Laws are meaningless if they aren’t enforced, are misapplied or misconstrued. The duly elected Arizona legislature crafts and passes election bills, and the Governor signs them into law. The Secretary of State, however, is tasked with prescribing “rules to achieve and maintain the maximum degree of correctness, impartiality, uniformity and efficiency” in implementing those laws.
This is done through the Elections Procedures Manual (EPM). But instead of crafting this with “impartiality” to attain the “maximum degree of correctness” Secretary of State Katie Hobbs seems intent on subverting state law in some instances, obfuscating in others, and as highlighted in a previous article, doing an end-run around a United States Supreme Court decision that upheld an Arizona election integrity practice.
The good news is that Hobbs doesn’t have unilateral authority to do this. She was required to submit this draft manual to Attorney General Brnovich and Governor Ducey by October 1st. Both have to sign off on the draft manual for it to go into effect. If they decline, we stick with the 2019 manual and Hobbs’s changes die…
Gov. Doug Ducey has secured the funding necessary to launch Arizona’s new Cyber Command Center, and during a ceremony at the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC) on Monday he equated cybersecurity with homeland security.
“Our society is becoming increasingly interconnected through technology, and cybersecurity has become one of the most important issues facing Arizona,” Ducey said Monday. “This new command center will be critical in protecting Arizonans and ensuring our cyber infrastructure remains safe and secure.”
According to the governor, the state has spent nearly $15 million in the last year to address cyber threats and implement best practices. The results are impressive, with the Arizona Department of Homeland Security detecting and alerting on about 68 million threats and protected state websites from over 800,000 attacks in September.
The new Cyber Command Center will be Arizona’s headquarters for coordinating statewide cybersecurity operations, and will serve as a central location for cybersecurity professionals and local, state and federal agencies to prevent and respond to cyberattacks. Several programs will be run out of the command center, including the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, a joint effort created in 2004 among DPS, AZ DHS, the FBI, and other agencies to support Arizona’s homeland security efforts.
Ducey has been successful the last few years in securing funding to address cybersecurity threats which impact not only state agencies, but also local governments, the private sector, educational institutions, and citizens.
In Fiscal Year 2020, the governor secured legislative approval to add $2.9 million to the Arizona Department of Administration’s Statewide Information Security and Privacy Office. The money was earmarked to enhance the operations of the office and purchase additional cybersecurity controls to combat cyberthreats on state IT assets, according to Ducey’s office.
He has also tapped $9 million in FY2020 and FY2022 to improve the Department of Education’s school finance system which distributes billions in state and federal funding to Arizona’s public schools. In addition, nearly $500,000 of funding will be available to the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA) in FY2022 to establish a cyber task force to perform cybersecurity prevention and response activities on behalf of the state, according to the governor’s office.
That is on top of a one-time $300,000 credit to the National Guard Cyber Response Revolving Fund to allow the National Guard to engage in cyberattack prevention, response, and support activities for the state and other public entities.
Arizona is not the only state making cybersecurity a priority, and public records show many of the projects across the country are being paid for by federal funds under the CARES Act.
According to the Center for Digital Government, the CARES Act provided more than $150 billion in March 2020 to state and local governments to address cybersecurity issues brought about by IT budget constraints, modernization issues, and new challenges such as remote work and distance learning. In December, Congress later extended the deadline for utilizing the funding after some states complained of not being able to get projects quickly operational due to time and staff constraints.
“This extension is critical because our research indicates state, local and county governments still have billions of federal dollars left to spend,” according to a briefing by the Center for Digital Government, a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government. “Doing so will increase their resilience, streamline constituents’ access to critical services, and safeguard critical government systems and all the valuable public data they collect.”
In North Carolina, $4.5 million of CARES funding was allocated to create a shared cybersecurity infrastructure for its Department of Public Instruction. The project also facilitates district cybersecurity monitoring and support,, which according to the briefing “has become even more essential as the schools in the state experience a surge in ransomware attacks.”
Meanwhile, the briefing notes Oklahoma has used its federal aid for a secondary data center with higher availability and advanced disaster recovery capabilities. State officials call the investment “critical” to ensuring the capability to deliver core public services in an emergency.
Idaho, Montana, and Texas are examples of other western states utilizing CARES funds for cybersecurity projects.
