the veridus weekly

05-17-2019

days of session: 124

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

At 124 days, the 1st Regular Session of the 54th Arizona Legislature is already the longest of the Ducey Era. But an end may be in sight.

Legislative leaders say they’ll be working through the weekend with Governor Doug Ducey and his budgeteers in an effort to finalize a spending package. The intent is to reach an agreement that can be presented to rank-and-file legislators early next week. If all goes according to plan, it’s possible the budget may be approved and the legislative session adjourned before Memorial Day. Of course, rarely does all go exactly to plan at the Arizona Capitol.

Below are the issues that may determine whether the session comes to a quiet close in the coming week or everybody needs to change their June vacation plans: 

  • Tax Conformity: Ah yes, the issue that has glazed a thousand eyeballs. The question of how and whether the State of Arizona should conform to changes in federal tax law has been contentious since the start of the session, when Governor Ducey vetoed GOP-favored tax conformity legislation. Now, House Republicans are confident a compromise with the Governor is within reach.
  • Spend or Save?: Here’s the elephant … errrr, big problem in the room. The Governor announced in January his intention to set aside more than $500 million from this year’s budget surplus, increasing the State “Rainy Day Fund” to $1 billion. Democratic legislators prefer to spend much of these dollars on education and other state programs, and House and Senate Republicans have advocated buying down debt. Solve this equation and a budget you shall have.
  • Online Sales: The 2018 U.S. Supreme Court Wayfair decision authorized states to mandate out-of-state sellers collect tax on retail goods sold to in-state residents, just as local retailers are already required. Among states with a sales tax, all but six have already moved to correct this competitive imbalance. Rep. Ben Toma (R-Peoria) is leading a coalition of local and national retailers, business leaders and taxpayer advocates to create an Arizona solution to the problem. Additional state revenue via a Wayfair fix may be a critical piece of the budget puzzle.
  • Legislative Wildcards: GOP control of the House and Senate hangs by a thread. Sens. Paul Boyer (R-Glendale) and Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek) say they’ll vote against the budget unless lawmakers approve legislation expanding the statute of limitations for childhood molestation victims to sue their abusers. Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale), threatens to oppose the budget unless the state repeals a $32-per-vehicle licensing fee approved last year. If House and Senate Democrats unite in voting as a bloc against the budget package, and if Republican holdouts don’t buckle, things could get bumpy next week.

 As they say, watch this space.

Arizona House votes to hold state's primary election 3 weeks earlier

Arizona Daily Star

PHOENIX — Arizona voters may be on the verge of getting three more weeks of candidate speeches, robocalls, door hangers and mailers between the primary and general elections.

On a 39-21 vote the state House approved legislation moving the state’s primary election up to the first Tuesday in August. Current law puts it on the last Tuesday.

The Senate approved a nearly identical version on a 28-2 margin in March and is expected to ratify a minor change made to the bill in the House, and to send the measure to the governor.

[...] The National Conference of State Legislatures reports only six states have their primaries later than the end of August. By contrast, two have March primaries, 11 go to the polls in May and 17 states have June primaries.

US fertility falls to record low, fewest births in 32 years

Washington Examiner

The U.S. fertility rate fell to a record low in 2018 and the number of births declined for a fourth consecutive year, the National Center for Health Statistics reported Wednesday.

The nation’s total fertility rate, or the average number of children a woman would be expected to give birth to in her lifetime given current birth rates, reached a record low of 1.73, a decline of 2%. That is below the threshold for maintaining current population levels, 2.1 children for every mother.

The number of births, meanwhile, fell to 3,788,235, a decline of 2% and the lowest in 32 years.

[...] The steepest decline in births was among teens between 15 and 19 years of age, who gave birth to 179,607 children, a drop of 9%. Although teen childbearing is still relatively high in the U.S. compared to other countries, it has fallen sharply in recent years, a trend researchers attribute to greater abstinence and greater use of birth control.

The lower rate of teen childbearing was slightly offset by higher births among women aged 40 to 44, which rose 2% to 117,339. Childbearing in that age group has been rising gradually since 1982.  [...]

