PHOENIX - David Martinez III will likely be recommended as the next student regent today in the second attempt to hold a confirmation hearing for the position.The first hearing was postponed after members of the Senate Higher Education Committee found out that Martinez, a secondary education senior, serves on a UA policy committee on transgender rights.After several interviews with legislators, Martinez will now speak before the legislative committee. Its members can recommend him to the whole Senate, which then votes to confirm him.Committee chair Sen. Tom O'Halleran, R-Sedona, and other Republican members wanted to talk to Martinez in detail about his involvement in the transgender committee, said Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson.""I think they were concerned that the committee was going to be difficult for other members to understand and that it would be difficult to support him,"" Aboud said. ""But that just didn't become a problem at all.""
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PHOENIX - Traffic violators who are eligible for defensive driving school might soon be allowed to take classes anywhere in the state. Under current regulations, a court can require students to attend a certain school.There are 15 defensive driving schools in the state, all of which have to be certified by the Arizona Supreme Court. County courts can contract with a limited number of driving schools, called preferred providers. People whose case is heard in that court must attend a school listed as preferred provider in that court. But a bill in the Legislature would allow people to take defensive driving classes at any of the 15 schools throughout the state.House Bill 2001 is what sponsor Rep. James Weiers, R-Phoenix, calls ""technical by nature,"" and it gives residents of Arizona's rural areas more choices of which school to attend, said Sen. Robert Blendu, R-Litchfield Park.Of the 15 defensive driving schools, 10 are in the greater Phoenix area. The other five are located in Tucson, Casa Grande, Kingman, Prescott and Claypool.Generally people have to attend defensive driving schools in the communities where they receive the ticket. This means some people travel hours from home to take the class. Under the bill, they would go to the school closest to their residence.""It is something that people have discussed for a while,"" said Barrett Marson, House communications director. ""It's an easy one to fix.""More than 200,000 people attend defensive driving school in Arizona annually, said Jerry Landau, the Arizona Supreme Court director of government affairs, a $25 million business.Under current laws, any driving school can apply to become part of the preferred provider list at any court. People with a ticket can get permission from the court to attend driving school closer to their homes. But both processes involve lots of paperwork that require time and patience, said Elaine Lewis, the owner of Gila County Traffic Survival School in Claypool.Lewis has heard students in her class complain about the lengthy procedures, and she said she thinks if the bill passes more people would be able to attend her classes at the courthouse in Globe and at the Pinal County administration building.But Supreme Court officials are concerned that passing the measure now might be rushed and that it might disrupt a working system that everyone is used to, Landau said.He is concerned there will be difficulties with money transactions between the driving schools and courts, and with documents being mailed to students on time, he said.""It's the beginning of April, and there's a lot of discussion that needs to be had on any of the unintended consequences of this bill and maintaining the integrity of the process,"" Landau said. ""Right now we risk consequences that we just may not know about at this time.""
PHOENIX - When it comes to graffiti vandalism in the counties, hands are tied not for sprayers, taggers and etchers, but for county officials who under current law have no power to fight the crime.This might change if a bill passes that would allow counties to establish their own ordinances for graffiti prevention, removal and abatement.About 20 cities and towns currently have those regulations in place, but counties - which are entities of the state government - depend on the Legislature to change the law and expand their jurisdiction.The ordinances under the bill are not yet clearly defined. But officials said it is likely that rules similar to those of municipalities will be implemented. This could include prohibiting selling spray paint, etching solution and certain markers to minors, as well as locking up those products or displaying them within view of the cashier.It would also allow counties to use their budget for graffiti removal.Though Pima County officials were the driving force behind House bill 2328, all counties are in support of the measure, said Craig Sullivan, executive director of the County Supervisors Association.""We think that it is going to vastly increase our ability to work with cities and municipalities to deal with vandalism caused by graffiti,"" Sullivan said. Pima County officials spend about $300,000 annually on removing graffiti on county property, he said, which does not include private housing or businesses.""We have a large unincorporated population, so all they have to do is cross the street and go into the county to buy their spray paint,"" said Rep. Jennifer Burns, R-Tucson, the