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VIRUS OUTBREAK-ARIZONA

Arizona to give Pima County go-ahead for FEMA vaccine site

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona’s top health official announced a federally supported vaccination site will be allowed to open around the Tucson area, ending a state and county tug-of-war. Dr. Cara Christ said Friday that Arizona’s second-largest county can work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to operate a vaccine site. The county had been pushing the state to approve an offer to establish a community vaccination center to serve its Hispanic population. Arizona initially rejected the request. But Christ says the state reversed its decision after assurances that Pima County could provide staffing and resources. Gov. Doug Ducey argues the federal government simply giving Arizona more doses would be more efficient. Pima County officials say the site would be a win-win.

MONUMENT PROTESTS-ARIZONA

Arizona GOP wants felony for protesters who damage statues

PHOENIX (AP) — Republicans in the Arizona Legislature are reacting to last year’s wave of damage to Confederate monuments by civil rights protesters by trying to make it a felony to damage any public or private monument. Rep. John Kavanagh supported his proposal at a Senate committee hearing Thursday by saying public monuments are a statement by the community that demand more protection. Democrats call Kavanagh’s an effort to criminalize protests against pro-slavery statues. The House passed Kavanagh’s proposal on a party-line vote opposed by minority Democrats last month and it now awaits action in the GOP-controlled Senate. 

TUITION-ARIZONA UNIVERSITIES

No increases for resident undergrads in tuition proposals

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Board of Regents says tuition proposals by the presidents of the three state universities for the 2021-2022 academic year don’t include increases for undergraduate students who are Arizona residents. Regents President Larry Penley said the stance taken by the university presidents reflects a commitment to ensuring that education is affordable despite the financial hardships placed on many students by the pandemic. While Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona proposed no tuition increase for resident undergraduates, Arizona State University went broader by proposing no tuition increases for any current or incoming student, including undergraduates and graduate students.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION

Navajo Nation confirms 9 new COVID-19 cases, 2 more deaths

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has reported nine new COVID-19 cases for a second day. The latest numbers released Friday, including two additional deaths, raises the tribe’s numbers to 30,040 cases and 1,245 known deaths since the pandemic began. Health care providers across the Navajo Nation are administering the vaccine either at drive-thru events or by appointment. Tribal President Jonathan Nez says around half of the Navajo Nation’s adult population has been fully vaccinated. However, he urged the community to minimize travel, continue to wear masks and social distance. Mask mandates and daily curfews remain on the reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.  

NATIONAL GUARD-HELD AT GUNPOINT

Feds charge Arizona man in National Guard holdup in Texas

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Federal officials have charged a man accused of forcing off a West Texas road a National Guard convoy transporting COVID-19 vaccines, then holding 11 Guard soldiers at gunpoint. Federal prosecutors say 66-year-old Larry Harris of Willcox, Arizona, is charged with assaulting a federal officer with a deadly weapon. Police say Harris followed the three National Guard vans from a gas station and tried multiple times to run them off the road before turning his vehicle into oncoming traffic to stop them. He told police he stopped the vans because he believed people inside them had kidnapped a woman and child.

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY-OWNERSHIP

News outlet Indian Country Today has new a owner: itself

PHOENIX (AP) — Indigenous news organization Indian Country Today has changed ownership. The National Congress of American Indians on Friday transferred its interests in the outlet to IndiJ Public Media, a newly incorporated Arizona nonprofit. Indian Country Today has operated as an independent limited liability company under NCAI since 2017, when the Oneida Indian Nation donated the outlet to the country’s oldest and largest tribal organization. It will now operate as an independent company. NCAI President Fawn Sharp called the move an “exciting time for Indian Country Today to become fiscally independent and to continue its tradition of an autonomous free press.” Indian Country Today is headquartered at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

MINE PERMIT REQUIREMENT REMOVED

Proposed Arizona mine passes federal regulatory hurdle

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The proposed Rosemont Mine in Arizona has passed one federal regulatory hurdle after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided that the project no longer needs a Clean Water Act permit. The federal agency said Wednesday that the mine is not covered by the Clean Water Act because of Trump administration changes to federal rules that govern which streams receive regulatory control. The decision still does not permit the mine to be built. Other legal hurdles remain before the $2 billion project can begin southeast of Tucson. The ruling overturns previous determinations by the agency that it had authority to regulate mine discharges under the Clean Water Act.

POLICE REVIEW BOARDS

GOP bills would limit civilians on police review panels

PHOENIX (AP) — Legislation backed by law enforcement groups that would sharply limit the ability of civilians to sit on police review boards has sailed through an Arizona Senate committee over opposition from minority Democrats. They argued the proposals could undercut efforts to boost police accountability. One measure approved by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee limits civilians on police investigation and discipline boards by requriing two-thirds of members to be sworn officers. Another would require civilians to attend a police academy or take 80 hours of state-certified police training to sit on a civilian review board.