[ {"id":"b2137681-e7ce-55af-9002-8c8544850aef","type":"article","starttime":"1490661000","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-27T17:30:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1490669837","priority":45,"sections":[{"local":"news/local"},{"govt-and-politics":"news/local/govt-and-politics"},{"state-and-regional":"news/state-and-regional"}],"flags":{"top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"GOP lawmakers want further restrictions on voter initiatives","url":"http://tucson.com/news/local/article_b2137681-e7ce-55af-9002-8c8544850aef.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/local/gop-lawmakers-want-further-restrictions-on-voter-initiatives/article_b2137681-e7ce-55af-9002-8c8544850aef.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/local/gop-lawmakers-want-further-restrictions-on-voter-initiatives/article_b2137681-e7ce-55af-9002-8c8544850aef.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Howard Fischer\nCapitol Media Services","prologue":"Governor just signed into law restricting paying circulators on a per-signature basis.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#top5","#latest"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"75189"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"0c86ae18-3e7f-5cd1-bd51-a3d361383c43","description":"Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, wants citizens\u2019 initiatives to strictly follow state laws.","byline":"Capitol Media Services","hireswidth":1597,"hiresheight":1297,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/c8/0c86ae18-3e7f-5cd1-bd51-a3d361383c43/58d9a61ff0c35.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"936","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/c8/0c86ae18-3e7f-5cd1-bd51-a3d361383c43/58d9a61fefcd3.image.jpg?resize=936%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"81","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/c8/0c86ae18-3e7f-5cd1-bd51-a3d361383c43/58d9a61fefcd3.image.jpg?resize=100%2C81"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"244","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/c8/0c86ae18-3e7f-5cd1-bd51-a3d361383c43/58d9a61fefcd3.image.jpg?resize=300%2C244"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"832","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/c8/0c86ae18-3e7f-5cd1-bd51-a3d361383c43/58d9a61fefcd3.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C832"}}}],"revision":8,"commentID":"b2137681-e7ce-55af-9002-8c8544850aef","body":"

PHOENIX \u2014 Not content to make gathering signatures more difficult, Republican lawmakers are now moving to impose new procedural requirements on voters who want to propose their own laws.

The measure being pushed by Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, would allow a court to keep an initiative off the ballot if backers are not in \u201cstrict compliance\u201d with all election laws. That would overturn a series of existing court rulings that have erred on the side of giving voters their say and letting measures remain on the ballot if there is \u201csubstantial compliance\u201d with the law.

Lesko said she is particularly miffed that Arizonans were allowed to vote in 2012 on a proposal that would have made permanent the state\u2019s 1-cent sales tax surcharge.

It is undisputed that a copy of the initiative filed electronically with the Secretary of State\u2019s Office differed from the one filed on paper and was actually circulated. But courts concluded the circulators had been in \u201csubstantial compliance\u201d and allowed the vote to go forward.

That annoyed Lesko.

\u201cWhat\u2019s the point of having laws?\u201d she asked.

As it turns out, the measure was defeated.

But the wording of HB 2244, set for debate Tuesday in the Senate Appropriations Committee, is far more sweeping than the kind of situation that occurred in 2012. It even would disqualify an initiative because of the use of the wrong text size or incorrect margins printed on petitions.

Lesko is unapologetic.

\u201cI think that if the law says there has to be certain things, the law should be followed,\u201d she told Capitol Media Services.

She conceded the change does not apply to candidates.

\u201cBut I measure and make sure that it definitely follows the law,\u201d Lesko said of her own petitions. \u201cAnd if people follow the law, there shouldn\u2019t be other people not follow the law.\u201d

It\u2019s not just the 2012 measure that would never have made it to the ballot under the standard that Lesko wants to impose.

In 2008, homebuilders sought to keep voters from considering a \u201chomeowner bill of rights\u201d simply because some of the proposed changes in law were not in capital letters. That is the standard format for having what\u2019s new stand out.

But the Court of Appeals said voters should be given a chance to decide the issue, concluding the petitions substantially complied with the legal requirements. The initiative was later defeated.

And just last year, foes of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana sought to block a vote, charging that the summary of the measure and the text itself were too flawed to go to voters.

But Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales said Arizona law requires only that ballot measures be in \u201csubstantial compliance\u201d with legal requirements. And he said Proposition 205 fit within that definition.

Lesko\u2019s move comes less than a week after Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation making it illegal to pay petition circulators on a per-signature basis. Foes of that measure said that bar, by itself, will make it far more difficult, if not impossible, to gather the hundreds of thousands of signatures needed to propose new laws and constitutional amendments.

That did not go unnoticed by Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson.

\u201cThis is yet another in a series of measures by the majority to try to quash the voice of the people of Arizona,\u201d he told Capitol Media Services.

\u201cIf you\u2019re trying to make it harder to get an initiative through, then you\u2019re making it harder for people to have their voice heard.\u201d

Farley said he\u2019s concerned that otherwise valid and popular measures will be thwarted for technical reasons.

Arizona law requires petitions to be printed in at least eight-point type. There are 72 points to an inch.

