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PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona's incoming governor may be faced with a lot of the same bills his predecessor passed on.
Sponsors of legislation that Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed said they see Gov.-elect Doug Ducey as a possible second chance. Lawmakers including state Rep. John Kavanagh and Rep. Warren Petersen say they are already making plans to resurrect certain measures.
"It's already written, so there's nothing to lose," Kavanagh told the Arizona Capitol Times .
The Republican from Fountain Hills, who is moving to the Senate in January, intends to revive a bill banning aggressive panhandling. Brewer said the bill didn't clearly address any statewide concern.
Petersen, a Republican from Gilbert, wants to sponsor an anti-regulatory bill that Brewer vetoed last year. The bill enforces civil penalties on government officials who make licensing decisions based on requirements that aren't permitted under state statute. Brewer had called the bill "punitive and unnecessary." Petersen said he is hopeful Ducey's business background will mean a shared opinion.
"What's great about Ducey is he knows what it's like to work in the real world and run a business and deal with red tape. So when it comes to government accountability, I see him signing anything in that fashion that crosses his desk," Petersen said.
Some high-profile bills that Brewer vetoed include legislation that would have given added protection from lawsuits to people who assert religious beliefs in refusing service to gays. She also denied a bill exempting ride-sharing businesses such as Uber from the same state-imposed requirements as taxis. She vetoed legislation three times that would allow people with concealed weapon permits to bring firearms into public buildings.
Ducey has already started getting in touch with legislative leaders, Republicans and Democrats. He said how much he communicates with them about legislation will depend on the issue, but he does plan to maintain good communication.
"I typically do like to operate from a standpoint of little to no surprises," Ducey said. "So I think that's how you build relationships and get things done."
Brewer vetoed 141 bills in her six years as governor. Only her predecessor, Democrat Janet Napolitano, has vetoed more.
The successful gubernatorial candidate who promised to balance the budget without tax hikes or borrowing won't be presenting a truly balanced spending plan to lawmakers in January.
Newly elected as governor, Doug Ducey is now seeking private dollars to fund his transition team.
PHOENIX (AP) — Voters in Maricopa County have ousted a Superior Court judge, making him the first Arizona judge to be rejected in a retention election in several decades.
Unofficial results show Judge Benjamin Norris lost his retention election Tuesday by 14 percentage points.
The state Judicial Performance Review Commission evaluated the performances of dozens of judges, rating only Norris and Pima County Superior Court Judge Catherine Woods as not meeting judicial standards.
Woods won her retention election.
Norris did not immediately respond to a call for comment Wednesday. He was appointed to the bench in 2008 by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano,
Judges on statewide courts and Superior Court judges in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties periodically must face retention elections. Superior Court judges in the other 12 counties run in regular elections.
Only about one in four sexual assaults committed in Arizona is ever solved by police. One attack that hasn’t been solved by police is the brazen and savage attack by an unknown assailant on a 91-year-old woman in one of Tempe’s better neighborhoods.
An attorney for state lawmakers made a last-ditch effort Friday to get a judge to reject a bid by schools for more than $1 billion in missed state aid, saying it's the only fair thing to do.
PHOENIX -- An attorney for state lawmakers made a last-ditch effort Friday to get a judge to reject a bid by schools for more than $1 billion in missed state aid, saying it's the only fair thing to do.
Calling it fiscally “impossible,” an attorney for lawmakers told a judge on Monday she should reject a bid by schools to get back the money the state illegally withheld from them for years.
Gov. Jan Brewer is asking a federal appeals court to rebuff efforts by the Obama administration to let “dreamers” drive here legally, saying the government is trying to void a valid state law with what amounts to little more than a federal policy.
PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer is asking a federal appeals court to rebuff efforts by the Obama administration to let "dreamers'' drive here legally, saying the government is trying to void a valid state law with what amounts to little more than a federal policy.
The governor, through her attorneys, is asking judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reject claims by the U.S. Department of Justice that Arizona has no legal right to deny licenses to those in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Brewer is not challenging the right of the administration and the Department of Homeland Security to decide not to try to deport people who arrived in this country illegally as children and even giving them permits to work.
But she said the DACA program was not enacted by Congress and "does not have the force of law.'' And that means it cannot be used to preempt a 1996 Arizona law which says licenses are available only to those who can prove their presence in this country is "authorized under federal law.''
Brewer's filing is a last-ditch effort to get the full court to reconsider -- and overturn -- a decision earlier this year by a three-judge panel which found legal problems with the ban.
