The General Election is still weeks away, but campaigning for legislative leadership posts at the State Capitol is well underway.
Multiple spots are open, given the pending departures of Senate President Steve Yarbrough (R-Chandler), Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs (D-Phoenix) and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler). We don’t even know which party will control each chamber, as voters will have final say on that in November.
Regardless, based on reasonable conjecture and intel, this how the leadership races break down so far:
Sen. Karen Fann (R-Prescott) is the favorite to be chosen as the next Senate President, however, this race is far from over. Rep. Mesnard, who’s running for the Senate in LD17, also has his eyes set on the President’s Office. Sen. Rick Gray (R-Sun City) is expected to be unopposed for Majority Leader, and Sen. Sonny Borrelli (R-Lake Havasu City) is unopposed for Majority Whip.
On the Democratic side, Sen. Sean Bowie (D-Tempe, Rep. Rios, and Sen. David Bradley (D-Tucson) have each been mentioned as potential Minority Leader candidates.
Reps. Mark Finchem (R-Tucson), Rebecca Townsend (R-Mesa) and Russell Bowers (R-Mesa) are each the focus of Speaker of the House speculation. Meanwhile, Reps. Anthony Kern (R-Glendale) and Jeff Weninger (R-Chandler) have both indicated their interest in running for Majority Leader. Majority Whip appears to be a contest between Reps. Becky Nutt (R-Clifton) and David Cook (R-Globe).
The Minority race has taken an unexpected turn with Rep. Charlene Fernandez (D-Yuma) challenging Reps. Randall Friese (D-Tucson) and Reginald Bolding (D-Laveen) for Minority Leader. Rumors suggest Rep. Diego Espinoza (D-Tolleson) is interested in running for leadership on a slate with Reps. Bolding and Kirsten Engel (D-Tucson).
Does the party go status-quo with a caucus led by Rep. Friese? Or might it shift course with Rep. Bolding?
Will a blue wave wash Republicans out of power at 1700 W. Washington? What if the Senate splits 15-15? And who’s this Randall Gnant guy, anyway?
Not just an IT issue: Records show more complaints about Maricopa County election day
The Arizona Republic
The Maricopa County Recorder's Office received more than 200 complaints on election day about a barrage of issues at polling places across the Valley.
Many of the complaints related to prior reports about the 62 polling places that did not open on time on election day because the voter check-in equipment has not been set up.
On election day, Fontes said all of the polling sites were open and functioning by 11:30 a.m., but a log of voter complaints obtained by The Arizona Republic shows that voters were still submitting complaints about closed or inoperable polling places well into the afternoon.
The log also showed a multitude of issues in addition to the equipment problems, including complaints about incorrect ballots, dysfunctional technology, poor logistics and privacy concerns.
[...] Read more HERE
Microsoft buys big plot of land in Goodyear
Chamber Business News
Tech companies seem to do it all these days. From artificial intelligence and grocery stores to autonomous cars and fitness, what used to be a focus on data storage and floppy disks has now turned into a “what-else-can-we-try?” attitude. One thing tech companies aren’t really known for is farming. That’s what makes the latest gigantic land sale in the Greater Phoenix area so interesting.
Microsoft–yes, that Microsoft–now finds itself the proud owner of more than 270 acres of prime farmland in Goodyear. At a cost of nearly $48 million, the land grab opens a number of possibilities for the booming SIlicon Desert. Located on the southwest corner of Maricopa County 85 and Lower Buckeye Road in the Goodyear AirPark, the land is a sizeable space for the company.
Carefree Partners Investments, headed up by president Richard West, sold the land to Microsoft. West says the company didn’t divulge too much about their plans for the land.
[...] The company initially bought the first portion in 2003 and then finished up in 2007 before the financial market and subsequent markets took a hit.
A big trend among the tech industry is to buy up land and turn giant warehouses or buildings into full-on data fortresses, or build on what was formerly agriculture, like Microsoft is expected to do in Goodyear. Apple is revamping a row of warehouses in southeast Mesa, converting them into a $2 billion data center. The trend is targeting Arizona as prime real estate to buy big and go big under one roof.
Phoenix is currently in the middle of record-breaking data construction projects. It’s ranking higher and higher when it comes to being an active data center market in the U.S., according to CBRE Group’s Data Center Trends Report.
Besides the draw of more affordable and available land, tech companies like Microsoft and Apple see the area as a potential goldmine with access to clean power, no major natural disasters (except the occasional dust storms), and connectivity to good fiber.
Additionally, the Phoenix area comes with robust incentives and lower costs than other cities. Big tech is definitely growing beyond its traditional homes Silicon Valley, Seattle or Austin.
[...] Read more HERE
Congress prepares to punt biggest political battles until after midterms
Congress is preparing to do what it does best: punt.
In a spending deal reached this past week, lawmakers agreed to postpone fights over funding President Trump’s border wall and reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) until after the November midterm elections.
But there are still a host of federal programs slated to expire on Sept. 30, meaning lawmakers may need to pass additional stopgap measures if they can’t find a way forward.
Among the unresolved issues is whether to overhaul food stamps in the farm bill and whether to include trucking provisions in a reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Further complicating matters is the fact that there are just nine legislative days before the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. That’s putting the squeeze on both chambers, and lawmakers are starting to point fingers across the Capitol.
[...] Before the House adjourned on Thursday for a weeklong recess, appropriators announced a spending deal to fund the Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services and Education departments in time for fiscal 2019 — a significant feat for Congress in recent years.
