Friday, May 29, 2020

Bills seek to limit puberty blockers, other medical treatment for transgender youth

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2020 at 3:00 PM

“This is really about building a safe environment for trans individuals and their family,” said Tina Howard, the mother of a transgender teen who receives care at El Rio Health in Tucson. (Photo by Annabella Piunti/Cronkite News)
  • “This is really about building a safe environment for trans individuals and their family,” said Tina Howard, the mother of a transgender teen who receives care at El Rio Health in Tucson. (Photo by Annabella Piunti/Cronkite News)
TUCSON – For 17-year-old Fran Howard, receiving medical care has not always been easy. Howard identifies as nonbinary gender queer and uses they/them pronouns.

Years ago, Howard began seeking treatment to help transition but found it difficult to find a doctor who respected the decision and Howard’s medical needs.

“I felt like I had to prove my identity,” Howard said. “Just being in a trans body … and existing in the world is already so difficult, and going to the doctor is just this whole super invasive experience.”

Legislation cropping up in statehouses across the U.S. could make that experience even more difficult.

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Electionland 2020: Trump on Vote by Mail, Poll Worker PPE, Naturalizations and More

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2020 at 2:00 PM

This article is part of Electionland, ProPublica’s collaborative reporting project covering problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Click here to read updates about our voting coverage and more each week.

Trump’s Crusade Against Vote by Mail
In both his public appearances and on Twitter, President Donald Trump has continued to rail against mail voting, and has accused Democrats of trying to rig the election. This set off alarm bells among voting rights advocates and experts who believe the president is setting the stage to delegitimize the election if he loses. Then, this week, the president tweeted again about mail voting, and Twitter labeled his tweets with a message “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” which linked to this fact-check page. After falsely accusing Twitter of interfering in the election and stifling free speech, Trump threatened “Big action to follow!” On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order that aims to limit the power of social media companies.

The Latest on Vote By Mail
  • “Wisconsin shows that you can’t adopt vote-by-mail overnight,” Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford law professor and the head of the Healthy Elections Project, told The New York Times Magazine. “It’s not as easy as people think. The boring stuff matters — the scut work of supply chain and logistics and management is crucial.” (The New York Times Magazine)
  • The Illinois legislature is debating a bill that would withhold election funds from local officials if they fail to implement the expansion of mail voting. (The Center Square)
  • Texas’ lieutenant governor said expanding vote by mail was a “scam by Democrats to steal the election” and claimed seniors are more at risk of dying in a car crash than from getting coronavirus at the polls. (Texas Tribune)
  • “The shortest line that I’ve seen so far is the one at your kitchen table when you have your absentee ballot and fill it out at your convenience,” said Georgia’s governor, urging voters to return their ballots on time during the state’s primary. (GBP News)
  • Wisconsin will send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters for the November election. (WPR)
  • Absentee ballot use has spiked in Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Mexico and DC ahead of the states’ June primaries. (Talking Points Memo)
  • A West Virginia mail carrier was charged with attempted election fraud for reportedly altering absentee ballot applications. The mail carrier claims he did it as a joke. (WHSV)

Coronavirus Voting Impacts

  • Unless the federal government begins holding citizenship ceremonies again, hundreds of thousands of potential voters will be ineligible come November. (The Washington Post)
  • Some Atlanta polling places are offering free coronavirus tests, while another Georgia county’s only early voting location closed after a voter tested positive for COVID-19. (Fox 5, GBP News)
  • A reduction in in-person voting sites is likely to negatively impact New Mexico’s Native voters. (NM In Depth)
  • Furloughed county employees and volunteers are helping Pennsylvania’s York County handle thousands of absentee ballot requests. (York Dispatch)
  • Voter registration, which often takes place in person, is tanking in the midst of a pandemic. (NPR)
  • The proposed VoteSafe Act bill in the Senate would provide $5 billion to facilitate early and absentee voting, as well as curbside voting. (WKSU)

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Supreme Court rejects Brnovich attempt to fast-track opioids lawsuit

Posted By on Tue, Dec 10, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Arizona officials had urged the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case against the Sackler family, owners of opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, which filed for bankruptcy in the face of thousands of lawsuits over the opioid epidemic. - (PHOTO BY JOHANNA HUCKEBA/CRONKITE NEWS)
  • (Photo by Johanna Huckeba/Cronkite News)
  • Arizona officials had urged the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case against the Sackler family, owners of opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, which filed for bankruptcy in the face of thousands of lawsuits over the opioid epidemic.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected Arizona’s attempt to fast-track a case against the owners of Purdue Pharma in an effort to protect assets of the company for victims of the opioid crisis.

