Carroll: Arizona Leaders Should Pay Attention To Hertz Rejection Of Electric Vehicles

Carroll: Arizona Leaders Should Pay Attention To Hertz Rejection Of Electric Vehicles

By Daniel Stefanski |

A major vehicle rental company is offloading thousands of electric cars in its fleet.

In a January 11, 2024, filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. wrote that it had “made the strategic decision to sell approximately 20,000 electric vehicles (EV) from its U.S. fleet, or about one-third of the global EV fleet.” Hertz plans on “reinvest[ing] a portion of the proceeds from the sale of EVs into the purchase of internal combustion engine vehicles to meet customer demand.”

Hertz added that the sale of these vehicles would “position the Company to eliminate a disproportionate number of lower margin rentals and reduce damage expense associated with EVs.” When addressing the financial results for the fourth quarter of 2023, Hertz asserted that “expenses related to collision and damage, primarily associated with EVs, remained high in the quarter, thereby supporting the Company’s decision to initiate the material reduction in the EV fleet.”

The Vice-Chairman of the Arizona Senate Committee on Transportation, Technology and Missing Children, Senator Frank Carroll, addressed this announcement from Hertz, telling AZ Free News, “When one of the largest worldwide vehicle rental companies decides to sell off a third of its electric vehicles, we should pay attention. This move sheds light on the lack of demand and increased costs associated with EVs, which is why we need to continue to stand up against liberal extremism attempts to force every American to transition to electric cars. Hertz hopped on the EV experiment and paid the price.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Legislators Question Hobbs’ Decision To Join Climate Alliance

Legislators Question Hobbs’ Decision To Join Climate Alliance

By Daniel Stefanski |

Republican members of the Arizona Legislature are fighting back against Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs’ emerging environmental agenda.

On Friday, four state senators wrote a letter to Governor Hobbs, highlighting a recent announcement by her Office that the State, under her direction, had joined the United States Climate Alliance.

Senators Frank Carroll, Sine Kerr, David Gowan, and T.J. Shope were signatories to the letter.

On July 11, Hobbs revealed that the State was joining the Alliance. She asserted that “Together, we are creating green jobs and businesses, ensuring clean air and water for Arizonans, lowering energy costs, and preparing more effectively for a changing climate.”

In response, the Alliance welcomed Hobbs as a member – not the State – in a Twitter post.

The legislators, in their letter, stated that the Alliance is “an organization set up by three Democratic governors as a protest to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the job-destroying Paris Agreement; and that the Alliance is a completely voluntary coalition of governors with aspirational and non-binding goals to combat global warming.”

They warned Hobbs that Arizona laws did not authorize her to join the State with this alliance, writing, “To be clear, the Alliance is a coalition of governors, not States. The Legislature is the branch of government constitutionally charged with setting public policy for the State of Arizona and nothing in the laws of the State authorize you to join this coalition – as ineffectual as it is – on behalf of the State.”

There was a strong encouragement by the lawmakers for the Governor’s Office to work with the Legislature on these matters – a refrain that has oft been used in 2023 under a divided Arizona government. The lawmakers said, “We suggest that, instead of unilaterally creating task forces and joining do-nothing coalitions, you work with and through the Legislature to formulate public policy. Attempting to evade this process through edict misleads the public on the proper role of the executive and diverts attention from the real work that needs to be done.”

The coalition of legislators concluded their letter with a promise to use their authority under the Arizona Constitution to preserve the separation of powers inside of the state, adding, “Most importantly, executive overreach threatens the separation of powers provisions in Article II of the Arizona Constitution. Because separation of powers is ‘essential to the preservation of liberty,’ James Madison, Federalist No. 51, Senate Republicans are committed to serving as a check on any abuse of executive power.”

According to the Alliance, its members “are working to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping temperature increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius through four key collective commitments.” Those commitments are as follows:

  • Reducing collective net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at least 26-28% by 2025 and 50-52% by 2030, both below 2005 levels, and collectively achieving overall net-zero GHG emissions as soon as practicable, and no later than 2050.
  • Accelerating new and existing policies to reduce climate pollution, build resilience to the impacts of climate change, and promote clean energy deployment at the state and federal levels.
  • Centering equity, environmental justice, and a just economic transition in their efforts to achieve their climate goals and create high-quality jobs.
  • Tracking and reporting progress to the global community in appropriate settings, including when the world convenes to take stock of the Paris Agreement.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Fury Follows Biden Action On Grand Canyon Monument Move

Fury Follows Biden Action On Grand Canyon Monument Move

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona Legislative Republicans are furious over President Joe Biden’s announcement about the Grand Canyon.

