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PHOENIX -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a last-minute bid by Gov. Jan Brewer to keep thousands of dreamers living in Arizona from getting licenses to drive.
Arizona has a legal right to discriminate against attorneys from other states who do not let lawyers from here automatically practice there, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.
PHOENIX -- Arizona has a legal right to discriminate against attorneys from other states who do not let lawyers from here automatically practice there, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.
In honor of World AIDS Day on Monday, Aunt Rita’s Foundation will be sponsoring 15 sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to remember those lost to the disease.
Chandler High senior quarterback Bryce Perkins does a lot on the football field. He throws. He runs. He leads.
PHOENIX -- Thousands of Arizona "dreamers'' could be driving here legally within days.
Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny said it was the most commonly asked question he receives as mayor regarding the old Elevation Chandler project: What is that thing and when it is coming down?
The city of Tempe has become a national front-runner in LGBT equality after scoring a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index.
Arizona's charter schools are not entitled to another $135 million of taxpayer funds, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
The fact that politics may have been involved in drawing legislative lines is no reason to declare them illegal, the attorney for the Independent Redistricting Commission is urging the U.S. Supreme Court.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government is recognizing gay marriage in six more states, including Arizona, and extending federal benefits to those couples, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Saturday.
Gay marriage recently became legal in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The government's announcement follows the U.S. Supreme Court's decision earlier this month to decline to hear appeals from five states that sought to keep their marriage bans in place. It brings the total number of states with federal recognition of gay marriage to 32, plus the District of Columbia.
Couples married in these states will qualify for a range of federal benefits, including Social Security and veterans' benefits.
"With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving full equality for all Americans," Holder said.
The attorney general said the government is working "as quickly as possible" to make sure same-sex married couples in these states receive the "fullest array of benefits" that federal law allows.
The Justice Department also has determined that it can legally recognize gay marriages performed this summer in Indiana and Wisconsin after federal courts declared marriage bans in the states unconstitutional. Subsequent developments created confusion about the status of those unions, but Holder said the U.S. government will recognize the marriages.
Adults, children, even dogs are welcome to attend the annual AIDS Walk Arizona & 5K Run Phoenix, one of Aunt Rita’s Foundation signature events.
Gov. Jan Brewer is asking a federal appeals court to rebuff efforts by the Obama administration to let “dreamers” drive here legally, saying the government is trying to void a valid state law with what amounts to little more than a federal policy.
A complaint by an employee of sexual and racial harassment preceded by one day the Oct. 17 decision by Gov. Jan Brewer to fire the head of state agency that oversees virtually all state workers.
PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer is asking a federal appeals court to rebuff efforts by the Obama administration to let "dreamers'' drive here legally, saying the government is trying to void a valid state law with what amounts to little more than a federal policy.
The governor, through her attorneys, is asking judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reject claims by the U.S. Department of Justice that Arizona has no legal right to deny licenses to those in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Brewer is not challenging the right of the administration and the Department of Homeland Security to decide not to try to deport people who arrived in this country illegally as children and even giving them permits to work.
But she said the DACA program was not enacted by Congress and "does not have the force of law.'' And that means it cannot be used to preempt a 1996 Arizona law which says licenses are available only to those who can prove their presence in this country is "authorized under federal law.''
Brewer's filing is a last-ditch effort to get the full court to reconsider -- and overturn -- a decision earlier this year by a three-judge panel which found legal problems with the ban.
The judges ordered the state to start issuing licenses to the dreamers while the case makes its way through the legal system. But that order effectively remains on hold while the full appellate court considers whether to hear Brewer's appeal.
Hanging in the balance is the enforceability of Brewer's 2012 executive order regarding the DACA program. Based on that order, the state Department of Transportation concluded those in the program are not entitled to Arizona licenses.
Brewer argues the 1996 Arizona law allows licenses to be issued only to those "authorized'' to be in this country. More to the point, she contends the decision by the president and the Department of Homeland Security not to deport them does not make their presence "authorized,'' even if they are given work papers.
