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NewsNet 3-21-13

SENATE PANEL ADVANCES SALES TAX BILL, CITIES OPPOSED - The Arizona Senates Finance Committee voted 6-1 to advance HB 2111, a 124-page bill overhauling the state's sales tax collection system. The League of Arizona's Cities and Towns, representing over 90 cities and towns, opposes the legislation.  Many cities, including Tucson, strongly oppose the legislation's proposed changes the method and rate on the construction sales tax.  In addition, the legislation proposes that the State of Arizona would collect all city sales taxes and conduct all audits, which the City of Tucson and many other cities also oppose.  A study by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee last week, investigating what it called two equally plausible scenarios, estimated the state could lose up to $137 million a year in tax collections, or gain $20 million. Likewise, cities could stand to lose anywhere from $24 million to $61 million a year. Read the Arizona Republic's story on it here. Read Capitol Media Services' story, via the Star, here.

WATCH TUCSON 12's VIDEO OF WOMEN IN GOVERNMENT DAY 2013 - On Friday, March 8, the City of Tucson and Pima County celebrated the contributions of women in local government service at the third annual Women in Government Awards ceremony. Tucson 12's cameras were there to capture the occasion.

CITY TO DRAFT ORDINANCE REQUIRING REPORTING OF LOST OR STOLEN GUNS - M&C voted unanimously on Tuesday to draft an ordinance making it a civil infraction not to report a missing or stolen firearm to the Tucson Police Department within 48 hours. Once drafted, the ordinance will return to M&C for approval. TPD Chief Roberto Villasenor says the new ordinance will give officers more information on the chain of ownership. TPD doesn't currently track stolen guns or know the history of many of the guns it recovers at crime scenes, according to the Chief. Story in today's Star.

TUCSON METRO CHAMBER ANNOUNCES SUPPORT OF MEDICAID EXPANSION - The Tucson Metro Chamber has come out in support of Gov. Jan Brewer's proposal to restore and expand coverage under the state's Medicaid system, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). The proposal would maintain health coverage for 50,000 adults whose coverage is scheduled to end at the end of 2013 and restore coverage to 240,000 childless adult workers in Arizona. Reducing the number of uninsured families, individuals and children, along with decreasing the amount of uncompensated care, is a critical issue for the business community, the Chamber said in a news release. This in turn results in business having to invest more in healthcare costs, instead of investing in their business. Story in Inside Tucson Business.

R.I.P., HANK OYAMA - Educator and pioneering civil rights activist Hank Oyama has passed away at the age of 86. A Japanese-American Tucson native who grew up in the barrio where the TCC now stands, Oyama and his family were sent to an internment camp during World War II. He later served in the Army and the Air Force Reserve, where he retired in 1985 as a lieutenant colonel. After serving in the Army, he earned his bachelor's degree in education from the U of A, where he met his wife. The couple made history as the Arizona ACLU's first clients in a lawsuit challenging the state's anti-miscegenation law. As a teacher at Pueblo High School, Oyama was a pioneer of bilingual education, eventually persuading Congress in the 1960s to federally fund it. After serving TUSD for 18 years, Oyama joined the PCC faculty in 1970 as Director of Bilingual Studies. He retired as Vice President Emeritus in 1992. Story in today's Star.