They also must be printed in black ink on white or recycled paper, 14 inches wide and 8\u00bd inches in length \u201cwith a margin of at least one-half inch at the top and one-fourth inch at the bottom of each page.\u201d

\u201cIf you are able to throw out something because a margin is an eighth of an inch too short on one side, that is not relevant to the people\u2019s will,\u201d Farley said. \u201cThat\u2019s relevant to your desire to throw the thing off the ballot without allowing people to vote on it.\u201d

Lesko said while she believes there is a need for strict compliance with petition drives, she does not see that as necessary for politicians like herself.

\u201cCandidates can be elected out every two years,\u201d she said. \u201cAn initiative, once it\u2019s in, it\u2019s in. It\u2019s almost virtually impossible to change it.\u201d

That\u2019s because of the Voter Protection Act, itself an initiative drive in 1998, which forbids lawmakers from repealing what has been enacted at the ballot and sharply restricts changes.

As it turns out, though, the House already has approved a measure to ask voters to repeal that provision, with action awaiting in the Senate. But Lesko said she\u2019s not sure that would undermine her reasoning of why strict compliance with initiatives is necessary.

\u201cI haven\u2019t thought that through,\u201d she said.

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PHOENIX \u2014 For nine years, Joe Arpaio enjoyed solid popularity as the sheriff of metro Phoenix by locking up immigrants in the U.S. illegally and regularly telling news reporters that no one would stop his crackdowns.

The former lawman who made his fight against illegal immigration a fixture of his speeches and media interviews during his last three campaigns asked a judge on Friday to prohibit prosecutors from mentioning those statements at his April 25 trial on a criminal contempt-of-court charge.

Arpaio, who was defeated last November after 24 years as sheriff for sprawling Maricopa County that encompasses Phoenix, faces the misdemeanor charge for disobeying a court order to halt his immigration patrols, which continued for 17 months after a judge issued the order.

To win a conviction, prosecutors must prove that Arpaio intended to violate the judge\u2019s order. The 84-year-old Arpaio, who would face up to six months in jail if convicted, has acknowledged prolonging the patrols, but insists he did so unintentionally.

Mark Goldman, one of Arpaio\u2019s attorneys, said it would be prejudicial to use his client\u2019s comments during campaigns at his trial and that the remarks \u201cwere campaign posturing and not made under oath.\u201d

Statements made by politicians during campaigns aren\u2019t indicative of what politicians will actually do while in office, Goldman wrote in a court filing.

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PHOENIX \u2014 A court ruling says a mother's tardiness for a hearing on severing her parental rights doesn't mean she skipped it altogether and waived some of her rights.

The Arizona Court of Appeals overturned a judge's decision to sever the mother's parental rights and ordered the judge to conduct a new hearing.

The judge had ruled that the woman couldn't testify and that her lawyer couldn't address some issues because the woman arrived 25 minutes after the hearing started.

Arizona law says parents who skip hearings can be deemed to have waived their rights and admitted allegations in severance petitions.

But the appeals court says being tardy isn't the same as not appearing and that the restrictions placed on the woman and her lawyer violated her constitutional rights to due process.

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Marijuana states such as Colorado, who are worried about a federal crackdown with the advent of the Trump administration, may have a new strategy to fend off the law--a bill in the state legislature to allow licensed recreational pot growers to instantly re-clasify their weed as medical pot in case there is a change in federal la or enforcement. 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PHOENIX \u2014 Attorney General Mark Brnovich is asking a judge to rule that the word \u201cbenefits\u201d in a voter-approved measure is not the same as \u201cfringe benefits.\u201d

And the goal of this judicial war of words is a bid by Brnovich to block local governments from telling private companies what benefits they have to offer their workers.

Assistant Attorney General Rusty Crandell, writing on behalf of Brnovich, is trying to preserve a 2016 measure adopted by Republican legislators to block local governments from telling private companies everything from how much time off they will offer workers to vacation mandates and even how far ahead of time workers need to be told of schedule changes.

Crandell specifically wants Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Oberbillig to throw out a challenge to that law by Democrat legislators who voted against it.

But attorney Jim Barton, representing the challengers, said the 2006 voter-approved initiative setting the state\u2019s first-ever minimum wage specifically authorizes such local laws on fringe benefits. And Barton said that was reinforced this past November when voters adopted Proposition 206, which raised the wages again and mandated, for the first time ever, paid sick leave.

Businesses are powerless to block \u201cliving wage\u201d legislation like what voters adopted in Flagstaff and what is being considered in other communities. That\u2019s because Prop. 202, the 2006 initiative, specifically allows cities to set wages even higher than what the state requires.

But fearful of even broader local mandates, the restaurant industry last year got Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, to craft a legal end-run of sorts around the initiative.

Specifically, Mesnard wrote a law that redefines \u201cwages\u201d \u2014 the thing the state cannot preempt because it was approved at the ballot \u2014 to include only the salaries being paid to workers.

Everything else was defined as \u201cnonwage compensation,\u201d ranging from sick pay, vacation pay and severance benefits to commissions and pension contributions. That also includes things like maternity leave.

In challenging Mesnard\u2019s law last year, Barton pointed out the Arizona Constitution forbids lawmakers from altering voter-approved laws unless the measure \u201cfurthers the purpose\u201d of the original law.

In this case, he said, the 2006 initiative specifically says a local government \u201cmay by ordinance regulate minimum wages and benefits within its geographic boundaries.\u201d That, he said, makes the law illegal.