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Arizona Celebrates National Charter Schools Week  

Arizona Charter Schools Association

Phoenix (May 12, 2019) – Arizona is excited to join students, families, educators and supporters across the country in celebrating National Charter Schools Week.

In accordance with the national annual event, Gov. Doug Ducey has proclaimed the week of May 12-18 Arizona Charter Schools Week to recognize the important role of public charter schools in expanding high-quality education options for all students.

According to a 2018 EdChoice survey, 61 percent of Americans support public charter schools. That support is evident in Arizona, where charter enrollment has doubled in the last decade alone. Today, Arizona’s public charter schools serve a record 200,000 students across 554 schools.

Arizona’s public charter school movement exemplifies the sector’s commitment to providing quality choices that put students’ needs first and achieve strong academic results. Since 2015, Arizona charter students of every racial and ethnic group have outperformed the state average in nearly every grade level and subject area on the AzMERIT assessment. Arizona charter students are also outperforming their district and private-school peers on the National Assessment for Educational Progress, better known as the Nation’s Report Card. Nearly 70 percent of Arizona charter schools that received a letter grade earned either an ‘A’ or B’ in 2017-18.

The Arizona Charter Schools Association will celebrate National Charter Schools Week by visiting our 2018 Charter School of the Year, ASU Prep Poly STEM Academy; and the 2018 Charter Teacher of the Year, Dr. John Rosinbum of BASIS Tucson North.

[...] For media inquiries, please contact Jamar Younger, jamar@azcharters.org or 602-802-5516.

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CoreCivic helping inmates Go Further in changing their lives

Chamber Business News

There are more than 42,000 inmates within the Arizona correctional system. Nearly all of them will one day rejoin society.

When that happens, Governor Doug Ducey wants to make sure they’re successful. That’s why the Governor has made it such a priority to support job training, rehabilitation, counseling and other correctional services to reduce the likelihood of inmates returning to prison following their release.

That same approach is echoed by CoreCivic, a state contractor and operator of multiple correctional facilities across central Arizona. CoreCivic developed Go Further, an evidence-based program designed to give inmates the best possible chance to succeed upon reentry into society.

Warden Bruno Stole of Red Rock Correctional Center, in Eloy, called Go Further “very, very powerful…It’s been very successful here and it’s made a difference.”

[...] Go Further process planning starts on the first day of an inmate’s incarceration. A team assesses the inmate to identify potential barriers to reentry and develop a plan to address any needs or deficits – including with education, substance abuse and life skills.

[...] Go Further is designed to reduce recidivism by encouraging inmates to participate in a comprehensive assortment of educational courses and training workshops, including cognitive restructuring, career counseling, life skills, and academic and vocational coursework, as well as substance abuse treatment, and mental health services.

[...] A reentry preparation focus at the Red Rock Correctional Center has resulted in the following program milestones so far this year: 52 GEDs, 98 CTE certificates, 44 Victim Impact Program completions, 49 inmates enrolled in distant learning classes at Rio Salado Community College and a 91 percent completion rate in the substance abuse treatment program.

[...] In January, 36 Red Rock inmates graduated from Go Further.

Another 42 inmates will commemorate their completion of the program at the next graduation ceremony on May 23.

For more information about Go Further, click here.

The Trump Administration Looks To Lower Drug Prices, Some Are Concerned About Their Method

KJZZ

The Trump administration is attempting to change the way we all pay for prescription drugs.

This year, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced a new rule that would get rid of one of the least transparent parts of drug pricing: Giving rebates to middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers.

The Trump administration said the move will lower prescription prices for consumers, but others say it will simply shift costs around.

Brendon Blake, senior program administrator with AARP Arizona, joined The Show to talk about this new rule and why AARP thinks it could hurt seniors.  Listen HERE

Arizona Coalition Files Measure to End Predatory Car Title Lending 

YellowSheet Report (subscription required)

(Phoenix) – May 15, 2019, Arizonans for Fair Lending, a coalition of individuals and organizations from across our state, has filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office as the first step to qualify a ballot measure for the November 2020 election. The measure, called the Arizona Fair Lending Act, would protect Arizonans from predatory, triple-digit rate car title loans which trap borrowers in a cycle of debt by reducing the rates of these loans from as much as 204% APR to 36% APR or lower.

