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GOP plan to expand school vouchers to all 1.1M Az students advances, but appears doomed

A proposal to let all 1.1 million Arizona students get taxpayer dollars to attend private school cleared a state legislative committee on Wednesday with Republican support, but it won’t have the votes needed to win approval in the full House of Representatives.... Read more»

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Rural healthcare orgs in Arizona awarded $5.1M in USDA grants

A dozen healthcare organizations in Arizona will share over $5.1 million in federal grants as part the American Rescue Plan Act, passed last year under the Biden administration.... Read more»

At the crossroads: State of the economy in Indian Country

'Stealth' economy for tribes hides billions of dollars in jobs, growth and revenue for rural communities

Tribal enterprises and governments are significant players in their regional economies and to the nation as a whole - but since there are no numbers that chart the impact from tribal communities across the nation, how much and where tribes contribute is a well-kept secret. ... Read more»

2020 census miscounted Americans – 4 questions answered

In 2020, as in past years, the U.S. Census Bureau didn’t get a completely accurate count, according to the bureau’s own reporting - here's why, and how, the census misses people, and how it’s possible to assess who wasn’t counted.... Read more»

Affordable broadband program making a dent in the digital divide

More than 10 million low-income households have lower internet costs thanks to the Broadband Affordability Program - part of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal - which gives qualifying households up to $30 off their monthly internet bill and up to $75 if they live on tribal lands. ... Read more»

Arizona lawmaker urges better COVID test distribution for rural, tribal areas

Arizona Democrat Rep. Tom O’Halleran is expressing concern over details of the federal plan to distribute free COVID tests, saying it is not well designed for tribal and rural and communities and the execution will leave behind some who live in underserved communities.... Read more»

California’s drought reckoning could offer lessons for the West

A California conservation law being implemented over the next two decades, along with a range of actions by communities, provide a preview of difficult policy choices communities across the West will have to grapple with as climate change pushes water shortages to crisis levels.... Read more»

Rural midwives fill gap as hospitals cut childbirth services

As hospitals across the country are struggling to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic, some have had to cut or suspend obstetric services - but at least 8 states, including Arizona, have passed laws expanding coverage for midwifery and doula services.... Read more»

Price jumps prompt pocketbook policies in states

Wages are high, jobs are plentiful and more than a third of states cut taxes in the past year as their revenues soared - yet the highest inflation spike in three decades has many policymakers digging for ways to ease the strain on families’ pocketbooks.... Read more»

Indigenous solutions to climate change could inform Arizona and nationwide policies

The impacts of climate change pose a unique threat to Indigenous cultures and economies, which have long been tied to place - now, Native Americans are leading efforts to bolster reservations and other communities against the damaging effects of climate change. ... Read more»

Rural leaders fear they’ll miss out on infrastructure money

The $1.2 trillion infrastructure law should provide a huge boost to rural communities struggling to maintain crumbling infrastructure in the face of diminishing resources, but rural leaders worry that they lack the staff and matching dollars to compete with bigger cities for their share.... Read more»

Congressional doctors lead bipartisan revolt over policy on surprise medical bills

The detente that allowed Congress to pass a law curbing surprise medical bills has disintegrated, with a bipartisan group of 152 lawmakers assailing the Biden administration’s plan to regulate the law and medical providers warning of grim consequences for underserved patients.... Read more»

Pinal among Arizona counties grappling with equitable distribution of COVID vaccines

Some Arizona counties continue to grapple with administering COVID-19 vaccines equitably, even as cases spiked across the state in recent months and vaccination rates still lag in rural communities and among some people of color. ... Read more»

Drought-stricken western towns say no to developers

The nation’s five fastest-growing states are all in the Southwest or Mountain West, and communities are facing difficult questions about water scarcity and what it means for future growth— because climate change is expected to make such droughts more frequent and intense.... Read more»

COVID is killing rural Americans at twice the rate of urbanites

Rural Americans are dying of COVID at more than twice the rate of their urban counterparts — a divide that health experts say is likely to widen as access to medical care shrinks for a population that tends to be older, sicker, heavier, poorer and less vaccinated.... Read more»

Analysis

As Colorado River Basin states confront water shortages, it’s time to focus on reducing demand

The U.S. government announced its first-ever water shortage declaration for the Colorado River on Aug. 16, 2021, with Arizona losing nearly a fifth of its total Colorado River allocation and triggering future cuts in the amount of water states will be allowed to draw from the river. ... Read more»

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