And Barton said even if a court were to conclude the Mesnard-crafted law could be interpreted as furthering the purpose of the 2006 initiative, the Arizona Constitution says changes to initiatives require a three-fourths vote of both the House and Senate. Mesnard\u2019s legislation was approved by the House 34-26 margin; the Senate tally was 18-11.

It is that margin that gives Democrat lawmakers who opposed the law \u2014 and had enough votes to deny the measure that three-fourths margin \u2014 the standing to sue.

In his new court filings, Crandell told Oberbillig all that is irrelevant. And the key to that is the argument that \u201cbenefits\u201d doesn\u2019t mean what challengers say it means.

Crandell concedes the wording in the 2006 law \u2014 language also picked up in last year\u2019s Prop. 206 initiative \u2014 does specifically say local governments can \u201cregulate minimum wages and benefits.\u201d

But Crandell wants the judge to conclude the word \u201cbenefits\u201d means not \u201cfringe benefits\u201d but instead only \u201cthe minimum wage protections that Prop. 202 provides.\u201d

\u201cThe term \u2018benefits\u2019 is not defined,\u201d Crandell wrote. And while he acknowledges a dictionary says it could be considered shorthand for \u201cfringe benefits,\u201d there\u2019s also a definition that says \u201cthe advantage or privilege something gives.\u201d

So if \u201cbenefits\u201d does not necessarily mean \u201cfringe benefits,\u201d what does it mean?

Crandell told Oberbillig it\u2019s up to him to discern what voters intended when they approved Prop. 202. But Crandell insisted it definitely does not mean fringe benefits.

He said the measure was titled the \u201cRaise the Minimum Wage for Working Arizonans Act.\u201d And then there was the intent language.

\u201cThe declared purpose of Prop. 202 is that \u2018all working Arizonans deserve to be paid a minimum wage that is sufficient to give them a fighting chance to provide for their families,\u201d\u2019 Crandell said. He said the initiative accomplishes that by setting the minimum wage and providing for enforcement rights and penalties.

Crandell said there was nothing in any of the arguments in publicity brochures mailed to voters ahead of the 2006 election, either for or against, that mentioned anything other than wages.

\u201cIf the voters of Arizona intended to hand over control of all employee benefits to local governments \u2014enabling local governments to saddle businesses with a patchwork of regulations regarding nonwage benefits that vary from one city to the next \u2014 one would expect a clear explanation of such a feature in light of its significant impact on business,\u201d Crandell wrote.

\u201cTellingly, nothing in the history of Prop. 202 alerted voters to this sea change in Arizona employment law.\u201d

Barton, however, wants Oberbillig to rule it doesn\u2019t take a legal parsing to conclude that \u201cbenefits\u201d are what they seem to be, even without the word \u201cfringe\u201d in front of it.

Some of the issue already has been effectively decided.

Last year\u2019s initiative did more than raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour and $12 by 2020.

It also requires employers to provide at least three days of paid leave for everything from sickness to court appearances. It clearly spells out that local governments are free to require paid sick leave greater than what is in the ballot measure.

But there are still other issues that city councils might want to take up, like how much notice private employers must provide before changing a worker\u2019s schedule.

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A controversial proposed expansion of the University of Arizona\u2019s Honors College, including a 1,000-bed dorm, is moving forward despite protests from nearby residents and concerns about the legality of the proposal.

UA officials met with area residents twice last week, offering an overview of the plan to build a six-story building that would span an entire city block between East Drachman and Mabel streets and North Fremont and Santa Rita avenues, north of East Speedway.

The land where the dorm is proposed is owned by American Campus Communities and is outside the official campus boundaries. ACC, based near Austin, Texas, is one of the nation\u2019s largest developers of student housing communities .

A two-hour meeting Monday on campus had more than 80 people attend, mostly nearby residents who were visibly upset and often alluded to previous disputes with the university expanding into their neighborhoods.

University officials said a second meeting held the following night was less confrontational.

Peter Dourlein, the campus architect for the university, said those attending the second meeting offered suggestions on ways to change the project\u2019s physical dimensions that could help alleviate some of their concerns.

In addition to the 1,000-bed dorm building, plans include multi-story buildings for classrooms, office space, a recreation center and a four-story parking garage to be built on the adjacent block between North Park and Fremont avenues.

The university is also considering demolishing several buildings along Park between Drachman and Adams streets, and putting in surface lots to offer additional parking.

The neighborhood now consists of homes, apartments catering to students, university parking lots and vacant land.

Currently, many UA students who are part of the Honors College live in residence halls close to Euclid Avenue and Sixth Street. The UA said there are more than 4,000 students enrolled in the Honors College.

Many frustrated residents said they are weighing their options, legal and political, and were concerned there was little information coming from the university about the proposal.

Some said they hoped the university\u2019s presumed new president, Dr. Robert Robbins, will weigh in on the proposal and work with the neighborhoods.

On Monday night, former City Councilwoman Molly McKasson said she hoped the Tucson City Council would find a way to stop the project, which does not have to abide by city zoning codes, including when it comes to building heights, density and parking requirements.

As of now, the university does not have a formal agreement with the ACC for the project, currently known as a memorandum of understanding.

Councilman Steve Kozachik, who is also a university employee, said the UA has worked hard in the past to establish good rapport with the surrounding neighborhoods and that he hopes the school works with residents over their concerns.