That argument did not convince the three-judge panel.
Judge Harry Pregerson noted the state has issued licenses to those who granted deferred action under other federal programs. He said that makes Brewer's policy to single out these individuals a violation of the Equal Rights clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Pregerson also said an injunction is appropriate because the policy can cause "irreparable harm'' to those affected. He said their inability to legally drive also makes it more difficult, if not impossible, for them to hold jobs -- a specific right they have in the DACA program.
When Brewer sought review by the full court, the Obama administration weighed in.
"Arizona may not substitute its judgment for the federal government's when it comes to establishing classifications of alien status,'' wrote Assistant Attorney General Lindsey Powell.
She said Arizona has shown no "substantial state purpose'' in crafting rules allowing some not legally in this country to have licenses while other are not. Powell said means Brewer's edict is "preempted by federal law.''
But Brewer, in her latest filing, said there's a flaw in that argument: DACA is only policy.
"The United States ignores the fact that no federal law is at issue here,'' wrote Douglas Northup, lead private attorney hired by Brewer to defend the license ban. Instead, he said, it is "an agency's policy memo, which was issued without notice and comment or subject to any formal rulemaking processes.''
And he said a mere agency policy cannot preempt the Arizona law.
Northup said statements by federal officials back up that contention.
For example, he cited a memo issued by Janet Napolitano when she was the Department of Homeland Security who said that DACA provides no substantive rights, immigration status or a path to citizenship.
"Only Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights,'' the memo states. "It remains for the executive branch, however, to set forth policy for the exercise of discretion within that framework,'' Napolitano continued. "I have done so here.''
Northup also is hanging his legal hat on the fact that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says DACA recipients are not "lawfully present'' in this country for purposes of participating in certain federal programs.
"The fact that there may be disagreement among federal government agencies about the import of the DACA memo underscores why one policy memo of one agency cannot preempt state action here,'' he wrote.
Northup acknowledged that the three-judge panel said the ADOT policy could result in DACA recipients being hampered in their legal ability to work.
But he said that was based on the court's assumption that a certain percentage of Arizona workers commute by car. Northup said that makes no sense, as it could mean that the Arizona policy might be legal in some other cities with a higher percentage of workers using mass transit.
PHOENIX -- A complaint by an employee claiming sexual and racial harassment preceded by one day the Oct. 17 decision by Gov. Jan Brewer to fire the head of state agency that oversees virtually all state workers.
Documents obtained by Capitol Media Services show the Governor's Office was given copies of a filing by the worker with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Oct. 16. The worker, whose identity was not disclosed, said in her filing with the EEOC that Brian McNeil, director of the state Department of Administration, made comments to her last year with "sexual connotations.''
"He also mentioned that although I was an 'attractive women' and a good speaker, he wanted more from my job performance,'' the complaint states. The woman also said that McNeil repeatedly referred to her as being in a "protected class,'' that others would not criticize her work performance "based on racial issues,'' and she needed to "woman up.''
While the EEOC filing was in February, gubernatorial spokesman Andrew Wilder said his boss did not become aware of the issue until Oct. 16. It was that day the woman gave a copy of the filing to Kathy Peckardt, a deputy chief of staff to Brewer, with a sticky note to Peckardt saying "this is what was turned into the federal EEOC office, and the investigator interviewed me on 2/14/14.''
But what may have precipitated the woman to take that action is her allegation that problems with McNeil continued right through the day she informed the Governor's Office.
The woman furnished Peckardt with a statement saying she had met that day with McNeil, saying there were "some positives mentioned about growth opportunities.'' But she said there were other comments.
For example, she said McNeil mentioned the possibility of working with the Government Transformation Office, saying she could bring good qualities to the group. "But I had an upside because I am a member of the protected class, and others might be afraid to say things to me that might make me mad.''
She also reported that McNeil asked her age "because one of his buddies was impressed with me at a work function but only wanted to date someone that had to be 40 years old.''
McNeil was fired the following day.
In a prepared statement, McNeil said he has never discriminated against anyone based on race or gender and believes he was treated unfairly.
