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Groups hopeful about appeal of employer sanctions

Groups trying to overturn an Arizona law that prohibits employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants are encouraged that the U.S. Supreme Court has expressed an interest in their appeal. The court normally agrees to take on only a small number of appeals, and it hasn't yet decided whether it will hear the business and civil rights groups' appeal of the law. But the justices on Nov. 2 asked the U.S. solicitor general - the lawyer who argues the Obama administration's cases before the court - to submit a brief in the case.

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Department of Revenue puts layoff plan on hold

Gambling that Arizona lawmakers will approve its funding in time, the state tax collection agency is shelving plans to lay off more than half its staff early this month. After Gov. Jan Brewer's vetoed some of the Department of Revenue's funding in September to kill an unrelated provision of the same bill, Director Gale Garriott said the department would probably have to lay off 450 of its 710 workers in November.

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Former OSPB chief to head up AHCCCS

Gov. Jan Brewer replaced one of the last major agency heads left over from the Napolitano era, naming former OSPB chief Thomas Betlach as director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. Betlach had served as deputy director of the agency since 2002. He replaces Anthony Rodgers, who was appointed to the position in 2003 by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano.

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Poll on H1N1 suggests that public health officials battling perception problem

A recent poll suggesting that many Arizonans don't plan to get vaccinated against the H1N1 flu strain reflects a misconception that could leave many people at risk, a state health official said Oct. 30. "Most people don't understand that the virus is very dangerous," said Dr. Karen Lewis, medical director of the Arizona Department of Health Services Immunization Program.

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Wishful thinking interrupted by budget reality (access required)

JLBC has singled out three budget provisions that wouldn't live up to their billing: a plan to save $50 million due to reduced fraud in the health care system; deals to privatize nine of the 10 state prisons; and a plan to raise $735 million by selling dozens of state buildings, then leasing them back. But there's more.

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Lottery renewal needed before state can borrow (access required)

The odds of winning the Arizona Lottery's big jackpot are about one in 175 million. The odds that lawmakers will sell off future lottery revenues for a quick cash infusion are exponentially better. As lawmakers ponder how to fix a fiscal 2011 budget deficit that is expected to top $2 billion, many are viewing lottery securitization as a last resort whose time has come.

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GOP-passed election laws targeted by Democrats (access required)

Two electoral changes implemented by Republicans this year have attracted opposition and litigation from Democrats who argued the laws violate the state Constitution to advance partisan agendas. In July, Gov. Jan Brewer signed S1123 into law. The legislation, proposed by Tucson Sen. Jonathan Paton, banned local governments from including partisan affiliations for candidates on the ballot.

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