Senate Transportation Committee Approves Green New Deal-Esque Bills

Senate Transportation Committee Approves Green New Deal-Esque Bills

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona Senate Transportation Committee devoted their entire agenda on Monday to discussing four bills advancing electric vehicle initiatives. The four bills were introduced by Minority Whip Victoria Steele (D-Tucson), with two of the bills cosponsored by State Representative Jennifer Jermaine (D-Chandler).

SB1150 would prohibit municipalities or boards of supervisors from awarding residential, single-family building permits unless the structure would have an electric vehicle charging station. Manufactured homes or residences under 1,000 square feet, without off-street parking, or with electric services that would exceed 200 ampere with an electric vehicle charging station would be exempt. Proposed changes to the bill would have the state reimburse builders up to $1,000 for the cost of electric vehicle charging outlet installation. SB1150 passed 6-3; Majority Leader Rick Gray (R-Sun City) along with State Senators Paul Boyer (R-Glendale) and Sine Kerr (R-Buckeye) voted against it while Minority Leader Rebecca Rios (D-Phoenix) and State Senators Steele, Rosanna Gabaldon (D-Tucson), Lisa Otondo (D-Yuma), Tyler Pace (R-Mesa), and T.J. Shope (R-Phoenix) voted for it. This was the only Green New Deal-esque bill that Boyer voted against.

SB1151 would direct the Arizona Department of Housing (ADOH) to conduct a two-year program funded with $500,000 from the state’s general fund. State agencies could request the department to cover any electric vehicle charging station installation costs. Steele’s bill would also make Arizona greener in more than one sense of the word. If passed, private companies could turn a profit from this endeavor — the bill would grant private entities to establish fee-based electric vehicle charging stations at the legislature, any state agency, and any Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) university property. SB1151 passed 7-2, with Gray and Kerr voting against it, and Boyer, Gabaldon, Otondo, Rios, Steele, Shope, and Pace voting for it.

SB1152 would redefine “zero emission vehicle” (ZEV) to mean that which doesn’t emit exhaust, gas, or other pollutants, and require the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to establish interstate and intrastate zero emission vehicle corridors, and install zero emission vehicle infrastructure. ADOT would be required to submit a draft ZEV plan to the governor and the presidents of the state senate and house six months after the bill’s passage. Gray and Kerr voted against it, and Boyer, Gabaldon, Otondo, Rios, Steele, Shope, and Pace voted for it.

SB1154 would establish a “Transportation Electrification Study Committee” to review current state laws inhibiting electric transportation expansion; issue propaganda; and coordinate with local governments, electric utilities, environmental groups, the transportation industry, and the community to determine the best route for transitioning from regular to electric vehicles. If passed, the committee would submit its report by July 1, 2023 before its dissolution in September 2024. SB1154 passed 7-2, with Gray and Kerr voting against it, and Boyer, Gabaldon, Otondo, Rios, Steele, Shope, and Pace voting for it.

The bills resemble a similar policy enacted by the Tucson City Council last summer. Tucson now requires electric vehicle charging outlets on all new constructions of one- and two-family dwellings. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Arizona Fourth in Job Recovery, Per Federal Report

Arizona Fourth in Job Recovery, Per Federal Report

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona ranked fourth in the nation for job recovery according to the latest report from the Department of Labor’s (DOL) statistics department. The state had 331,500 jobs lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but 345,900 jobs recovered through last December — an addition of 14,400 jobs, or over 104 percent. 

Utah, Idaho, and Texas, in that order, outranked Arizona for job recovery. All three surpassed 100 percent job recovery, while the remainder of the states in the top 20 fell anywhere between 99 and 81 percent recovery.

16 out of the top 20 states in job recovery have Republican governors, as pointed out by the Republican National Committee (RNC) research team. The four states with Democratic governors to rank within the top 20 were North Carolina at 10th place, Colorado at 13th place, Washington at 16th place, and Kentucky at 20th place. However, both North Carolina and Kentucky have a Republican majority in their state legislatures. 

According to DOL mapping on their report, states with the highest unemployment rates as of last December were California, Nevada, New York, and New Jersey.

In a press release, RNC spokesperson Ben Peterson asserted that Republican policies were stronger enough to offset the negative impacts of the supply chain crisis, inflation, and overall economic downturn prolonged or ushered in by the Biden Administration’s policies.

“Arizona is a beacon of Republican leadership that has delivered a strong economic recovery in spite of significant headwinds like crushing Bidenflation and the supply chain crisis,” said Peterson. “While Democrat-run states try to shut down free enterprise, Republican-led states like Arizona are building strong economies and helping everyday people to get ahead.”

Reuters reported last week on DOL numbers reflecting the third straight week of an increase in unemployment claims. The Census Bureau reported that 8.8 million people reported not going to work between December 29 and January 10 due to COVID-19, likely related to the omicron surge. 