On Friday, Dourlein confirmed he and other university officials are continuing to meet with ACC to discuss plans for the project. He expects that the university will hold more public meetings in about two weeks.

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Palo verde trees are bursting into early bloom around Tucson \u2014 creating splashes of yellow desert beauty but also ushering in a season of sniffles for some allergy sufferers.

\u201cThis year is earlier than usual\u201d for palo verde blooms,\u201d said Dr. George Makol, a physician and allergy specialist with Alvernon Allergy and Asthma in Tucson.

\u201cThere is so much pollen in each tree now, and on a windy day it can blow for several blocks,\u201d Makol said.

Other plants \u2014 from ragweed and rabbitbush to ash, mulberry and olive trees \u2014 are often considered greater problems for allergy sufferers than palo verde trees. But palo verdes are flourishing in current climatic conditions and appear to be causing more allergic reactions than in the past.

\u201cWe\u2019re seeing very lush palo verde trees these days,\u201d Makol said. \u201cThe reason we see palo verdes become so lush is that there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That is what the plants breathe.

\u201cSo the palo verde is becoming a more important allergen.\u201d

BEAUTY WITH A BITE

The palo verde \u2014 with a name that means \u201cgreen stick\u201d in Spanish \u2014 is Arizona\u2019s official state tree.

It\u2019s revered for its beauty, especially during the spring blooming season \u2014 but that beauty comes with a bite for those who are allergic to its pollen.

\u201cEye itching and sneezing can be the first symptoms,\u201d Makol said. \u201cThere can also be nasal itching, nasal drip and congestion\u201d with continued exposure.

COPING STRATEGIES

Home treatments such as antihistamines and nasal sprays are available over the counter at stores, Makol said.

\u201cThey can reduce eye symptoms and nasal symptoms,\u201d he said.

For people who experience recurrent symptoms every spring, \u201cthen we look at allergy desensitization, with injections of the protein of the pollens they\u2019re allergic to,\u201d Makol said.

Staying indoors on windy days and taking care not to track plant debris into the house can also help reduce allergic reactions, experts say.

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Reintroducing the jaguar into the United States is an idea whose time has come, says a Tucson-based environmental group.

A national conservation group says it\u2019s at least an idea worthy of more analysis than the federal government has given it.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages endangered species, doesn\u2019t agree. It says the best use of its resources is to focus on what it sees as the jaguar\u2019s core areas in Mexico, not on \u201csecondary\u201d jaguar habitat in the southwestern U.S.

The debate over bringing jaguars from Mexico to the Southwest comes as part of a larger discussion of the federal government\u2019s draft jaguar recovery plan. That plan, released in December, advocates putting the most energy toward jaguar recovery in Mexico, where most borderlands jaguars live.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Defenders of Wildlife said in their written comments on the plan, and in a separate report by Defenders, that more attention needs to be paid to bringing back jaguars in the Southwest, including possible reproduction.

Reintroduction of predators has always been a hot-button issue here. It took more than a decade for environmentalists and federal biologists to get a Mexican wolf reintroduction program started because of controversy over the wolf\u2019s impacts on livestock. It remains controversial today although wolf populations are slowly recovering.

Jaguars are in better shape in the U.S. today than wolves were before reintroduction started. Only seven Mexican wolves remained in 1980 when the last five were pulled out of the wild to be put in captive breeding facilities. About 4,000 jaguars are known to live in Mexico today, but only seven, all males, have been confirmed to be living in Arizona and New Mexico since 1996.

Defenders doesn\u2019t advocate reintroduction now, but \u201cwe are calling on (Fish and Wildlife) to do a scientific, objective analysis and we\u2019d like to see their work reviewed by an independent, scientific body,\u201d said Rob Peters, Defenders\u2019 Southwestern representative. The 508-page jaguar recovery plan didn\u2019t discuss reintroduction, he noted.

The seven known Southwestern male jaguars are believed to have come from northern Mexico. But \u201cI think it\u2019s very unlikely\u201d that natural jaguar migration from Mexico alone will bring this country a breeding population soon, Peters said.

Younger female jaguars \u201cset up their home ranges next to mom,\u201d and don\u2019t disperse at anywhere near the rate of young males, Peters said. In a paper, the late Peter Warshall, a longtime Tucson scientist, calculated that it would take 44 to 200 years for females to migrate north to the U.S., Peters noted. Warshall was science coordinator for the Northern Jaguar Project, which runs a major jaguar preserve in northern Sonora.

Bringing jaguars into Arizona could help the northern Sonora population, which faces threats from poaching, said Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate for the center. Assuming the animals can travel back and forth between the two countries, having a U.S. breeding population could improve the Mexican population\u2019s genetic diversity, he said.

The jaguar\u2019s increased presence here at the top of the food chain could also benefit the overall ecosystem, Robinson said.

\u201cThey evolved in the United States with all other animals and plants, over many thousands of years and the ecosystem adapted to their presence over that time,\u201d he said.

When the recovery team conducted rigorous jaguar population and habitat studies, it concluded resources are best spent in core areas in Mexico, \u201cand not to the translocation of jaguars in secondary areas and certainly not in areas outside of where they can most meaningfully contribute to recovery of the species,\u201d service spokesman Jeff Humphrey said Tuesday.

