Latest from Ryan Knappenberger
Water reductions for the new year may be just the beginning, experts say
WASHINGTON - Few Arizona residents will notice changes in water availability in their daily lives after Jan. 1, when steep cuts are imposed on the water the state can draw from the Colorado River. But that doesn't mean they can relax, as experts expect more cuts will be needed in 2023.
Voters limited their own power to legislate, told state lawmakers to butt out
WASHINGTON - Arizona voters this fall made it slightly tougher on themselves when it comes to passing laws at the ballot box, but they also sent a strong message to state legislators - keep your hands off voter initiatives.
‘C’ you later: Cannabis sales soar, but don’t threaten Arizona’s 5 C’s yet
WASHINGTON - Marijuana sales soared to $1.6 billion in 2021, just one year after Arizona legalized recreational use, according to an industry research group. But production in the state still lags, meaning cannabis is far from threatening the historic "5 C's" of Arizona's economy.
Hobbs presses steadily toward transition, even as challenges swirl
WASHINGTON - Ignoring challenges and election critics, Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs pressed on toward a transition Wednesday, meeting with current Gov. Doug Ducey, laying out the incoming administration's priorities and promising to be "a governor for all Arizonans."
After long fight, tribal water bills get primary OK; still far from final
WASHINGTON - A trio of bills affecting water rights and infrastructure for Arizona tribes took a step closer to becoming law Wednesday, a move one official said his tribe has been waiting for since being forced onto the reservation.
Arizonans among those celebrating national memorial to Native veterans
WASHINGTON - A group of 51 Native American veterans from Arizona were in Washington for Veterans Day, part of a contingent of 1,500 Indigenous vets from across the country who were on hand for the formal dedication of the National Native American Veterans Memorial.
Justices grapple with legality of Indian Child Welfare Act in marathon hearing
WASHINGTON - Over the course of three hours Wednesday, the Supreme Court grappled with whether a law meant to keep Indigenous children with Native American families should be overturned as racist and unconstitutional, as critics charge.
U.S. House: Redistricting, midterm malaise tighten congressional races in Arizona
PHOENIX – Democrats face stiff challenges to hold their slim 5-4 seat majority in the House of Representative races in Arizona, while the GOP hopes redistricting and midterm backlash gives Republicans the lead.
Supreme Court asked to rule ‘gold standard’ of tribal adoption laws racist
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court will consider Wednesday whether the Indian Child Welfare Act is the "gold standard" of child welfare policy or a "outrageous and unconstitutional" law that has outlived its time.
Earlier fears of short-staffed elections averted, but some fears remain
WASHINGTON - Earlier fears that voter intimidation would make it hard to hire workers run state elections have not panned out. But county recorders say they are staffed up, they concede that workers may be looking over their shoulders more this year than in years past.
Judge sets limits on drop-box watchers, banning weapons, confrontation
WASHINGTON - A federal judge set new limits on groups watching ballot drop boxes, ordering them to stop confronting and filming voters, to stop carrying weapons near the boxes and to correct voting misinformation on their social media.
Single and loving it?: Prop 129 would limit ballot measures to one subject
WASHINGTON - Proposition 129 asks just one question: Should all future ballot initiatives ask just one question"? Supporters say limiting initiatives to a single subject will make it easier for voters, but critics call it another attempt to increase legislative power at voters' expense.
Judge: Ballot drop-box watchers are not a ‘true threat,’ cannot be blocked
WASHINGTON - A federal judge Friday refused to block groups that are monitoring ballot drop boxes, saying voters who complained of intimidation had not shown that the watchers posed a "true threat" to their voting rights.
Voters testify to fear at ballot drop boxes, urge judge to halt monitors
WASHINGTON - A federal judge could rule as early as Friday on a request to ban groups that have been monitoring ballot drop boxes, in response to voters who testified Wednesday to feeling intimidated as they cast their ballots.
Police promise protection as more reports of ballot box watchers come in
WASHINGTON - The Maricopa County sheriff said he plans to step up security at voting locations in the run-up to Election Day, following more reports of individuals - in some cases armed - filming and tailing voters at ballot drop boxes.
Prop 128 would give lawmakers more power to amend voter initiatives
WASHINGTON - Proposition 128 backers call it a commonsense plan to make it easier for the Legislature to amend voter-approved measures later found to have legal flaws; opponents call it a direct assault on the Voter Protection Act that "just reeks of trying to upend democracy."
Election officials probe alleged voter intimidation at ballot drop box
WASHINGTON - Election officials reacted swiftly to reported voter intimidation this week at a Mesa ballot drop box, condemning the action and reassuring voters that they are working with law enforcement to address such incidents.