On Friday, Governor Doug Ducey announced the appointments of James Drake, Ashley Villaverde Halvorson and Keith Miller to the Maricopa County Superior Court. These appointments are to fill vacancies created by the retirement of Judges Roger E. Brodman, Connie Coin Contes and Karen A. Mullins.
James “Jim” Drake has been serving as the nonpartisan, elected Chief Clerk and Counsel for the Arizona House of Representatives since 2015. In addition to overseeing 14 staff members, he works on questions of law regarding public records, parliamentary advice, constitutional issues, financial disclosure, and election law matters. Jim also works as of-counsel for Shannon and Fleming, P.C. in civil matters, particularly evidentiary hearings with self-represented litigants.
Prior to being elected Chief Clerk, Jim was the Assistant Secretary of State in the Secretary of State’s Office from 2009 to 2015. He oversaw approximately 140 employees under the State Law Library, State Elections, Business Services, and Archives and Public Records Divisions.
From 1996 to 2009, Jim held several positions in the Arizona House of Representatives, including Rules Attorney, Counsel to the Ethics Committee, Judiciary Committee Analyst, and Banking Committee Analyst/Staff Attorney. During his tenure as the nonpartisan Rules Attorney, Jim’s work was devoted almost exclusively to constitutional analysis under the Arizona and United States Constitutions. In addition, he has recommended and crafted amendments to cure constitutional infirmities on bills, consistently rendering nonpartisan opinions.
Jim also volunteers in the community, including as an active supporter of the Foundation for Blind Children. He has regularly participated with and guided blind and visually impaired children in a sailing expedition, Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon hike, and swimming challenge from Alcatraz.
“Jim’s devotion to serving the public will serve the bench well. I am delighted to appoint him to the Maricopa County Superior Court,” said Governor Ducey.
Jim received his law degree from the California Western School of Law and his bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Arizona.
Ashley Villaverde Halvorson has spent her career at Jones Skelton & Hochuli, where she currently is a Partner. She primarily defends insurance companies in complex breach of contract and bad faith litigation. She also defends persons and businesses in personal injury/wrongful death litigation, including auto, premises, and dram shop liability. Additionally, Ashley was appointed as a Maricopa County Superior Court judge pro tem in 2018.
Ashley has been named a Southwest Super Lawyers Rising Star from 2013 to the present. In 2017, she was named one of the Top Lawyers Under 40 by the Hispanic National Bar Association.
Ashley has been a leader in improving diversity in the legal profession. She has been significantly involved with the Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association, including serving as its President. Ashley has been a part of the Latina Mentoring Project since she was in law school and was its very first judicial pipeline candidate. She has also been an active member of the Hispanic National Bar Association and the State Bar of Arizona Committee on Minorities and Women in the Law. In 2020, she received the State Bar of Arizona’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award, which annually recognizes an attorney, judge, employer, organization or bar association that significantly advances diversity and inclusion in the Arizona legal community through creative, strategic, or innovative efforts.
“Ashley’s civil litigation experience and involvement in the community will allow her to be a strong contributor, and I am pleased to appoint her to the Maricopa County Superior Court,” said Governor Ducey.
Ashley received her bachelor’s degree cum laude in Political Science and her law degree from Arizona State University.
Keith Miller has been serving as an Associate Attorney at Fennemore since January 2020, where he primarily practices in business litigation representing a variety of clients in matters pending in state and federal courts, as well as in mediation. Additionally, he has represented clients in matters pending before state and local administrative agencies.
From 2015 to 2019, Keith was an Assistant Attorney General at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. He initially was part of the Federalism Unit in the Solicitor General’s Office, where he was involved with several pieces of high profile litigation involving constitutional issues. In addition, he served on the Opinions Review Committee and Ethics Review Committee. He then worked in the Environmental Enforcement Section as counsel to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
Keith also worked as an Assistant Legal Counsel and Assistant Director of Career Services for Hillsdale College in Michigan from 2011 to 2015. During this time, he also coached the college’s mock trial team for 2 seasons, finishing a season with the college’s highest ranking ever.
Prior to that, Keith was a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge James Teilborg in Phoenix from 2009 to 2011. Upon graduating from law school, Keith was an Associate Attorney at O’Melveny in Newport Beach, California from 2008 to 2009.
