Brewer vetoes bill limiting Medicaid to 5 years
PHOENIX (AP) - Gov. Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill that could force able-bodied Medicaid recipients to get a job and limit some to a maximum of 5 years of insurance.
Brewer vetoed the bill by House Speaker Andy Tobin on Tuesday. A veto letter explaining her reasons hasn't been released.
House Bill 2367 requires the state's Medicaid program to apply for a waiver from federal regulators every year to allow it to impose the new rules.
Federal officials say they likely would not approve the waivers. Tobin has said he believes Medicaid's position could change.
Tobin's bill also imposed copays on unneeded ambulance and emergency room use. He said they're needed to protect the state from excess expenses. Democrats argue they would limit the effectiveness of the health system for poor Arizonans.
RELIGIOUS TAX BREAKS
Governor vetoes religious tax breaks
PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer says she vetoed a bill allowing private property owners who lease space to churches to get a tax break because of several logistical concerns and because it's possible that owners who get the tax break will not pass on the savings to their renters.
House Bill 2281 would have granted property owners who lease to churches but aren't themselves religiously affiliated similar tax breaks to what churches get when they own property. The tax break applies only to space used for worship services.
The bill, which Brewer vetoed on Tuesday, would affect about one-half of 1 percent of commercial property owners. It could cost the state between $300,000 and $2.1 million in fiscal year 2016.
Proponents say the bill helps small churches that don't yet have the income to build their own establishments.
But Brewer said there are too many administrative challenges in accurately classifying rental properties and that the bill would have exacerbated those woes by requiring that the state track the way commercial property is used. She also worried there is insufficient data to determine the fiscal impact of the tax break.
"Our property tax classification system is one of the most complicated in the nation and continues to be one of Arizona's thorniest tax policy problems," Brewer wrote.
"Granting piecemeal relief exacerbates inequities and results in additional constituencies seeking similar treatment."
Brewer signs bill regulating insurance navigators
PHOENIX (AP) - Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill requiring licensing and background checks for navigators who help people buy health insurance on the federal marketplace.
The bill signed Tuesday by the Republican governor requires the state Insurance Department to license navigators.
Republican proponents say the requirements protect consumers from identity theft. More than a dozen GOP-controlled states have passed similar legislation. Democrats call them an attempt to slow down enrollment in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and unnecessary because navigators have contracts with the federal government.
Navigators help people pick insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act insurance exchange.
The Legislature passed the bill last week mainly along party lines, with majority Republicans in support. Democratic Sens. David Bradley and Katie Hobbs also voted for the bill.
Governor signs bill to stop federal takeover
PHOENIX (AP) - A bill that could avert a federal takeover of Arizona's construction safety standards division has been signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer.
Arizona has its own Occupational Safety and Health Administration that must comply with minimum federal requirements.
But legislation in 2012 changed Arizona's safety standards so that conventional precautions would have to be taken if someone was working 15 feet above ground or higher. Federal standards say the precautions are required at 6 feet above ground.
An amendment to Senate Bill 1307 would revoke that 2012 legislation but only if the federal agency ultimately deems Arizona's standards inefficient. The agency has threatened to take over Arizona operations if the state does not meet requirements.
Brewer signed the bill Tuesday.
Bill targeting wolf-recovery program gets vetoed
PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill allowing ranchers to kill endangered wolves in self-defense.
Senate Bill 1211 would have allowed livestock owners to kill a Mexican gray wolf if one was caught attacking livestock or a person.
Wildlife activists say the bill violated the federal Endangered Species Act.
A separate bill approved by both chambers sets up a reimbursement fund for ranchers who lose cattle to wolves. It still requires final action.
Proponents say the federal government is overstepping its boundaries with its wolf-recovery program in Arizona and New Mexico.
Brewer vetoed the bill on Tuesday.
Life term sought for woman in hammer-killing trial
PHOENIX (AP) - A lawyer for an Arizona woman convicted of fatally beating her husband with a hammer pleaded with a jury to sentence his client to life in prison instead of imposing the death penalty.
Defense Attorney Alan Tavassoli says Marissa Devault (dev-WAH') isn't a cold-blooded killer but rather a victim of an awful childhood.
Jurors at Devault's trial heard arguments Tuesday from lawyers over her punishment in the 2009 killing of Dale Harrell.