The recovery team, including U.S. and Mexican biologists, focused their strategy on sustaining habitat, eliminate poaching and improve social acceptance of the jaguar in Mexico, Humphrey said.

\u201cTheir rationale is that our limited dollars are best spent on making those populations as robust as possible rather than manufacturing new populations in a range that may no longer be appropriate,\u201d Humphrey said.

With the Mexican jaguar population in some jeopardy, \u201cit seems like we ought to take care of what\u2019s already here first,\u201d agreed Bill McDonald, executive director of the Malpais Borderlands Group, which seeks to promote open space conservation and \u201cworking landscapes\u201d for ranchers and others along the border.

The group has no position on reintroduction, \u201cbut I think you should stabilize the population that gets the occasional male up here,\u201d he said. \u201cIt\u2019s ridiculous to hopscotch jaguars hundreds of miles north to try to make that work. It\u2019s putting the cart way before the horse.\u201d

But Sergio Avila, a longtime jaguar biologist, said while more specific analysis of jaguar behavior is needed for reintroduction to be seriously considered, it\u2019s one of many \u201ctools in the toolbox\u201d worth considering.

\u201cBecause we have open space where they can set up territories, protected areas and environmental laws here, because we have healthy populations of wild prey here, and because we have connections to the south and we have habitat,\u201d reintroduction could be worth it ecologically, said Avila, an Arizona Sonora Desert Museum research scientist.

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PHOENIX \u2014 The president of the state Senate is quashing legislation that would have made it harder to prosecute people for firing guns within city limits.

Steve Yarbrough told Capitol Media Services on Monday he does not accept claims by proponents of HB 2287 that existing law results in people being arrested for legitimate accidents with their firearms. The Chandler Republican said he believes that prosecutors would use their discretion before charging someone with a felony.

Conversely, Yarbrough said he does not want to do anything to undermine the ability to go after violators of \u201cShannon\u2019s Law,\u201d the 2000 legislation that was designed to deter people from firing their guns into the air.

\u201cI\u2019ve just studied this on my own,\u201d said Yarbrough, who is an attorney. \u201cI think its unnecessary.\u201d

Yarbrough gets to exercise a one-person veto because he chairs the Senate Rules Committee through which all bills must pass before going to the floor. And since he won\u2019t hear the bill, it is dead for this year.

Rep. Tony Rivero, R-Peoria, who shepherded the legislation through the House and through the Senate Government Committee, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

But Dave Kopp, lobbyist for the Arizona Citizens Defense League, said Yarbrough is off base with his claim that no one is ever prosecuted for true accidents.

He cited an incident where a man was charged after bringing a newly purchased gun back to his apartment. Kopp said the gun went off when the man was trying to remove a round stuck in the chamber.

\u201cIt was a stupid thing to do,\u201d Kopp said. But he said it should not have resulted in criminal charges.

Yarbrough, however, said he sees the legislation from the perspective of weakening the 2000 law named after 14-year-old Shannon Smith, a Phoenix teen who died in 1999 when she was hit by a bullet that had been fired in the air from some distance away. No one was ever arrested.

It makes it a felony to act with \u201ccriminal negligence\u201d to discharge a firearm within the limits of any city. That is defined as someone acting in a way that fails to perceive the risk of a situation that a reasonable person would see.

Rivero sought to bar anyone being charged unless prosecutors could show that the firing of the weapon was intentional, knowing or reckless, a more difficult thing to prove. He said that would ensure that a true accident does not result in felony charges.

Yarbrough is not going to block HB 2022, a separate measure that would create a different exception to Shannon\u2019s Law allowing people to fire off ammunition with what has been called \u201crat shot\u201d or \u201csnake shot\u201d within city limits.

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PHOENIX \u2014 A doubling of individual health insurance premiums in Arizona for 2017 triggered a sharp decline in Affordable Care Act signups among people who don\u2019t qualify for tax credits that offset their costs, according to a new analysis.

The review by University of Arizona health insurance expert Dr. Daniel Derksen of data released by the federal government last week shows a 23 percent decrease in enrollment by that group. Derksen\u2019s review of analysis shows the number of people buying insurance who qualify for the tax credits rose by more than 3 percent.

Overall, Arizona saw a 3.3 percent enrollment decline in marketplace plans that are a key component of former President Obama\u2019s heath care law, to about 196,000 people.

The study comes as the Republican-led Congress is debating dramatic changes to the Obama-era law. Arizona, with its eye-popping premium increases, is one of President Trump\u2019s most cited examples as he tries to make the case that the ACA is collapsing of its own weight.

But Derksen\u2019s research shows there are actually two simultaneous running stories about the ACA: While in Arizona some consumers who were not eligible for the law\u2019s income-based subsidies dropped coverage in the face of rising premiums, Arizonans who do get subsidies on average saw a slight decline in what they have to pay.

Nationally, the number who chose plans during open enrollment declined about 4 percent, from 12.7 million to 12.2 million.

The sharp decline in insurance purchases among higher-earning Arizonans who don\u2019t get help paying for health insurance under Obama\u2019s law shows the impact of the higher rates on those who don\u2019t get subsidies, Derksen said.

\u201cThat\u2019s the group that felt the full force of the doubling of premiums in our state,\u201d said Derksen, a physician and director of the Arizona Center for Rural Health at the UofA College of Public Health. He helped set up New Mexico\u2019s insurance exchange and worked on parts of Obama\u2019s health law.

