This Week in Arizona Politics: 5 Things to Know

March 20,2018 | Triadvocates

1. In the wake of recent events in Florida, Gov. Doug Ducey has confirmed he will be unveiling a plan to address the gun violence epidemic facing the nation. In an effort to craft bipartisan legislation, over the past two weeks, the governor has met with students, parents, teachers, school administrators, law enforcement, county prosecutors, mental health professionals, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, state Superintendent Diane Douglas and legislative leadership from both parties. His plan, which he promises will be the most “comprehensive” in the country, includes the following provisions:

  • Increases the penalty to include prison time for any parent or guardian of a minor found guilty of illegally possessing a firearm 
  • Establishes stricter policies when restoring gun rights to individuals with a violent history
  • Requires data to be immediately entered into the Arizona Computerized Criminal History (ACCH) database, which currently takes up to 40 days
  • Creates a centralized tip line to report and investigate school safety concerns
  • Allocates additional funding for enhanced training for school resources officers (SROs) 
  • Increases mental and behavioral health resources at schools
  • Restricts access to weapons for individuals who pose a danger to themselves and others by implementing Severe Threat Order of Protection (STOP)

Ducey is expected to drop the bill as early as today—a move he will only make when he knows he has the votes to get it passed.

2. The recently established Arizona Education Project – a non-profit funded by Pinnacle West Capital Corp., the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, AZ Lodging and Tourism Association and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – has spent more than $1 million in TV ads aired since Jan. 22 praising the success of Arizona public schools and the funding fused into the education system. The ads are a stark comparison to messages coming teachers, parents and students who continue to protest and vocally demand for adequate education funding.

3. Since Arizona’s senior senator was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer nearly a year ago, speculation has abounded about when and if U.S. Sen. John McCain would ever return to Washington. Initially, reports suggested that he would return to the Senate in January, but that did not happen. According to recent Twitter activity from Sen. McCain’s daughter, Meghan, he is still recovering at the family’s cabin in northern Arizona. The family remains active on social media—always indicating that McCain is making excellent progress and has no plans to step down. The senator himself stays active on Twitter as well, frequently sharing his particular brand of incisive commentary and drawing attention to issues of national and international security.

4. Last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed Arizona State Treasurer Jeff DeWit as NASA’s new chief financial officer—a job that involves overseeing an estimated $20 billion budget and takes DeWit to Washington. He is expected to resign from his statewide post and start work at NASA in the next few weeks. Gov. Doug Ducey is required to appoint a replacement from the same political party, although favored frontrunners for the position have yet to emerge. DeWit’s successor would have to run for office this year to keep the job.

5. Through an initiative launched Friday, the Arizona Association of Realtors is attempting to permanently block state lawmakers from expanding the state sales tax. The proposal, which seeks to constitutionally prohibit a sales tax from being imposed on services, will require voter approval. Backers will need at least 225,963 signatures by July 5 to put the issue on the November ballot.

Sen. Sonny Borrelli, during a heated floor debate on a bill that would ban texting while driving:


“This reminds me of the time I was in Wyoming and a man was cited for taking his horse through the Taco Bell drive-thru.”

Big congrats to Dos Cabezas WineWorks, Callaghan Vineyards and Caduceus Cellars – members of the Arizona Vignerons Alliance – for the feature in this great article published by Financial Times (if you aren't a subscriber, click here to read the article). The write-up includes a special shout-out to Garage-East, the brainchild of Todd & Kelly Bostock and Brian & Megan Ruffentine. Two years ago, the team launched the concept in Gilbert as an experimental addition to the wave of new bars and tasting rooms bringing wine from Arizona’s three main growing regions. Cheers to Arizona wine getting the recognition it deserves (clink, clink).

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