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Legislative Roundup

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PHOENIX – This past week at the Arizona Legislature was the final week committees met to hear and discuss bills, which fueled long hearings and late nights. As of March 20, there were 103 House bills and 79 Aenate bills awaiting hearings – and as of the end of the day on March 23, they were all heard. When does the session end? Officially, the end of April. But folks are still placing their bets. The sine-die pool is now open. Dive in by April 6 to predict when the Legislature wraps it up pic.twitter.com/SJ3oZ5wvy4 — Mary Jo Pitzl (@maryjpitzl) March 22, 2017 What’s Up, Gov? Gov. Doug Ducey got busy this week signing bills. On Monday, he signed House Bill 2268, introduced by Rep. Maria Syms, R-Phoenix, which requires all rape kits to be tested. The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously. Ducey also...

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Sexism in Arizona politics might be here to stay

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PHOENIX – Arizona is doing well in regards to gender representation in the state Legislature, but it could take 30 years before the state reaches gender parity in its law-making body. Arizona is fourth in the nation for female representation in the state Legislature at 38.9 percent, behind Vermont, Nevada and Colorado, leaving 46 states with even fewer women in politics. Fifty percent of Arizonans are women, yet barely a third serve in elective office. And there’s more reason to have women in politics than simply representation of gender. “Women have a different leadership style than men do,” Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Glendale, said. “And I think that is something we need to bring to the table.” Yee said, according to the Future Majority Project, a conservative group working toward gender and minority representation in U.S. politics, she is the highest-ranking female Republican...

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Legislative Roundup: A retired justice, minimum wage and drunken hair cuts

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  PHOENIX – On Wednesday this week, Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Glendale, brought former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to the Arizona State Senate to speak about civics. Yee pointed out that O’Connor was the first female senate majority leader. Some 40 years later, Yee is the second. O’Connor also visited the Arizona House of Representatives later that day. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, introduced her guest on Wednesday as well: former state senator and minority leader Alfredo Gutierrez. Later on Wednesday, over at the House of Representatives, Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Dist 6, gave a pretty weird apology on the House floor. In the beginning of the session, he publicly apologized for his treatment of a fellow lawmaker, saying “I overstepped my authority.” He didn’t name who he over stepped his authority with, but he asked Rep. Isela...

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Legislative roundup: Women, fake news and money

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PHOENIX – Wednesday was International Women’s Day and it was clear across the capitol who supported it and who didn’t. Some women across the world took the day to strike, wear red and blue, or not buy anything, while others kept their nose to the ground. Women packed both the House and Senate galleries. #AZLeg House gallery is packed with women for #InternationalWomensDay! #WomeninBlue pic.twitter.com/cNEdqvJRbb — Athena Salman (@athenasalman) March 8, 2017 The strike was labeled “A Day Without Women” and plenty of protestors shared their stories . Fake News On Monday, the House Education Committee met to vote on Senate Bill 1384. The bill passed through the Senate, committees included, without a single vote against it. And then it went to the House. Discussion got pretty heated as a bill aimed to expand Freedom of the Press protections for student journalists at...

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Legislative Roundup: More guns and some not so nice things

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PHOENIX – By mid-day in the beginning of March, it’s already too warm to spend much time outside in Phoenix, but you wouldn’t know that at the State Legislature. Senators, representatives, interns and pages are all working from 9 a.m. to well into the evening, blocking off most of the sun-lit hours. Gov. Doug Ducey has finally started signing bills into law, and the late-night marathon sessions have given legislators dozens of bills to read every day. Not So Nice Things Every legislator can flip his or her laptop open on the House or Senate floor, hook up to the wifi, and surf the web during sessions. From the outsider, it looks like they’re probably reading bills, looking up the schedule or seeing how they’re going to get free lunch that day. However, according to the blocked websites through the legislator’s wifi,...

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A new bill could pave the way to gold

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Another year, another bill to legitimize gold and silver as legal tender in Arizona. For the past half a decade, Arizona State legislators have proposed bills stemming from concerns that the paper money printed by the Federal Reserve Bank is losing value. All of these bills do fairly well in both the House and Senate, but consistently get beaten down late in the process – usually with vetoes from the governor. This year, the bill is a little different than it has been. It focuses more on the taxation of the gold and silver and less on the actual usage of gold and silver at your neighborhood market. “This is merely removing a wrongly attached capital gain tax,” Doug Ardt, a vocal member of Arizona constitutional advocates who manages the website Arizona Sound Money Act, said. “The state isn’t...

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Legislative Roundup: Riots and mariachi bands

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PHOENIX – The Arizona State Legislature doesn’t usually meet when they don’t have to. This is the same legislature that left early to grab dinner on Valentines Day. But, against the trend, legislators came in bright and early on Presidents Day Monday morning, and, once again upending the norm, they came into work with a mariachi band. Rep. @CesarChavezAZ lends his impressive voice to the mariachi band. pic.twitter.com/eKW2vUwzOW — Rachel Leingang (@rachelleingang) February 20, 2017 The mariachi band even played the National Anthem at the House of Representatives, where representatives are worried mold might be causing headaches during the work day. The Department of Administration didn’t find any mold, and honestly, it could just be the legislation causing the headaches. Time to Play Arizona students are getting closer to having a required full 50 minutes of “unstructured recess” with House Bill...

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Arizonans ask for regulation rollbacks on taxes, water-use, hot dogs

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PHOENIX – Gov. Doug Ducey’s hotline for red tape tips is gaining more complaints than suggestions. Ducey promised to eliminate 500 regulations “that are standing in the way of job growth” by the end of the year, so he took his challenge to the people – or rather, the Internet. The governor set up Red Tape, an online service to crowd source recommendations from Arizona citizens on which regulations should be eliminated. In the first weeks of the program, the most commonly complained about issues were taxes and different water-use regulations, particularly how they effect the rural areas of the state. This doesn’t represent the wants of the state as a whole, though: only a couple dozen Arizonans recommended anything at all. Taxes, always the hot button topic in Arizona politics, were hot on the regulation rollback site. Why? “Taxation is theft,” the entirety of...

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Legislative Roundup: Cell phones and tampon tax

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PHOENIX – On Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, the capitol was full of gratuitous shows of love: singing on the House floor,  heart-shaped balloons on the rose garden. Nothing was too cheesy. But whether state minimum wage workers will feel the love became the question. On Monday, the state Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction over a lawsuit to block Proposition 206, the $10 minimum wage hike that was voter-approved during the last election. The court will hear oral arguments on March 9, but until then, there are plenty of stories to bring you up to date on the conflict. To wrap the work week up, on Thursday the governor rode into his office with style. That is to say, he sat in the passenger side of a race car and fishtailed in front of the capitol. What a way to end a week. I wish @dougducey...

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Arizona law enforcement might not back up Trump’s immigration order

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PHOENIX – Arizona law enforcement agencies mostly say they won’t participate in widespread immigration raids that target long-term undocumented immigrants no matter what President Trump’s new executive order says. The Phoenix, Tucson and Nogales police departments, and Yuma, Santa Cruz and Maricopa sheriffs say officers will not target long-term undocumented immigrants who have no violent felony offenses. Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said his officers would not target people simply for being long-term undocumented, yet if they commit any crime officers will turn them over to immigration officials. An earlier version of this story stated his office would target long-terms whether criminal or not. He called after publication and said he never made that comment and to clarify his department’s position. Dannels said Cochise County pursues all lawbreakers equally. “We’re not going to just target the illegals,” Dannels said. “Those [who] break the state law, we...

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