The same scenario will likely play out nationally, Derksen said, as premiums rise and the number of insurance choices declines.

The average premium in Arizona before subsidies is $611 a month, up from $324 per month last year.

Last year, 52,797 Arizonans who bought and paid for plans earned too much to get a tax subsidy. That number fell to 40,537 at the end of open enrollment on Jan. 31, and is likely to fall more because some people who chose plans won\u2019t actually pay for them.

Nearly 80 percent of the 196,521 people who chose plans on the exchange this year in Arizona got subsidies, however. They\u2019re paying an average of $104 per month, an actual decrease from last year\u2019s $120 a month.

Under Obama\u2019s law, subsidies go up when premiums rise. They phase out at 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which is just above $47,000 for an individual or $97,000 a year for a family of four.

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bleached dog; Trump billboard death threats","url":"http://tucson.com/news/state-and-regional/collection_284864ab-86a2-5a60-b2d8-80500883a680.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/state-and-regional/overdose-training-for-librarians-bleached-dog-trump-billboard-death-threats/collection_284864ab-86a2-5a60-b2d8-80500883a680.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/state-and-regional/overdose-training-for-librarians-bleached-dog-trump-billboard-death-threats/collection_284864ab-86a2-5a60-b2d8-80500883a680.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":11,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Odd and interesting news from around the West.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["sweeps","wwest"],"internalKeywords":["#slideshow"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"paging_gallery","revision":2}, {"id":"588ac282-0c56-11e7-b6cc-376c95c37ce2","type":"link","starttime":"1489921200","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-19T04:00:00-07:00","sections":[{"state-and-regional":"news/state-and-regional"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Tai chi for homeless; voyeuristic teacher; church flier rejected","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/state-and-regional/tai-chi-for-homeless-voyeuristic-teacher-church-flier-rejected/collection_9aba5d86-dc46-54d5-9a23-306bb481ef7e.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/state-and-regional/tai-chi-for-homeless-voyeuristic-teacher-church-flier-rejected/collection_9aba5d86-dc46-54d5-9a23-306bb481ef7e.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Odd and interesting news from around the West.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":1,"url":"http://tucson.com/news/state-and-regional/tai-chi-for-homeless-voyeuristic-teacher-church-flier-rejected/collection_9aba5d86-dc46-54d5-9a23-306bb481ef7e.html"}, {"id":"9aba5d86-dc46-54d5-9a23-306bb481ef7e","type":"collection","starttime":"1489887060","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-18T18:31:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1489895036","sections":[{"state-and-regional":"news/state-and-regional"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Tai chi for homeless; voyeuristic teacher; church flier rejected","url":"http://tucson.com/news/state-and-regional/collection_9aba5d86-dc46-54d5-9a23-306bb481ef7e.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/state-and-regional/tai-chi-for-homeless-voyeuristic-teacher-church-flier-rejected/collection_9aba5d86-dc46-54d5-9a23-306bb481ef7e.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/state-and-regional/tai-chi-for-homeless-voyeuristic-teacher-church-flier-rejected/collection_9aba5d86-dc46-54d5-9a23-306bb481ef7e.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":13,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Od and interesting new from around the West.\u00a0","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["sweeps","wwest"],"internalKeywords":["#slideshow"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"paging_gallery","revision":2}, {"id":"404d3ae0-0bef-11e7-bd41-5b4190aad6d3","type":"article","starttime":"1489853700","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-18T09:15:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1489857474","priority":30,"sections":[{"state-and-regional":"news/state-and-regional"}],"flags":{"top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Analysis: 380,000 Arizonans may lose Medicaid","url":"http://tucson.com/news/state-and-regional/article_404d3ae0-0bef-11e7-bd41-5b4190aad6d3.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/state-and-regional/analysis-arizonans-may-lose-medicaid/article_404d3ae0-0bef-11e7-bd41-5b4190aad6d3.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/state-and-regional/analysis-arizonans-may-lose-medicaid/article_404d3ae0-0bef-11e7-bd41-5b4190aad6d3.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By BOB CHRISTIE\nAssociated Press","prologue":"Congressional Budget Office estimated that 14 million fewer Americans would have Medicaid by 2026.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"fa873f6e-0bef-11e7-a554-8378647e5105","description":"Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, signing the Medicaid expansion law, said earlier this week that\u00a0\"it weighs heavy on my heart\" when she thinks of the current Republican plan to repeal and replace Obama's law.","byline":"Matt York / The Associated Press 2013","hireswidth":4980,"hiresheight":3456,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/a8/fa873f6e-0bef-11e7-a554-8378647e5105/583b343f80fa7.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"512","height":"355","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/a8/fa873f6e-0bef-11e7-a554-8378647e5105/583b343f8559a.image.jpg?resize=512%2C355"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/a8/fa873f6e-0bef-11e7-a554-8378647e5105/583b343f8559a.image.jpg?crop=512%2C287%2C0%2C11&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"168","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/a8/fa873f6e-0bef-11e7-a554-8378647e5105/583b343f8559a.image.jpg?crop=512%2C287%2C0%2C11&resize=300%2C168&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"574","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/a8/fa873f6e-0bef-11e7-a554-8378647e5105/583b343f8559a.image.jpg?crop=512%2C287%2C0%2C11"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"404d3ae0-0bef-11e7-bd41-5b4190aad6d3","body":"

PHOENIX \u2014 Arizona is likely to see more than 380,000 people lose their Medicaid insurance coverage and $2.5 billion in lower health care spending under the plan currently being pushed through Congress to replace former President Barack Obama's health care law, according to a new state report.

