The Arizona Capitol is quiet today … but not for much longer. Festivities begin Monday, Jan. 14, as state officials are sworn-in and Governor Doug Ducey issues his 5th State of the State address.
These are expected to be among the biggest issues of the upcoming Regular Session:
Judge voids key pieces of Arizona law gutting campaign finance rules
A judge has ruled that Arizona lawmakers violated the state Constitution on multiple fronts when they passed a sweeping overhaul of campaign-finance laws in 2016.
Those changes illegally limit the power of the voter-approved Citizens Clean Elections Commission to police campaign-finance laws and illegally create loopholes for spending limits, the ruling states.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David Palmer ruled that the changes are unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.
[...] The ruling is the latest twist in a fight over Senate Bill 1516, a major rewrite of campaign- finance laws that the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey pushed in 2016.
At the center of the dispute is the voter-approved Clean Elections Act of 1998.
Voters approved the act to limit the influence of money in politics. The act created the Clean Elections Commission, which runs a public financing system for candidates and enforces financial reporting rules.
[...] Palmer's ruling also overturned a controversial provision of SB 1516 that allowed political parties to spend unlimited amounts of money in coordination with candidate campaigns.
That loophole played a key role in this year's elections, with Republicans spending millions in coordination with Ducey and the Democratic Party doing the same with Secretary of State-elect Katie Hobbs.
Under the 2016 law, the parties didn't have to disclose how much was spent on behalf of each candidate, making it impossible to track their spending.
Barton said the ruling will change that because money a party spends in coordination with a candidate's campaign will once again fall under traditional limits for in-kind expenditures.
[...] Read more HERE
- Water: A potential deal fell apart last session, but negotiations continue around efforts to approve a Drought Contingency Plan and protect Arizona’s water supply amid falling water levels at Lake Mead and elsewhere. Governor Doug Ducey has pledged $30 million in the state budget to support the effort. Is this the year it gets done?
- Budget Surplus: Arizona is looking at what could be a $1 billion surplus in the next fiscal year. The question will be how – and whether – to spend that money. K-12 schools? Pay raises for state employees? State parks? Or perhaps the Governor and legislators will opt to pay down funding rollovers, buy back state buildings sold during the Great Recession or set aside dollars in the Rainy Day Fund.
- Charter Reform: Once the exclusive pursuit of legislative Democrats, charter school reform has risen as a priority among even Republicans like Governor Ducey, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, state Sen. Kate Brophy-McGee and others. The challenge will be to identify reforms that provide added accountability and transparency while preserving the flexibility that has helped make charter schools a hit among Arizona families.
- Criminal Justice: We’re almost certain to see a push for sentencing reform (read: reduced sentences). Far from clear is whether reformers will have the juice this time to win approval over the objection of prominent opponents, including county prosecutors and Sen.-elect Eddie Farnsworth (R-Gilbert), incoming Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- Public Safety Fee: As a budget maneuver approved last session, lawmakers authorized the Arizona Department of Transportation to levy a “public fee” on vehicle registration to help cover the cost to patrol state highways (freeing up dollars for teacher pay raises). But what was initially expected to be an $18 fee has increased to nearly twice that size, spurring an outcry among some legislators and members of the driving public. Expect an effort to repeal this fee.
Trump signs bill delaying government shutdown, setting up Christmastime showdown over border wall
President Donald Trump signed a bill to extend government funding for two weeks, putting off a potential government shutdown, the White House said Friday.
The legislation to keep the government open through Dec. 21 will delay a politically pitched fight over the president’s proposed border wall. Funding for parts of the government was set to expire Friday. Both chambers of Congress passed the measure Thursday by voice vote.
[...] Avoiding a shutdown could become even more complicated. Trump “indicated he supports” adding a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, along with wall funding, to the year-end spending bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted after speaking to the president Friday.
“I agree with him on both,” the South Carolina Republican wrote.
Read more HERE
Veridus clients in the news
Legacy Avondale to offer Vex Robotics in January
West Valley View
Legacy Traditional Schools will soon offer new elective courses for its West Valley junior high students who are interested in STEM-focused classes.
Beginning in January, Legacy schools in Laveen, Surprise, Glendale and Casa Grande will offer Coding 101 – a computer programming course for students in grades seven and eight. Seventh- and eighth-grade students at Legacy’s Avondale and Maricopa campuses can take Vex Robotics as an elective.
