Criminal Justice Reform Champion Rep. Walt Blackman Jumps into Arizona Congressional Race

Rep. Walt Blackman (R-Snowflake) is running for Congress in Arizona’s first Congressional district. The seat, which encompasses much of the northeast part of the state, is currently held by Tom O’Halleran, a former Republican turned moderate Democrat.

“We need to get back to the rule of law of Arizona to protect its people,” the Arizona legislator said in a video discussing his run on July 18.

Read More

Ducey Invests Millions of Federal Dollars to Start Visit Arizona Initiative

Three people on bikes in Arizona during sundown

Gov. Doug Ducey is investing $101.1 million from the federal American Rescue Plan funding to launch the Visit Arizona Initiative to increase tourism spending in Arizona and expedite its economic recovery. 

“Tourism is essential for Arizona’s booming economy and job growth,” Ducey said in a release. 

He said that when tourists stay at Arizona hotels, eat at restaurants, buy Arizona products, and partake in the state’s recreational activities, Arizona’s economy booms.

Read More

In a Reversal, Gov. Ducey Tells Two School Districts Their Quarantine Policy for Unvaccinated Students is Illegal

An advisor for Governor Doug Ducey sent letters Wednesday to two Arizona school superintendents letting them know their policies of requiring unvaccinated students exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine is illegal. Education policy advisor Kairlin Harrier told the superintendents of Peoria Unified School District and Catalina Foothills School District their policies violate a new law, HB 2898, which states, “A school district or charter school may not require a student or teacher to receive a vaccine for covid-19 or to wear a face covering to participate in in-person instruction.” 

Harrier went on, “The policy must be rescinded immediately.” She pointed out that children under age 12 haven’t even received approval from the federal government to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Children ages 12-15 only received approval for the vaccine in May.

Read More

Hobbs’ Campaign Manager Calls Vietnamese-American State Legislator a ‘White Nationalist’ for Opposing CRT

Arizona State Rep. Martin Quezada (D-Maryvale), who is also the campaign manager for Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, tweeted on July 9 that fellow legislator, Vietnamese-American Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott), is a “white nationalist” for tweeting Governor Doug Ducey’s announcement of Arizona’s new law banning critical race theory. Nguyen, who is Vietnamese, fled Vietnam with his brother during the Vietnam War as a refugee, living in refugee camps until they were reunited with their parents four months later. 

Nguyen tweeted a news release from the governor’s website, “Governor Ducey, Legislature Take Strong Action to Stop Critical Race Theory” with a link. Quezada copied the tweet and wrote, “This is what #WhiteNationalism looks like,” with an arrow pointing at Nguyen’s tweet. 

Read More

Arizona Gov. Ducey Signs Bill Banning Critical Race Theory in Government

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2906 on Friday, banning government agencies from requiring critical race theory, known as CRT. The budget bill he signed last week, HB 2898, banned critical race theory in schools. Ducey also signed 22 other bills, including one restricting sex education in schools, HB 2035. He has until Monday to sign or veto 11 remaining bills. 

“I am not going to waste public dollars on lessons that imply the superiority of any race and hinder free speech,” Ducey declared. The law prohibits the state, cities and counties from requiring employees to participate in orientation, training or therapy that suggests an employee is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously. 

Read More

New Arizona Law Aims to Improve Civilian Review Boards on Police Misconduct

One of the bills passed this year in the Arizona Legislature and signed by the governor, HB 2567, adds rules for independent community oversight of Arizona police departments. Although Arizona isn’t plagued like some states by high-profile incidents involving law enforcement, overall community concern led to the legislation.

John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who comes from a law enforcement background and sponsored the bill, said, “I’m not throwing cops to the wolves, especially politically motivated wolves.

Read More

Progressive Groups Seek to Reverse Historic Arizona Tax Cuts

A coalition of progressive groups filed a request with the Secretary of State’s office on Friday for a voter referendum that would block historic tax cuts that were passed by the state legislature and enacted by Governor Doug Ducey.

The groups will now have 90 days to collect a minimum of approximately 120,000 valid signatures from residents of the state — a move that would prevent the tax cuts from taking effect until all voters could decide on the measure in November 2022.

Read More

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to Send National Guard to Help with Border Crisis

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine will send 185 National Guard troops to the U.S. Southern border in an attempt to curb the dramatic increase in illegal immigration.

The members of the National Guard will assist border patrol agents in a non-law enforcement capacity during their time there.

Read More

Arizona Legislature Wraps up Session for the Year

The Arizona Legislature wrapped up this year on Wednesday with a nearly record-long session, reaching 171 days. Lawmakers came to an agreement on most of the budget last Friday that contained historic tax cuts. Governor Doug Ducey signed that bill, HB 2900, also on Wednesday.

During the last few hours, the legislature approved the education budget bill, HB 2898, which included an expansion of the school voucher program. It reduces the length of time children must attend a public school before they are eligible for vouchers to use at a private school. Low-income children who live near poorly-rated schools will be eligible immediately, and others will only have to spend 45 days in the school, down from 100 days.

Read More

Arizona House Passes Sentencing Reform Bill, But Passage in the Senate Remains Uncertain

The Arizona House of Representatives passed a sentencing reform bill on Monday, but due to a Senate committee chair failing to bring a similar bill up for a vote in the Senate earlier this year, SB 1064, it’s not clear whether it will make it through the Senate. SB 1064 would relax sentencing laws, which are some of the strictest in the nation. According to Arizona Prison & Sentencing Reform, the state has the fourth highest incarceration rate. Inmates are currently required to serve 85% of their sentences, but the bill would reduce that to as little as one third of their sentences. Inmates who complete self-improvement programs such as substance abuse treatment and maintain good behavior while in prison can receive time off their sentences.

