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KNAU's Morning Rundown: Wednesday, March 10

Office Of Gov. Doug Ducey

New Law Assigns Inmates To Forest Restoration Projects

Governor Doug Ducey on Tuesday signed a new law that will assign Arizona inmates to clear forest debris to reduce the risk of wildfires. The legislation passed through the House of Representatives with near-unanimous, bipartisan support before heading to Ducey’s office. The law seeks to assign about 700 low-risk correctional inmates to forest restoration over the next two years. Proponents of the newly-passed measure say it will reduce recidivism and increase employment options for inmates post-release.


Bill Seeks To Designate Stores That Sell Firearms As ‘Essential’

The Arizona House of Representatives is considering legislation that would designate stores that sell firearms and ammunition as “essential businesses.” SB1382 was introduced earlier this year by State Sen. Wendy Rogers. If enacted, the legislation would prevent restrictions on the businesses’ normal hours, though the bill allows the governor and other officials to move ammunition in certain hazardous situations. The bill passed through the Senate with strong Republican support. Rogers serves Arizona’s sixth legislative district, which includes Flagstaff, Holbrook, and Tusayan among other communities. 


Nez-Lizer Administration Voices Opposition For Bill To Create New AZ County

Navajo Nation leaders are opposing a senate bill that would consider the creation of a new county in northeastern Arizona. SB 1653 seeks to establish a joint study committee to investigate the effects of changing the boundary between Navajo and Apache counties to create a new “Sitgreaves county” in the area. Sen. Wendy Rogers introduced the legislation. The Nez-Lizer administration voiced its opposition Tuesday, saying the legislation would potentially isolate the Navajo and Hopi reservations into one county. 


“We do not need a study committee to tell us that creating a new and separate county for tribes would be very detrimental to the direct services and quality of life for all residents, and lead to more inequality,” Nez said in a statement.


Federally recognized reservations do not typically pay property taxes, and Navajo officials said the proposed “Sitgreaves county” would take away funding for infrastructure and other resources from Navajo and Hopi communities.


Fewer Than 20 COVID-19 Hospitalizations Across Yavapai County 

Yavapai County has continued to report a decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations after a January surge, according to Health Services Director Leslie Horton. Local healthcare facilities reported Tuesday that fewer than 20 people were hospitalized for the virus across the county. Officials are administering vaccines to residents 65 and older, unlike surrounding counties where officials have expanded eligibility to people 55 and older. Horton reiterated Tuesday the county will wait until 55% of residents 65 and older are vaccinated to expand eligibility to other age groups. So far, she says nearly 50% of that demographic has received a COVID-19 vaccine.


KPD Searching For Missing Kingman Resident

Kingman Police are searching for a missing man last seen Monday evening. David Proa, 61, was last seen leaving his Kingman residence. Authorities describe him as a Hispanic man who is five-foot-two, with black hair, brown eyes and a short beard. He was last seen wearing an orange shirt, grey sweatpants and black shoes with white soles. Police say Proa was carrying a brown-grey teddy bear. Proa, who has cognitive difficulties due to a past head injury, has been without medication and could be in an agitated state. He was still missing as of Tuesday. Police encourage the public not to approach Proa, but to call the Kingman Police Department with relevant information.