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PHOENIX -- Arizona added nearly 100,000 new residents this past year, more than virtually every other state in the nation.
BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — No Albertsons or Safeway stores in the Northwest Valley are in line to be sold following an announcement by Washington state-based grocery chain Haggen Inc. that it plans to buy 146 Albertsons and Safeway stores in Arizona, Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada.
PHOENIX – In a move to ensure the Interstate 11 and Intermountain West Corridor Study continues to move forward, the state Transportation Board approved the next step in the process and the funding to make it happen.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Facing dwindling water supplies, Western states are struggling to capture every drop with dam and diversion projects that some think could erode regional cooperation crucial to managing the scarce resource.
You may not realize it, but there are actually two ways to receive your Medicare benefits.
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The University of Arizona has been awarded a four-year, $3.6 million grant to establish public health training centers.
It may be the season for people to give, but a new report says that, compared to those living elsewhere, Arizonan's don't.
PHOENIX (AP) — If Christian Avila lived a few hundred miles to the west, he would have a driver's license and qualify for in-state college tuition and a host of other opportunities available to young people granted legal status by President Barack Obama two years ago.
But Avila lives in Phoenix, and the 24-year-old immigrant who was brought here from Mexico by his parents at age 9 still has to navigate the sprawling city in fear as he drives to school or work.
"You get nervous, your legs start to tingle a little bit when there's a cop behind you, when you're doing nothing wrong by driving to work,' said Avila, a community college student and immigration activist. "You're not breaking any rules, you're following the law. But unfortunately it's where we live."
With last week's action by Obama that expanded the deferred action program and added millions of other immigrants, Avila's plight highlights a harsh reality about the president's changes. The president may be allowing them to remain in the U.S., but it doesn't mean their state will let them drive a car, get an education at an affordable rate or obtain health insurance.
A patchwork of rules began to form in states — largely along political lines — after the president allowed some young immigrants to stay in the country. Conservative states like Nebraska and Arizona kept them from getting driver's licenses while liberal locations were much more welcoming in terms of state services and benefits.
Now, states must make new decisions on how to respond to the president's action that allows millions more immigrants to remain in the U.S.
In California, Democrats, immigration groups and health care advocates are pushing for the immigrants to receive health care under the state's version of the Medicaid program. The California Department of Health Care Services is deciding how to proceed. The president's action excludes immigrants who came to the country illegally from qualifying for federal health benefits.
In Nevada, officials are drawing up a bill for the Legislature making clear that unauthorized immigrants can become teachers in the state. Current rules specify that a prospective teacher must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident before they can receive a teaching license in Nevada.
A new gubernatorial administration in Arizona will have to decide whether to continue a hard-line approach toward state benefits that outgoing Gov. Jan Brewer took.
After Obama took action in 2012 granting legal status to 1.8 million young people brought to the U.S. as children, Brewer issued an executive order denying them driver's licenses or other state benefits, including in-state tuition at the state's public universities. A federal appeals court ruled the license ban was unconstitutional, and Brewer is considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Our position is unilateral action by the president does nothing to change the fact that an illegal alien's presence is the United States is not authorized under federal law," Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder said.
Arizona's Republican Governor-elect, Doug Ducey, has said he intends to continue Brewer's current ban, if it survives court challenges.
Maryland's Democratic governor, Martin O'Malley, has taken a decidedly different tack. He's a supporter of state laws granting in-state tuition to people without legal status and grants them driver's licenses. He has even been willing to get into a policy fight with Obama on the stream of unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America over the Mexican border, criticizing the White House proposal earlier this year that could have expedited the deportation of the children.
Arizona remains an outlier in its treatment of immigrants granted work permits and is among the most harsh when it comes to those who remain in the U.S. without legal authorization.
States surrounding Arizona provide in-state tuition to all residents, regardless of immigration status. And in January, California joins nine other states in allowing immigrants who can't prove they're in the U.S legally to get a driver's license.