bill's sponsor. It is illegal in several cities, including Tucson, for minors to buy spray paint.Though graffiti is also an issue on the UA campus, it is not higher than in any other community, said Sgt. Eugene Mejia, spokesman for the University of Arizona Police Department. Painted bathroom stalls and walls are the areas targeted most commonly, Mejia said, though he didn't have exact numbers of incidences.Mejia also said he didn't know whether the sprayers are students because the number of arrests are very low. The university, not the City of Tucson, is responsible for the cleanup, he said.Burns' bill only is one part of what communities can and should do to battle graffiti, said Michael Racy, a Pima County spokesman.Now that outreach and volunteer programs have been implemented, the measure could add a legal component that residents are not able to enforce themselves, Racy said at a hearing on the bill.""This bill is the end of a many, many, many-year community effort with neighborhood groups, business groups and a local nonprofit,"" he said. ""And all those groups came to us and asked for this piece of the puzzle.""But several legislators were critical about the bill at its first hearing in the House Counties Municipalities and Military Affairs Committee on Jan. 23.Most outspoken was Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, who said he was most concerned about overregulating small businesses by requiring them to lock up certain products like spray cans, etching solution and markers. Pearce also said there should be uniform statewide standards that require all areas to enforce the same rules. ""This is feel-good legislation in my opinion,"" he said. ""I'm not sure it does any good. I haven't seen any empirical data that would indicate this has the results we intended for it to happen.""Despite the criticism, the bill is awaiting a final vote in the House before it can be signed into law by Gov. Janet Napolitano.
PHOENIX - College students from around the state will have a chance to learn the ins and outs of Arizona politics and lobby for higher education at the Capitol as part of a new team put together by the Arizona Students' Association.Anyone who is interested and has time to attend training classes can join the Legislative Action Team, made up of at least 200 students from the UA, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.Members will meet with lawmakers and speak out for higher education at committee hearings during the session, said Tiffany Troidl, ASA government affairs director.
PHOENIX - The Arizona attorney general is launching an investigation to determine whether some student loan companies have violated state law by giving incentives to schools in exchange for preferred lender status. ""We have seen evidence in other states that these loans have improperly benefited lenders and schools at the expense of students,"" Attorney General Terry Goddard said in a press release. ""If similar abuses have taken place in Arizona, we will take action to stop them and hold accountable anyone who has acted outside the law."" The move comes shortly after several schools nationally have been found to have accepted money and in turn given lender companies preferred status, even though they did not offer the best rates to students, the press release said.Investigations into the loan industry, which generates $85 billion per year, also have been opened in states including California, New York and Wisconsin.A lender that New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo found to have provided money to schools throughout the country is on the UA convenience list of most used lenders.But neither that company, Student Loan Xpress, nor any other lenders ever gave and never will give money to the UA, said John Nametz, director of the Office of Financial Aid.While the UA does not have a preferred lender list, students have the option to pick from a so-called convenience list. Lenders on that list often waive certain fees and offer better rates to students, Nametz said.The better rates have nothing to do with foul play, Nametz said, adding that they simply stem from competition among lending companies and the UA's reputation that students historically have been reliable in paying off their loans.""Our students are credit-savvy, so they pick the lenders with good rates,"" he said. ""They have caused some lenders to offer better rates because they pay their loans back.""Other lenders on the convenience list include Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Arizona Higher Education Loan Authority and CitiBank.Goddard will ask at least two student loan companies to show records detailing their partnership with universities, community colleges and other vocational schools.In a conference call Tuesday, he talked to attorney generals from 40 other states to discuss how best to tackle the investigation. Goddard's office did not reveal the names of the loan companies being investigated, and spokeswoman Andrea Esquer did not comment on whether there is reason to believe that these companies have broken the law.""We're in the infancy of this investigation,"" Esquer said. ""We've seen there has been wrongdoing in other states. We want to make sure that students are not being hurt here in Arizona.""Esquer said she doesn't know when results of the investigation will be made public.For more information on financial aid and a list of the lenders, visit www.finaid.arizona.edu.