In its press release, the DOL said that 48 states reported a decrease in jobless rates from the previous year, 42 states reduced their unemployment rates in December, and eight states maintained stable job rates in December.

Last week, Governor Doug Ducey’s office announced that the state had added over 400,000 new jobs since 2015 and attained the lowest unemployment rate since 2007 despite two years of a pandemic: 4.1 percent.

Ducey indicated last December that Arizona would boast one of the highest rankings in job recovery nationwide based on state reports. The Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) at the time reported that the state had recovered 101 percent of jobs lost during the pandemic, compared to the nation’s 83 percent recovery at the time. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Gilbert-Based Horne Auto Group Acquires Nissan Dealership In Yuma

Gilbert-Based Horne Auto Group Acquires Nissan Dealership In Yuma

By Terri Jo Neff |

Gilbert-based Horne Auto Group has added another automotive dealership to its list of holdings.

Last month, the family-owned and operated company completed its purchase of Sonora Nissan in Yuma. The dealership, which has been rebranded as Horne Nissan Yuma, is the company’s second Nissan dealership.

The acquisition brings roughly 34 more employees under the Horne Auto Group umbrella, for an all-location employee total of 474. 

Horne Auto Group’s other dealerships are Champion Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram of Nogales, Horne Auto Center Featuring Chevrolet in Show Low, Horne Cadillac in Show Low, Horne Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Globe, Horne Ford of Nogales, Horne Freedom Ford in Thatcher, Horne Genesis of Apache Junction and Mesa, Horne Kia in Gilbert, Horne Lincoln of Nogales, Horne Mazda in Tempe, Horne Subaru in Show Low, Robert Horne Ford in Apache Junction, Horne Hyundai in Apache Junction, and Horne Nissan in Globe.

The company also owns Horne Collision Center of Show Low, Horne Motors in Mesa, and Horne Motors in Show Low.

The Horne family has been in Arizona for over 140 years, when Henry James Horne settled in Mesa in 1880. His grandson, Gail B. Horne, co-founded the Henry and Horne CPA Firm in 1957, which was later joined by Gail’s son Robert C. Horne.

In 1991, Robert C. Horne purchased a small Chevrolet dealership in Show Low. From that small start, he and sons Aaron, Adam, Andrew, Michael and son-in-law Martin P. Jones have grown the company into what is now Horne Auto Group.

Arizona AgFest 2022 Draws Lawmakers’ Attention To Vital Industry

Arizona AgFest 2022 Draws Lawmakers’ Attention To Vital Industry

By Terri Jo Neff |

Several state lawmakers spent last Wednesday afternoon attending the 2022 Arizona Farm Bureau AgFest on the lawn of the House of Representatives.

The Arizona Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm and ranch organization, and serves as the industry’s voice. The Jan. 19 event showcased the state’s $23.3 billion agriculture industry to legislators.

Among those attending was Sen. Sine Kerr, who chairs the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Energy, and Water.

Kerr is no stranger to the Ag business. She grew up in rural Buckeye and with her husband now owns a large dairy farm.

“Agriculture is essential to Arizona’s prosperity,” Kerr said at the event. “We all depend on the work our ranchers and farmer are doing for our state and country, and I will do my absolute best to always advocate for them at the state legislature.”

Some of the other lawmakers who attended AgFest were House Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham, as well as Reps. Leo Biasiucci, Frank Carroll, David Cook, and Joel John. Senate President Karen Fann was also on hand, as well as Sen. TJ Shope.

Members of the University of Arizona Collegiate Young Farmers and Ranchers, which has its own Arizona Farm Bureau chapter, also took part in the event.

In other Arizona Farm Bureau news, it was announced earlier this month that the organization earned the American Farm Bureau Federation’s New Horizon Award, which honors the most innovative new state Farm Bureau programs.

The New Horizon Award recognized the Arizona Farm Bureau’s partnership with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service last year to launch a conservation agriculture mentoring program. Stefanie Smallhouse, president of Arizona Farm Bureau, accepted the award during the Federation’s annual convention in Georgia.

Arizona Farm Bureau also won in all four Awards of Excellence categories for demonstrating outstanding achievements in Advocacy, Coalitions & Partnerships, Engagement & Outreach, and Leadership & Business Development.

U.S. Commerce Trade Agency Adds To Arizona Staff, Announces International Trade Missions

U.S. Commerce Trade Agency Adds To Arizona Staff, Announces International Trade Missions

By Terri Jo Neff |

One of the riskiest business plans for U.S. business owners is entering a new global market or contracting with an international trade partner. But the process does not have to be fraught with stress if you know what to look for, which is where the U.S. Commercial Service comes in. 

The U.S. Commercial Service (USCS) is the promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. The agency has trade professionals in more than 100 U.S. cities, including Phoenix and Tucson, as well as U.S. embassies and consulates to help American companies get started in exporting and to support other companies hoping to increase global sales.

