The legislative session is adjourned. The FY 2020 budget is signed. And lawmakers have returned to their districts following a marathon session that reached 135 days.
After all of the focus on what got done at 1700 W. Washington over the last five months, let’s turn our attention to what didn’t. A handful of policy items loom largest on a possible legislative to-do list for 2020.
Charter School Reform
Charter regulatory reform was one of the highest-profile issues of the session. But the package legislation got caught in the partisan divide among concerns it either went too far (Republicans) or not far enough (Democrats). Sponsoring Sen. Kate Brophy McGee (R-Phoenix) has expressed interest in trying again in 2020.
Criminal Justice Reform
Proponents brought forward multiple measures this year with the intention of reducing prison sentences and giving inmates the opportunity to shorten their terms with good behavior. None reached the Governor’s desk. Look for a renewed focus on this issue beginning in January as policymakers attempt to balance sentencing reform with public safety concerns.
Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing
This session saw the latest skirmish in the ongoing battle between legacy industries and sharing economy upstarts. Peer-to-peer car sharing companies like Turo, GetAround and others fought to a draw in 2019 against car rental behemoth Enterprise. This issue isn’t going away.
The U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting, and multiple states have taken that step already. A legislative effort in Arizona was effectively sidelined as Governor Doug Ducey has favored wrapping the issue into the ongoing negotiation of new tribal gaming compacts. The financial ramifications are enormous – Americans already bet (illegally) an estimated $150 billion on sports each year.
So long, smokin’ in the boys room. It’s all about vaping now on high school campuses (and middle school, yeesh). Competing legislative measures came forward this session to address the boom in use among minors of so-called e-cigarettes. One bill favored by public health advocates would have classified e-cigarettes under the same umbrella as other tobacco products; a separate, industry-backed measure would have raised the age to purchase e-cigarettes and other tobacco products to 21, but defanged any local regulations over the matter by making it a question of statewide concern. Watch for this issue to come back in 2020.
PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today announced the appointment of former Arizona Speaker of the House Andy Tobin as Director of the Arizona Department of Administration. Mr. Tobin has resigned from his position on the Arizona Corporation Commission.
[...] Before his appointment to the Commission in 2015, Tobin served as the director of the Arizona Department of Insurance and the interim director of the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions. Prior to those appointments, he served as director of the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures, where he was instrumental in consolidating that department to increase efficiencies and save taxpayer dollars.
Mr. Tobin owned and operated a local Farmers Insurance agency for six years and more recently owned his own employee benefits company. He was also CEO of a local aerospace company employing 200 people for three years until 2003. From 2006 to 2015, Mr. Tobin represented rural Arizona in the state House, serving as Majority Whip, Majority Leader and eventually Speaker of the House from 2011 to 2015.
Mr. Tobin was elected the National President of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce from 1988 to 1989. In that capacity, he served as an ex-officio board member of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and the Hugh O’Brian Foundation.
An announcement about Mr. Tobin’s replacement on the Corporation Commission will be forthcoming.
Arizona Capitol Times
(Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)
Calling it a “significant and critical first step,” Gov Doug Ducey has signed into law a measure that will give those who were sexually assaulted or abused as children more time to sue, no matter how long ago the event occurred.
“Sexual abuse is never easy to disclose, especially for a young person,” the governor said at a signing ceremony Tuesday at the Capitol, less than 24 hours after lawmakers approved the change unanimously.
“This we know: Victims need time, time to process, time to understand what has happened and to come forward,” he said. “And they deserve the ability to come forward.”
The new law, which took effect immediately on Ducey’s signature, does that in two ways.
First, it scraps the prior statutes which required victims to sue before their 20th birthday or forfeit their legal rights. Now they will have until age 30.
Second, it opens up a temporary legal “window” for lawsuits by those whose time to file suit already has expired: They will have until the end of 2020 to bring their claims. [...]
PHOENIX — Arizona political figures shared their thoughts this week on President Donald Trump’s announcement Thursday that he plans to impose 5% tariffs on all Mexican imports beginning June 10.
Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey posted a three-tweet thread stating that while he opposes tariffs, he considers the “humanitarian crisis at the border” to be a higher priority than the money it may cost the U.S. He said it’s “long past time for Congress to act” on border security.
[...] Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, did not hold back his disdain for the plan.
“It’s the worst idea I’ve heard this year,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday. “Mexico is a friend and ally and we’ve made incredible progress in the renegotiation of NAFTA through the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and this could easily flush all of that great work right down the toilet.”
[...] U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a southern Arizona Democrat, criticized Trump’s announcement over Twitter and called his business acumen into question.
“I thought you were a businessman, @realDonaldTrump?” Kirkpatrick tweeted. “This is a horrible policy and will have devastating impacts on our local economy.”
U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Phoenix Democrat, called Trump’s decision “reckless.”
[...] Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs told Fox Business that the president’s decision is the result of Congress’ inaction.
“The bottom line is, if you really believe that it’s a crisis and it’s an emergency on the border… then you have to take drastic actions,” Biggs said.
