The Skinny

Street Dreams

A Broadway widening plan is on the way to the Tucson City Council

At a tense meeting last week, the Broadway Citizens Task Force came up with a final recommendation for the future of the corridor between downtown and County Club Road: The street will be expanded to six lanes, but fewer building will be knocked down.

But on the downside, the $71 million project will have narrower sidewalks and bike lanes and less landscaping.

The plan, which will need to be ratified by the City Council, came after more than two years of meetings to determine the future of the midtown corridor. The original plan called for eight lanes, with two of those lanes dedicated to transit (and potentially, an extension of downtown's modern streetcar). But area residents balked because they said traffic counts didn't justify eight lanes, particularly when that plan would require the destruction of so many buildings.

Members of the Broadway Citizens Task Force were upset last month that the six-lane proposal forwarded to the Regional Transportation Authority did not include two dedicated transit lanes, but the final recommendation called for dedicating those transit lanes if the council decides to do so.

Councilman Steve Kozachik, who had fought for a downsized project for the last two years, called the decision "a watershed in the right direction."

"Staff finally got out of the way and let the task force wrestle with the options without interfering or trying to direct them to a programmed result," Kozachik said. "This could have happened a year ago if they'd have simply stood down and let go of their preconceived notions of how the corridor should look."

The plan will be on display at an open house on April 23 at Sabbar Shrine Hall, 450 S. Tucson Blvd., and is expected to get approval from the City Council in May. Work on the widening is expected to begin in late 2016.

Medical Meddling

Ducey signs anti-abortion law that forces doctors to tell women they can reverse abortions

Gov. Doug Ducey signed a new law requiring doctors performing drug-induced abortions to tell women that they can reverse the termination of their pregnancy by taking another drug.

Critics of the legislation—including Dr. Ilana Addis, the chair of the board for the Arizona Section American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists—say there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that medication abortions can be reversed with a special dose of another drug.

Jodi Liggett, the public policy director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, said that Ducey "has demonstrated very clearly he is hostile to women's health care, including abortion and family planning."

"This bill takes the trust a woman has in her physician and preys on that trust when she is most vulnerable," Liggett added. "The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and more than a dozen organizations that serve women and families across the country joined Planned Parenthood in asking Gov. Ducey to veto this bill because of the horrendous mandate it will place into statute. Politicians are not physicians. "

Ducey didn't address the provision requiring doctors to provide women with information that has no basis in medical science in his prepared statement celebrating his signature. Instead, he focused on another provision of the law that prevents women from buying insurance coverage for abortions if they purchase a plan on the federal exchange.

"The American people overwhelmingly oppose taxpayer funding of abortions, and it's no different in Arizona, where we have long-standing policy against subsidizing them with public dollars," Ducey said. "This legislation provides clarity to state law."

But federal law already requires women to pay an extra charge for abortion coverage for policies sold on the federal exchange. Health insurance companies have estimated the additional cost of a separate rider covering abortion services comes out to between 10 cents and 70 cents a month, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office study. Because federal law requires the insurance companies to charge no less than a dollar per month to cover the cost of abortion coverage, it appears that women are subsidizing the federal government, not the other way around.

There is an exception for women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest, so women will have to reveal those details to their insurance company should they wish for insurance to cover the cost of the procedure.

Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, said the organization "will certainly consider all of our options, including litigation, to prevent Arizona women from being subject to this dangerous bill that forces physicians to promote unproven and medically unsanctioned practices."

International Incident

Grijalva criticizes draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement

The Skinny is not an expert on free trade agreements, but we share Southern Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva's concern about a provision in a leaked version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement being hammered out between the United States and other nations in North America, South America and Asia.

The "investment chapter" provision would give corporations the right to take countries that establish profit-reducing regulations to special tribunals organized by the World Bank or the United Nations, according to the New York Times.

Grijalva joined with his Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Keith Ellison (D-MN) to criticize the provision in a prepared statement last week.

"The text of the Investment Chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership validates concerns repeatedly raised by the Progressive Caucus about one of the biggest trade deals in history," Grijalva said. "Expanding ISDS increases foreign corporations' ability to challenge U.S. policies outside of the U.S. court system, and demand monetary compensation for the loss of their 'expected future profits.' This erodes the power of Congress to establish vital health and environmental protections that protect consumers."

"The United States is leading a global race to the bottom that isn't good for families anywhere," Grijalva continued. "Good trade deals should not expose our consumer protections to legal attacks by foreign corporations."

"Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel" airs Sunday at the special time of 9 a.m. on KGUN-9.

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