The analysis by the state's Medicaid plan obtained by The Associated Press Friday shows keeping most of those people insured would cost the state nearly $500 million a year by 2023. In a Republican-led state where tax increases are nearly impossible to enact, that's extremely unlikely.

The report looks at the patients who gained coverage under a Medicaid expansion pushed through in 2013 by former Gov. Jan Brewer over opposition from many in her own party. It now covers about 400,000 Arizonans out of the 1.9 million covered by Medicaid in the state.

Of those 400,000, about 316,000 are childless adults who earn less than the federal poverty limit, and 81,000 earn between 100 percent and 138 percent of the limit.

Brewer said in an interview earlier this week that \"it weighs heavy on my heart\" when she thinks of the current Republican plan to repeal and replace Obama's law.

\"It just really affects our most vulnerable, our elderly, our disabled, our childless adults, our chronically mentally ill, our drug addicted,\" she said of the potential elimination of coverage for the expansion population. \"It will simply devastate their lives and the lives that surround them. Because they're dealing with an issue which is very expensive to take care of as a family with no money.\"

She spoke after the state Court of Appeals upheld a hospital assessment that helps pay the state's current share of the expansion costs.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 14 million fewer Americans would have Medicaid insurance by 2026 under the plan, while the cuts would save the federal government $880 billion between 2017-2026.

Gov. Doug Ducey said earlier this week that he isn't pleased with the current proposal.

\"I've said that I don't want to see anybody have the rug pulled out from underneath them, and that's what I'm going to be advocating,\" he told reporters Tuesday. \"I have concerns with the bill as its written today.\"

Ducey said he has the ear of the state's congressional delegation and the new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, and expects to see changes. He was on a call with White House officials talking about the health law on Tuesday.

\"I think you're going to see a different bill if it does get out of the House, if it does get out of the Senate, than the bill you see today,\" he said.

Brewer too has a voice, and she's making it heard. An early and vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, she is dismayed with the current proposal and hopeful Trump steps in to see it changed.

\"I'm hoping that there will be a coming together of the House and Senate and people weighing in will get heard,\" Brewer said. \"I don't believe that Donald Trump wants to damage these people. He promised when he campaigned that he would not do that to them. I hope he maintains that clear thought moving forward.\"

Trump, however, seemed to embrace the plan even more on Friday when he agreed to add fresh Medicaid curbs to the House Republican health care bill to bolster its support among the most conservative members

\"I just want to let the world know I am 100 percent in favor\" of the measure, Trump said at the White House after meeting around a dozen House lawmakers and shaking hands on revisions. \"We're going to have a health care plan that's going to be second to none.\"

The analysis released Friday by Arizona's Medicaid plan looks at several scenarios, none of them pretty for the poor Arizonans currently on Medicaid.

Freezing the current enrollment for the two populations covered by expansion is one option. Another is to only freeze those in the plan who earn above the poverty level. But the current GOP plan would cut matching funds to states, increasing costs. Keeping just the below-poverty level population insured would cost $30 million more next year and going up to $478 million by 2023.

An optional plan to help the state stabilize private insurance markets would also be costly. The state's share would be nearly $69 million by 2023.

\u2014 AP Reporter Alan Fram in Washington contributed to this report.

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Sadoski told CBS \"Late Late Show\" host James Corden on March 16, 2017, that he and Seyfried got married on March 12, 2017. 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Jan Brewer says approval of the state\u2019s Medicaid expansion could prove to be a short-lived victory.","byline":"Photos by Howard Fischer / Capitol Media Services","hireswidth":1521,"hiresheight":1362,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/e7/3e7760ab-3bd1-5b63-b87c-53f04432b58b/58a35be8496ab.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"849","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/e7/3e7760ab-3bd1-5b63-b87c-53f04432b58b/58a35be83a03d.image.jpg?resize=849%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/e7/3e7760ab-3bd1-5b63-b87c-53f04432b58b/58a35be83a03d.image.jpg?crop=1521%2C855%2C0%2C79&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/e7/3e7760ab-3bd1-5b63-b87c-53f04432b58b/58a35be83a03d.image.jpg?crop=1521%2C855%2C0%2C79&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/e7/3e7760ab-3bd1-5b63-b87c-53f04432b58b/58a35be83a03d.image.jpg?crop=1521%2C855%2C0%2C79&resize=1024%2C576&order=crop%2Cresize"}}},{"id":"65630b97-a4bf-54c7-beb4-d7c10a039d0a","description":"Christina Sandefur of the Goldwater Institute promises to seek an Arizona Supreme Court review.","byline":"Howard Fischer / Capitol Media Services","hireswidth":1663,"hiresheight":1245,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/56/65630b97-a4bf-54c7-beb4-d7c10a039d0a/58a35c652ec0d.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1015","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/56/65630b97-a4bf-54c7-beb4-d7c10a039d0a/58a35c652dd40.image.jpg?resize=1015%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"75","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/56/65630b97-a4bf-54c7-beb4-d7c10a039d0a/58a35c652dd40.image.jpg?resize=100%2C75"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"225","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/56/65630b97-a4bf-54c7-beb4-d7c10a039d0a/58a35c652dd40.image.jpg?resize=300%2C225"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"767","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/56/65630b97-a4bf-54c7-beb4-d7c10a039d0a/58a35c652dd40.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C767"}}}],"revision":13,"commentID":"d68443ff-2e89-53bd-b582-d20633f397ac","body":"