During his visit to Arizona on Tuesday, President Joe Biden established the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument. In his signed proclamation, Biden stated, “Protecting the areas to the northeast, northwest, and south of the Grand Canyon will preserve an important spiritual, cultural, prehistoric, and historic legacy; maintain a diverse array of natural and scientific resources; and help ensure that the prehistoric, historic, and scientific value of the areas endures for the benefit of all Americans.”

Arizona Republicans were quick to oppose the president’s action in their state. Senator Frank Carroll said, “Halting uranium mining in this region will only promote our country’s dependence on communist China for the minerals needed every day to support our energy supply. Even the FBI has sounded the alarm that China is the greatest long-term threat to our nation’s ideas, economic security and national security, yet President Biden is welcoming a greater reliance on this government with this action.”

Senator David Gowan also issued a statement: “There was entirely inefficient notice from the Biden Administration to the residents, business owners and elected officials of Mohave County. This is not how government should conduct itself within Arizona or within the United States. We don’t need the federal government coming in and dictating to Arizonans how to protect Arizona. We’ve been doing a fine job of conserving our precious resources and will continue to do so. This federal overreach is unacceptable and unconstitutional.”

Last week, Arizona House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci and Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borreilli requested that an emergency, joint committee hearing be convened in Kingman in order to “hear testimony on President Biden’s radical proposal to circumvent Congress and unilaterally declare a new 1.1 million acre ‘national monument’ near the Grand Canyon in Mohave and Coconino Counties.”

The plea was directed to the Chairs of the House and Senate Committees on Natural Resources, Energy and Water (Rep. Gail Griffin and Sen. Sine Kerr) and the Chair of the House Committee on Land, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Rep. Lupe Diaz).

The call for the emergency meeting was adhered to by the Chairs of the legislative committees, where Republicans met Monday night in Kingman and “voted to formally oppose the move that promises to adversely impact the state’s economy and our national security by devastating critical industries like mining and cattle ranching.”

Republican Representative John Gillette also chimed in, posting, “Arizona Democrats refuse to show up for public input on the Biden Land Grab. As Biden is planning to designate 1.1 million acres of AZ people land to build wind and solar via executive order 14008. Democrats call public comments a sham. We must vote them out!”

Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope was at the hearing and shared his support for his fellow Republicans’ efforts to highlight this issue, writing, “Excited to be in Kingman today to discuss my strong opposition to the over 1 Million Acre land-grab in Northern Arizona that President Biden is expected to announce in the coming hours.”

After Biden’s establishment of the National Monument, Shope issued another statement, saying, “The Biden Administration is determined to halt mining across our country and here in Arizona, crippling our ability to meet demands. We must immediately open up mining in Arizona and address other national security risks here locally that are associated with China’s influence. Shame on President Biden for putting our citizens, our resources and our economy at risk.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Lawmakers Launch Investigation Into Alleged Censorship At ASU

Lawmakers Launch Investigation Into Alleged Censorship At ASU

By Corinne Murdock |

On Tuesday, a joint committee of the Arizona legislature launched an investigation into allegations of censorship at Arizona State University (ASU). Lawmakers issued a 60-day deadline to conduct the investigation.

The directive arose from the Joint Legislative Ad Hoc Committee on Freedom of Expression at Arizona’s Public Universities hearing concerning the T.W. Lewis Center, shuttered this year after the revocation of $400,000 in annual funding from its namesake, Tom Lewis, who cited “left-wing hostility and activism” as his reason for defunding the program.

Lewis’ contention arose from the efforts of 37 Barrett Honors College faculty members, who launched a coordinated campaign to prevent an event featuring prominent conservative speakers Dennis Prager and Charlie Kirk. Prager testified at Tuesday’s hearing; he also published an opinion piece on the event ahead of the hearing.

State Sens. Anthony Kern, co-chair (R-LD27), Frank Carroll (R-LD28), Sally Ann Gonzales (D-LD20), Christine Marsh (D-LD04), and J.D. Mesnard (R-LD13) served on the committee, as did State Reps. Quang Nguyen (R-LD01), Lorena Austin (D-LD09), Analise Ortiz (D-LD24), Beverly Pingerelli (R-LD28), and Austin Smith (R-LD29). Kern and Nguyen served as co-chairs.