Prosecutor Eric Basta urged jurors to impose the death penalty and said Devault has shown no genuine remorse.
If sentenced to death, Devault would become the third woman on Arizona's death row.
Prosecutors say Devault killed Harrell in a failed bid to collect life insurance money.
Devault claims she acted in self-defense against a physically and sexually abusive husband.
House passes elections agency curb bill on 2nd try
PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona House has passed a bill preventing the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission from investigating possible campaign contribution violations by candidates who don't participate in the program.
The Senate-approved bill would allow only the Secretary of State and state Attorney General to investigate.
Senate Bill 1344 failed on a 29-25 vote on Monday but it passed on reconsideration Tuesday on a 36-23 vote.
Republican sponsors say the law creating the commission doesn't give it authority to investigate candidates who don't take public campaign funding.
The commission says the act grants them that authority and announced last year it planned to begin doing so. The act provides funding to candidates if they forgo private donations.
The House added language changing independent expenditure rules to the bill needs another Senate vote.
SMUGGLER DEATH PENALTY
Bill making smugglers eligible for death passes
PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Legislature has approved a bill that could make human smugglers convicted of murder eligible for the death penalty, sending it to Gov. Jan Brewer for action.
The House approved the bill on a 36-23 vote on Tuesday. The Senate approved House Bill 2313 with a 19-9 vote earlier in the day.
The bill by Republican Rep. Justin Pierce of Mesa adds smuggling or participating in or assisting a human smuggling organization to the list of crimes eligible for the death penalty.
It also requires a judge to consider whether it is likely that a defendant would commit another crime and that he or she is a threat to society.
Phoenix will bid for 2016 Democratic convention
PHOENIX (AP) - Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says the city will bid to host the Democratic Party's presidential nominating convention in 2016.
His announcement comes Tuesday, the same day the Democratic National Committee released a list of the 15 cities it is considering for the convention. Phoenix is on that list, along with Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and Las Vegas.
A decision is not expected until late this year or early 2015. Most cities expect the convention to cost between $55 million and $60 million.
Stanton says hosting the convention would deliver a boost to local businesses and would put the issues people in Phoenix face every day on the national stage.
Stanton also supported efforts to host the Republican convention, but the GOP has eliminated Phoenix from consideration.
Navajo council rejects measure on term limits
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) - A measure to keep Navajo Nation lawmakers from serving more than 16 years in office and limit the tribal president to eight years has failed.
Delegate Russell Begaye sponsored the legislation that went before the Navajo Nation Council on Tuesday. It did not get the 16 votes needed to pass.
Amendments that sought to enact a two-term limit for lawmakers and stagger their terms also failed.
The tribal president already is limited to two consecutive four-year terms. Begaye's legislation would have barred any tribal president who has served two terms, consecutive or not, from running again.
Tribal lawmakers are elected to serve four-year terms.
Begaye says he has legislation prepared that would allow Navajos to vote on term limits.
Private college announces Mesa campus will close
MESA, Ariz. (AP) - Westminster College has decided to close its Mesa campus at the end of the spring semester.
Officials at the private Missouri-based institution say the decision announced Tuesday is in response to lower-than-expected enrollment and market demand.
The Mesa campus opened last fall. It was the result of a partnership between the city and Westminster that followed a call by the city to attract liberal arts colleges to the growing community.
After studying the market, Westminster joined with three other institutions to offer services for undergraduate students in Mesa.
Westminster President George Forsythe says a number of colleges and universities have entered the Valley in the past three years, making for more competition.
Westminster says it's working with the Higher Learning Commission to develop a plan to help current students continue their education.
Arizona officials support wolf alternative
PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is supporting an alternative for managing Mexican gray wolves along the Arizona-New Mexico border.
The commission voted in favor of the alternative during a meeting Tuesday. It says the proposal was developed by 28 cooperating agencies and other stakeholders and will be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for consideration.
The proposal would allow for up to triple the target number of Mexican wolves in the Southwest from the previous goal of 100. Supporters say that would help with developing a self-sustaining population.
The alterative also calls for a major expansion of the area where wolves can be released and expansion of the area where wolves can disperse and establish territories.
Commission Chairman J.W. Harris says the biggest impediment to wolf reintroduction is social tolerance.
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