PHOENIX - The Arizona Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to consider the legality of a case in which former UA students sued the Arizona Board of Regents for increasing tuition by nearly 40 percent in 2003. In November, an appellate court decided the students are generally entitled to sue the board of regents over the decision to raise tuition. It did not say whether tuition was raised too much.The regents challenged that outcome and appealed to the Supreme Court, which will decide whether the regents can be sued over tuition hikes.Both plaintiffs and defendants applaud the step, saying they hope the court will rule in their favor.""Now it looks like it's finally going to get decided,"" said John Kromko, a former UA student and state legislator, who was among those who initiated the suit. ""I think this is a vital state matter that really needs to be decided by the Supreme Court.""Kromko and three other former students claim the regents violated the Arizona Constitution, which states that the ""university and all other state educational institutions shall be as nearly free as possible.""When tuition was raised by 39.1 percent in the 2003-04 school year, the money was not used just to improve education directly, Kromko said, but also for scholarships, research and building construction.In his experience tuition increases seldom have direct effects on higher standards in classroom equipment or better-qualified teachers, Kromko said.""It's right to give scholarships but it's not right for university students to pay for those,"" he said. ""The regents and the universities have not taken any steps to ensure that tuition is as low as possible.""But the regents say they are the ones to decide what tuition money can be used for. Part of that capacity is to ensure that enough financial aid is available to students who can't afford higher tuition rates, said Nancy Tribbensee, the general council for the Arizona University System and a staff member of the Arizona Board of Regents.""We're pleased that the Supreme Court has accepted review of Kromko,"" she said ""This gives them the opportunity to reaffirm the regents' constitutional authority to set tuition rates.""If the Supreme Court decides it is lawful to sue the regents, the initial case has to be reconsidered by the trial court. The challenge then for both parties would be to prove what exactly ""as free as possible"" means and what would be an unreasonably high tuition hike that could be claimed unconstitutional.If the Supreme Court decides the regents cannot be sued over that matter, the case will be dead.
PHOENIX - The Arizona Board of Regents released detailed information about finances and operations of the Phoenix biomedical campus in documents issued to a House representative Thursday as part of a subpoena request. House Speaker Jim Weiers, R-Phoenix, asked for the material after a recent hearing among university officials and legislators left several questions regarding the new school's financial future.In order to speed up budget negotiations in the House and Senate, lawmakers needed to know exactly how much money they should expect to spend on the campus in the future, said House spokesman Barrett Marson.In the hearing, several legislators said they thought the initial appropriation of $7 million in 2005 was the only money the universities needed. Weiers was one of those distrustful of the requests for increasing amounts of money, he said then, adding that there ""is a reluctance"" as to why the project has grown so fast.""Where is the finalization and how much is it going to eventually cost?"" he asked.But the material submitted by the regents shows that legislators were informed they would have to allocate more money during the next couple of years. In a cover letter that was submitted to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee in September 2005, the regents wrote that some budget details could still change in the future.""This is not intended to be a final plan for the Phoenix Program,"" the letter states.The project could cost an estimated $600 million, which is expected to come from several sources, said President Robert Shelton at the hearing.The biomedical campus will include expansions of the UA Colleges of Pharmacy and Medicine, in addition to UA and Arizona State University biomedical research projects on a building complex in downtown Phoenix.Twenty-four students will start at the Phoenix medical campus this fall, and the goal is to admit 150 first-year students by 2012, according to the material.To achieve this goal, the regents are asking legislators to allocate an increasing number of dollars each year, reaching $26 million in 2012 and peaking at $45 million in 2025, according to the documents. The total budget for the campus at that time could be as high as $220 million.Other sources of income include the city of Phoenix, research grants, the regents, tuition, gifts, endowments, the UA and ASU. So far, the UA has contributed nearly $6 million.This year, the regents requested $25 million for the programming and design of two buildings on the campus, to expand the UA Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy in Phoenix, for Northern Arizona University health professions projects and for a UA telemedicine program, among other projects.According to a study requested by the UA, the overall economic impact of the biomedical campus could be up to $2.1 billion each year by 2025.Weiers' office did not comment on the material because it was still being reviewed.
PHOENIX - Feral honeybee hives that form in random places like trees and abandoned houses could soon be less of a problem for residents as counties take responsibility for having the hives removed.Last week, Gov. Janet Napolitano signed into law a bill that adds wild honeybees to the list of public nuisances because they endanger public health. This means county officials can order a property owner to have a bee swarm removed at the owner's cost. If the bee swarm is located on public lands, the county will pay for the exterminator. No county currently has the authority to enforce wild bee removal.All wild bees are considered Africanized, which means they are more defensive and therefore more likely to attack than European bees.