The judges ordered the state to start issuing licenses to the dreamers while the case makes its way through the legal system. But that order effectively remains on hold while the full appellate court considers whether to hear Brewer's appeal.
Hanging in the balance is the enforceability of Brewer's 2012 executive order regarding the DACA program. Based on that order, the state Department of Transportation concluded those in the program are not entitled to Arizona licenses.
Brewer argues the 1996 Arizona law allows licenses to be issued only to those "authorized'' to be in this country. More to the point, she contends the decision by the president and the Department of Homeland Security not to deport them does not make their presence "authorized,'' even if they are given work papers.
That argument did not convince the three-judge panel.
Judge Harry Pregerson noted the state has issued licenses to those who granted deferred action under other federal programs. He said that makes Brewer's policy to single out these individuals a violation of the Equal Rights clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Pregerson also said an injunction is appropriate because the policy can cause "irreparable harm'' to those affected. He said their inability to legally drive also makes it more difficult, if not impossible, for them to hold jobs -- a specific right they have in the DACA program.
When Brewer sought review by the full court, the Obama administration weighed in.
"Arizona may not substitute its judgment for the federal government's when it comes to establishing classifications of alien status,'' wrote Assistant Attorney General Lindsey Powell.
She said Arizona has shown no "substantial state purpose'' in crafting rules allowing some not legally in this country to have licenses while other are not. Powell said means Brewer's edict is "preempted by federal law.''
But Brewer, in her latest filing, said there's a flaw in that argument: DACA is only policy.
"The United States ignores the fact that no federal law is at issue here,'' wrote Douglas Northup, lead private attorney hired by Brewer to defend the license ban. Instead, he said, it is "an agency's policy memo, which was issued without notice and comment or subject to any formal rulemaking processes.''
And he said a mere agency policy cannot preempt the Arizona law.
Northup said statements by federal officials back up that contention.
For example, he cited a memo issued by Janet Napolitano when she was the Department of Homeland Security who said that DACA provides no substantive rights, immigration status or a path to citizenship.
"Only Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights,'' the memo states. "It remains for the executive branch, however, to set forth policy for the exercise of discretion within that framework,'' Napolitano continued. "I have done so here.''
Northup also is hanging his legal hat on the fact that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says DACA recipients are not "lawfully present'' in this country for purposes of participating in certain federal programs.
"The fact that there may be disagreement among federal government agencies about the import of the DACA memo underscores why one policy memo of one agency cannot preempt state action here,'' he wrote.
Northup acknowledged that the three-judge panel said the ADOT policy could result in DACA recipients being hampered in their legal ability to work.
But he said that was based on the court's assumption that a certain percentage of Arizona workers commute by car. Northup said that makes no sense, as it could mean that the Arizona policy might be legal in some other cities with a higher percentage of workers using mass transit.
PHOENIX -- Having won benefits for current of gay state and university employees, attorneys are back in court demanding the same for everyone hired in the future. And if they win, count on them to start going after cities, counties, school districts and all government employers in Arizona.
Tara Borelli of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund wants U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick to permanently void a 2009 Arizona law that says benefits like health insurance are available only to those who are married. Borelli, the lead counsel on the case, said gay employees need benefits for their partners and children just the same as those who are married.
But Assistant Attorney General Charles Grube, in his own legal filings, effectively is urging Sedwick to butt out.
"Domestic-partner health coverage is not a fundamental right,'' he told the judge.
He said that means state lawmakers were free to decide to pass a law saying that benefits are limited to those who are wed. Grube said that is a financial decision well within the powers of legislators.
Grube said because the state provides no benefits for any unmarried partners, gay and straight, there is no discrimination against anyone because of sexual orientation.
But Borelli said that ignores one key fact: Straight couples have the option to get those benefits by marrying; a 2008 voter-approved state constitutional amendment denies that same right to gays, thereby making those same benefits inaccessible.
And that remains the case in Arizona unless and until federal courts rule gays can wed.
Gov. Jan Brewer is defending the law as one based not on sexual orientation but on budget considerations. She told Capitol Media Services the state needed the money it was spending providing benefits to the partners of its gay workers -- benefits Sedwick blocked her from cutting.
Borelli, however, said the effects are minimal, saying gays make up just 0.2 percent of all state employees getting benefits.
Arizona first provided domestic-partner benefits in 2008 when then-Gov. Janet Napolitano ordered state personnel rules rewritten to expand the definition of who is a "dependent'' for purposes of getting benefits. Those rules, which did not specify the gender of the partner, required a showing of financial interdependence and an affidavit by the worker affirming there is a domestic partnership.