Lawmakers also sent a trio of other spending bills to Trump’s desk before House members left town for a weeklong recess.
But the spending agreement announced Thursday includes a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the rest of the government, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through Dec. 7.
[...] Read more HERE
Veridus clients in the news
From cooking sauces to produce, Walmart to showcase Arizona products at Metrocenter event
The Arizona Republic
Walmart will showcase items supplied by a handful of Arizona companies at a Phoenix event Wednesday afternoon featuring free samples of products that the giant retailer now offers for sale.
The tasting and sampling event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Walmart Supercenter at 9600 N. Metro Parkway West, adjacent to the Metrocenter Mall, in Phoenix.
Free samples will be available, including muffins and cakes made by Café Valley Bakery in Phoenix, Macayo's Mexican salsas from Fiesta Canning of Phoenix, fresh fruits and vegetables from Martori Farms near Wickenburg and organic lawn and garden products from Gro-Well in Phoenix.
The event also will mark Walmart's commitment to start selling products made by Ahssa Foods, a Mesa company with a line of Korean cooking sauces. The company's founder, Kay Weldon, successfully pitched her products to buyers at Walmart's corporate headquarters in Arkansas earlier this year. Free samples of Ahssa sauces will be available.
Walmart said it invested $1.4 billion in 2017 in Arizona-based businesses, supporting more than 29,000 jobs.
The company said it's committed to buying an additional $250 billion worth of U.S.-made products over a 10-year period.
Read more HERE
Take a look at progress on construction of the West Valley's new Desert Diamond Casino
The Arizona Republic
Nine years after announcing its plan for a full-scale casino in the West Valley, and nine months after breaking ground, the Tohono O'odham Nation is making progress on its new Desert Diamond West Valley Casino.
Tribal officials announced Wednesday that the casino, which broke ground in December, will open by the end of 2019.
The casino is being built adjacent to the temporary casino the tribe opened in 2015, near 93rd and Northern avenues. The project is just one piece of the tribe's plan to transform its 135-acre property into a full-scale casino, resort and spa.
[...] The new $400 million casino will have table games along with slots. It will be much larger than the temporary casino, with a 75,000-square-foot casino floor compared with the 30,000-square-foot floor at the temporary location. It will also offer live bingo and have five restaurants.
[...] The completion of the casino will be a milestone for the Tohono O'odham Nation, which first announced its plan to build a Class III casino near Glendale in 2009.
Tribal officials at the event emphasized how glad they were to now have the support of surrounding cities, such as Glendale and Peoria. The tribe initially faced resistance from Glendale and other tribes, and eventually from state leaders. After years of lawsuits, tribal and state leaders reached a settlement last year.
"One of the things we have learned is that challenges bring us together," said Edward Manuel, chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation. "This celebration is not about a building, because this project has connected us together."
[...] Read more HERE
Beyonce and Jay-Z award $100,000 scholarship to Phoenix teen through Boys & Girls Club
The Arizona Republic
Seeing Jay Z and Beyoncé is always exciting.
Being awarded a $100,000 scholarship from America’s favorite power couple through the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Phoenix at the concert?
That’s a whole other level of excitement.
Mikayla Lowry had no idea going into Wednesday’s co-headlining Jay-Z and Beyonce show at State Farm Stadium that she had won a college scholarship from the Shawn Carter Foundation and the BeyGOOD Initiative, which is awarded to one exceptional high school senior with financial needs.
In fact, she didn’t even know that she’d been nominated.
All Lowry, a senior at Trevor Browne High School, knew going in was that she was one of 19 Club kids, including 12 Youth of the Year honorees, attending the concert for free.
DJ Khaled broke the news at the end of his opening set, prefacing the news with, “This is, like, the best part of the night” and calling Lowry “an extraordinary individual making a difference in the world.”
He also called her “one of our young geniuses.”
Jay-Z and Beyonce have partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs around the nation to select the winners, awarding a total of more than $1 million in scholarships in 11 cities as the On the Run II Tour makes it way across the country.
Lowry has been a Boys & Girls Club kid for more than 10 years at the Spencer D. & Mary Jane Stewart Branch in Phoenix.
The teen is dual-enrolled at Estrella Mountain Community College and will graduate this year with her completed Associates degree.
She hopes to pursue a degree in marine biology or forensics at GCU or Northern Arizona University, at which point she’ll become the first in her family to attend college.
In addition to being an outstanding student with a 3.7 GPA, Lowry has volunteered many hours with BGCMP’s Better to Give program, serving in soup kitchens and shelters. She was also the BGCMP’s Torch Club President and Keystone Vice President.
Lowry’s mother relies on the Club to care for her three children as she works to make ends meet with two jobs, allowing her to prioritize school and academics for her kids.
The children lost their father following a struggle with alcoholism and lost three grandparents in the last few years, leaving their mother to rely on the Boys & Girls Club for after-school care.
Lowry has earned excellent marks in high school but college tuition would likely have been out of reach.
This is the largest scholarship a member of the local Boys & Girls Club has ever earned.
Last year, Beyonce launched the Formation Scholars Award to help female students afford a college education.
In April, the singer's BeyGood Initiative gave a total of $100,000 to four Historically Black Colleges and Universities students through Beyoncé's Homecoming Scholars Program. She later partnered with Google to give $25,000 scholarships to four more students.
Jay-Z has also established a scholarship fund to help students with tuition and other living expenses.
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