PHOENIX - Following a subpoena request by the speaker of the House, the Arizona Board of Regents delivered detailed information about the UA College of Medicine Phoenix campus's finances yesterday.University officials and regents said they complied with the request and that they hope the more information they can provide to legislators, the better they will understand and support the project that will be launched this fall with 24 students but is expected to grow exponentially over the next years.""The speaker is operating within his legal authority,"" said Greg Fahey, the UA associate vice president for government relations, about the request. ""Our relations with most legislators are very good. We are constantly answering questions.""Eight of the 29 documents the regents supplied to House speaker Rep. Jim Weiers, R-Phoenix, already were available on the Board of Regents Web site, said Anne Barton, a regents spokeswoman.""The more information we can provide or we can get out there, the more supportive policy makers will be,"" she said. ""We're still very positive about the way the proposal will be received. We just have to get the word out.""The move came two weeks after several legislators peppered university officials with questions about the future of the campus, which may cost up to $600 million, according to President Robert Shelton.Though legislators continued working with the universities after the meeting and were able to get most of the information they asked for, Weiers issued the subpoena to speed up the process, said Barrett Marson, the House communications director.This is the first time Weiers has issued a subpoena and might be the first time a subpoena was ever issued to the Board of Regents, Marson and Barton said.""We're working through that so this is not a hostile situation,"" Marson said. ""We're going through the budget, and it's getting crunch time around here, and a lot of lawmakers want more information.""Budget negotiations are ongoing, and lawmakers need a clear picture of what the campus will cost to plan ahead for years to come, Marson said.The subpoena includes five requests, and material relating to all of them was delivered to Weiers' office around 11 a.m. yesterday, as requested in the document, Barton said.""The materials reflect our primary goal of developing a top-tier medical school in downtown Phoenix that will increase the number of physicians available to meet the state's current and future needs for quality health care,"" the Regents wrote in their submission package. ""The enclosed materials illustrate our commitment to maximize the public return on investment.""In the subpoena, obtained by the Arizona Daily Wildcat, Weiers asked for information about:
PHOENIX - University and student representatives welcomed the defeat of a bill that would have prohibited professors and teachers from voicing their opinions in class, but the sponsor said it might be back next year.Senate Bill 1542 passed the Senate Government Committee in mid-February but never made it out of the Rules Committee. The measure was a strike-everything amendment, introduced after the similar Senate Bill 1612 failed to pass the Education Committee a day earlier.The bill, introduced by Sen. Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, would have punished instructors in K-12 schools, universities and colleges for voicing their opinions related to politics, legal actions, culture and society.
PHOENIX - Three months into this year's session, university and student representatives say they are satisfied with the decisions state legislators have made so far and they are hopeful that budget negotiations will yield generous monetary support as well.The money will be used to fund the biomedical campus in Phoenix, to improve student retention and to increase financial aid, among other projects. The House and Senate are currently negotiating their budget proposal, which will be released later this session. ""So far it's been a pretty successful session,"" said Serena Unrein, executive director of Arizona Students Association. ""No legislation that would be detrimental to Arizona's university students has passed. We're hoping that there'll be some positive things including the budget for the public university students will pass.""Greg Fahey, the associate vice president for government relations at the UA, said there has been lots of support throughout the session from some legislators, including Rep. Jennifer Burns, R-Tucson, and Senate President Tim Bee, R-Tucson. ""How well we have done will be determined by the appropriations, which are still in the air,"" Fahey said. ""I'm optimistic though that with all the support that the universities will come out reasonably well.""Funding for the biomedical campus has dominated much of the higher