The Veridus Weekly 2-1-19

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Days of session: 19 
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

Water crisis averted? Not so fast.

On Thursday, Gov. Doug Ducey stood among legislators as he signed into law legislation ratifying Arizona’s Drought Contingency Plan. The bill’s passage – achieved with bipartisan, nearly unanimous support – came on the final day before a deadline imposed on Arizona by the federal government. Deal supporters reveled in the moment of bipartisan achievement, but some of the luster was lost Friday as U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman declared the deal unfinished, adding, “close isn’t done.”

Now, the federal government is seeking input from each of the 7 western states on added steps to maintain water levels in Lake Mead. As those talks begin, arguably no state has more to lose than Arizona.


Arizona lawmaker proposes raising gasoline tax to fund road construction, repairs
Arizona Daily Star

Saying Arizona roads are crumbling due to neglect, a Prescott lawmaker is pushing a plan to eventually more than double the state’s 18-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax.

The legislation by Republican Rep. Noel Campbell would hike the levy most motorists pay in three steps, reaching 43 cents a gallon by the middle of 2021. And HB 2536 would automatically adjust it annually to reflect inflation.

But Campbell is not just hoping to raise an additional $1 billion from those who use gasoline-powered vehicles. He also wants to hike the levy on diesel fuel and impose new taxes on natural gas and propane based on their equivalent energy value with gasoline.

Nor is he letting the drivers of hybrids and electric vehicles off the hook.

His measure would add a levy of $80 a year to the registration fees of vehicles driven by a combination of electricity and other fuels. And the owners of all- electric vehicles would pay $198 a year more.

Campbell said that’s based on what would be the taxes that would be raised if motorists who drive an average of 12,000 miles a year were buying gasoline.

He is hoping to get the bill a hearing in the House Transportation Committee he chairs this coming week.

[...] Read more HERE.

Young people learn about science, math at downtown Phoenix STEM festival
Arizona Republic

Ever wanted the chance to play with surgical robots, walk through a life-sized colon and dissect a cow heart all in one day?

The University of Arizona College of Medicine in downtown Phoenix hosted its fifth annual Connect2Stem event on Saturday as part of the 2019 Arizona SciTech Festival.

Allison Otu, senior director of marketing and communications at the UA College of Medicine in Phoenix, said the mega community-outreach event was designed to get young people interested in careers in science, tech, engineering and math.

"We had about 2,500 people at our first event five years ago. Now we're on track to have about 10,000 people on our campus today. It's a day for young people to explore the wonders of science," Otu said.

[...] For more information, go to http://phoenixmed.arizona.edu/connect2stem.

Read more HERE.

Government shutdown cost: Economy lost at least $3 billion, CBO says
Arizona Republic

The 35-day partial government shutdown shaved at least $3 billion from the U.S. economy, and the final figure may be greater than the border wall President Donald Trump sought from the stalemate, a new report finds.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the shutdown that began Dec. 22 cut $3 billion from the economy by the end of the year and another $8 billion in January by the time it ended Friday.

While much of the spending slowdown will be recovered with the resumption of government operations again, at least $3 billion of it is considered a permanent loss to the economy, the CBO said. That amounts to 0.02 percent of the nation's total economic output for 2019.

[...] The shutdown ended when Trump relented on his insistence for $5.7 billion for spending on a border wall. He signed a budget deal with no money for the wall that lasts until Feb. 15, when the federal government could lapse back into a shutdown without a longer-term spending plan.

[...] The CBO report made clear that the pain was relatively minor to the nation's economy, but that overlooks the impact it had on the 800,000 government workers and those who contract with the government. Beyond that, the shutdown's effects could be worse because it's unclear how everyone responded to the uncertainty.

[...] Read more HERE.
 
‚ÄčVeridus clients in the news

Industry leaders: High demand for auto and diesel technicians
Chamber Business News

Demand for workers with repair experience in auto-related industries continues to rise, according to employers and training program administrators—and that isn’t expected to change anytime soon.

“There’s a tremendous demand for people that are skilled in this industry, and it’s only getting worse,” said John Norlington, a representative from Texas-based Sewell Automotive. “It’s not getting better.”

There’s perhaps no better way to gauge the true extent of that demand than by browsing through the interactive job boards that hang in the hallways of Universal Technical Institute’s Avondale campus. Doing so allows UTI students to explore more than 6,000 open positions nationwide. According to Adrian Cordova, Regional Vice President of Operations at UTI, the list is updated monthly and only includes a portion of the total available positions.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics paints a similar picture, predicting that there will be about 45,000 more positions in the industry in 2026 compared to 2016. It’s a drastic change, Cordova said, from the state of the auto industry only a decade ago.

