plastic ring carriers and shrink wrap will be also removed from packs of Harp, Rockshore and Smithwick's beers, as part of Diageo's £16m initiative.

The change will be phased in with multi-can packs sold in "100% recyclable and biodegradable cardboard" in Ireland from August this year.

The new packaging will then be used in the UK and globally next year.

[...] Last year, rival brewer Carlsberg switched to using a glue instead of plastic to hold together its cans.

And more recently, Nestle got rid of plastic straws from its products and is using paper ones instead.

[...] Diageo's bottling and packaging plant in Northern Ireland will be the first site producing the new packs, with the firm investing £8m in its east Belfast plant.

It packages products which are exported around the world, including to the US, Canada, South Korea and Europe.

Diageo says under 5% of its total packaging is plastic and the changes will reduce usage by over 400 tonnes annually.

[...] Read more HERE.

Universal Technical Institute's Career Expo & Open House offers up-close look at high-tech, in-demand transportation careers

Open houses across the country showcase high-tech nature of industry, address growing demand for skilled technicians

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., April 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- As employer demand soars for skilled transportation technicians, Universal Technical Institute (UTI) invites students from across the country to take an exclusive, first-hand look at the extensive opportunities available in this high-tech industry.

On April 17, UTI will host a nationwide Technicians and Technology Career Expo & Open House for students interested in exploring careers as transportation, computer numerical control (CNC) machining and welding technicians. Open houses will be hosted at UTI campuses in Avondale and Phoenix, Ariz.; Long Beach, Rancho Cucamonga and Sacramento, Calif.; Orlando, Florida; Lisle, Ill.; Bloomfield, New Jersey; Mooresville, North Carolina; Exton, Penn.; and Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston, Texas.

Following UTI's successful inaugural national open house in January 2019, this event will showcase the high-tech, sophisticated nature of these industries.

[...] The U.S. Department of Labor projects that, by 2026, there will be more than 1.2 million job openings nationally across the automotive, diesel and collision repair industries. 1 To accommodate this demand, the transportation industry will need to fill – on average – 120,000 positions each year. During UTI's Technician Career Expo & Open Houses, prospective technicians will learn about these jobs, the leading-edge technologies that power modern vehicles, and the high-tech training and career opportunities available to them.

[...] Read more HERE.

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