education talks so far. Since 2005, university presidents have returned to the Capitol many times to lobby for more support - $25 million this session. Though some legislators were skeptical during a recent hearing on the issue, most understand the importance of the project and its economical implications for the state, said Sen. Tom O'Halleran, R-Sedona, who hopes the full amount will make it into the budget.""It's all a matter of priorities,"" he said. ""Most of the senators and representatives understand the important role that our university systems play and I think it's important that we continue to foster a higher educational system in the state so we can compete in a global economy.""The $13.4 million requested by the Arizona Board of Regents for financial aid might be granted only in parts, O'Halleran said, but added the amount will likely be higher than in previous years. Another large sum likely will be given to the universities for student retention, he said.Gov. Janet Napolitano in a January proposal suggested giving $25 million for biomedical education and research at the three state universities, which includes funding for the UA College of Medicine in Phoenix and the College of Pharmacy.It also included $10 million to attract better faculty and graduate students and to improve retention; in addition to a 3.5 percent increase in employee pay. Napolitano also proposed an additional $6.3 million for the Arizona Financial Aid Trust fund, thus reaching the goal of providing more than two dollars for every dollar paid by students. Apart from appropriations bills it has been comparatively quiet for universities this session, Fahey said, and there were not many crucial measures to deal with.University and student representatives have been able so far to defeat one bill that would have prohibited professors and teachers from voicing their opinion in class. Both, Fahey and Unrein said they worked with the bill's sponsor, Sen. Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, and other proponents of the bill to convince them that the measure would have been ""detrimental"" to higher education, Unrein said. The bill, Senate Bill 1542, passed the Senate Government Committee in February but has not been heard again.
PHOENIX - Hit-and-run drivers will have to put up with stiffer penalties in the future if legislators pass a bill that is intended to stop drivers from leaving the scene of an accident.Senate Bill 1118 would move up penalties for all hit-and-run accidents, whether or not they result in death or serious injury of the victim. Penalties would also increase if the driver leaving the scene was at fault for the crash and if the accident only caused damage to another vehicle.Three pedestrians have been involved in a hit-and-run on Tucson public roadways in 2007, compared to five bicycle riders, two trains and almost 400 other vehicles, according to the Tucson Police Department Web site.Drivers know that penalties for drinking and driving are tough and penalties for getting into an accident are tough. However, lawmakers need to ensure that the penalties for leaving the scene are even tougher, said Sen. Jim Waring, R-Phoenix, who first introduced the measure in the Arizona state Legislature.""People need to be disincentivized from leaving the scene of an accident or try to take off,"" he said. Sometimes, people leave the scene of an accident when they are drunk in the hopes of getting rid of alcohol in their system until the police catch them, said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, in a House Transportation Committee hearing on March 22.Other reasons drivers tend to leave the accident scene could be that they don't have insurance, that their driver's license is suspended or that they have a warrant, said TPD spokesman Sgt. Decio Hopffer.""It could be a variety of things that could prompt them to not stay at the scene,"" Hopffer said. ""But by law you are obliged to it. You're only compounding your problems by leaving the scene.""Some people think they can get away with it, Hopffer said, but there are several measures police can take to track down the driver, such as running the license plate, searching for a particular car and following up on a description of the person.That's why it is important victims try to memorize those things, even if they are in shock after the incident, Hopffer said. ""A lot of times, things happen, you kind of panic, and by the time you regain your senses you look and the car is gone,"" he said. ""Then there is not much for us to go on, and those cases are closed.""While it is important to memorize certain information about cars and drivers, Hopffer said victims or bystanders should not follow the car and try to pursue it themselves. Hopffer said he doesn't know how many cases remain unsolved.
