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Stories by Miranda Leo

Lawmakers cite Phoenix VA in call for better control of agency, workers

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, joined lawmakers and veterans' advocates to demand greater accountability from the Veterans Affairs Department. They said the VA hasn't fired any workers in the scandal over patient wait times that began with the Phoenix VA.... Read more»0

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House, Senate panels forward bills to halt T-O casino in Glendale

Bills that would halt construction on a Tohono O’odham casino in Glendale passed committees in both the House and the Senate on Wednesday. The Keep the Promise Act of 2015 – introduced by U.S. Sen. John McCain and U.S. Rep. Trent Franks – would “prohibit gaming activities on certain Indian land in Arizona until the expiration of certain gaming compacts” in 2027.... Read more»2

Despite end to combat ban, women still face hurdles in military

Rep. Martha McSally, an Air Force veteran, remembers when her branch of the military considered letting women serve as combat pilots back in the 1990s. “We … had a chief of staff of the Air Force testifying before Congress against women flying in combat aircraft, and he would be asked things like, ‘So you would rather pick a less-qualified man over a more-qualified woman to go fly these aircraft?’” McSally recalled.... Read more»0

Lawmakers balk at Obama program reuniting Central American families

The program aims to stop a repeat of last summer, when unaccompanied minors showed up at the Southwest border after dangerous treks from Central American homes to rejoin parents in the U.S. But senators worried it could further weaken immigration standards. ... Read more»0

Arizona hospitals get middling scores in nat'l patient survey

Just four Arizona hospitals got the top score in a report on patient satisfaction with U.S. hospitals. Arizona's average of three stars on the five-star scale was 41st in the nation. None of the six Tucson hospitals included in the report received above a three-star rating.... Read more»0

Endangered species condoms mark Earth Day with an earthy message

The Center for Biological Diversity worries that Earth Day has lost its focus on overpopulation, so it will deliver an unusual reminder – 50,000 free endangered species condoms. The condom giveaway is just one of many ways people are marking Earth Day. ... Read more»0

Senators look at ‘perverse incentive’ of asset forfeitures for police

A Senate panel was told that while civil asset forfeitures can be a valuable tool for compensating victims and funding police work, there are too many loopholes that allow abuses of the system. That can lead police to shift their focus from fighting crime to padding budgets. ... Read more»0

Fort Huachuca plans ‘buffer’ against development; conservationists skeptical

A trio of federal agencies announced this week that Fort Huachuca will be part of a program aimed at preventing land development around bases, to aid military operations while protecting vulnerable environments. Conservationists are skeptical.... Read more»1

Arizona program to fight climate-related health issues held out as model

Arizona was one of seven states highlighted in a CDC report on programs aimed at reducing the health problems stemming from climate change. That report, in turn, was cited by President Barack Obama as he unveiled a series of actions aimed at climate-related health issues.... Read more»0

Maricopa County one of two U.S. sites testing 2020 Census procedures

Maricopa County was selected to test new methods of collecting population data in advance of the 2020 Census. ... Read more»0

McSally, McCain target 'spotters' who warn border traffickers

With her first piece of legislation, introduced Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally joined with Sen. John McCain in focusing on spotters for drug cartels — who conduct covert surveillance to help smugglers dodge border agents.... Read more»1

Nat'l parks need $11.5 billion in work; Grand Canyon high on list

The National Park Service said Monday that there’s close to $11.5 billion in deferred maintenance in the nation’s parks, more than $516 million of it due at facilities in Arizona. Most of the state’s amount was attributable to a backlog of projects at Grand Canyon National Park, which needs $329 million in improvements.... Read more»1

Bill puts destructive Grand Canyon bison in the cross hairs

Arizona lawmakers have a simple solution to the problem of bison that are overgrazing and damaging Grand Canyon National Park's North Rim area - hunting. They're backing bills to allow "skilled volunteers" to hunt bison in the normally hunting-free park and to keep their kill. ... Read more»0

Forest Service seeks full funding for fire season

The Forest Service budget for fighting wildfires has been underfunded in eight of the last 10 years, leading the agency to raid other budgets to pay the firefighting bills. It's past time to end that "fire borrowing" and fully fund wildfire programs, the service's chief testified. ... Read more»0

Amid push to clear rape kit backlog, extent of problem unknown in Az

As many as 400,000 “rape kits” nationwide have not been tested, thousands of them in Arizona, a backlog that advocates and government officials say is delaying the identification of potential rapists. In Arizona, the true extent of the backlog is uncertain because police departments here, as in many other states, are not required to track the backlog of rape kits.... Read more»0

Lawmakers question authorizing military force against ISIS

President Obama wants Congress to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State militants waging a brutal campaign in parts of Iraq and Syria. House members asked if the request was too narrow and if allies were capable of holding on to any U.S. gains.... Read more»0

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