/ Modified sep 11, 2020 9:48 p.m.

News roundup: Corporation Commission race approaching, federal unemployment dries up

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Sept. 11.

Cases 207,523 | Deaths 5,288

On Friday, Sept. 11, the state reported 521 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 additional deaths. The University of Arizona announced its highest number of daily coronavirus cases so far on Friday.

Race underway for Corporation Commission, Arizona's 'fourth branch of government'

The Buzz

The Arizona Corporation Commission is responsible for regulating utilities and the rates utility companies can charge ratepayers, as well as railroad and pipeline safety and business incorporations.

This week, the Buzz kicks off its election coverage with a look at the power of the commission sometimes described as the “fourth branch of Arizona state government” and brings you conversations with two of the candidates running for three open seats this fall.

Listen to the full episode here.

Disability services, legal protections and education during the pandemic

Arizona 360

Lorraine Rivera talks to the Jewish Community Center's CEO Todd Rockoff about how the pandemic has impacted its day program for adults with disabilities and the many other services the center offers to the community.

Students, parents, teachers and other school employees have had to adapt to an ever changing story when it comes to kids getting their education. Danyelle Khmara from the Arizona Daily Star explains how students with disabilities have been impacted.

Lorraine Rivera speaks with J.J. Rico, the executive director of the Arizona Center for Disability Law, about the successes and challenges they've seen during the pandemic concerning students with disabilities.

Tony Paniagua learns about a local effort with the Adult Loss of Hearing Association to increase access to clear masks for people with hearing loss.

Watch the full episode here.

Federal unemployment supplement dries up in Arizona


The $300 a week supplement to regular unemployment benefits in Arizona has ended.

A spokesperson from FEMA, the agency supplying the money, confirmed to AZPM that the fund would no longer be adding to Arizona’s unemployment payments.

Last week was the sixth week that Arizona unemployment filers were eligible for the Lost Wages Assistance program. Those payments went out this week.

Nearly 400,000 Arizona residents received those payments last week. Gov. Doug Ducey said the blame for the loss of the money lies with Congress.

Learn more here.

UA reports its highest number of daily COVID-19 cases so far


The University of Arizona reported 196 positive COVID-19 tests on Friday morning. The positivity rate was 9.8%.

University officials said most of the cases are from students who live off-campus. They also said they have increased the number of tests given to students who live in university run dorms.

The university could not confirm if there have been additional outbreaks in fraternity and sorority houses. Officials said those are considered private buildings so the numbers must come from the Pima County Health Department.

A spokesman for the health department said they are still working to determine where all the cases are coming from.

Learn more here.

Sonora Transgender Community, Allies Push For Gender Identity Reform

Fronteras Desk

Transgender Sonorans and their allies are pushing for a reform in the state that would allow residents to easily change their names and genders on official documents.

On Thursday, supporters of the measure gathered in front of the Sonoran Congress to put pressure on legislators. Months after it was heard in committee, it has yet to be heard by the full body.

If approved, it would create a simple process for petitioners to change the sex and name on state civil registry documents.

“We live with a name and a gender, but our legal document that the state provides, it says something else,” said Fernanda Velarde, president and founder of Sonora Trans, which is pushing for the reform. Velarde thinks it’s likely the reform will be considered by the full body before year’s end, but she puts the odds of it passing at “50-50.”

Judge: Arizona voters who don't sign early ballots can fix


PHOENIX — A federal judge has ruled that Arizona voters who forget to sign their early ballots before mailing them get up to five days after the election to fix the problem.

Thursday's ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Rayes sided with state and federal Democratic groups who argued it was unfair for election officials not to allow voters to “cure” those ballots. They argued that ballots with mismatched signatures should get five days to be fixed. But unsigned ballots are discarded if they are not corrected by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Learn more here.

4 staffers at Phoenix adult care facility accused of abuse


PHOENIX — Police say four staff members at a Phoenix adult care facility have been accused of abusing a female resident and falsely reporting about it. They say 55-year-old Stephanie James, 59-year-old Rodina Bailey, 54-year-old Tena Martinez and 30-year-old Kristen Emerson were taken into custody without incident Wednesday and booked into jail. All four certified medical professionals are accused of vulnerable adult abuse and false reporting to authorities.

It was unclear Thursday if any of the four women have a lawyer. Police say the case is being forwarded to the Arizona attorney general’s office for review.

Learn more here.

Maricopa County deputy accused of threats, harassment


PHOENIX — Authorities say a Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy was arrested and accused of threatening and harassing two Tempe city employees. Officials said Deputy Salvador Curvas was jailed in Pinal County after being arrested Thursday at a home in Maricopa by Tempe police and the U.S. Marshal’s Service on suspicion of domestic violence and stalking charges.

Tempe officials said in a statement that an investigation began after a city employee reported receiving violent threats by Cuevas. Online court records didn’t list an attorney for Cuevas who could comment on the allegations on his behalf.

Learn more here.

State land in Arizona sells at auction for $49 million


SCOTTSDALE — A bidding war over state-owned land in Scottsdale, Arizona, has culminated in a sale worth more than $49 million. The Arizona State Land Department announced the hefty winning bid Thursday for the 74-acre parcel near Hayden Road and the Loop 101 freeway. The $49.1 million bid came from Axon Enterprise.

The proceeds will go into the Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund, which invests in K-12 education in Arizona. Land Commissioner Lisa Atkins says the department could not be “more pleased” with the sale. The land had a far lower appraised market value of more than $17 million.

Axon plans to build infrastructure, including water and sewer access, on it.

Learn more here.

Ducey orders flags be flown at half-staff for 9/11 victims


PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered that flags be flown at half-staff at all state buildings on Friday in honor of the nearly 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001. Friday was the 19th anniversary of the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil.

Ducey said in a statement that the nation must resolve to never forget the victims and their families. He also said Arizona is grateful to all those who put themselves in harm’s way to serve others, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, medical personnel and members of the armed forces.

Learn more here.

Poll: Pandemic takes toll on mental health of young adults


PHOENIX — A new poll has found that the coronavirus pandemic has taken a harsh toll on the mental health of young adults in the United States. The latest COVID Response Tracking Study conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago found those between 18 and 34 were more likely to report negative feelings or experience stress-related symptoms like trouble sleeping than any other age group.

Besides starting their adult lives during the pandemic, they are also dealing with a recession as they navigate life transitions like starting college or finding jobs without being able to experience normal social activities.

Learn more here.

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