“This is to get to the bottom of a state-funded university that is not meeting its obligation to freedom of expression and freedom of speech,” said Kern.

The center relied on an annual budget of around $1 million; ASU representatives explained that the center would live on through the classes taught, though the actual center itself and the executive director at its helm, Ann Atkinson, would be gone. 

ASU Vice President of Legal Affairs Kim Demarchi explained that Lewis’ funding provided for career development and education. Demarchi testified that ASU considered what programs it could continue without Lewis’ funding, and declared that they could only sustain the faculty without Lewis’ funding. Demarchi also shared that the Barrett Honors faculty weren’t punished in any way for the letter or allegations of intimidation.

“It is possible it [their letter] has a chilling effect,” said Demarchi.

However, Demarchi clarified that a professor would have to explicitly threaten a student’s grade in order to be in violation of university policy.

Atkinson went public with the closure of the Lewis Center last month. (See the response from ASU). She told AZ Free News that the university turned down alternative funding sources that would make up for the loss of Lewis’ funding necessary to keep the Lewis Center running.

Nguyen opened up the hearing by recounting his survival of Vietnam’s communist regime as a child, and comparing that regime’s hostility to free speech to the actions of Barrett Honors College faculty. 

“My understanding is that there is an effort to prevent conservative voices from being heard,” said Nguyen. “I crossed 12,000 miles to look for freedom, to seek freedom.”

Nguyen expressed disappointment that none of the 37 faculty members that signed onto the letter showed up to testify in the hearing. He said if he accused someone, he would show up to testify.

Democratic members of the committee contended that the event occurred and therefore censorship hadn’t taken place. Kern said the occurrence of the event doesn’t resolve whether freedom of speech was truly permitted, citing the closure of the Lewis Center.

ASU Executive Vice Provost Pat Kenney emphasized the importance of freedom of expression as critical to a free nation. Nguyen asked whether Kenney read the Barrett letter, and agreed to it. Kenney said the letter was freedom of expression. He claimed the letter didn’t seek cancellation of the event. 

“When faculty speak out on their own like that, they’re covered on the same topic we’re here about, which is free speech,” said Kenney.

ASU representatives claimed near the beginning of the hearing that Lewis and ASU President Michael Crow had discussed the withdrawal of funding. However, toward the end of the hearing Kern announced that he’d received information from a Lewis representative that the pair hadn’t discussed the funding, and accused ASU representatives of lying.

Ortiz called the anonymous complaints from students hypotheticals because no formal complaints were lodged. She also claimed that the hearing was merely an attempt to delegitimize public and higher education. Marsh claimed that lawmakers shouldn’t consider the claims of student fears of retaliation because the students should’ve gone to ASU directly.

Nguyen asked whether ASU would defend guest speakers, such as himself, if ASU faculty were to lodge claims of white nationalism. Kenney said that, in a personal capacity, ASU faculty were free to make their claims, but not if they spoke out on ASU’s behalf.

Atkinson contested with the characterization that the Barrett faculty spoke out in their personal capacity. She pointed out that Barrett faculty signed the letter in their capacity as ASU faculty, emailed her using their ASU emails, and sent communications to students about opposing the event using ASU technology.

Ortiz announced receipt of a letter from the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) on the outcome of the requested investigation into the incident, the results of which Kern and the rest of the committee appeared to not have been made aware, determining that no free speech violations took place at ASU.

Marsh speculated that the professors didn’t show up because they faced death threats, citing media attention and conservative speaker Charlie Kirk’s Professor Watchlist. Kern said that would be a “lame excuse.” He also pointed out that the professors launched a national campaign and initialized bringing themselves into a bigger spotlight.

“You’re making excuses where we don’t know that’s the case,” said Kern. 

Atkinson said that she could provide “dozens, if not hundreds” of students that could testify to experiencing faculty intimidation. She also claimed that Williams told her to avoid booking speakers that were political. 

“We allow the speaker but you have to take the consequences,” said Atkinson, reportedly quoting Williams. 

Atkinson testified that TV screen ads were removed and flyers were torn down following the Barrett Honors faculty letter. She also said she shared the information for the person responsible on June 13, yet it appears ASU took no action. ASU said they weren’t aware of any advertising for the event pulled. 

Additionally, Atkinson testified that Williams pressured her to postpone the event “indefinitely.” She noted that Williams interpreted ASU’s policy of not promoting political campaigns as not allowing political speech at all.

