All is peaceful and bright at the Arizona State Capitol, but not for long.
We’re just weeks away from the start of the 2019 regular session. Legislators will be sworn into their offices and session will begin Monday, Jan. 14
. All eyes will be on Governor Doug Ducey that same day when he outlines his policy agenda as part of his 5th State of the State address.
While many are preparing for the holidays, it has not stopped a few ambitious legislators who have already introduced bills.
A total of 29 bills
had been introduced as of Friday. House members will have until Feb. 8
to submit bill requests to Legislative Council; the Senate deadline is Feb. 11
From all of us at Veridus, have a safe and happy holidays. In Focus will return on Friday, Jan. 4.
Ducey signs pipeline pact with New Mexico, Sonora
Arizona Capitol Times
Gov. Doug Ducey on Dec. 19 signed a pact that will enable New Mexico to move its excess natural gas through Arizona to Sonora for eventual sale to Asia.
The deal provides a new market for New Mexico where Gov. Susana Martinez said her state has more natural gas than it can use on its own. And Sonora Gov. Claudia Pavlovich said her state benefits from the jobs that will be created building and operating a plant that will compress the gas into liquified form for transport on ships.
And what does Arizona get — other than a pipeline and other facilities to transport the gas?
In essence, Ducey said, it’s goodwill.
[..] And the agreement itself is valid for four years.
Ducey said, though, it is an important first step.
[...] According to the agreement, New Mexico is currently producing 3.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily and is on track to reach 4.0 billion by 2022. It also says New Mexico is among the top ten states in proven reserves, with nearly 14.4 trillion cubic feet when measured at the end of 2016.
[...] And if nothing else, he said, Arizona will continue its own separate relationship with Mexico regardless of what is coming out of Washington.
Read more HERE.
Pay raise coming: Arizona to boost minimum wage to $11 per hour in January
Tens of thousands of Arizona workers will receive a holiday gift about a week after Christmas, as the state's minimum wage rises to $11 an hour starting Jan. 1 — the third of four annual increases mandated by voters in 2016.
The pending increase amounts to 50 cents an hour and will be followed by another boost to $12 an hour in 2020, adjusting after that for annual changes in the inflation rate.
The state's minimum wage for waiters, bartenders, valets, hair stylists and other tipped employees is $3 an hour less, provided these workers earn at least the higher minimum for all hours that they work.
[...] Arizona's minimum wage will continue to widen compared with the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour, which is still used in 21 states and hasn't changed since 2009.
[...] Arizona's wage increases stem from Proposition 206. That ballot measure mandated that the state's minimum rise from $8.05 in 2016 to $10 in 2017 and $10.50 in 2018. It also required a minimum amount of paid sick leave beginning in July 2017 — generally starting at five days off each year for workers at larger employers.
[...] The Industrial Commission of Arizona provides answers to dozens of questions regarding the state's minimum wage on its website, azica.gov
Read more HERE
After chaotic day, Donald Trump defends wall plan and warns of lengthy government shutdown
WASHINGTON – Following up one of the most chaotic days of his administration, President Donald Trump began Friday by demanding the Senate approve a new funding plan for a border wall or watch the government shut down at midnight.
[...] Trump was at the center of it all, including his rejection of a spending plan that would keep the government open because in his view it lacked sufficient money for "border security," including his proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
While Democrats called the wall an ineffective waste of money – and not worth shutting down the government – Trump spent his tweet storm defending the idea by claiming that walls have worked for "thousands of years," just like the wheel.
[...] He also warned that if Democrats don't drop their opposition to funding of the border wall, "there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time."
After telling congressional Republicans midday Thursday he would oppose a temporary spending proposal, the House later approved a new spending bill with the $5 billion in wall funding Trump is seeking.
The revised bill's prospects in the Senate, however, are uncertain at best because Democrats have the numbers to block passage.