On Feb. 2, the USCS is hosting a free webinar about the ABCs of export due diligence. The no-obligation event will provide useful tools which business owners can utilize to quickly and confidently screen prospective international partners. 

Then in late March, the U.S. Commercial Service is hosting a Central America Trade Mission & Business Conference in Guatemala for American businesses ready to expand into -or ramp up- business far south of the border.

The conference will explore markets in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama, and will include region-specific sessions, market entry strategies, export compliance, legal, logistics, disaster resilience and recovery, and trade financing resources.

Attendees can also prearrange one-on-one consultations with officials of the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service or the U.S. Department of State with expertise in commercial markets throughout the region. More information on the Central America Trade Mission is available at

In May, USCS is hosting Trade Americas – Business Opportunities in the South America Conference held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The conference offers U.S. companies the opportunity to explore eleven South American markets: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Uruguay.

According to USCS, the South America region’s nearly 400 million potential customers make the area a natural commercial partner for U.S. companies due to its close proximity and closely-tied history and culture. In addition, several trade agreements between the U.S. and various South America countries aim to enhance cooperation on trade and investment.

Information about the May conference is available at

The USCS office in Phoenix recently added a new member to its team of trade professionals. Colin Hudson joins USCS following several years with FedEx, where he held multiple roles in international business development. 

Hudson, who is originally from England, has lived and worked in Asia-Pacific and Latin America. He relocated to Arizona from Florida, and brings experience to USCS in assisting clients from different sized companies and industries in managing and growing their global presence. In his most recent position as a FedEx Worldwide Account manager, Hudson helped companies open new markets in diverse locations such as India and Poland. 

Personalized assistance is available to Arizona companies engaged in global trade or considering an expansion into an international market.  The USCS staff is assigned based on industry or location:

Leandro Solorzano (Director) Industries: General Services, Franchising, Travel and Tourism.

Christina Parisi (Tucson office) All Industries in Southern Arizona

Fernando Jimenez  Industries: Aerospace & Defense, Safety & Security, Sporting Goods, Textile, Chemicals, Advanced Manufacturing, Automotive, Transportation

Ruth Soberanes Industries:  Education, Energy, Environmental Technology, Information & Communication Technology, Marine Technology

Colin Hudson Industries: Architecture / Engineering / Infrastructure, Design and Construction, Processed Foods, Agribusiness/ Processed Foods, Cosmetics, Healthcare, Consumer Goods, Mining

Federal Agency Seeks Comments To Advance More Productive Tech Economy

Federal Agency Seeks Comments To Advance More Productive Tech Economy

By Terri Jo Neff |

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is seeking comments about eight emerging technology areas: Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things in Manufacturing, Quantum Computing, Blockchain Technology, New and Advanced Materials, Unmanned Delivery Services, Internet of Things, and Three-dimensional Printing, to assist in the preparation of a report to Congress.  

A Request for Information (RFI) was announced in the Federal Register under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, who is directed to coordinate with the Federal Trade Commission and other federal agencies to complete a study of the eight emerging technology areas.

The RFI seeks comments about public and private sector marketplace trends, supply chain risks, legislative, policy, and the future investment needs of the technology areas to help identify, understand, refine, and guide the development of the eight emerging technologies. Those eight areas are, more specifically:

  • Artificial Intelligence—on the state of the artificial intelligence industry and the impact of such industry on the United States economy,
  • Internet of Things in Manufacturing—on the use of internet-connected devices and internet-connected solutions in manufacturing in the United States,
  • Quantum Computing—on the state of the quantum computing industry and the impact of such industry on the United States economy,
  • Blockchain Technology—on the state of the blockchain technology industry and the impact of such industry on the United States economy,
  • New and Advanced Materials—on the state of the new and advanced materials industry, including synthetically derived materials or those with enhanced natural properties, and the impact of such industry on the United States economy,
  • Unmanned Delivery Services (air or ground)—on the impact of unmanned delivery services on businesses conducting interstate commerce and the impact of such industry on the United States economy, rules and regulations,
  • Internet of Things—on the state of the internet-connected devices industry and the impact of such industry on the United States economy, and
  • Three-dimensional Printing—on the state of the three-dimensional printing industry and the impact of such industry on the United States economy.

For each emerging technology area, NIST needs input useful to the fostering of  economic growth and competitiveness across the United States for benefit all Americans.

As a result, the NIST is inviting stakeholders throughout the scientific research, standards, advocacy, industry, and non-scientific communities, as well as the general public, to provide comments. From the comments, a Congressional report will be developed “in a manner consistent with its mission to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness,” according to the RFI.

Comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Jan. 31. To submit comments electronically, go to and enter NIST-2021-0007 in the search field. Click on the “Comment Now” icon and complete the required fields, and then enter or attach your comments.

More information about the RFI is available at