Utah provides leniency when it comes to driving privileges and education, despite passing a law in 2011 that mirrored Arizona's landmark immigration crackdown, SB1070. The state issues driving-privilege cards that must be renewed annually for those who cannot prove they're in the country legally.
Nearly 36,300 were issued last year, said Nannette Rolfe, the director of Utah's Driver License Division. Utah also offers in-state tuition at public universities and colleges to residents not in the U.S. legally.
To be eligible, students must have attended a Utah high school for at least three years and earned a diploma or GED. They can't hold a non-immigrant visa and must file an application to legalize their immigration status when eligible to do so. In the 2012-2013 academic students, 929 students took advantage of the program.
Despite the fact that life would be easier if he left the state, Avila said he's staying put.
"This is where we got dirty as kids, this is where we learn how to speak English, this is where we learn how to do a lot of stuff," he said. "Here in Arizona is where my friends, my family, live and I don't see it as an option to run away, but rather stand up and change the conditions that we live under."
The recovery of home prices in Arizona appears to have all but stalled.
Not even waiting until President Obama gave his speech Thursday night, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio filed suit in federal court seeking to block the announced plans to allow millions of people not in this country to remain and work here legally.
Dear Gilbert Public Schools Board Members and Dr. Kishimoto,
PHOENIX -- The number of people in Arizona illegally dropped by close to 12 percent between 2009 and 2012 according to a new study.
Beginning Nov. 17, the East Valley Tribune, Ahwatukee Foothills News, Clipper Marketplace and San Tan Ford will collect new and unused toys and a slew of other items to donate to a local hospital this season.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Federal officials opened the floodgates at Glen Canyon Dam on Monday, sending water rushing through the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The five-day flood is meant to mimic conditions of the river before the dam was built, because the dam now blocks a majority of the sediment from traveling downstream.
Gay couples who want to wed in Arizona might want to do it — and soon. That's because the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld laws banning same-sex marriage in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.
PHOENIX -- Gay couples who want to wed in Arizona might want to do it -- and soon.
A long-delayed preliminary hearing for former NFL All-Pro safety Darren Sharper on Los Angeles County charges that he drugged and raped two women he met at a West Hollywood nightclub has been pushed back to Dec. 5.
PHOENIX -- Two new reports Tuesday show some bumps in the state's recovery from the recession.
One finds that Arizona consumers are spending more, at least in certain areas. But not a lot. The other shows that, for the first time in three years, Arizona is not among the Top 10 states in job growth.
Reports from retailers, released Tuesday by the state Department of Revenue, put total taxable sales at $4.47 billion. That figure comes from reports filed last month which actually reflect sales made in August. That is up 5.2 percent from the same time a year earlier.
But economist Dennis Hoffman from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, said it's hardly a number to cheer about.
"It's OK,'' he said. "It's not gangbusters.''
He said a state such as Arizona should be showing year-over-year growth in the 7 percent range.
The numbers represent more than just an academic exercise.
Close to half of the state budget is built on taxable retail sales. And when these figures lag, so do state revenues -- and the ability of lawmakers to meet the spending demands.
In fact, the staff of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, which advises state lawmakers, is predicting that, for the entire fiscal year, retail sales will grow just an anemic 3.7 percent.
The job-growth figures come from a separate study by Lee McPheters, also an economist at ASU.
There are signs the state is making some progress at recovery.
Sales at motor-vehicle dealers hit $719.9 million in August. That's 8 percent higher than the same time a year earlier. But it's still far below the $833.8 million figure for August 2005, even with vehicles now costing more than they did back then.
Sales of furniture and other home furnishings increased just 3.1 percent from 2013 and also remain below pre-recession levels. Purchases of clothing and accessories actually dropped by nearly 1.6 percent year over year.
Hoffman said the really shocking number is in the category of residential construction. Total sales there for August tallied $285.5 million. In August 2004, the same category posted $604.7 million in sales. "And that was before the real ratchet-up that we had,'' Hoffman said, with the real estate bubble reaching its peak in 2006 before it burst.