[...] Mark Kelly, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Arizona, also spoke against Trump’s plan.
“We need Mexico to be a partner in trade and in dealing with immigration and border security, and this is the completely wrong approach,” he said in a statement. “The burden of these tariffs will be felt by Arizona businesses, workers, and consumers – it is an outright attack on Arizona’s economy.”
Arizonans for Main Street Fairness thanks Gov. Ducey, Rep. Toma and legislators for reaching deal that levels playing field for Arizona retailers, small businesses
Arizonans for Main Street Fairness, a broad coalition of local and national retailers and community leaders, applauds the passage of legislation eliminating a tax loophole that has placed local retailers at a growing disadvantage with out-of-state, online competitors.
Local retailers have always been required to collect sales tax on product purchases, but Arizona law currently exempts from this requirement out-of-state, online sellers without a physical presence in the state. HB 2757 corrects this fundamental inequity, which brick-and-mortar retailers say poses an increasing threat to their operations as more consumer dollars migrate online.
“Retail sales is a critical component of our economy,” said Michelle Ahlmer, Executive Director of the Arizona Retailers Association. “This legislation will save Arizona jobs by ensuring local retailers are not placed at a competitive disadvantage by virtue of our tax policy. Just as important, HB 2757 streamlines the Arizona tax code so that it’s not overly complex for out-of-state sellers to determine the proper tax to apply upon goods sold to Arizona residents.”
“We’re tremendously grateful to Rep. Ben Toma for taking the lead in negotiating this compromise reform with stakeholders, including retailers, taxpayer advocates and local leaders,” Ahlmer continued. “Most of all, we thank the local small-business owners who’ve rightly argued for years that Arizona law shouldn’t place them at a disadvantage with competitors in other states.”
HB 2757 exempts micro businesses and hobbyists because it only applies to sellers with at least $200,000 in gross annual sales (a threshold that phases down to $100,000 after three years). The measure is only enforced prospectively and stipulates that tax collection and remittance is the responsibility of the seller, not consumer. Additionally, HB 2757 simplifies the tax code by establishing a single statutory retail base with uniform treatment and definitions statewide. Local governments maintain control of rate-setting.
HB 2757 was made possible by the 2018 U.S Supreme Court decision in the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair, which found that states have authority to mandate that out-of-state sellers collect and remit sales tax on product purchases. Among states with a sales tax, all but three nationally have already taken action to ensure tax equity between in-state and remote sellers.
The tax equity language in HB 2757 earned the backing of a wide coalition, including: the Arizona Retailers Association; Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Arizona Ace Hardware dealers; Local First Arizona; Walmart; Walgreens; Amazon; Changing Hands Bookstore; Google; Best Buy; Target; Arizona Food Marketing Alliance; Arizona League of Cities & Towns; County Supervisors Association of Arizona; Norwood Furniture; NFIB-Arizona; CenturyLink; Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce; ICSC and more.
HB 2757 is now on the desk of Governor Ducey as he considers the proposal along with the rest of the budget package, which he has indicated he supports.
In the spirit of graduation season, CoreCivic is proud to share the education successes happening at our facilities. We offer more than 30 academic and vocational programs, all designed to help those in our care prepare for reentry. Throughout the year, we hold graduation ceremonies for the student-inmates who complete these needed programs.
In 2018, 24 CoreCivic facilities provided education programming, led by over 300 education professionals companywide. These dedicated professionals helped student-inmates earn high school equivalency (HSE) diplomas and industry-recognized certificates (IRCs), which can make it easier to find gainful employment after release.
[...] By the end of 2019, CoreCivic expects to have implemented new programming at up to 10 facilities, and to have awarded 1,563 HSE diplomas and 4,657 IRCs, setting a new company record.
PHOENIX (FOX 10) - In this week's Community Cares, students everywhere are making milestones, celebrating graduations, and that includes pre-schoolers at the Foundation for Blind Children.
The pomp and circumstance, the pride parents feel when they watch their child accomplish something they never thought was possible, that is graduation.
[...] This is the Foundation for Blind Children pre-school graduation class of 2019. Some students are visually impaired, some are blind, some have other special needs, but all have worked extremely hard for the privilege to wear their caps and gowns.
"We look at kids as playing on the playground and exploring their environment exploring words and numbers and letters, some of our kids are struggling to walk and just to have to walk 200 feet is exhausting and our kids do it," said a spokesperson for the foundation. [...]
Arizona Public Media
Courtesy of the Norris - Saunders campaign
Tohono O'odham Nation voters elected Ned Norris Jr. and Wavalene Saunders to be their next Chairman and Vice Chairwoman.
Three-thousand three-hundred members of the Nation voted during this election on May 25, and 61% of the votes went to Norris and Saunders.
"Wavalene and I are humbled and deeply grateful to O’odham voters for the overwhelming support we have received," said Norris, in a press release. "We are ready to get started on day one, fully committed to working with our Legislative Council and others in the best interest of our people. By working together, we will address the challenges facing the Nation and achieve positive opportunities for our people."
The two will be sworn in June 14 and serve in these positions for four years. [...]
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