But in 2009, after Napolitano resigned to take a post in the Obama administration, the Republican-controlled Legislature approved, and Brewer signed, a state law narrowing the definition -- and specifically excluding unmarried couples.
Sedwick issued a preliminary injunction blocking the change, at least as it applies to gay employees.
The judge acknowledged the change in law, tucked into a provision of the state budget, is not discriminatory on its face. But he said the denial has to be examined in light of the ban on same-sex marriage.
"As a result, (the law) denies lesbian and gay state employees in qualifying domestic partnership a valuable form of compensation on the basis of sexual orientation,'' he wrote in 2010.
Sedwick has since given the case class-action status. That sets the stage for the fight over whether the law should be permanently blocked.
Grube told the judge there's no basis for such an order. He said any disparate impact on gays is the result not of this law but of the other statutes and constitutional provisions which bar gays from marrying.
On a more practical level, Brewer said there's the question of cost.
"I think we all know that Arizona was in dire shape financially,'' she said of her 2009 decision to sign the law voiding the change in rules.
"We had to make some tough choices,'' the governor continued. "I believe that was one area we could cut costs, just like we had to do in behavioral health or education.''
Borelli, however, gave Sedwick figures -- produced by the state -- that show the cost of benefits for the partners of gay workers now covered is less than 0.3 percent of the total program, with the cost of claims for children at about 0.01 percent.
Brewer also brushed aside questions of whether the state should reconsider now that its finances are vastly improved from 2009.
"I would tell you that, almost today, no one can afford insurance,'' saying that is a question that can be taken up by the next governor and the next crop of legislators.
Finances aside, Grube said there's a rational reason for lawmakers providing benefits to those who are married versus those who are not.
"Under Arizona law, married persons have a legal duty to supply support to their spouses,'' he told the judge.
"A married person who fails to provide a spouse with necessary medical attendance actually commits a crime,'' Grube continued. "There is no such criminal statute for unmarried persons.''
But Borelli noted it is the state itself that prohibits gays from marrying in the first place and being subject to laws governing marriage. Beyond that, she said this is not a matter of criminal law.
"Plaintiffs rely on family coverage as an important part of their compensation for the same reason as their heterosexual colleagues: to provide shelter and protection to their families from the potential extreme stress of untreated illnesses and attendant financial burdens,'' she wrote.
And that, she said, goes to the other part of her discrimination argument. She said the gay workers are doing the same job as their heterosexual counterparts.
Brewer had one more reason to justify the Arizona law.
"The federal government also does not provide insurance to domestic partners,'' she said.
Borelli said that's true. But she also said it's unnecessary since the federal government recognizes the marriages performed in states where that is legal, allowing gay employees to get benefits for their partners.
It is only in states like Arizona, she said, where that is an issue.
Arizona’s candidates for attorney general clashed over immigration issues, campaign finances and their respective bona fides during a forum on Sept. 25.
Having won benefits for current gay state and university employees, attorneys are back in court demanding the same for everyone hired in the future. And if they win, count on them to start going after cities, counties, school districts and all government employers in Arizona.
In what could be the first crack in the state's ban on gay marriage, a federal judge on Friday ordered the state to issue a death certificate for George Martinez that lists Green Valley resident Fred McQuire as his legal spouse.
A proposal asking voters to hike the pay of state legislators by $11,000 a year is getting a decidedly cool reception from Gov. Jan Brewer — as is her own party's nominee for state superintendent of public instruction.
The questions were about improving Arizona's economy.
One of the three Republicans running for Secretary of State said Tuesday night he's not convinced that Arizona law should bar anonymous spending on political campaigns.
Gov. Jan Brewer said it may be time to consider extending the state's civil rights laws to gays.
The state's top environmental officials asked legislators Tuesday to repeal the restrictions they placed on his agency just four years ago prohibiting it from regulating “greenhouse gases.”
What's the best way to boost the Arizona economy?
The journalist responsible for casting a national spotlight on polygamist Warren Jeffs says the practice is alive and well in Arizona and the man with 78 wives is still calling the shots from prison.
Gov. Jan Brewer, who developed an international reputation for her vociferous attacks on illegal immigration, is ending her career as an elected politician at the end of the year.
For years Cathi Herrod and her Center for Arizona Policy have flexed their political muscles and pushed through legislation that represented what she calls “fundamental principles,” often those espoused in the Bible.
An attorney for the state wants a judge to throw out a bid by several gay couples to allow them to marry.
The decision by Republican lawmakers approve a decision on a measure billed as promoting religious freedom is forcing Gov. Jan Brewer to choose between her desire to promote the state's economy and her own strong religious beliefs.