That lack of home construction is reflected in the separate employment report by Lee McPheters, also an economist at ASU. He said that so far this year, the state's already beleaguered construction industry has lost jobs. That sector of the Arizona economy remains at half of what it was before the recession. Manufacturing employment also has shed jobs so far this year.
He did find some bright spots.
For example, for the first nine months of the year, only two states hired a greater percentage of new workers in the health-care field than Arizona. And Arizona is No. 5 for jobs in the financial sector. But that was not enough for Arizona to maintain its Top 10 status of job growth.
McPheters puts year-to-date job growth at just 14th in the nation. And when government jobs are removed from the picture, the state drops to 15th.
"And it appears that unless something very unusual happens, we're going to end up this year as not a Top 10 growth state,'' he said. "That's just one other disappointment to go along with the fact that the economy is losing construction jobs.''
McPheters said the state will likely add no more than 55,000 jobs this year, about the same as last year.
"So that means we're kind of in a three-year period where the economy appears to have plateaued and we're just waiting for something to happen to either spur population growth or get some other sectors to drive the economy,'' he said.
Hoffman said, though, that the sales figures may not be as bad as they seem -- if not from the perspective of state revenues, then at least in terms of the strength of the economy: The numbers reported by retailers to the Department of Revenue obviously do not reflect some purchases made by consumers online or by phone.
Online retailers who have a physical presence in Arizona, like Target.com or Walmart.com, are required to collect the state sales tax. But those based solely elsewhere do not.
Arizona law technically requires buyers to report these purchases and pay an equivalent "use tax'' to the state. But with no real enforcement mechanism for the average consumer, that law goes largely ignored.
September reported taxable sales in billions of dollars
(Reflects August sales)
2004 -- $3.51
2005 -- $4.22
2006 -- $4.44
2007 -- $4.27
2008 -- $4.02
2009 -- $3.53
2010 -- $3.45
2011 -- $3.75
2012 -- $3.87
2013 -- $4.25
2014 -- $4.47
-- Source: Arizona Department of Revenue
Key elements of taxable sales
Element / Amount in millions of dollars / Year-over-year change
Motor vehicle dealers / $719.9 / 8%
Furniture and home furnishings / $274.3 / 3.1%
Building materials, lawn & garden / $270.7 / 2.3%
Taxable food and liquor / $288.3 / 1%
Miscellaneous retail / $684.1 / 10.3%
Clothing and accessories / $235.4 / (-1.6%)
Bar and restaurant sales / $896.3 / 7.1%
Hotel and motel rentals / $157.7 / 14.9%
Residential construction / $285.5 / 9.2%
Nonresidential construction / $192.2 / (-6.4%)
Heavy construction (roads, bridges) / $65.6 / (-4.9%)
-- Source: Arizona Department of Revenue
Private sector job growth, first 9 months of 2014
Rank / State / Number of jobs added / Growth percentage
1 / North Dakota / 19,590 / 5.4%
2 / Nevada / 41,270 / 4.1%
3 / Texas / 329,780 / 3.5%
4 / Florida / 221,520 / 3.4%
5 / Utah / 34,660 / 3.3%
6 / Oregon/ 42,280 / 3.1%
7 / Colorado / 59,510 / 3.0%
8 / Delaware / 9,980 / 2.8%
9 / California / 327,890 / 2.6%
10 / Georgia / 83,970 / 2.5%
11 / North Carolina / 83,000 / 2.5%
12 / Tennessee / 57,690 / 2.5%
13 / Washington / 59,790 / 2.5%
14 / Arizona / 49,630 / 2.4%
15 / Oklahoma / 29,400 / 2.3%
-- Source: W.P. Care School of Business, Arizona State University
PHOENIX (AP) — The end of Arizona's ban against same-sex marriage has legislators staking out a range of positions on what they should and shouldn't do in response.