"I believe had this matter been researched and investigated fairly, properly and objectively, it would have already been found to be something other than what is characterized,'' he said.
McNeil also said he was never given the specifics of the accusation, interviewed about it or provided an opportunity to review and respond before being told to resign or be fired.
"I (saw) the media received the documents in surprisingly quick fashion, but I had no chance to review them although I am the one accused,'' he said.
The story does not end with McNeil's firing.
On Tuesday, the woman told Peckardt in a memo that she received five phone calls from McNeil earlier that day in less than three hours on her personal cell phone, with him leaving a voice message on one and a text message with another.
"Because this was after his termination, it left me feeling very uneasy and a bit concerned,'' the woman wrote. "I decided to not stay at my home on this particular night due to the uneasiness.''
"I wish things would have gone better,'' McNeil says in an audio of the voice message obtained by Capitol Media Services. "I wish I would have been more sensitive, you know, about how I was coming across early on,'' the message continues. And he said the meeting Oct. 16 -- the one that apparently precipitated the woman giving all the information to the state -- "was intended to try to help promote, you know, better, clear dialog between you and I about professional matters.''
For the moment, McNeil remains on the state payroll.
Scott Smith, the governor's chief of staff, agreed to a request by McNeil, who is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, that he be placed on paid military leave through Nov. 7. And he is being allowed to use annual leave from Nov. 10 through Dec. 19.
McNeil was executive director of the Arizona Corporation Commission from 1999 to 2009. That year, he joined the Brewer administration as a deputy chief of staff. He left to become a lobbyist but was rehired by the governor two years ago to head the Department of Administration. That agency has purview over human resources and personnel issues as well as everything from state buildings to fleet management.
PHOENIX (AP) — The end of Arizona's ban against same-sex marriage has legislators staking out a range of positions on what they should and shouldn't do in response.
The gay-rights issue caused turmoil at the Capitol last spring when lawmakers passed a religious-rights bill allowing businesses to deny service to gays and lesbians. Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill.
Now, there is both support and opposition among majority Republicans for a new measure along the lines of the vetoed bill, a central Arizona publication has reported.
Meanwhile, minority Democrats say the state should approve new anti-discrimination protections for gay and lesbians and eliminate an existing provision in state law giving adoption preferences to married heterosexual couples, according to the Arizona Capitol Times.
Citing an appellate court's recent ruling overturning bans in Idaho and Nevada, a federal judge Friday overturned the state's ban. The appellate court's territory also includes Arizona, and the fate of the state's ban was sealed when state Attorney General Tom Horne said he wouldn't appeal the judge's order.
The Arizona Legislature begins its 2015 regular session in January.
Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, said consideration of a new version of the vetoed bill would be contentious but necessary.
"But there has to be some kind of acknowledgement that we have to develop the right kind of policy to handle situations that may arise when one person believes something should happen because of equality, and someone else on the liberties side of the argument says you shouldn't force someone to do that," Mesnard said. "We're going to have to have that conversation."
Another Republican, Rep. T.J. Shope of Coolidge said the appetite isn't there to revisit the issue.
"We've gone down that road. Let's just leave well enough alone," he said.
The decision to allow gay marriages sends a good signal to the world that Arizona is welcoming and open to all kinds of people, Shope said.
Rep. Demion Clinco, a Tucson Democrat who is the Arizona House's only openly gay member, said lawmakers should provide new protections for the LGBT community, which he said would help attract major employers to Arizona.
"If we don't make a move to make sure that everyone is treated equally under the law and that we don't allow discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, we're going to lose out to other companies that do when they look at relocating," he said.
Sen. Steve Gallardo, a Phoenix Democrat who also is openly gay, said the state also should erase some current laws, including one giving adoption preference to straight couples.
"I think there's still, in terms of gay marriage, I think there's still some laws that need to be looked at," Gallardo said.
The end of Arizona's ban against same-sex marriage has legislators staking out a range of positions on what they should and shouldn't do in response.