The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, with legislators voting 50-8 in favor. The previous version of the bill, HB 2173, didn’t get very far in the Senate, since Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) declined to hear the legislation in his committee. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Walt Blackman (R-Snowfake), decided to get around Petersen with the new legislation by using a strike-everything amendment. He amended a bill that had already passed out of the Senate, so it can go straight to the Senate floor for a vote. However, it is up to Sen. President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) to bring it up for a vote. There is little time left, since the legislative session will likely end this week, according to the AZ Mirror. 

Read More

Historic Income Tax Overhaul Reduces Burden by 13 Percent for Most Arizonans

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is expected to sign a budget bill the Arizona Legislature sent to him on Friday that includes a historic tax reform package. HB 2900 implements the lowest flat tax in the country, 2.5%. The average Arizona family will see a 13% income tax reduction, about $350 per year. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, Arizona previously had one of the highest marginal income tax rates in the country. 

The budget bill also eliminates taxes on veterans’ retirement pay and prevents a 77% increase on small business taxes. It reduces property taxes by 10% on small businesses and job creators by 10%, capping the maximum tax rate on businesses at 4.5% and reducing commercial property taxes. According to a report by Ducey, 43% of Arizonans in the private sector work for small businesses. HB 2900 increases the homeowner’s rebate so the state covers half of homeowners’ primary property taxes.

Read More

Arizona Legislature Overrides Ducey’s Veto

Doug Ducey

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 25-5 Thursday to override Governor Doug Ducey’s veto of a bill that made technical corrections to previously enacted laws. Ducey vetoed SB1635 along with 21 other bills a month ago, following through on a threat he’d made in May over the legislature’s failing to send him a budget. It was the first time in 40 years, the Arizona Senate has overruled the governor.

Read More

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Won’t Say Whether He’ll Send Resources to Protect the U.S.-Mexico Border

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and members of his staff would not say Thursday whether they will dispatch resources to Texas and Arizona to help guard the U.S.-Mexican border. The Tennessee Star made repeated attempts Thursday to contact Lee’s Communications Director Laine Arnold — by email, phone, and text. Arnold did not return our messages before Thursday’s stated deadline.

Read More

DeSantis Sending Florida Law Enforcement to Texas and Arizona to Help with Border Crisis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is sending members of various law enforcement agencies throughout the state to Texas and Arizona to help combat the crisis at the Southern border.

“Governors Abbott and Ducey recently sent out a call for help to every state in the nation, needing additional law enforcement manpower and other resources to aid with border security. I’m proud to announce today that the state of Florida is answering the call. Florida has your back,” DeSantis said of his decision.

Read More

Bill Introduced by Rep. Harshbarger Would Ban Federal Vaccine Passports

Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger (R-TN-01) introduced a bill in the House of Representatives on Tuesday that would prohibit the federal use of a COVID-19 vaccine passport or any other similar required proof of vaccination.

“Vaccine passports are a restriction on individual liberties, period,” Harshbarger said of the attempts by some governments to require proof of vaccination in certain circumstances. 

Read More

Embattled Arizona Secretary of State Announces a Run for Governor

Embattled Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) announced Wednesday that she will launch a campaign for Governor of Arizona. 

The theme of her campaign focuses on “getting things done,” according to the video announcing her candidacy. In reference to the November 2020 election, Hobbs said, “We did our job.”

Read More

Nashville Hosts Republican Governors Association Meeting

Republican Governors from across the country traveled to the Volunteer State this week for a series of multi-day meetings and presentations. 

The Nashville event has allowed hundreds of people to attend the conference, as this is the first major event the organization has held since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read More

Mike Lindell Reportedly Kicked Out of Republican Governors Association Event in Nashville After He Promised to Confront Georgia, Arizona Governors About Election

On Tuesday, the Republican Governors Association (RGA) reportedly ejected MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell from their spring conference in Nashville.

Lindell claimed that he’d been invited to the event; his spokespersons didn’t respond to The Star about these claims. Earlier that same day, Lindell announced publicly on Steve Bannon’s show, War Room Pandemic, that he would confront Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp over the election.

Read More

Arizona House Passes Bill Banning Abortions Based on Genetic Abnormality

Susan B. Anthony List State Policy Director Sue Liebel

The Arizona House passed a bill Thursday that bans abortions based on diagnosis of genetic abnormality, such as Down syndrome.

S.B. 1457 states that the rights of “an unborn child at every stage of development” must be acknowledged and prohibits abortions based on the sex, race, or genetic abnormality of the child. The bill makes exceptions for medical emergencies.

“A person who knowingly” performs such an abortion “is guilty of a class 3 felony,” according to the legislation.

Read More

Ducey Removes Arizona’s COVID-19 Restrictions on Businesses

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has rescinded the business restrictions he put in place last year to stem the spread of COVID-19. 

Ducey’s latest executive order, which he signed Friday, removes the capacity limits on businesses he had put in place July 9, effective immediately. 

“We’ve learned a lot over the past year,” Ducey said. “Our businesses have done an excellent job at responding to this pandemic in a safe and responsible way. We will always admire the sacrifice they and their employees have made and their vigilance to protect against the virus.”

Ducey said Arizona, unlike many other states, never shut down.

Read More