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
9:38 am
Thu February 16, 2012

State Senate Committe Votes to Limit Political Speech

A Senate panel voted Wednesday to make it illegal for public school teachers to promote partisan viewpoints. 

Senator Lori Klein said she has heard complaints that some teachers are espousing their own political beliefs in the classroom. Her legislation says any instructor that promotes 'partisan doctrine' would automatically lose his or her license to teach. The same would be true of any of what Klein calls uni-partisan exercises or anything that indoctrinates pupils to accept the teacher's viewpoints. Senator David Lujan said he fears a ban on anything considered partisan.

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State Capitol News
9:34 am
Thu February 16, 2012

State Lawmakers Want to Punish Bad Language in the Classroom

Teachers who use salty language could end up getting suspended or even fired. But  it's not exactly clear what words will get an instructor in trouble.

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State Capitol News
9:17 am
Wed February 15, 2012

State Senate Committee Approves Funding for Volunteer Militia

Picture of the US-Mexico Border, taken from Nogales, Arizona. The USA side of the border is on the left of the picture, while the Mexican side is on the right.
Darkros

A Senate panel voted Tuesday to set up a militia of 300 citizen volunteers who would have the authority to pursue, detain and arrest people.

The legislation would form the Arizona Special Missions Unit, separate from the National Guard.  Under the control of the governor, it would respond to disasters and get involved in search and rescue efforts. But it also would be responsible in helping to secure the border and supplement law enforcement, including that power of arrest. Sen. Sylvia Allen said the move is long overdue.

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State Capitol News
9:07 am
Wed February 15, 2012

State Not Paying Off Statehouse Mortgage This Year

Arizona Capitol
Jeff Dean

Gov. Jan Brewer is not going to get her centennial wish for the state.

When the governor gave her State of the State speech last month she asked lawmakers to set aside $106 million to buy back the House, Senate and executive tower. They were sold off -- essentially mortgaged -- two years ago to raise operating cash. Brewer said lawmakers should use part of the current surplus to pay off the debt by the state's 100th birthday.

But John Kavanagh who chairs the House Appropriations Committee said today that did not happen because not everyone thinks that's a good idea.

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State Capitol News
11:49 am
Tue February 14, 2012

AZ Drivers May Get to Vote on Traffic Safety Cameras

Voters may finally get a chance to pull the plug on those red light and photo radar cameras. 

Proponents of photo enforcement say it's an effective way to make roads safer without having to hire more police officers. But others see the practice as little more than high-tech speed traps designed largely to make money for local governments. Sen. Steve Yarbrough told his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday of his own self-described horror story while driving through the Rim community of Star Valley.

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State Capitol News
11:44 am
Tue February 14, 2012

State Senate Committee Moves Texting Bill

A measure approved Monday by the Senate Judiciary Committee is likely to provoke a reaction among teens who text.

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State Capitol News
1:54 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

National Mortgage Fraud Setttlement Brings in More than $1Billion to AZ

Attorney General Tom Horne explains how Arizonans will benefit from the state's $1.6 billion share of a nationwide settlement of mortgage fraud charges against five major banks. With him is Carolyn Matthews who represented Arizona in the negotiations.
Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services

Arizonans will divide up about $1.6 billion as the state's share of a nationwide mortgage fraud settlement with five major lenders. 

The $26 billion national settlement absolves the five claims that banks acted improperly and illegally in dealing with homeowners who sought mortgage relief. The biggest chunk for Arizona -- about $1.3 billion -- will go to directly helping those who are underwater on their mortgages, owing more than the property is worth.

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State Capitol News
9:19 am
Thu February 9, 2012

State Senate Confirms ABOR Nomination

State senators confirmed Jay Heiler on Wednesday as the newest member of the Board of Regents -- but not before a discussion of some things he wrote years ago. 

Heiler was editor of the State Press at Arizona State University in the 1980s and known for his conservative commentary. He has since been chief of staff for Fife Symington when he was governor and now is chairman of a network of charter schools. But Sen. Steve Gallardo said Heiler has not properly apologized for some of what he wrote, reading from the paper.

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State Capitol News
9:15 am
Thu February 9, 2012

AZ Senate Committee Limits Wrongful Birth Suits

A Senate panel voted Wednesday to limit the ability of parents to sue when a doctor's mistake results in the unwanted birth of a child. 

One type of lawsuit targeted involves claims that a doctor failed to do tests or diagnose a prenatal defect, depriving the parent of the opportunity to abort the child. This legislation would preclude the parents from demanding the doctor pay for the cost of raising that child. Deborah Sheasby, an attorney for the anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy, said the doctor's action did not cause the child to be disabled.

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State Capitol News
10:11 am
Wed February 8, 2012

Senate Panel Expected to Close Sales Tax Loophole

The loophole allows some online retailers to escape having to pay state sales taxes. 

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