‘You never forget’: Honoring Arizona’s veterans one flight at a time
WASHINGTON - Thirty Arizona veterans of World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars were in Washington this week to visit the memorials to their service, the latest of more than 2,000 vets to make the trip from the state free of charge as part of Honor Flight program.
Arizona leaders join others at White House for forum on federal funds
WASHINGTON - Arizona local, tribal and labor leaders were at the White House Friday to hear administration officials highlight the billions in recent federal funding that is coming to states for everything from roads to water to broadband.
DACA suffers another court setback, but program remains in place for now
WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that DACA, the deferred deportation program for young migrants, was unlawfully created in 2012 but that protection for current DACA recipients can continue for now.
Petition to block voucher law falls short; application deadline extended
WASHINGTON - The secretary of state’s office is still counting, but it had seen enough by Friday to say that a petition drive to block expansion of the state's school voucher program fell short of the required signatures.
Gallego touts local efforts in Phoenix to battle climate change
WASHINGTON - Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego touted the city Thursday as a model for enduring extreme weather events, during a virtual panel on how local governments can help defend against the impacts of climate change.
Mesa mayor joins White House panel on hate in ‘horribly divided country’
WASHINGTON - Mesa Mayor John Giles joined local officials, Cabinet secretaries and community leaders at the White House Thursday - the 21st anniversary of the first post-9/11 hate crime, in Mesa - to call for renewed efforts to combat violent extremism and rising hate crimes.
Tribal leaders urge support for bills to protect cultural, sacred sites
WASHINGTON - Tribal leaders urged lawmakers Wednesday to pass a package of bills that would protect cultural and sacred sites by creating a new tribal cultural areas designation and require Native input on any decisions on those lands.
Angry at other states, Arizona towns, tribes rethink planned water cuts
WASHINGTON - Faced with deep cuts to the water supply, and angry that other states are not doing their share, tribes and local governments in Arizona are increasingly talking about backing off earlier offers to give up some water.
Climate tool brings the bad news; advocates hope that brings good outcomes
WASHINGTON - A new online dashboard that aims to give state and local governments the real-time information they need to fight climate change paints a bleak picture for Arizona's future, calling for more heat, more drought and more wildfires.
Federal funds for water projects a fraction of what Arizona says it needs
WASHINGTON - Arizona will get $109.5 million in federal funding this year to improve water systems in the state - a fraction of the $1.4 billion list of needs state officials say they have. And one official said "the needs are growing" for water projects around the state.
Court says local health centers can challenge AHCCCS on reimbursements
WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court Friday ordered a new hearing for Arizona community health care centers that claim the state's Medicaid system is wrongly denying reimbursement for chiropractic, dental, optometric and podiatric care.
Arizona life expectancy fell an ‘extraordinary’ 2.5 years in 2020
WASHINGTON - Arizona life expectancy fell by 2.5 years in 2020, one of the steepest drops in a nation that saw the biggest lifespan declines since World War II. Arizona life expectancy fell from 78.8 years in 2019 to 76.3 in 2020, below the U.S. average of 77 years for that year.
Final ISIS kidnapper sentenced to life for role in Kayla Mueller’s death
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A second ISIS militant was sentenced to life in prison Friday for the kidnapping and killing of Prescott native Kayla Mueller, a relief to her parents who pledged to continue fighting for her memory.
Git-r-done delegation: State ranked OK on congressional effectiveness
WASHINGTON - They didn't have the high profiles or long tenure of some other members, but Arizona lawmakers in the last Congress ranked relatively high on a recent scorecard of congressional effectiveness, finishing 10th in the House and 14th in the Senate.
Arizona near top of states for bills aimed at voting rights, limits
WASHINGTON - Arizona lawmakers began the year with the third-highest number of voting restriction bills in the nation, but it appears only a few will survive as the Legislature winds down. But voting rights activists say those few bills will still disenfranchise minority voters.
Critics blast bill that would purge names from list of mail-in voters
WASHINGTON — Voting rights advocates and Arizona Democrats on Wednesday denounced a bill that would remove voters from the Permanent Early Voting List, calling it an attempt to disenfranchise up to 150,000 voters, particularly those of color.
Biden balks at first chance to raise refugee cap from Trump-era lows
WASHINGTON — Refugee advocates were "deeply disappointed and frustrated" by the Biden administration's failure Friday to reverse historically low Trump-era refugee limits this year, something then-candidate Joe Biden had promised to do.
Giffords, congressional Democrats call for action on gun reform bills
WASHINGTON - Backed by a field of flowers that represent the thousands killed by gun violence each year, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords joined Democrats who said Congress can act on gun reform or "can let the shooting continue."