PHOENIX - About 50 students marched at the state Capitol yesterday to rally support from legislators for state financial aid.Chanting and holding up signs that read ""Yeeha, fund financial aid,"" and ""Arizona loves AFAT,"" the crowd drew the attention of several officials who stopped to listen.The event was organized by the Arizona Students' Association in hope of reaching a $13.4 million goal toward the Arizona Financial Aid Trust, the only form of state financial aid. Students provide 1 percent of resident undergraduate tuition toward the fund and the state must match twice that amount.The $13.4 million also would provide extra money to offset rising tuition, which has increased by 70 percent during the last five years.""While the cost of higher education continues to rise in Arizona, financial aid has failed to keep pace,"" said ASA board chair Devin Mauney. ""I hope that legislators will listen to the student voices that were at the Capitol today.""Several lawmakers spoke out at the event, including Rep. David Schapira, D-Tempe, who is a former Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University student and also brought a megaphone to help students chant.""Financial aid is extremely important,"" Schapira said. ""I see it as one of my biggest jobs down here to fight for affordable higher education.""The welfare of Arizona's residents and the state's economic success is related to the quality of higher education, said Rep. Jackie Thrasher, D-Glendale. But, she said, there were 38,000 students in fiscal year 2005 that needed financial assistance, while only a fraction received all the money they needed.""We must do better because our students are the future of Arizona,"" she said. ""Never, ever, ever give up on this fight.""Rep. Jennifer Burns, R-Tucson, said the students should be proud for showing up at the Capitol.""Thank you all for being here today to let my colleagues know that these things are important and that the universities are important, our students are important and AFAT is important,"" she said.Representatives from the Associated Students of the University of Arizona attended the event to get the UA's voice heard and to enable more students to go to college, said Brad Wulff, a business administration junior and freshman class council director for ASUA. ""It's really important that we get the word out there about it,"" he said.Sarah Doyle, a psychology freshman, said she came to the event because she noticed it is getting more difficult to receive financial aid. Although Doyle doesn't receive any aid, the people she knows who do urgently need it to continue their education, she said.""The students here are becoming more aware of the issue and it raises awareness among the legislators as well,"" Doyle said, but added: ""A couple of them showed up, but not enough, and we'll keep rallying until they do.""
A recent hire in the College of Nursing will kick off a new partnership between the UA and a Scottsdale community health center, where she plans to conduct cancer research.Barbara F. Piper was chosen as the first UA chair of nursing research and will provide a link between academia and helping people in the community.Piper will spend most of her time working with cancer patients at Scottsdale Healthcare, a northeast valley nonprofit with several hospitals, outpatient centers and home health services.Piper will be the only College of Nursing faculty member to concentrate on cancer patients suffering from fatigue, which often has no identifiable causes and is not easily cured.""It's a wonderfully innovative and exciting position that enables me to continue my research with fatigue and cancer patients and to hopefully spark some new research and collaborative projects between Scottsdale Healthcare and the UA,"" Piper said.She will also work on the UA campus to assist UA nursing students.""She was addressing a very significant clinical issue related to the experience of having cancer,"" said Marjorie Isenberg, dean of the College of Nursing. ""It's a wonderful opportunity for our students to be mentored by someone with that expertise.""Piper has conducted several studies related to cancer nursing practices. She currently is co-investigating a five-year study to update and implement national guidelines on treating fatigue and pain in cancer patients. Fatigue in cancer patients is more serious and longer-lasting than in healthy people, Piper said. While rest and sleep might help relieve symptoms for many healthy people, it can worsen the ailment for cancer patients, who need a tailored cure that can include exercise, physical therapy and support groups. Almost all cancer patients in all stages suffer from some form of fatigue, Piper said.""It's definitely the most common symptom that all cancer patients experience,"" she said. Scottsdale Healthcare officials initiated talks about the collaboration because a considerable effort goes into finding a cure, but there is not much research on improving care for patients who are already diagnosed, said Susan Brown, associate vice president for oncology services for Scottsdale Healthcare.""From our perspective, we consider the collaboration for the nurse researcher critical,"" Brown said. ""Dr. Piper will develop our research program in the area of symptom management, and she brings expertise to all the rest of my nursing staff.""UA officials were enthusiastic about the idea because there has never been a partnership with a community health center where students can do research and gather experience, Isenberg said.""It certainly pays off for us,"" she said. ""We, in essence, are developing the science and then, in connection with the health care system, can translate that into patient care.""Before accepting her current position, Piper was an associate professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing. She has also held positions at the University of California, the San Jose State University and the College of Marin in California.Piper has a doctoral degree and a master's of science degree in nursing from the University of California at San Francisco. She also has a bachelor's degree in nursing from Syracuse University. Piper is employed by the College of Nursing, but her salary and benefits are paid for by Scottsdale Healthcare.
