Latest from Ulysse Bex
Vaccine hesitancy, new variants kept COVID-19 infections from falling
WASHINGTON – Almost two years after the first case of COVID-19 was discovered in Arizona, new infections in the state have reached a "bizarre plateau," rising from summertime lows in the hundreds to more than 3,000 new cases a day through the fall.
4FRI revived: Wildfire-prevention program back on track after months of delay
WASHINGTON – The popular 4FRI forest maintenance program is back on track with a more focused, "more realistic approach" that appears to have government, industry and environmental officials in rare agreement.
Hundreds rally as Supreme Court justices weigh future of abortion rights
WASHINGTON - Protesters from both sides of the abortion issue rallied outside the Supreme Court Wednesday as justices considered a strict Mississippi law that could lead the court to reverse its longstanding abortion-rights rulings.
Arizona jobless rate continues steady decline, workforce keeps growing
WASHINGTON – Arizona's unemployment rate continued its steady decline in October, falling to 5.2%, down a full percentage point from just two months earlier and almost one-third of the state's pandemic high, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Health experts: Holiday gatherings ‘should be fine’ – with precautions
WASHINGTON - Health officials said this week that it should be OK for families to gather over the holidays, as long as people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and take other precautions against the spread of the disease.
House approves $1.9 trillion ‘Build Back Better’ social spending plan
The House passed the 10-year, roughly $1.9 trillion "Build Back Better" bill early Friday, a plan supporters say would extend tax credits, child care, health care and more to tens of thousands of Arizonans but which still needs Senate approval.
House censures defiant Gosar for violent video, strips committee posts
WASHINGTON - The House censured Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, and stripped him of his committee assignments over a violent cartoon he posted that appeared to show him killing a Democratic member and threatening the president.
Tribal leaders welcome return of White House meetings after four years
WASHINGTON - Tribal leaders said the just-ended White House summit on tribal affairs "shows promise" for the federal commitment to solving problems in Indian Country and to giving Native Americans a voice in the process.
Anime animosity: Critics demand Gosar be investigated for violent tweet
WASHINGTON - Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, refused to back down Tuesday from his weekend tweet of a violent cartoon that appeared to show him and other House conservatives attacking President Joe Biden and a liberal House Democrat.
Arizona lawmakers split as House OKs $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill
WASHINGTON - Arizona lawmakers split on party lines late Friday night as the House voted 228-206 to pass a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, giving final passage to a centerpiece of the Biden administration's agenda.
Arizona Supreme Court upholds ruling that allows school mask mandates
WASHINGTON – The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that state lawmakers could not include a ban on school mask mandates and other issues - everything from voter registration to dog-racing permits - that were rolled together in budget bills.
Democrats’ slimmer $1.75 trillion Build Back Better still has skeptics
WASHINGTON - Democratic leaders said Thursday that they reached agreement on a $1.75 trillion "framework" for their Build Back Better plan, a sweeping social and environmental spending plan that would increase funding for everything from child care to Medicare.
Hobbs pushes for federal voting legislation to protect workers, voters
WASHINGTON - Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs joined other election officials with tales of harassment, death threats and attacks on election integrity since the 2020 election, and urged passage of federal legislation to protect future elections.
‘The ultimate umpire’: Former Attorney General Grant Woods remembered
WASHINGTON – Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods was remembered Monday as an "incredibly active public servant" whose sudden death over the weekend had the potential to deal "a pretty big blow" to moderates in the state.
Yuma mayor says surging illegal migration is stressing local services
WASHINGTON - Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls told a Washington forum this week that the rise in illegal immigration is stressing health care and nonprofits that help migrants in his town, and he's worried the situation will worsen.
Sinema, O’Halleran part of White House talks on Build Back Better plan
WASHINGTON - Two Arizona lawmakers were among the House and Senate moderates who met with President Joe Biden this week, as negotiations on the administration's Build Back Better plan heated up.
Arizona officials cite highs, lows that will be Colin Powell’s legacy
WASHINGTON - Arizona politicians from both sides of the aisle praised former Secretary of State Colin Powell as a dedicated public servant who will inspire "generations of Americans," but who also leaves behind a mixed legacy.
Arizona projects get sizeable cut of Great American Outdoors Act funds
WASHINGTON - Arizona projects got $110 million last year and will get another $159 million in the fiscal year that started this month, or more than 9% of all funding nationally under the Great American Outdoors Act for those two years.
HHS says COVID-19 vaccinations may have saved 1,000 lives in Arizona
WASHINGTON – COVID-19 vaccinations have saved an estimated 1,000 lives in Arizona and have prevented as many as 2,800 hospitalizations for the disease, according to recent estimates from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Experts: No short-term answers to problem of drought, water shortages
WASHINGTON – State and federal officials told a Senate panel Wednesday that there may be long-term solutions to the historic drought gripping the West, and the water shortages that come with it, but that the short-term outlook remains grim.
Arizona groups aim to influence Supreme Court in abortion-rights case
WASHINGTON - An abortion rights case that is a top issue in the U.S. Supreme Court term that began Monday has already drawn scores of legal filings - including from dozens of Arizona lawmakers, activists and advocates on both sides of the issue.
New estimates show Colorado River levels falling faster than expected
WASHINGTON - New projections show that Lake Mead and Lake Powell could reach "critically low reservoir elevations" sooner than expected, spurring experts to say that "bold actions" will be needed to change course.
Shuffle off the buffalo: Groups push to ship, not shoot, Canyon bison
WASHINGTON - A planned hunt of bison on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon this week appears to be moving forward, despite last-minute pleas by lawmakers in Colorado to move the animals there instead.
Forest Service plan to extend forest maintenance program is put on hold
WASHINGTON - Arizona lawmakers and advocates said they were "blindsided" by the U.S. Forest Service's abrupt announcement this week that it would halt negotiations on a proposed extension of the Four Forests Restoration Initiative.
Brnovich joins Ducey, vows to block Biden’s business vaccine mandate
WASHINGTON - The Biden administration plan to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in large companies is likely weeks away from being implemented, but Arizona officials are already lining up with pledges to stop it.
Jobless rate better, but flat, as Arizona employment, workforce surge
WASHINGTON - More workers than ever before are in Arizona's labor force and the number of people with jobs has almost reached pre-pandemic levels. But the number of jobless Arizonans remains higher than it was pre-pandemic, even as unemployment fell to 6.6%.
Court rejects Trump clean water rule with ‘significant’ Arizona impact
WASHINGTON - Environmental groups welcomed a federal judge's decision this week to overturn Trump-era clean-water regulations that were so narrow that many waterways in Arizona ended up being excluded from federal oversight.
As wildfires rage, federal firefighters see bump in minimum hourly pay
WASHINGTON - Fighting wildfires did not get any easier this month, but it did get a little more profitable for thousands of full-time and temporary firefighters employed by the federal government, which raised their minimum wage from $13 an hour to $15 an hour.
Experts hope FDA’s full Pfizer vaccine OK boosts Arizona vaccinations
WASHINGTON – Health officials expressed hope Monday that the Food and Drug Administration's full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will boost vaccinations in Arizona, which lags well behind the national average.