Reagan Priest
Reagan Priest Ray-gan Priest (she/her/hers)
News Reporter, Phoenix

Reagan Priest expects to graduate in May 2024 with a master’s degree in mass communication. Priest has also worked at The Copper Courier, The State Press, Cronkite News D.C., The Arizona Republic and Arizona PBS.

Latest from Reagan Priest

‘No dull days’: Pages get front-row seats, help keep the Capitol running

PHOENIX - They sit on the sidelines of legislative hearings in their blazers, ties and khakis, or bustle around the House or Senate delivering papers to lawmakers. They are the Legislature's pages, quiet but essential workers called "the oil in a machine that keeps things running."

Should you focus on lawmaker effectiveness to cast your ballot? Voters, experts say yes

PHOENIX - With 10 of Arizona’s 11 congressional seats up for election this year, experts and voters urge Arizonans to consider the range of an incumbent's performance, from how many bills they passed to how often they show up and how well they work across the aisle.

House votes to repeal near-total abortion ban; bill still needs Senate OK

PHOENIX – The Arizona House voted Wednesday to repeal the state’s near-total ban on abortion, with three Republicans joining all Democrats to reverse the law despite emotional rhetoric from anti-abortion lawmakers.

Republicans stall, but don’t kill, effort that would repeal 1864 abortion ban

PHOENIX – The Arizona Senate took tentative steps toward a repeal of the state’s 1864 abortion ban Wednesday, just hours after House Republicans blocked efforts to do so.

For second time in a month, feds shower billions on Arizona microchip makers

PHOENIX – The Biden administration announced Monday that it will award $6.6 billion in grants and another $5 billion in loans to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to enhance and expand semiconductor production in Arizona.

Public kept at bay as Israeli diplomat addresses joint legislative session

PHOENIX – The public was kept out of a joint session of the Arizona Legislature Wednesday where an Israeli diplomat said "Hamas must be eradicated" after an Oct. 7 attack sparked a war that has since killed thousands of civilians.

Presidential nominees already picked, but Arizona voters still have options

PHOENIX - Joe Biden and Donald Trump have locked up their parties' presidential nominations, but Arizona voters will still have choices at the polls Tuesday in the state's presidential preference election. The question is how many will exercise that choice in protest.

As hearings grow more combative, one committee stands out for its civility

PHOENIX - Capitol observers say hearings are getting more heated, and their chairman more combative with the public, but there is one island of civility: The House Commerce Committee is more often evokes laughs than lashing out, and many credit the chairman.

House panel advances GOP plan to check citizenship of welfare recipients

PHOENIX - A House committee, on a party-line vote, gave preliminary approval Monday to a ballot measure that would require cities, towns and agencies to check the citizenship status of anyone applying for public welfare benefits or a license of any kind.

Horne plan for conservative videos for state schools called ‘irresponsible’

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Education is partnering with conservative advocacy group PragerU to provide K-12 schools with the groups’ video content — content that Democratic lawmakers say is inaccurate and does not belong in public schools.

Hobbs pushes for school funding plan, GOP stands by its own proposal

PHOENIX – Gov. Katie Hobbs and Arizona Democrats formally introduced legislation Monday to expand funding for public education and teacher pay, even as Republicans insist they will continue to push their own plan.

GOP lawmakers renew push to ban DEI programs in state-funded institutions

PHOENIX - GOP legislators are trying again to ban diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at state-funded institutions, saying it "divides communities and dehumanizes human beings." Democrats argued just the opposite, saying DEI promotes inclusion and can be an asset,

Senate panel blasts Commerce Authority in face of audit, legal questions

PHOENIX – A Senate committee grilled Arizona Commerce Authority officials Wednesday, just one day after Attorney General Kris Mayes said the agency’s wining and dining of CEOs violated the state’s gift clause.

Margaret T. Hance Park is home to a portion of the Super Bowl LVII Experience. Signage at the park promotes the big game and events surrounding it. (Photo by Drake Presto/Cronkite News)

Arizona activists work to hold the criminal justice system accountable through court watching

PHOENIX – Activists with Mass Liberation Arizona have attended the state’s high-profile police brutality and racial discrimination cases – including hearings for former Maricopa County Attorney’s Office prosecutor April Sponsel – to support marginalized defendants and make their presence known to attorneys and judges.

Matt Aguilar takes notes while listening to April Sponsel’s disciplinary hearing on Oct. 23, 2023. Aguilar is part of Mass Liberation Arizona, a watchdog group that focuses on the criminal justice system. (Photo by Kevinjonah Paguio/Cronkite News)

Arizona Diamondbacks World Series merch is flying off shelves, but beware of counterfeit swag

PHOENIX – As the Arizona Diamondbacks take to the home field for the World Series, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center warns fans to be on guard for counterfeit merchandise that could be sold both in person and online. Meanwhile, retailers are preparing for even higher demand if the team wins.