The gay-rights issue caused turmoil at the Capitol last spring when lawmakers passed a religious-rights bill allowing businesses to deny service to gays and lesbians. Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill.
Now, there is both support and opposition among majority Republicans for a new measure along the lines of the vetoed bill, a central Arizona publication has reported.
Meanwhile, minority Democrats say the state should approve new anti-discrimination protections for gay and lesbians and eliminate an existing provision in state law giving adoption preferences to married heterosexual couples, according to the Arizona Capitol Times.
Citing an appellate court's recent ruling overturning bans in Idaho and Nevada, a federal judge Friday overturned the state's ban. The appellate court's territory also includes Arizona, and the fate of the state's ban was sealed when state Attorney General Tom Horne said he wouldn't appeal the judge's order.
The Arizona Legislature begins its 2015 regular session in January.
Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, said consideration of a new version of the vetoed bill would be contentious but necessary.
"But there has to be some kind of acknowledgement that we have to develop the right kind of policy to handle situations that may arise when one person believes something should happen because of equality, and someone else on the liberties side of the argument says you shouldn't force someone to do that," Mesnard said. "We're going to have to have that conversation."
Another Republican, Rep. T.J. Shope of Coolidge said the appetite isn't there to revisit the issue.
"We've gone down that road. Let's just leave well enough alone," he said.
The decision to allow gay marriages sends a good signal to the world that Arizona is welcoming and open to all kinds of people, Shope said.
Rep. Demion Clinco, a Tucson Democrat who is the Arizona House's only openly gay member, said lawmakers should provide new protections for the LGBT community, which he said would help attract major employers to Arizona.
"If we don't make a move to make sure that everyone is treated equally under the law and that we don't allow discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, we're going to lose out to other companies that do when they look at relocating," he said.
Sen. Steve Gallardo, a Phoenix Democrat who also is openly gay, said the state also should erase some current laws, including one giving adoption preference to straight couples.
"I think there's still, in terms of gay marriage, I think there's still some laws that need to be looked at," Gallardo said.
The end of Arizona's ban against same-sex marriage has legislators staking out a range of positions on what they should and shouldn't do in response.
Gays are now legally marrying in Arizona.
A federal judge this morning voided Arizona's prohibition against gay marriage, paving the way for same sex weddings — immediately.
PHOENIX -- Gays are now legally marrying in Arizona.
The historic move came just moments after Attorney General Tom Horne said Friday he will not appeal a decision earlier that morning by U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick declaring Arizona's ban on same-sex weddings unconstitutional and immediately ordering the state to "permanently cease enforcement of those provisions of Arizona law declared unconstitutional by this order.'' That followed a similar ruling earlier this week by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voiding similar laws in Nevada and Idaho.
"The probability of the 9th Circuit reversing today's district court decision is zero,'' Horne said at a hastily called press conference just hours after Sedwick's ruling. "The probability of the U.S. Supreme Court accepting review of the 9th Circuit decision is also zero.''
Horne said while he believes the rulings are wrong, he is bound by rules that make it unethical -- and subject to discipline -- for an attorney to file legal papers solely for the purpose of delay. He said that would be the case were he to appeal, calling such a move "an exercise in futility.''
Potentially more significant, Horne directed the clerks of superior courts in the state's 15 counties to immediately start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
"The emails have gone out,'' he told reporters, noting that even before he announced his decision there already were 10 couples waiting at the clerk's office for Maricopa County.
Horne said he personally disagrees with Sedwick's ruling. He cited the 2008 voter-approved state constitutional amendment defining marriage in Arizona as solely between one man and one woman.
"We fought a revolution against England on the understanding that we're smart enough to rule ourselves as a people and we didn't need a British aristocracy ruling over us,'' he said.
"I believe we're still smart enough to rule over ourselves as a people,'' Horne continued. "And this is an important decision and it's a policy decision that should be made by the people and not by the courts.''
