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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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Legislative Roundup: Tanning, guns, tuition costs

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PHOENIX -This was the busiest week yet this session for Arizona lawmakers, with committee hearings taking hours and bills vetted by the dozens. The week on the capitol began graced with dozens of Arizona firefighters spotting the mall, and ended with a farmers market. Somewhere in between, a mini horse trotted across the Rose Garden to lobby for service animals. What’s My Age Again? Every May, tanning salons are crowded with 16-year old high schoolers preparing for prom. House Bill 2194 will make that a whole lot more difficult. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Heather Carter, R-Dist. 15, is aimed at decreasing the 3.5 million people in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer. HB 2194 will require that all people who use tanning salons must be 18-years old and older. This week, it passed the Committee on Health, the Committee on...

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Legislative roundup

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PHOENIX – A wild few weeks for news across the country didn’t disappoint here in Arizona: with inaugurations, late nights, and dozens of bills, legislators, interns and lobbyists are flooding into the Capitol coffee shop in gaggles. This past weekend was the third weekend in a row that the capitol was flooded with protestors. Two weekends ago, Arizonans marched to stand in solidarity against the newly elected president and his regime in Phoenix’s sister march to the national Women’s March on Washington. On Saturday the 28th,  demonstrators gathered at the capitol to protest against the advancement of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline. And this past weekend, hundreds of protestors gathered on the capitol and at Sky Harbor International Airport to protest the president’s immigration ban. Lighting up the age restrictions A bill to raise the legal smoking age...

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Committee curbs principal powers over high school student media

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PHOENIX – A bill to expand freedom of the press protections for student journalists at public schools, community colleges and universities across Arizona passed through the committee on education unanimously today. Senate Bill 1384, introduced by Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Dist 20, allows student journalists across the state to exercise freedom of speech and freedom of the press in school-sponsored media. It prohibits a student journalist from being disciplined for exercising that freedom. It also charges student media advisers with the responsibility to determine the content of school-sponsored media. Section C of the bill clarifies that SB1384 does not protect or authorize libelous or slanderous work, or invasions of privacy, violations of federal or state law or work that endangers other students. This bill effectively nullifies Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, a 1988 Supreme Court Case that gave the principal of a high school the right to determine...

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Teacher pay, not certification, needs reform, educators say

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PHOENIX – The only education bills to show significant movement in the Arizona legislature involve teacher certification, but educators say that’s avoiding the real problem in Arizona education: teacher pay. According to educators across the state, the only solution that will get more teachers into Arizona is increasing teacher pay. Gov. Doug Ducey is offering 2 percent over the next five years. Many people say it just isn’t enough. Heidi Vega, the director of communications at the Arizona School Boards Association, says ASBA’s stance on these teacher certification bills is simple: it could potentially help, but at the end of the day, teacher certification just isn’t the reason Arizona has a teacher shortage. The average teacher salary in Arizona is around $43,000, and according to the National Education Association, that salary has decreased by over 7 percent in the past decade....

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Ducey’s ‘Miracle Drug’ could be costly

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Arizona inmates exiting prison with opioid addictions can be part of a substance abuse program that utilizes the drug Vivitrol, and while Gov. Doug Ducey calls it a “miracle drug,” some worry it is an expensive, understudied quick fix to a much larger problem. Vivitrol is a monthly extended-release injection that prevents patients from getting high – as long as the patient is taking it consistently. Vivitrol works by blocking the receptors that opioids bind to in order to give the user any pain relief or euphoria. “If they have the naltrexone in their system they will not be able to experience any euphoria from opioid,” said Daniel Ayanga, a psychiatrist who published a study on the treatment of opioid use disorder. Once those patients are taken off the drug, they are just as likely to relapse as those who never...

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