“We were in an environment telling us that this was ‘hate speech,’” said Atkinson.

Atkinson said she was directed by leadership ahead of the event to issue a preliminary warning that the event contained potentially dangerous speech. 

Gonzales told Atkinson that hate speech doesn’t qualify as constitutionally protected speech. However, the rules attorney corrected her that the Supreme Court ruled hate speech as protected.

ASU professor Owen Anderson also testified. He said that he’s previously had to get the free speech rights organization Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIR) involved twice due to faculty attempts to suppress free speech. Anderson also said that faculty have attempted to restrict speech by adding anti-racism and DEI to policy on class content and annual reviews of professors. 

“Insults abound, but rational dialogue is rare. What we need are administrators that call these faculty to higher conduct,” said Anderson.

In closing, Kern said he doesn’t trust ASU, the University of Arizona, or ABOR. He argued that ABOR hadn’t issued a real investigation and called their report “typical government fluff [and] garbage.” Kern also called for the firing of Barrett Honors College Dean Tara Williams.

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

Hobbs Vetoes Carroll’s ESG Bill

Hobbs Vetoes Carroll’s ESG Bill

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs’ historic veto streak has uncovered another disappointed legislator.

On Monday, Republican Senator Frank Carroll issued a press release to highlight Governor Hobbs’ veto of his bill, SB 1500, “which would have empowered (the) Arizona State Treasurer to eliminate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) consideration from all state investments by requiring investments be made in the sole interest of the taxpayer.”

Hobbs justified her reasoning for the veto in a customary letter to the Arizona Senate President, writing, “Politicizing decisions best made by the state’s investment professionals can harm our state’s long-term fiscal health.”

Senator Carroll was unhappy with the governor’s action on his proposal, saying, “My interest is in protecting taxpayer dollars and protecting pensions. I sponsored this bill to get politics out of the pensions of public employees and public officials who have earned the right to financial stability after dedicating their lives to public service. By definition, pecuniary means, ‘relating to or consisting of money.’ That is the criteria by which taxpayer dollars should be invested, not a social system used to push political agendas.”

The lawmaker’s release further explained why SB 1500 would have been so important for Arizona, stating, “An investment evaluation, conducted by the State Treasurer, must be based on financial and economic factors, and not to promote nonpecuniary benefits, other nonpecuniary social goals or take unnecessary investment risks. This bill aimed to protect government employees who pay into a retirement fund, where that money is then invested by the State Treasurer. The growing practice of ESG policies being imposed on companies is cause for concern, as it deviates from typical investing and business practices to consider non-financial information about a company, and ultimately prioritizes liberal ideology and goals over investor returns.”

SB 1500 was first passed by the Senate on February 28 with a 16-14 vote after clearing the Government Committee earlier in the month 5-3. When the bill was transmitted to the House of Representatives, it first obtained approval from the Government Committee before receiving the green light from the full chamber with a 31-27 vote (one member not voting and one seat vacant).

Senators Ken Bennett, David Gowan, Sine Kerr, Janae Shamp; and Representatives Michael Carbone, Neal Carter, Tim Dunn, Teresa Martinez, Quang Nguyen, Austin Smith, and Justin Wilmeth co-sponsored the legislation.

Representatives from the Climate Cabinet Action, Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter, and the Arizona Association of Counties expressed opposition to the bill as it made its way through the legislative process.

The governor’s veto continues an abrupt shift in state policy over the ESG issue, which has largely devolved into a Republican versus Democrat fight. Prior to 2023, Arizona had two statewide officials, who were extremely active in fighting back against the ESG movement with former Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Treasurer Kimberly Yee.

However, the transition of power in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office halted Brnovich’s investigative efforts into this movement. Kris Mayes, Arizona’s new top prosecutor, stopped an ongoing investigation from her predecessor, saying, “corporations increasingly realize that investing in sustainability is both good for our country, our environment, and public health and good for their bottom lines. The state of Arizona is not going to stand in the way of corporations’ efforts to move in the right direction.”

But State Treasurer Kimberly Yee continues to be an active opponent of ESG. Her office took several positions and actions against ESG during her first term, including revising the Arizona State Treasurer’s Office Investment Policy Statement to ensure that the Office “investments are not subject to the subjective political whims of the ESG standards.” Yee stated, “This is about maintaining American free-market principles that our country was founded upon and not allowing environmental or social goals to dictate how taxpayer monies are managed.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.