But Horne conceded that right of voters to set policy is not unlimited.
For example, he said Arizona voters could not legally deny marriage between people of different races or different religions. Horne said there are constitutional provisions prohibiting such discrimination.
"There's no provision in the Constitution protecting sexual orientation,'' he said. "In my opinion, this would be a policy matter for the people to decide.''
Friday's order means more than gays living here can marry. It also requires Arizona to recognize same-sex weddings performed in other states.
"We're legal in Arizona, finally,'' said the Rev. Debra Peevey who, with spouse Candy Cox went to Horne's press conference. Peevey, who in 1981 became the first openly gay person to be ordained by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), said the pair, who have been together 30 years, went to California in 2008 to get married when it became legal for same-sex couples to wed in that state.
Peevey, who works with Why Marriage Matters, said her organization was instrumental in arranging to have ministers of various faiths available at courthouses around the state so that gay couples could wed as soon as they got their licenses.
Gov. Jan Brewer, in a prepared statement, called Friday's ruling "not only disappointing but also deeply troubling that unelected federal judges can dictate the laws of individual states.'' She said judges are creating rights "based on their own personal policy preferences.''
"Simply put, courts should not be in the business of making and changing laws based on their personal agendas,'' Brewer said in her statement, saying "that power belongs to the states, and to the people.'' She said such changes should be allowed only through the Legislature or at the ballot.
There was already an organization formed to put such a measure on the 2016 ballot. And the chances for approval appeared good, with a statewide poll last year of 700 adult heads of households finding that 55 percent said they would support allowing gays and lesbians to wed, with just 35 percent opposed.
But that same survey also showed a deep cultural divide along party lines: Just 36 percent of Republicans were in favor of repealing the 2008 ban.
Friday's ruling makes that initiative drive not only unnecessary but also makes what the majority thinks legally irrelevant.
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said Friday's ruling -- and even the failure of the U.S. Supreme Court to so far review similar rulings from elsewhere -- does not mean the fight over same-sex marriage is over.
She pointed out that several federal appellate courts have yet to weigh in on the issue. And Herrod said that if any one of them uphold a state's ban, that conflict between circuits could force the justices to step in.
Herrod has more than a passing interest in the issue. It was her organization that pushed the successful 2008 ballot measure defining marriage in Arizona as solely between one man and one woman.
She said the issue does not go away even if the Supreme Court does conclude there is a constitutional right of gays to wed. As proof she cited the historic 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade which declared that women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.
"The pro-life movement is stronger than ever,'' she said, citing a series of new restrictions on abortions that have been approved by states and upheld by courts. None of those rulings, however, have disturbed the basic premise of the 1973 decision.
Herrod has not disputed that public attitudes toward same-sex weddings have softened over the years. But she said that will change.
"We are in the midst of a social experiment,'' she said. "And we don't know the full outcome.''
Horne, however, said he cannot view the issue as a social one but a legal one.
"I fought it as far as I ethically could,'' he said of the challenge to the Arizona law. But Horne said his decision not to drag the case on "does not diminish my disagreement with the decision.''
Horne was a little more circumspect when asked about his feelings for gays now that they have the ability to marry.
"Obviously, I have good personal feelings for gay people that I know,'' he said, saying he is involved in "the world of classical music'' where he said gays are represented disproportionately. But Horne said he had the legal obligation to defend the Arizona ban as long as it was defensible.
Pressed for whether he shares in the happiness of gays who now can marry, he responded, "Without detracting from the legal position I have taken, I would say, 'Yes.' ''
PHOENIX -- Conceding a court ruling striking down gay-marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada is binding here, attorneys for Arizona state are relying on a largely technical argument in a last-ditch effort to salvage this state's own prohibition -- at least for awhile.
In legal papers filed Thursday, Attorney General Tom Horne, his staff and outside attorneys said they disagree with last week's ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturning virtually bans in Nevada and Idaho that are virtually identical to those in Arizona. In that case, the appellate judges said laws restricting marriage to one man and one woman illegal violate the constitutional rights of gays based solely on their sexual orientation.