The justices without comment turned down Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s motion that the court should consider the state’s suit against the Sackler family.

Brnovich had claimed that family members were “looting” Purdue Pharma at a time when thousands of lawsuits are pending that accuse the company of helping create the opioid crisis.
Legal experts at the time called Arizona’s filing a long-shot—cases typically come to the high court only after they have been heard in lower courts—and Purdue has since filed for bankruptcy protection. But Brnovich said Monday he was disappointed with the high court’s decision.

“Today’s ruling will not end our efforts to hold Purdue and the Sacklers accountable for their role in the opioid crisis,” he said in a statement released by the attorney general’s office. “We will continue to fight for Arizona’s interests in the Purdue bankruptcy proceedings.”

The judge in that bankruptcy case has ruled that Purdue and the Sacklers are protected from lawsuits while the bankruptcy proceeds, an order that has been challenged by dozens of states with lawsuits pending.

In its petition to the Supreme Court in July, Arizona called the opioid crisis the “worst man-made disaster in American history.”

“There have been almost 400,000 opioid-related deaths in the United States in the last two decades,” the state’s complaint said, adding that “prescription opioid misuse costs the U.S. economy at least $78.5 billion annually.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported last week that there had been 3,768 opioid deaths in the state since June 15, 2017. That’s almost 400 more deaths than had been reported when the state filed its complaint with the Supreme Court on July 31.

The complaint claimed that Purdue has transferred more than $4 billion to eight Sackler family members since 2008, a year after the company pleaded guilty to federal charges that that it misled the public about the addictive properties of its drug, OxyContin.

Purdue now faces “thousands of lawsuits in which plaintiffs, including counties, cities, towns and nearly every state in the country, are seeking to recover billions of dollars under consumer protection and tort law,” the state said in its complaint then.

Purdue reached a tentative settlement this summer that would have included the Sacklers giving up control of the company, selling off foreign drug companies and putting $3 billion toward settlement of claims. The company filed for bankruptcy protection soon thereafter.

The company then tried to block Arizona’s Supreme Court appeal, arguing that “black letter bankruptcy law” mandated that “any and all fraudulent transfer claims against Purdue or the Sackler defendants may only be brought by the bankruptcy trustee.”

In a November response, Arizona argued that letting bankruptcy law dictate what cases the court could hear “strips this court of its jurisdiction to decide this controversy.” It called the opioid epidemic “an unprecedented public-health crisis” in need of a national solution.

“Only this court can enter a judgment that will be respected internationally when Arizona and other creditors inevitably pursue the assets that the Sacklers have stashed overseas,” the November filing said.

Cronkite News reporters Miranda Faulkner and Vandana Ravikumar contributed to this report.
For more stories from Cronkite News, visit

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Gov. Ducey Signs Bill for MMIWG Study Into Law

Posted By on Tue, May 14, 2019 at 2:23 PM

Tribal members and supporters of H.B. 2570 celebrate its passage in the Arizona House of Representatives. - COURTESY INDIVISIBLE TOHONO
  • Courtesy Indivisible Tohono
  • Tribal members and supporters of H.B. 2570 celebrate its passage in the Arizona House of Representatives.

Gov. Doug Ducey has signed House Bill 2570 into law, creating the first state-sponsored study to gather comprehensive data on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Arizona and identify causes of the systemic violence.

These cases, known as MMIWG cases, have historically received limited attention and improper classification. The only national study devoted to the subject—which was published by the Urban Indian Health Institute in Seattle last year—acknowledges that even their data for the number of Indigenous women and girls who have gone missing or have been murdered is likely an undercount.

They reported that in 2016, there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, though the U.S. Department of Justice's federal missing persons database, NamUs, only logged 116 cases. Arizona was ranked the third most dangerous state for Indigenous women with 54 cases, and Tucson was the fourth most dangerous city in the country with 30 recorded murders.

Activists have pointed to a lack of collaboration between local, state and tribal law enforcement officials and the misclassification of victims' ethnicity and tribal affiliations as the reason for the lack of accurate data.