March saw record-high number of unaccompanied minors stopped at border
WASHINGTON — The number of migrants apprehended at the southern border surged in March to one of the highest monthly totals on record, and the almost 19,000 unaccompanied youth stopped there set a record, the latest data shows.
Report: Arizona a ‘shining example’ for Democrats wooing Latino voters
WASHINGTON - Democrats looking to win the Latino vote should take their cues from Arizona, which was held up as a "shining example" of how it's done by the author of an election post-mortem on the Latino vote.
School yard: Officials welcome new 3-foot rule for COVID-safe students
WASHINGTON - Arizona school and health officials welcomed Friday's announcement that COVID-safe social distancing for students can be reduced from 6 feet to 3, but they did not appear to be rushing to embrace the lower standard.
House OKs bills easing path to citizenship for undocumented residents
WASHINGTON - The House passed a pair of bills Thursday that would provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers and legal status to undocumented farmworkers.
DHS chief defends Biden border policy at time of ‘historic’ challenges
WASHINGTON - Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended strong immigration policies amid "historic and unprecedented challenges."
State officials confident they can meet Biden’s May 1 vaccine deadline
WASHINGTON - Arizona health officials said the state is already on track to meet President Joe Biden's challenge of allowing all adults to register for COVID-19 vaccinations by May 1.
Biden insists border’s closed, unveils plan to halt migrants at source
WASHINGTON - The White House had a strong message on Wednesday for migrants who are flocking to the southern border in hopes of getting into the U.S.
Committee vote moves Haaland one step closer to historic Interior post
WASHINGTON - A Senate committee narrowly voted Thursday to advance Rep. Debra Haaland's nomination to be the next secretary of Interior, moving her one step closer to becoming the first Native American to head a Cabinet-level agency.
GAO: Pentagon estimates of border duty costs, impact were unreliable
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon did not have reliable estimates for the cost of its work supporting Homeland Security efforts on the southwestern border and did not assess the impact of those efforts on military readiness, a new report says.
Judge tells lawmakers Arizona federal courts are overloaded, overworked
WASHINGTON - The federal district court in Arizona has been struggling to keep pace with a staggering civil and criminal caseload in the growing state, and it needs more judges to keep up, a judge from the court told lawmakers Wednesday.
Report: Arizona continues to trail other states in higher-ed support
WASHINGTON - Arizona continues to be one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to funding higher education, still reeling from deep budget cuts that were made during the recession, according to a new national report.
Federal judge rejects Apache Stronghold request to block Oak Flat mine
WASHINGTON - A federal judge Friday refused to order a halt to the proposed Resolution Copper Mine on Oak Flat, land that opponents say is sacred to the Apache people and will be destroyed by the mine.
NRC credits Palo Verde response to worker’s license application error
WASHINGTON - Operators of the Palo Verde nuclear power plant told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Thursday they have addressed oversights regarding the error with an operator's application.
Auditor says DHS knew ‘zero-tolerance’ would split families at border
WASHINGTON - Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions knew the Trump administration's immigration policy would separate families at the border but moved ahead with it anyway, a Justice Department official told lawmakers.
Hobbs, other state officials discuss 2020 election ‘conspiracy circus’
WASHINGTON - Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs told a national panel Thursday that the best way to combat election misinformation is with truth, even if "there are some folks who are never going to believe anything I say."
Supreme Court halts hearings on Trump border cases after Biden reversals
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court postponed upcoming hearings on two Trump administration immigration policies Wednesday, after both had been reversed on the first day of President Joe Biden’s term.
Ban on new private prison contracts will not reach ICE detainees
WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden's order that the Justice Department stop contracting with private prisons could affect thousands of inmates.
Expert: COVID-19 cases may have leveled off after deadly winter surge
WASHINGTON - COVID-19 cases in Arizona may have reached a plateau after a deadly two-month surge, one health expert said Wednesday, but that does not mean the pandemic is under control.
A year after first case in Arizona, COVID-19 is now a leading killer
WASHINGTON - COVID-19 is on the verge of becoming the leading cause of death in Arizona, surpassing cancer and closing in on heart disease, according to the latest data from the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Biden’s path to citizenship for immigrants could face an uphill battle
WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping immigration reform bill that would create changes for DACA, undocumented immigrants and ban on travel from Muslim-majority countries.
Washington in unprecedented lockdown days before Biden’s inauguration
WASHINGTON - When President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in Wednesday, it will be in front of a National Mall fenced off to crowds, just one in a series of extraordinary security measures put in place the face of threats of armed protests by right-wing and pro-Trump groups.
Officials prep for possible inauguration protests at Arizona Capitol
WASHINGTON - The Arizona Capitol is surrounded by two rows of chain-link fence and police presence has been increased, as authorities brace for possible violence in response to the inauguration next week of President-elect Joe Biden.