PHOENIX - Red, orange and pink shirts stand for sexual assault and rape; blue and green ones for child sexual abuse.There were hundreds of them. ""We are stronger than what you did to us,"" a bright red shirt read.""Daddy, you hurt me as a child for many years,"" a small green shirt read, and continued: ""I felt scared and ashamed. A little 6-year-old should not be molested and physically abused by her father.""Hanging in two rows from metal bars at the Phoenix City Hall yesterday, the Clothesline Project kicked off National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
PHOENIX - State legislators grilled the UA and Arizona State University presidents Tuesday about whether the funds they ask to build the Phoenix biomedical campus are growing unreasonably high.In 2005, the Legislature allocated $7 million toward the construction of the campus and several lawmakers said they thought it was a one-time allocation to the school. This year, university leadership requested $25 million and total estimates for the project hover close to $600 million, which is expected to come from several sources, including federal, state and private funding, said UA President Robert Shelton.House speaker Rep. Jim Weiers, R- Phoenix, said even though he is a strong supporter of bioscience, there is a ""reluctance"" as to why the project has grown so fast. ""Help me understand the half a billion,"" Weiers asked Shelton. ""What we were told is not what has happened. Where is the end, where is the finalization and how much is it going to eventually cost?""Shelton said the $7 million was used to take first steps toward completion of the program, but added that he was not UA president when legislators first approved the project.ASU President Michael Crow argued that legislators had not been deceived, but that the project simply had expanded since it was initially planned. Twenty-four students will start school in Phoenix this fall, and Crow said that's what was initially planned and the $7 million was sufficient to take that first step.""It was always the case that the regents and the university leadership were asked if this is far enough, and the answer is no,"" he said.The goal now is to grow to more than 100 students per year, to construct more buildings, expand the faculty, develop a biomedical research branch and create a connection with local hospitals to train the students, Crow said.""I can tell you how much it costs,"" he said. ""And the answer is a lot.""But he added that compared to other high-growth states such asVirginia, Florida or California, Arizona's medical school is cheap and efficient in its partnership between the UA and ASU.""At the end of the day, if we end up with two great public medical school campuses, one in Tucson and one in Phoenix, these are relatively modest investments when you think about what the power of the medical school can do,"" Crow said. Overall, the legislators applauded the efforts, but called for a detailed plan of how much money they can expect to spend on the campus over the next years.Other questions included whether there were enough residency spots for the students, details on the partnership with the Maricopa Integrated Health System and how it can be assured that the program will help alleviate a doctor shortage in the state.
A surge of copper theft across Arizona has left many places on campus stripped of the semiprecious metal, especially during the last several months.Copper sale prices were at an all-time high last year and the often easily accessible metal can be resold quickly at dozens of scrap metal businesses around the state.There are several thousand miles of copper wire located on campus, said Albert Tarcola, director of facilities management at the UA. Snaking in cables underground, running up and down building walls and hidden in parking meters, the wire is difficult to secure.Tarcola estimated about $3,000 worth of copper wire has been stolen this year and the University of Arizona Police Department Web site lists at least 15 incidences of copper theft around campus in 2005 and 2006.""We've had a rash over the last couple of months,"" Tarcola said. ""It's costly for us and it's a nuisance.""Tarcola said he has had to step up security in places by locking up the wire when possible.Not only does the university have to pay for stolen wire, but construction work also halts until new wire is delivered.Theft has occurred in places such as the Math building annex, the Center for Computing and Information Technology, the Meinel Optical Sciences building, the Nugent building and several sorority houses, according to the UAPD Web site.The police department's investigative unit has been in close contact with Tucson Police Department officials to monitor and battle the crime, said UAPD spokesman Sgt. Eugene Mejia.The theft not only is related to rising copper values, but also to an increase in methamphetamine addicts, said Sgt. Tom VanDorn, legislative liaison for the Arizona Association of Police Chiefs.Mejia confirmed this, but said it is not limited to meth. ""To a larger extent, all drug addicts prey on our campus,"" he said. Students are not involved in the thefts, he said. There has been a 96 percent increase in methamphetamine-related arrests in the state during the past three years, according to a 2006 study by the Attorney General's Office.Metal theft has triggered actions by Phoenix lawmakers who vow their bills will curb the crime.Out of three initial bills, one has made its way through the House and is awaiting a vote by the Senate judiciary committee. House Bill 2314 would make it harder to sell scrap metals for quick money, because the seller would have to wait several days before receiving a check from the dealer. It also would require scrap metal dealers to verify and copy sellers' driver's licenses, and would increase penalties for damaging property. ""Copper thieves destroy valuable property just to harvest a small amount,"" said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jerry Weiers, R-Glendale, in a press release. ""We need to increase penalties for those who steal copper and destroy property.""The Arizona Copper Theft Committee, composed of several hundred business owners from across the state, estimated the total damage of copper theft in the state between $50 million and $100 million annually, Bechtel said, with farms, utility companies and homebuilders taking the brunt of it. ""We just feel something has to be done,"" said Jim Bechtel, chairman of the Coolidge-based committee. ""It just goes on and on and on - there's no end.""
