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News for Southeastern Arizona, provided by the University of Arizona School of Journalism

Legislative Roundup: Term limits, abortion reporting, drones at the Capitol

Erik Kolsrud/Arizona Sonora News

PHOENIX — Monday was the start of the now-Shooterless Arizona State Legislature — that is to say, the first day since Rep. Don Shooter (R-Yuma) was expelled from the House following a months-long sexual harassment investigation.

Convening for Congress

Rep. Darin Mitchell (R-Goodyear) believes it’s time to change the U. S. Constitution. He has introduced HCR 2024 as a call to arms — the resolution, if passed, would put Arizona on the road to gathering enough states to call a constitutional convention to amend the U.S. Constitution. The goal? Limit the number of consecutive terms that U.S. representatives and senators can serve in Congress.

That may take a while. This resolution would serve as a “continuing application” to Congress, and would be valid until two-thirds of the states convene to vote on term limits. Mitchell’s resolution received a 7-2 vote for a do pass recommendation from the House Federalism, Property Rights, and Public Policy Committee, in which it was first read. It will next go to the House Rules Committee, where it will repeat the process and if receives another positive recommendation, will go to the floor for a vote. The Arizona State Legislature has term limits for members in the House and the Senate, unlike the national body. Both representatives and senators are permitted only three consecutive terms of two years each, though there is not a limit on the lifetime number of terms. For this reason, senators at the end of their limit may decide to run for the House and vice versa.

Drones Delivering Drugs?

The Netflix TV series “Black Mirror” depicts a near-future where drones deliver food and autonomous cars drive people around — pretty soon, Arizona may soon be one step closer to that vision thanks to Rep. Kelly Townshend (R-Queen Creek) and her HB2422. This bill would create guidelines for the operation and insuring of “personal delivery devices” to operate on sidewalks. While a fairly vague term, this essentially provides for the rules regarding delivery drones in Arizona.

Starship drones may soon be a common sight in on Arizona sidewalks, delivering anything from parcels to pizzas. (Photo by: Erik Kolsrud/Arizona Sonora News)

Operators would have to maintain a $100,000 insurance coverage minimum, as well as submitting their drones to a registration system (though the drones wouldn’t be licensed like cars or vehicles). On the technical side, the bill gives upper limits to size and speed of the drones as well as what types of sidewalks they can operate on.

If all this sounds brand new, it’s because it is — there is only one company in the United States that currently has ground-based delivery drones in service. That company is Starship, and its partnered with takeout services Doordash and Postmates to use ground-based drones as a means of delivery in a handful of states domestically. Starship’s head of public affairs, David Catania, was at the Arizona Capitol to demonstrate the Starship drone that would fit the proposed qualifications for operation in Arizona.

According to Catania, food service is only the beginning  for the drone deliveries. In the future, Starship could partner with medical companies and hospitals to deliver medicine and medical items to patients. In Estonia and Switzerland, where Starship currently operates, the drones are used to deliver mail for the postal services in those countries. The machines stand around two feet tall, and can travel anywhere from a mile to two miles on a single charge.

The bill passed through the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee with a unanimous do pass recommendation.

Everything but the Name

One of the most entrenched fronts that rages in the American political arenas is the fight over abortion. On the Arizona side, Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Cave Creek) has introduced SB 1394 to begin collecting statistics on abortions in the state. The bill would not record personal information that could identify women who go through with abortions, but would require abortion providers to send a form to the Department of Health Services that lists:

  • Name and address of facility, including type of facility and county its located in
  • Age, educational background, county and state where the patient resides
  • Patient’s race, ethnicity, marital status and preexisting conditions
  • Number of patient’s prior pregnancies, abortions, and spontaneous pregnancy terminations
  • Gestation stage of the fetus
  • Reason for abortion (if given)
  • Type of procedure and any complications
  • Basis for the determination of a medical emergency (if applicable)
  • Whether the fetus was born alive, if actions were taken to save its life, and the weight of it if dead
  • Specialty of abortion provider and type of admission

All of that leaves out the patient’s name, social security number and driver’s license number, but is otherwise very descriptive. The idea is that this  will be collected annually so that DHS can publish to the public a breakdown by month of the gestation stage, reason for abortion and number of abortions provided by a facility for statistical analysis.

 

Erik Kolsrud is the Don Bolles Fellow covering the Legislature for Arizona Sonora News, a service provided by the school of journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach him at ekolsrud@email.arizona.edu.

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