The new law, introduced by Democratic Rep. Jennifer Jermaine, allows a study committee to be formed, with representation from seven Arizona tribes. The committee will include all members of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus, the Arizona attorney general or their designee, the director of the Department of Public Safety or their designee, attorneys and sheriffs from urban and rural counties, representatives from tribal government and law enforcement, victims advocates, social workers, counselors and legal and health service experts.

Once the study is completed in June 2020, the findings will be presented to tribal leadership and the state legislature. This could provide a framework for better policies to be enacted that would protect Indigenous women from targeted violence.

Gov. Ducey posted a tweet celebrating the passage of the bill this morning:

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl to Replace McCain

Posted By on Tue, Sep 4, 2018 at 11:14 AM

Former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl is appointed to fill John McCain's seat. - GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Gage Skidmore
  • Former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl is appointed to fill John McCain's seat.
Gov. Doug Ducey named former U.S. senator Jon Kyl to succeed the late Sen. John McCain.

Kyl said at a press conference that he would serve until the 2020 special election and not seek re-election.

There were rumors Ducey might appoint Cindy McCain to take the late senator's place. But Cindy McCain tweeted Tuesday morning that Kyl is a dear friend and it's a tribute to her husband that Kyl is "prepared to go back into public service to help the state of Arizona."

Kyl served with McCain as one of Arizona's U.S. senators from 1995 to 2013 and was Minority Whip starting in 2007. Before being elected to the Senate, he served in the House of Representatives.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia said in a statement that he would have appointed someone with "a history of independence and bipartisanship," such as Cindy McCain or former Arizona attorney general Grant Woods.

“Jon Kyl has served as Brett Kavanaugh’s 'sherpa' through the nomination process and will undoubtedly vote for his confirmation, which puts many rights we take for granted at risk, chief among them are women’s reproductive rights, civil rights, voting rights, environmental rights and workers rights," Garcia said.

Kly has been leading Kavanaugh, Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, through the confirmation process, which started today.

Kyl could be sworn in on Tuesday or Wednesday.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

LD 9 Newcomer JP Martin Loses to Incumbents in State House Race

Posted By on Tue, Aug 28, 2018 at 10:26 PM

Incumbents Pamela Powers Hannley and Randy Friese go to the general in the LD 10 House. - SAVANAH MODESITT
  • Savanah Modesitt
  • Incumbents Pamela Powers Hannley and Randy Friese go to the general in the LD 10 House.

Incumbents Pamela Powers Hannley and Randy Friese took the stage at the Pima County Democratic election party. They easily won over newcomer JP Martin, who got about 12 percent of the vote. Powers Hannley and Friese split the rest of the votes almost equally, with Freise getting a few percentage points more.

Freise said he's honored but reminded the excited crowd that they still have the general ahead of them.

"I’m ready for the work with all of your help,” he said.

In the general, they will face Republican Ana Henderson.

"We are going to beat Henderson," Powers Hannley said. "We beat her before, and we will beat her again.”

Interns Savanah Modesitt and Daniel Young-Miller contributed to this post.

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Kirsten Engel One of the Winners in LD 10 Dem Primary

Posted By on Tue, Aug 28, 2018 at 10:10 PM

Incumbent Kirsten Engel keeps her seat in LD 10 - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Incumbent Kirsten Engel keeps her seat in LD 10

Kirsten Engel gave her acceptance speech for the LD 10 Democratic House primary. She was one of four candidates, and as of Tuesday night has about 40 percent of the vote. Her opponents each have around 20 percent, so it's still too close to know who will go with her to the general to run against Republican Todd Clodfelter.

But she said she doesn't see the others as opponents, a sentiment echoed by each each of them.

“We are going to work for our kids, teachers, schools, environment and an economy that works for everyone," she said. "We fought against a soon to be minority Republican party that is bankrupt, backward and brutal.”

Tucson Weekly interns Daniel Young-Miller and Savanah Modesitt contributed to this post.

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David Garcia Declared Winner in the Arizona Democratic Governor's Race

Posted By on Tue, Aug 28, 2018 at 9:49 PM

David Garcia - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • David Garcia
David Garcia was announced winner in the Democratic primary gubernatorial race. Tucson Unified School District Boardmember Kristel Ann Foster spoke on his behalf at the Pima County Democrats election party.

She said he thanks his two opponents, Steve Farley and Kelly Fryer, for

raising important issues and making him a better candidate.

“And we can’t do this without them, and we can’t do this without you,” she said. "Arizona has declared that it's ready for vision over division."

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