In fact, they conceded that appellate ruling is binding on U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick -- and probably governs what the judge has to rule in Arizona
But Horne instead is seeking to buy time in hopes that somehow the full appellate court -- or perhaps the U.S. Supreme Court -- will decide otherwise.
Heather Macre, attorney for one group of plaintiffs seeking to overturn the Arizona ban, said the state's decision to try a procedural move and not to try to challenge the underpinning of last week's appellate ruling is not surprising.
"The 9th Circuit dismantled all of their arguments,'' she said.
But Jennifer Pizer of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, who represents other challengers, was less charitable in her reaction. She described the state's filing as "a white-knuckled grip on the last remaining shred on the last remaining straw of a legal position where they've conceded that the 9th Circuit decision is binding.''
What Horne is arguing to Sedwick is that the appellate court issued but then withdrew its "mandate'' to Nevada and Idaho to start issuing marriage licenses. And while both states have, in fact, started allowing gays to wed, Horne told Sedwick he cannot legally rely on the 9th Circuit ruling to void the Arizona law -- at least not yet.
In fact, Horne called any effort by Sedwick to void Arizona's laws based on the 9th Circuit ruling "a gamble.''
Pizer, however, said Horne and his staff have not identified a single issue that would somehow make Arizona's ban on gay marriage legally different than the ones already overturned.
"And yet these lawyers working for Tom Horne are blocking the door to prevent this particular group of people from being able to enter the room where everybody else lives,'' Pizer said. "It's hardly an honorable position for the state.''
Horne referred all calls to Rob Ellman, the state's solicitor general, who works for him. Ellman declined to comment.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian-based law firm which has helped the state defend the law, has consistently referred all calls to Horne.
That legal point on which Horne and his staff are hanging their hopes stems from the fact that last week's ruling about Idaho and Nevada laws was issued by a three-judge panel of the appellate court.
There are interests in those states who want to preserve a ban on same-sex weddings. So they want that decision reviewed by the full appellate court.
The U.S. Supreme Court last week already refused to provide an emergency stay of the 9th Circuit ruling while the foes of same-sex marriage prepare an appeal.
That should have ended the matter. But it didn't.
In a brief order earlier this week, the appellate court said it would "afford the state a second opportunity to obtain an emergency stay of our order from the Supreme Court, even though we see no possible basis for such a stay.'' That leaves full and final implementation of the 9th Circuit ruling in legal limbo.
The move may end up being, at best, a stalling tactic.
Every other federal appeals court in the country that has looked at the issue has concluded that state laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. And each and every attempt to get the Supreme Court to intercede -- or at least delay the order -- has been spurned.
Sedwick already has tipped his hand a bit, ruling in a related issue that it appears Arizona's 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex weddings and older state statutes violate constitutional rights.
Less clear is what will happen the moment he rules, assuming he sides with challengers.
Pizer said that unless the judge also agrees to stay the effect of his order, that would allow same-sex couples to immediately go to county clerks and demand marriage licenses. And with Arizona having no waiting period, that could mean weddings shortly thereafter.
Macre was more cautious in her analysis, saying a lot of it depends on exactly how Sedwick words his order. And if nothing else, she said county clerks are not prepared to issue same-sex licenses.
PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will reopen the comment period for their proposal to designate critical habitat for the western population of the yellow-billed cuckoo.
A 60-day comment period expired Tuesday.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to designate more than 546,000 acres of critical habitat in 80 separate units in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
The yellow-billed cuckoo now is listed as a threatened species.
The bird resides in 12 western states and in Mexico and Canada, but Arizona has the largest population.
A large portion of the yellow-billed cuckoo population lives in southern Arizona around the San Pedro River and at Cienega Creek.
There are about 350 to 495 pairs in the U.S. The bird winters in South America.