This Week in Arizona Politics: 5 Things to Know

August 15,2017 | Triadvocates

1. Hundreds of new laws the Arizona Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey passed this session went into effect last week. Most of the laws are minor changes to existing state statutes that you’ll likely never notice, but a handful are worth noting if you live in Arizona. As of Aug. 9, kids no longer need a prescription to apply sunscreen at school (HB 2134), 18-year-olds can serve liquor (HB 2047), background checks for private gun sales are banned (SB 1122), and people are free from civil liability for breaking windows of hot cars with kids or animals inside (HB 2494). For a comprehensive list of the new laws, click here.

2. On July 31, the legal case against embattled former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio finally came to a close. “Sheriff Joe” was convicted of criminal contempt for willfully failing to enforce an injunction issued by a federal judge in 2011. The injunction instructed Arpaio to cease racial profiling, yet he, and his deputies, admitted to ignoring the order for more than a year after it was issued. Sentencing will take place in October. The 85-year-old former sheriff could face a fine and up to six months in jail.

3. The Save Our Schools coalition (“SOS”), a volunteer-led effort, has temporarily halted the newest private school voucher expansion law (SB 1431). The passage of SB 1431 – one of the most contentious bills during the last legislative session – was a priority for Gov. Doug Ducey. On Aug. 8, SOS filed 111,540 signatures with the Secretary of State, well in excess of the 75,321 valid signatures required to officially refer the legislation to a public vote on the 2018 ballot. The Secretary of State has begun the petition verification process and expects to complete it by late September. Despite the final certified count, legal challenges are expected to follow. One thing is certain—the success of the referendum effort took many observers by surprise and will have an impact on the public education debate.

4. Arizona voters have long relied on the voter information guide to gain insight into candidates and issues that will be voted on at upcoming elections. These books are automatically mailed to every household where registered voters reside—that’s nearly 2 million pieces of mail. One of the lesser known laws that became effective last week created the opportunity for voters to receive the document via e-mail. This new statute might save a few trees, along with some taxpayer money. It’s a win-win.

5. For months, local politicos have speculated that Rep. Kyrsten Sinema – the Democrat currently representing CD 9 in Arizona – has been gearing up to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Jeff Flake in the 2018 election. On Friday, the three-term congresswoman released the following statement: "I’ve heard from many Arizonans encouraging me to run for the United States Senate. It is something I am seriously considering. When I make any decisions, Arizonans will be the first to know.” A striking departure from her usual message – that she’s running for re-election in CD 9 – all signs are pointing to a run against Flake. While she has yet to officially announce her candidacy, insiders have confirmed she plans to throw her hat in the ring. If Sinema runs, Democratic Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who's also been the subject of significant speculation on his political future, has confirmed he will run for her congressional seat.

According to a recent report published by the Northern Arizona University Alliance Bank Business Outreach Center, the Arizona wine tourism industry pours roughly $56.2 million into the local economy and generates $3.6 million in state and local taxes each year. This represents a nearly 50% growth in just six years. In addition to the economic impact, nearly 80% of all visitors surveyed rated their experience at Arizona wineries as “exceeding expectations.”

Triadvocates would like to congratulate our client, the Arizona Vignerons Alliance (“AVA”), for being a part of this exciting industry, bringing economic growth and new tourism to rural Arizona. Founded by four Arizona wineries, the AVA was established to ensure quality and authenticity in Arizona wine, to improve grape growing and winemaking across all wine regions of the state, and to help promote Arizona wines so they are recognized, respected and sought-after in Arizona, the U.S., and globally.

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