“Keith has a broad amount of legal experience from the private to public sectors, and I am thrilled to appoint him to the Maricopa County Superior Court,” said Governor Ducey.
Keith received his law degree from Columbia Law School and his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in Mathematics and History from Hillsdale College.
PHOENIX, AZ — Governor Doug Ducey ordered flags at all state buildings be lowered to half-staff tomorrow, Saturday, September 11, in remembrance of the nearly 3,000 innocent men and women who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Also on Friday, Governor Ducey announced plans to work collaboratively with the State Board of Education and key stakeholders to present a bill during the next legislative session that will guarantee Arizona K-12 students, who were not alive on the day of the attacks, will receive instruction on what occurred on September 11, 2001 and the impact it has had on the American way of life.
“Today, we send special thoughts and prayers to the families of those who lost a loved one as a result of the 9/11 terror attack on our nation. And we remember and mourn the life of Gary Bird, the sole Arizonan who was killed on that horrible day,” said Ducey. “We also honor the many first responders—from Arizona and around the nation—who answered the call of duty when their nation needed them most. This tragic day would just be the beginning of a two-decade long war that wouldn’t end until just recently.”
The governor called on his fellow Arizonans to join him “in remembering the fallen from this day. And join me in honoring our troops, who fight for a future in which such a terrible event never happens again.”
“God bless our troops, God bless our first responders, and God bless the United States of America,” the governor concluded.
Governor Doug Ducey wasted no time to respond to President Joe Biden’s latest COVID-19 update given Thursday evening, calling the vaccine mandate for private employers “big government overreach,” “dictatorial,” and “un-American.” The governor indicated that court challenges would be sure to follow in the coming days. Ducey promised to push back against Biden’s orders.
Ducey tweeted the following while Biden was still announcing his executive order:
“This is exactly the kind of big government overreach we have tried so hard to prevent in Arizona — now the Biden-Harris administration is hammering down on private businesses and individual freedoms in an unprecedented and dangerous way,” wrote Ducey. “This will never stand up in court. This dictatorial approach is wrong, un-American and will do far more harm than good. How many workers will be displaced? How many kids kept out of classrooms? How many businesses fined? The vaccine is and should be a choice. We must and will push back.”
Biden announced that any employers with over 100 employees must require COVID-19 vaccinations or implement weekly testing. The White House estimated that this will impact over 80 million workers.
Furthermore, those employers must give paid time off (PTO) to those employees who choose to get vaccinated. That PTO rule will come from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) use of the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).
Federal employees will no longer have the opt-out for Biden’s vaccine mandate. Those employed by or contracting with the federal government must now get vaccinated. Additionally, any health care workers whose employers participate in Medicare and Medicaid must be vaccinated. A reported 50,000 providers will be affected – over 17 million health care workers.
Biden also announced that the TSA would increase the fine amount for those who don’t mask up while traveling.
The full list of all the new COVID-19 policies are available here.
As Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained, these new measures are part of the Biden Administration’s “Six Prong Plan” to overcome COVID-19. Psaki promised that these initial updated mandates were only the first to come in a series of new orders over the next few weeks.
The six prong plan is as follows: 1) get more people vaccinated; 2) prepare for booster [shots]; 3) keeping kids safe and in school; 4) increasing testing and masking; 5) protecting our economy; and 6) strengthening our surge response.
Preceding his announcement of updated COVID policies, Biden made a number of claims. He also took aim at elected leadership that opposed mandatory vaccinations or masking.
Biden claimed the COVID-19 vaccine was “safe [and] effective.” He didn’t elaborate on what his standards are for “effective”; the CDC has clarified that the vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective.
“This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” stated Biden. “And it’s caused by the fact that despite America having unprecedented and successful vaccination. Despite the fact that, for almost five months, three vaccines have been available in almost 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans that have failed to get the shot.”
The president asserted that certain, unnamed elected officials were “actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19.”
“Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they’re ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated that have died from COVID in their communities,” said Biden. “This is totally unacceptable.”
Biden also claimed that having a 75 percent vaccination rate in the country wasn’t enough. According to the Mayo Clinic, it would take about 70 percent of the population who have recovered from COVID-19 to “halt the pandemic.” They didn’t offer a clear estimate of how many individuals would need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
However, the CDC stated in a study published last month that vaccination offers a higher protection than prior COVID-19 infection.