The Arizona Diamondbacks team shop at Chase Field has World Series T-shirts, hats and accessories. (Photo by Hunter Fore/Cronkite News)

Can Arizona lawmakers lower gas prices in the Valley? Not any time soon

PHOENIX – After a shortage of Cleaner Burning Gasoline earlier this year led to increased gas prices in Maricopa County, the Arizona Legislature held a hearing to determine whether Gov. Katie Hobbs’ administration was at fault and to discuss potential alternatives to the boutique gasoline.

Cleaner Burning Gasoline is required in parts of Arizona under a state implementation plan from 1997 to comply with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards and the Clean Air Act. It is only sold in Maricopa County and parts of Pinal and Yavapai Counties. (File photo by Omar Iakub/Cronkite News)

Arizona Greens push to regain party recognition and get on 2024 ballot

PHOENIX - After losing party recognition in 2019, the Arizona Green Party is collecting signatures to register as a new party and to have state and local candidates appear on the ballot in 2024.

Arizona veterans, state agencies battle over bingo machines deemed illegal under state gambling laws

PHOENIX – Arizona veteran groups, including members of local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, with the help of state Sen. Sonny Borrelli, called out public agencies for targeting them over bingo technological aids, but the state says that’s not the issue. Instead, the groups may be using illegal bingo gaming machines.

Veterans listen to Arizona Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli during a news conference on Oct. 2, 2023. (Photo by Kevinjonah Paguio/Cronkite News)

Biden honors McCain, denounces ‘MAGA extremists’ during Tempe event

TEMPE – President Joe Biden invoked the spirit of the late Sen. John McCain while denouncing "MAGA extremists" as a threat to democracy, during a speech Thursday at the Tempe Arts Center.

Court of Appeals rules Title IX lawsuit against University of Arizona can move forward

PHOENIX – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a former University of Arizona student can sue the school over an assault that took place off campus, because the school knew former football player Orlando Bradford’s history of assault.

Trans woman’s arrest in Flagstaff sparks community outrage at handling of her case

PHOENIX – Epona Rose, a transgender woman, was held in the men’s side of a jail after allegedly defending herself from an attack by men in Flagstaff, though the details of the altercation are in dispute. Activists say more needs to be done to support trans people who are arrested or incarcerated.

SAG-AFTRA Arizona members rally as part of national strike for TV, film worker protections, higher wages

PHOENIX – The Arizona-Utah chapter of SAG-AFTRA held a rally in Phoenix on Sunday to support local actors, writers, and TV and film workers who are on strike. The national union has been on strike since July 14 in conjunction with the Writers’ Guild of America, which has been on strike since May 2. The strikes have stopped production on films and TV series.

Actress and comedian Saylor Billings tells jokes to the crowd at the SAG-AFTRA Arizona-Utah rally, on Sept. 17, 2023. (Photo by Kiersten Edgett/Cronkite News)

Phoenix Sky Harbor workers file complaint, vote to strike over dangerous working conditions and low wages

PHOENIX – Concession and service worker groups at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport are speaking out about dangerous working conditions and unlivable wages. One group voted to strike and another filed an OSHA complaint.

State Rep. Analise Ortiz, left, high-fives Michael Smith outside Phoenix City Hall on Sept. 6, 2023. Ortiz showed her support for Sky Harbor concession workers after they provided personal testimony at a city council meeting about low wages and tough working conditions. (Photo by Kevinjonah Paguio/Cronkite News)

As death rates rise, medical examiners struggle to keep pace with caseload

WASHINGTON - As the nation enters a third year under the threat of COVID-19, Arizona medical examiners say they are struggling to keep up with rising caseloads driven largely by rising deaths from the virus at a time when there is a shortage in forensic pathologists.

Arizona lawmakers among most, least likely in House to vote by proxy

WASHINGTON – Two years after the House allowed proxy voting as a pandemic precaution, two Arizona lawmakers remain among the House's most active proxy voters, while two others are among the stubborn minority that has never cast vote by proxy.

Popular proxies: Close to 10% of House votes cast by proxy since 2020

WASHINGTON - House members have cast more than 31,000 proxy votes during more than 700 roll calls since 2020, or about 10% of all possible votes in that time. But what started as a COVID-19 emergency measure has become a routine that some say is being abused.

States win delay, for now, in White House plan to end Title 42 at border

WASHINGTON – White House officials said Tuesday that a potential court order delaying the end of Title 42 would only worsen the border crisis that state officials claim they are trying to prevent by seeking the order.

Border numbers hit highest level in 20 years, as end of Title 42 looms

Border officials last month apprehended the most migrants at the southern border in at least 22 years, presenting a new challenge for the Biden administration's plan to end enforcement of Title 42 at the border just weeks from now.

Arizona jobless rate continues to decline, now lowest in 15 years

WASHINGTON – The Arizona unemployment rate dropped to 3.6% in February, well below pre-pandemic levels and the lowest it has been since 2007, according to the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Supreme Court to hear appeal of death-row inmate in death of Tucson cop

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court Monday agreed to hear an Arizona death-row inmate's claim that he was wrongly denied the chance to tell jurors he would be ineligible for parole if they sentenced him to life instead of death.