Students enrolled in Coding 101 will develop the knowledge and coding skills necessary to construct computer programs in one or more languages, including: Java Script, Python and web design. Using the educational platform Tynker, students will engage in project-based lessons where they will learn to build games, animations and more. Upon completion, students will present a business pitch on their final design.
In Vex Robotics, students will get an interactive introduction into the field of robotics and its real-life application in the 21st century. Using STEM standards and hands-on challenges, students will develop their own robots as they learn basic coding and problem-solving skills.
“In today’s technology-driven world, it is more important than ever that we prepare students with coding and computer programming skills like those offered by these programs,” said Heather Sliker, director of academics for Legacy Traditional Schools.
“Over the last several years, coding and robotics have quickly become among the most in-demand skills across virtually every industry. Providing Legacy students a jumpstart now – while igniting an early interest in STEM fields – will be invaluable when they enter the workforce and compete for the jobs of the future.”
Arizona Bankers Association Endorses IP Services Cybersecurity and Managed Services for Critical Banking Systems
IP Services helps banks achieve compliance while protecting customer data by supporting and maintaining IT system availability and reliability
EUGENE, Ore., Dec. 4, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The Arizona Bankers Association (AZBA) has endorsed IP Services to provide cybersecurity and critical Information Technology (IT) system's management to AZBA member banks. IP Services was awarded the endorsement by AZBA in order to help its membership address the complexity of compliance and the growing concerns around IT security.
Banks maintain sensitive information that they work hard to protect. As consumers and businesses rely more on electronic devices to bank and shop online, ensuring availability and security of evolving systems is critical to a bank's success. The strict security and compliance standards required of banks also make operating IT more complex. IP Services solves these challenges by using an integrated set of processes and controls to ensure uninterrupted systems and business performance while adhering to strict compliance and security requirements.
"This new relationship with IP Services will provide the necessary IT services that our member banks are required to provide it its customers," said AZBA President and CEO Paul Hickman. "We chose IP Services based on their knowledge and experience of managing other banks, large and small, throughout the western United States. They have a unique ability to manage and secure IT that is cost effective and demonstrates an ability to mitigate IT risk while demonstrating compliance on an on-going basis. IP Services is an ideal IT provider for banks in Arizona." In addition to AZBA, IP Services is also endorsed by the Oregon, Washington and Montana Bankers Associations with pending announcements from a couple other state banking associations.
"IP Services is excited to partner with AZBA and build relationships with Arizona banks," said Scott Alldridge, CEO of IP Services. "We look forward to helping Arizona banks improve availability, comply with audit and compliance requirements, and bridge the gap between business and IT strategies."
Produce remains a key sector in the Arizona trade market
Tucson Local Media
Fresh Produce Association of the Americas President Lance Jungmeyer welcomes 500 attendees to the 50th Nogales Produce Convention
Although it’s receiving some tough competition nowadays from border ports in Texas, Arizona’s port of entry in Nogales has held nearly a century-old lock on being the major arrival point for a variety of fresh produce from Mexico into the U.S.
According to a study by the Nogales-Santa Cruz County Economic Development Corporation, the impact of the imported fresh produce industry is huge, with Nogales serving as the main gateway to North American markets for Sinaloa- and Sonora-grown tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers and much of its winter-harvested, vegetables.
More than 500 growers, harvesters, packers and distributors of these kinds of products met last month for the 50th annual conference of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas headquartered in Nogales.
“The get-together combines education, networking and fun and represents the kickoff of a new growing season, the beginning of the harvest where discussions center on planning for the season and sharing ideas,” said FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer.
[...] Read more HERE
Tohono O’odham Nation's fight for representation in Arizona
The Tohono O'odham people are in a unique position in Arizona.
Native Americans have lived on the land we know today as Arizona for hundreds of years before the first European settlers arrived.
Now, 22 tribal nations make up just over a quarter of the land in Arizona. Despite this, Native American representation in local, state and federal government positions is still being measured in firsts.
This can be attributed to a multitude of reasons, including a lack of engagement between political leaders and Native American constituents. One group, Indivisible Tohono, is attempting to increase civic engagement on the Tohono O’odham Nation through activism and public forums. They believe the key to the future of their nation in Arizona is an engaged, educated and empowered population.
[...] Indivisible Tohono began as a way to effectively organize in order to oppose the proposed border wall. From there, Indivisible Tohono’s cause grew to empower members of their Nation to get out and vote, and engaging them on local, state and federal issues beyond the border.
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