Howard Fischer

State Capitol Reporter

Howard Fischer is a veteran journalist who has reported on state government news since 1982, the last 19 years for Capitol Media Services.  Prior to that, he had been Associate Editor for Phoenix Business Journal, New Times, and the (Tucson) Arizona Daily Sun and Managing Editor of the Bisbee Daily Review.  In addition to reporting for KNAU, Howard also reports for daily and weekly news institutions around the state.  Fischer and his wife, Gabe, live in Laveen, an as yet unincorporated community on the southwest edge of Phoenix.

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State Capitol News
9:27 am
Tue March 13, 2012

Governor Brewer Circumspect on Penny Sales Tax

The initiative launched last week would kick in on June 1st, 2013, the day after the current three-year temporary tax hike approved by voters expires. Proponents say the money is needed to ensure adequate funding for education, with some cash earmarked for transit projects and programs for children. Governor Jan Brewer, who pushed that temporary levy, said her main concern is THAT one expires as she promised.

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State Capitol News
11:00 am
Mon March 12, 2012

Democratic State Rep. Patterson Suspended from Committees

Representative Daniel Patterson (D-Tuscon) is the subject of an ethics committee complaint following allegations of domestic violence involving the woman he had been living with. He has denied any wrongdoing. But House Speaker Andrew Tobin said he believes having Patterson serving on the panels while the inquiry proceeds is not good for the House.

"My view," said Tobin, "is he's a bigger distraction than all the other members who also have constituents. And this is not the first time he has been suspended from a meeting."

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State Capitol News
12:15 pm
Fri March 9, 2012

Penny Sales Tax Initiative Formally Launched Today

An initiative drive launched today seeks to let voters decide if they want to make permanent the 1-cent sales tax set to expire next year. 

The proposal would earmark about 75 percent of the billion dollars a year for education, mostly for K-12 funding but also for college scholarships. Initiative organizer Ann-Eve Pedersen said this is not just throwing money at the problem, with some public school funding tied to performance.

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State Capitol News
9:51 am
Fri March 9, 2012

AZ Senate Votes Against Sales Tax on Amazon

One of the nation's largest online retailers beat back a legislative effort Thursday to force it to start collecting taxes on its sales to state residents. 

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State Capitol News
2:16 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

State Unemployment Numbers Continue to Improve

The state's jobless rate dropped three-tenths of a point in January for the month before. 

The 8.7 percent unemployment rate announced by the Department of Administration is the same rate officials had said was the figure for December. But since that time, the statistics have been through an annual benchmarking revision. So, as of now, the official state rate for December is not 8.7 percent but 9 percent. Aruna Murthy, the agency's director of economic analysis, said such adjustments are inevitable.

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State Capitol News
2:13 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Senate Committee Decides to Send NAU and ASU a Present

A Senate panel voted today to give additional cash to two of the state's three universities. 

The $12 million for Arizona State University and $3.3 million for Northern Arizona University would be on top of whatever cash lawmakers and the governor approve for the schools. Senator Steve Yarbrough said the move is designed to address the fact that, the way the budget has been set for years, has resulted in the University of Arizona getting more state cash per student than the other two schools.

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State Capitol News
8:56 am
Wed March 7, 2012

AZ Senate Denies Voters Say on Photo Radar

The proposal sought a November vote on whether photo enforcement should be outlawed in Arizona. That includes not just catching speeders but also those who run red lights. Sen. Rick Murphy said only a small percentage of those who ignore traffic signals are bad drivers. He said these red light cameras mainly capture what he called technical violators.

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State Capitol News
8:49 am
Wed March 7, 2012

AZ Senate Votes to Ban Wrongful Life Lawsuits

These lawsuits are filed by parents who claim a doctor was negligent in failing to detect a birth defect -- and that failure deprived them of the ability to decide whether to have an abortion. Generally speaking, the parents seek to have the doctor pay the extra costs of raising a child with special needs. This legislation would make such lawsuits illegal, with proponents saying that the birth of a live child, even one with birth defects, is not a wrong that should result in litigation. Senator Linda Lopez said that lets negligent doctors off the hook.

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State Capitol News
1:48 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Governor Brewer Distances Herself from Arpaio and Birthers

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona speaking at the Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit in Phoenix, Arizona, 25 February 2011.
Gage Skidmore

Governor Jan Brewer said today she's not buying the arguments by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that there are questions about whether President Obama was born in this country. 

The sheriff concluded last week that a forensic examination proves that an electronic copy of the president's birth certificate offered by the White House is not authentic. And he said Obama's selective service registration card also appears to be forged. Arpaio said that, coupled with other information, suggests Obama was not, in fact, born in Hawaii as claimed. Brewer said she's not buying it.

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State Capitol News
11:27 am
Tue March 6, 2012

AZ House Won't Outlaw Texting While Driving

Alton

The state House voted today to let motorists to be able to continue tapping out messages while they're driving down the road. 

The defeat comes amid a perennial debate at the Capitol about individual freedom versus the role of government. Rep. Steve Farley said there is a constitutional right of people to do stupid things.

"But that ends when you're protecting the liberty of somebody to take another person's life when you make the choice to text and run into somebody head-on as has happened in the state of Arizona and take their liberty away completely," he said.

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