[...] Arizonans voted to put a stop to predatory payday lending in 2008, but many of those same lenders found a loophole–car title loans–to take advantage of vulnerable families. The unfortunate reality is that Arizona borrowers still face triple-digit interest rates and get trapped in a vicious cycle of debt, some even facing vehicle repossession.

[...] A diverse coalition of faith and consumer protection groups who have been working for years to end predatory lending once and for all have now decided to take the issue directly to voters. The overwhelming success of anti-predatory lending ballot measures in Arizona and other states reflects the simple notion that regardless of background, color, creed or party, voters recognize that this industry should not be allowed to target those most vulnerable simply to turn a profit.

[...] The policy is being proposed by a growing coalition of individuals and consumer groups, community groups, veterans and civil rights groups, including:

  • Southwest Center for Economic Integrity, Tucson

  • SURGE Network, Peoria

  • Living United for Change in Arizona, Phoenix

  • Our Voice, Our Vote, Arizona (Statewide)

  • Center for Responsible Lending

'Tucson IDA board member receives economic development award

KVOA

TUCSON – The acting president of the Tucson Industrial Development Authority Board of Directors was selected to receive the William Lampkin Award for Long Term Excellence in Economic Development from the Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED).

Larry Lucero was honored for his “contributions to economic development efforts in Arizona and demonstrating a sustained commitment to AAED,” according to a news release.

Lucero is the senior director of government affairs and economic development for UNS Energy Corporation and Tucson Electric Power. He manages the company’s local, state and federal legislative agendas, governmental affairs, and state-wide business recruitment and retention. He has been with TEP since 1992.  [...]

Gov. Ducey Signs Bill for MMIWG Study Into Law

Tucson Weekly

Gov. Doug Ducey has signed House Bill 2570 into law, creating the first state-sponsored study to gather comprehensive data on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Arizona and identify causes of the systemic violence.

These cases, known as MMIWG cases, have historically received limited attention and improper classification. The only national study devoted to the subject—which was published by the Urban Indian Health Institute in Seattle last year—acknowledges that even their data for the number of Indigenous women and girls who have gone missing or have been murdered is likely an undercount.

They reported that in 2016, there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, though the U.S. Department of Justice's federal missing persons database, NamUs, only logged 116 cases. Arizona was ranked the third most dangerous state for Indigenous women with 54 cases, and Tucson was the fourth most dangerous city in the country with 30 recorded murders.

Activists have pointed to a lack of collaboration between local, state and tribal law enforcement officials and the misclassification of victims' ethnicity and tribal affiliations as the reason for the lack of accurate data.

The new law, introduced by Democratic Rep. Jennifer Jermaine, allows a study committee to be formed, with representation from seven Arizona tribes. The committee will include all members of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus, the Arizona attorney general or their designee, the director of the Department of Public Safety or their designee, attorneys and sheriffs from urban and rural counties, representatives from tribal government and law enforcement, victims advocates, social workers, counselors and legal and health service experts.

Once the study is completed in June 2020, the findings will be presented to tribal leadership and the state legislature. This could provide a framework for better policies to be enacted that would protect Indigenous women from targeted violence.  [...]

Tucson Electric to save $13M through partnership with 'real-time' wholesale power market

Arizona Daily Star

Tucson Electric Power Co. will join a Western wholesale power market it says will save the company and its ratepayers $13 million a year.

TEP said the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the state’s wholesale power markets, has signed an agreement with TEP to participate in the Western Energy Imbalance Market, or EIM, beginning in April 2022.

[...] TEP spokesman Joe Barrios said that while system operators now manually transmit data every hour, the EIM will automatically transmit pricing information every five minutes, allowing utilities to benefit from price swings.

[...] The market also allows participants to maximize their use of renewable resources, by taking advantage of available wind and solar generation anywhere and matching their variable output with steady-producing “dispatchable” resources like gas-fired power plants, TEP said.  [...]

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