PHOENIX - More than $2 million was awarded to researchers at the UA and Arizona State University last week for collaborative biomedical projects designed to discover treatment and technologies for several serious diseases. The money was awarded by the Arizona Board of Regents as part of the Technology Research Infrastructure Fund, which is collected from a voter-approved sales tax increase that passed in 2001.The UA's BIO5 Institute and ASU's Biodesign Institute received the largest portion of the money, $1.2 million, to prevent, identify and fight diseases including Parkinson's disease, valley fever, diabetes, asthma and cancer.
PHOENIX - With the goal to make Arizona politics more accessible to the public, the state Legislature has added two features intended to give residents more oversight in state-related proceedings.Two new employees in the Arizona Ombudsman-Citizens' Aide office will help residents gain access to public records, and an new function on the Legislature's Web site will make video of floor and committee hearings available for 24 hours.Arizona residents have said repeatedly that access to data such as the video archive helps them make more informed decisions in elections and daily life, said Diane Brown, the executive director of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit advocating a fair and democratic government, among other issues.
PHOENIX - A bill enabling nurse practitioners to perform certain tasks that currently can only be administered by physicians would ease the burden on doctors and offer patients quicker health care, supporters say.Senate Bill 1100 would allow nurse practitioners ð- registered nurses who have completed some degree of higher education - to issue information and certificates about patients' health status to government entities or health insurance providers.The statements include letters needed to be exempt from jury duty for health reasons, certificates qualifying patients for a handicapped license plate or tag, information regarding someone's ability to drive a vehicle or information about physical and mental health in adoption and legal guardian cases.Nurse practitioners already perform the examinations necessary for those statements, but they can't legally issue their findings, said Rory Hays, who lobbies in support of the measure on behalf of the Arizona Nurses Association.""Nurse practitioners have proven over the years the importance that they are at the bedside,"" said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Carolyn Allen, R-Scottsdale. ""It seemed to me that it is time to recognize their value.""The legislation could help UA students and faculty at Campus Health. Although patients currently can be examined by a nurse practitioner, they might have to wait for certain documents to be signed by a physician, said nurse practitioner Lisette LeCorgne, the urgent care coordinator at Campus Health. ""It's going to grease the wheel to speed things up for the patients,"" LeCorgne said. ""It looks like this is important legislation, it makes perfect sense.""The seven nurse practitioners who work in general medicine, women's health and urgent care can treat basic problems but must refer more difficult cases to a physician, LeCorgne said.This ""collaborative practice"" would free up physicians' time if nurse practitioners could handle additional tasks such as those under the bill, she said.Unlike registered nurses, registered nurse practitioners can diagnose and treat certain basic conditions without supervision. They have both a bachelor's and graduate nursing degree.One of the reasons why Allen introduced the bill is to alleviate the statewide physician shortage, she said.Nurse practitioners in recent years have played a more dominant role in treating patients because physicians are often in short supply, Hays said.More and more nurse practitioners also lead their own practice, which means their patients have to find a doctor to authorize the information, Hays said.""It's an extra, unnecessary step which causes inconvenience and expense for patients,"" she said. ""We're simply making the adjustment to reflect the fact that many people use nurse practitioners as their primary care providers."" During the last several years the scope of nurse practitioners' responsibilities has widened continually, Hays said. About two years ago they were given permission to sign death certificates.Allen's measure also is supported by the Arizona Medical Association and the Arizona Association of Community Health Centers. The bill passed the Senate and will be heard by the House Health Committee tomorrow.