If a new spending bill is not approved, the existing one expires at midnight and parts of the government will shutdown.
[...] Read more HERE
Phoenix-area students send holiday letters to troops overseas
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Instead of writing to Santa, some students at Legacy Traditional Schools are writing words of gratitude, encouragement, and thanks to men and women in the military who can't be home with their families this Christmas.
Second-grader Ian Tubbe shared his letter to us. It's short but very sweet.
"Hello. Thank you for fighting for our country. We love you," Ian wrote. "You make us feel safe. You are a rock star. Happy holidays."
[...] More than 18,000 students from the 16 Legacy Traditional campuses in the Valley started writing the letters just after Thanksgiving.
[...] The school partnered with Glendale-based Packages From Home to ship the letters to troops overseas; they will be mailed to military bases around the world.
Read more HERE
Veridus clients in the news
Service Corporation International Sponsors Donate Life's "Rhythm Of The Heart" Float At The 130th Rose Parade®
HOUSTON, Dec. 18, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Service Corporation International (NYSE: SCI), North America's largest provider of funeral and cemetery services, and its brand, Dignity Memorial®, are pleased to announce their eleventh year as a major sponsor of the Donate Life float that will appear in the 130th Rose Parade® on Jan. 1, 2019 in Pasadena, CA.
For the past 11 years, SCI has participated in Donate Life's annual tribute to organ, eye and tissue donors, and has helped many client families honor their loved ones with a portrait featured on the Donate Life float. Underscoring the importance of organ donation, these portraits, called "floragraphs," are made of flowers, seeds, beans and other natural materials. Living donors and recipients also bring the float to life by riding or walking beside it during the Rose Parade.
"It is a priority and honor to champion the cause of organ donation and its message of hope through our sponsorship of the Donate Life Rose Parade float," said Jamie Pierce, chief marketing officer at SCI. "We are proud to assist these families in remembering and celebrating their loved ones who gave the ultimate gift of life upon death."
[...] Read more HERE
Economic development, improving education among NAIOP Arizona 2019 priorities
AZ Big Media
The Arizona chapter of NAIOP, a prominent commercial real estate voice in the state, has framed its guiding principles for the 2019 legislative session around public policies that drive demand for commercial real estate in Metro Phoenix and throughout the state.
“In 2019 we intend to promote legislation that positions our state to be the preferred choice for corporate locations and expansions,” said NAIOP Arizona President and CEO Suzanne Kinney. “We also support public policies that encourage the growth of local businesses through entrepreneurship and new business formation.”
Priority issues for 2019 include:
“NAIOP Arizona will support state legislation to clarify and limit the circumstances under which a city may levy the speculative builder tax,” Kinney said. “The current application of the law lacks certainty for building owners and developers and provides a disincentive for redevelopment.”
As always, NAIOP Arizona will oppose legislation that could increase taxes, fees, and regulations for the commercial real estate industry. When it comes to commercial property taxes, NAIOP will work to retain improvements made in recent years and support further action to make Arizona more economically competitive.
The association will also work to ensure that existing economic development tools remain available for projects that create jobs and contribute to regional economic growth. NAIOP will monitor legislative proposals that could impact how state universities use their property in real estate development projects and continue to support those projects that benefit the greater community.
Last year, education was a major focus at the state capitol. NAIOP supported Governor Ducey’s 20 by 2020 plan to increase teacher salaries. More work needs to be done to further improve our public schools at the K-12 and post-secondary levels.
“NAIOP Arizona is working with the broader business community to find sustainable funding solutions that will advance educational outcomes and workforce preparedness without increasing commercial property taxes,” Kinney said. “We will also address current and anticipated future labor shortages in construction and development by supporting Career and Technical Education (CTE) and apprenticeship programs.”
Other issues will include supporting the modernization of transportation infrastructure and working with the Arizona Commerce Authority and other economic development entities to promote private investment in federally-qualified Opportunity Zones.
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