Two Arizona tribal leaders make case for critically needed water projects

WASHINGTON – Leaders of two Arizona tribes asked lawmakers Wednesday to support funding for development of critical water infrastructure and to OK a bill that would let tribal water be sold to others in the drought-stricken state.

Protests demand end to ‘horrible’ rule used to expel 1.7 million migrants

WASHINGTON - Protesters rallied in towns across the U.S. and in Mexico on Monday, the second anniversary Title 42's invocation, to demand an end to the pandemic rule that has been used to expel 1.72 million migrants, including 310,088 at the Arizona border.

Sinema cited in new book, but analysts wonder what impact it will have

WASHINGTON – Political analysts say it's too soon to tell what impact, if any, a new book about the Biden administration's first year will have on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, who is reportedly quoted in the book as mocking the president.

A year later, city officials call American Rescue Plan aid a lifesaver

WASHINGTON - A year after passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, local officials say the COVID-19 relief measure that steered $103 billion to cities - and $1 billion to Arizona cities - gave them the funds to help businesses and towns rebound from the pandemic.

Pandemic expulsion of migrant minors officially ends; adults still covered

The CDC ruled this weekend that unaccompanied minors should not be turned back at the border over COVID-19 concerns, a move welcomed by advocates who say the change now needs to be extended to all immigrants.

After scrambling to resettle nearly 1,900 Afghans, groups await more

WASHINGTON - Refugee resettlement groups in Arizona found homes for almost 1,900 Afghan refugees from the fall of Kabul in August through February, the most the agencies said they have placed in the least amount of time. And they say they are ready to place more.

Biden’s upbeat State of the Union in unsteady times splits state lawmakers

WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union address Tuesday in a speech that toggled between plans for tackling domestic challenges and reasserting U.S. international leadership.

Supreme Court to hear Indian Child Welfare Act case involving Navajo child

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act filed by a white Texas couple that was almost denied the chance to adopt a Native American boy who was set to be placed with a Navajo family.

Brnovich urges skeptical Supreme Court to let states step in if feds fail

WASHINGTON – Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich told the Supreme Court Wednesday that it would set a “dangerous precedent” if it let the Biden administration drop an immigration policy and refused to let the states step in to defend it.

Advocates hopeful as Supreme Court agrees to hear ‘remain in Mexico’ case

WASHINGTON - The on-again, off-again fight to end the Trump-era "remain in Mexico" policy is on again, after the Supreme Court said it will review lower court rulings that have forced the Biden administration to keep the program in place, with a ruling likely by this summer.

Despite rising Russian tension, ‘I’m here and here I’ll stay’ in Ukraine

WASHINGTON - Despite U.S. warnings that Americans should leave Ukraine in the face of a possible Russian invasion, former Arizona resident Lada Roslycky says she intends to stay put in Kyiv, calling it "too important” to leave as the country readies to defend itself.

As assistance for renters still lags, fears of eviction rise in Arizona

WASHINGTON – The number of Arizonans fearing eviction has grown sharply since a pandemic moratorium ended in September, with advocates and landlords both saying rental assistance from the federal government has not reached renters fast enough.

Feds – again – deny endangered species status to Sonoran desert tortoise

WASHINGTON – The Sonoran desert tortoise has been denied endangered species status for a second time after a 14-year battle waged by advocates to protect the “ancient, iconic species of the desert.”

Tiny fraction of DACA applications sent to ICE; still gives advocates pause

WASHINGTON - Of more than 3 million DACA applications since 2012, about 900 were referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement - still too many for advocates who said they were promised no information would be shared with enforcement agencies.

Families face first month without child tax credit payments since July

WASHINGTON – January was the first month since last summer that Arizona low-income families did not get a check under the expanded Child Tax Credit program, leaving parents scrambling for help and advocates worrying about an increase in poverty.

Court: UArizona not liable for off-campus assault by former player

WASHINGTON – The University of Arizona cannot be held liable under Title IX for a football player's off-campus assault of his girlfriend, even though the university exercises "substantial control" over its athletes, a federal court said.

DHS tightens vaccination requirements for travelers at border crossings

WASHINGTON - The Department of Homeland Security began requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination over the weekend for essential as well as nonessential travel across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Arizonans join Capitol protest as Senate takes up voting rights bills

WASHINGTON - The Senate began debate Tuesday on a pair of sweeping voting-rights bills, despite a GOP filibuster likely to block any vote on the bills. But advocates, including some hunger strikers, hope to bring enough pressure to bear to eventually win passage of the bills.

Latest surge in COVID-19 cases stressing Arizona health care system

WASHINGTON - Arizona reported 18,783 COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the latest in a surge of infections that experts say is stressing a state health care system that is "not well suited" to take on more cases.