PHOENIX \u2014 The expansion of the state\u2019s health-care program to 400,000 Arizonans and the levy to fund it are legal, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

In a unanimous decision, the judges rejected arguments by foes that the assessment on hospitals was a new tax which, according to the Arizona Constitution, needs a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to approve. The levy did not get that margin.

But appellate Judge Paul McMurdie, writing for the court, said he and his colleagues do not see it that way. Put simply, he said the levy is not a tax.

Thursday\u2019s ruling is unlikely to be the last word.

Christina Sandefur of the Goldwater Institute, representing many current and former Republican lawmakers who voted against the 2013 expansion, vowed to seek Arizona Supreme Court review. She said the ruling creates a huge loophole in the 1992 constitutional provision she said was approved by voters to set a higher bar before taxes could be raised.

And Sandefur called the ruling \u201can absurd result.\u201d

But Jan Brewer, who as governor crafted the plan, said she was \u201cgrateful\u201d the judges interpreted the law this way.

Brewer, however, told Capitol Media Services the victory could be short-lived.

A health-care plan being considered by Congress immediately freezes new money for the state\u2019s expansion plan and eventually repeals the funding entirely in favor of block grants to the state.

At the heart of the battle is who is covered by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state\u2019s Medicaid program.

Before 2013, it provided free care for most people below the federal poverty level, with the federal government picking up about two-thirds of the cost.

The federal Affordable Care Act, however, offered an incentive to states to expand eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, about $27,800 for a family of three. In essence, Washington would virtually pick up all of the expansion\u2019s cost.

Then-Gov. Brewer sought to sign up Arizona.

But to qualify for the federal dollars, the state had to once again provide coverage for single adults who were below the poverty level. Enrollment in that program had previously been frozen in a budget-saving move.

To pay for that, Brewer crafted a plan to have the cost paid through an assessment on hospitals.

Hospitals did not object because AHCCCS director Tom Betlach set up the levy so that every hospital chain would actually make money from the deal: More patients with government-provided insurance coverage means fewer bills written off as bad debt because of a person\u2019s inability to pay. He even structured it so some hospitals that would not benefit from Medicaid expansion would owe nothing.

The levy is raising about $265 million a year.

When the expansion plan passed with a simple majority, the lawmakers who voted against expansion sued.

Sandefur said the 1992 amendment to the Arizona Constitution requiring a two-thirds vote was designed as a check on new taxes.

Specifically, she said it empowers a minority of lawmakers to block new taxes. And in this case, Sandefur said, more than a third of lawmakers were opposed to the levy.

McMurdie, however, said there is a flaw in her argument: The levy is not a new tax.

It\u2019s true, the judge wrote, that Betlach\u2019s authorization to impose a levy was approved by just a simple majority. But he said the levy itself was not imposed by the Legislature.

\u201cInstead, the levies are imposed by an entity with discretion to set and administer them,\u201d the judge continued. And he said the constitutional provision requiring a two-thirds vote has a clear exception for fees set by a state agency.

The court also rejected Sandefur\u2019s contention that the levy is a tax, because the funds collected are being expended for \u201cgeneral public purposes.\u201d

\u201cBut while the entire expansion\u2019s purpose was to provide health care to more of Arizona\u2019s indigent population, the purpose of the assessment, as evidence by the language of HB 2010, was to \u2018be used for the benefit of hospitals for the purpose of providing health care for persons eligible for coverage funded by the hospital assessment.\u201d McMurdie wrote.

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PHOENIX \u2014 Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and husband Mark Kelly have a message for Arizona lawmakers: Enact reasonable gun restrictions or we'll help elect people who will.

And if necessary, Kelly, co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions with Giffords, said the group will take their case directly to voters.

At a press conference today to launch the Arizona Coalition for Common Sense, Kelly acknowledged the political hurdles that remain.

\"Arizona is different,'' he said, with a long history of \u2014 and relationship with \u2014 firearms. \"Arizona could be a tricky state when you consider this.''

Kelly said the first line of attack is to try to change policy. He said that involves convincing lawmakers that a majority of Arizonans want to close what some call the gun show \"loophole'' that exempts people who buy firearms from another individual from having to go through the same background check as they would if purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer.

But he said Americans for Responsible Solutions is involved in more than just policy, saying it has an annual budget approaching $15 million.

\"And we spend a lot of that money around election time of November of even years,'' Kelly said.

\"When we can't get a Legislature to pass a bill that not only do we feel makes sense but that the citizens of that state overwhelmingly support, we will work really hard to elect people to the Legislature that will support the bill,'' he continued. \"And we've done that over and over again.''

He also has something beyond money: Giffords. She survived a 2011 assassination attempt at a Tucson event with constituents, an incident that killed six others.

"} ]