[...] Because the demand for new workers is currently higher than the supply, students exiting some of UTI’s manufacturer-specific programs are often offered additional bonuses by employers upon signing a contract. These can range from tuition reimbursements to money for tool purchases, Cordova said.  But even with these sorts of benefits, there’s still a huge shortage of workers.

[...] Getting students interested in auto repair and technical programs can be a challenge, Cordova acknowledged, as the industry is competing for labor against a variety of other trade professions. That’s why he said he thinks it’s important to remind people that the industry is full of career opportunities, and not merely jobs.

[...] If positions continue to remain unfilled, down the road that could lead to things like longer wait times for vehicle repairs, Cordova said—something which could become a major issue for businesses that rely on quick repairs for shipping products.

“Our hopes for the future of the industry are that people continue to value that skilled trades are a tremendous opportunity in this country,” he said. “What we need to continue to do as a society is really significantly value what they bring to our economy.”

Read more HERE.

Bridgepoint Education Employees Recognized with the President's Volunteer Service Award

Forty-eight employees from Bridgepoint and Ashford University honored for volunteer efforts

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 30, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Bridgepoint Education, Inc. (NYSE: BPI) hosted recognition events in California, Colorado, Iowa, and Arizona to honor 48 employees who received the 2018 President's Volunteer Service Award from the White House and Points of Light Foundation. The honorees included employees from Bridgepoint Education and its academic institution Ashford University.

The President's Volunteer Service Award is a national volunteer awards program, encouraging citizens to embody a life of service. The award is intended to recognize companies and citizens that demonstrate a commitment to community involvement. To receive the award, employees had to donate more than 100 hours to community service efforts during 2018.

[...] Recipients of the President's Volunteer Service Award were given a personalized certificate and a letter of appreciation from President Donald Trump. For more information on the President's Volunteer Service Award program, visit www.presidentialserviceawards.gov.

Read more HERE.

Gov. Ducey includes funding for new storage facility in budget
Chamber Business News

Produce imports continue to boost Arizona’s economy, and the numbers don’t lie. In fact, nearly $4.8 billion-worth of economic activity was reported last fall, creating more than 33,000 full- and part-time jobs in the sector, especially around our state’s ports of entry. A majority of that produce comes through the Nogales-area port of entry, hauling in everything from squash to strawberries.

Now, Gov. Doug Ducey is touting a new budget plan that includes $700,000 for a new cold inspection facility at the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales. The plan is to retrofit an existing facility and enhance it with more temperature-controlled spaces to be able to house more produce. The updated facility could extend the state’s produce import season, thus opening up opportunities for more jobs and more economic growth.

“With better temperature controls and more modern infrastructure, we think it would entice certain products that aren’t crossed at Nogales to use the facility, which would increase trade and traffic, and drive more economic input here in Arizona,” Scott Vandervoet, Chairman of the Board of Fresh Produce Association of the Americas in Nogales said.

“What we want to do is improve our infrastructure for handling perishables. This project would improve the cold storage capacity for commercial goods when fruits and veggies are unloaded at the port,” Vandervoet said. “They can spend time there while things are being inspected. For temperature-sensitive items, this would improve the facility.”

The facility in Nogales would allow produce distributors to import more berries and leafy greens from Mexico. Currently, a lot of those items go through Texas ports of entry, in part because of their locations to central Mexico where berries and leafy greens, for example, are produced.

[...] So far, about $500,000 has been put aside by those in the industry and county government officials to help fund the project, in addition to Gov. Ducey’s proposed $700,000. There is no timeline as of yet as to when the facility will be built, but there is a good chance it will be operational before the next produce season in the Nogales region, which begins in October.

Read more HERE.
 
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In case you missed it . . .
 
Arizona news:

Ducey signs ‘historic’ Colorado River drought plan legislation

Republican lawmakers defy Ducey, move measure to prevent state tax hike

Arizona drivers who purchase bare minimum insurance may have to spend more

University of Arizona again named 'Best Value' school by Princeton Review

Republican legislator calls for a state Lt. Gov.

New bill at the Arizona State Capitol questions effectiveness of vaccines

Undocumented Arizona students would get tuition break under GOP-sponsored bill

As tax-filing season begins, Republicans in Arizona Legislature move to add clarity

In GOP upset, Kelli Ward to lead Arizona Republican Party
 
National news:

U.S. Employers Add Robust 304,000 Jobs – Despite Government Shutdown

Cory Booker launches an unconventional White House bid built on ‘universal love’

29 Republicans vote with Democrats to boost federal salaries 2.6 percent

Rep. Ruben Gallego, others reintroduce anti-corruption bill

Fed holds off on rate hike, suggests it might not pursue further increases

Howard Schultz, at ASU, pledges not to be 'spoiler' in 2020 White House race

Stacey Abrams Will Deliver Democratic Response to Trump's State of the Union Speech

Jeff Flake won't run for president, joins CBS News as a contributor

After a Messy Election, States Push to Make Voting Easier
 
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