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February 6, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Legislative Update

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  • Join us for our weekly update on the latest news from an Arizona Capitol Times reporter.
Category: Legislature   |   Keywords: legislative, update, legislature, ,

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Ted Simons- a bill that would require government documents only to be printed in English is making noise at the state capitol. Here's with our legislative update is Luige Del Puerto. Good to see you. Thanks for being here. Before we get to those bills, what's going on with the budget?

Luige Del Puerto: Today and top the Republican leadership in the Senate is beginning was called small group meetings. They would have three to five Republican Senators in a room and they are getting briefing by the budget situation. The goal of the briefing is to familiarize the Republican Senators about the differences in the revenue projections between the governor's proposal and the legislature's budget baseline. I think a few weeks ago we talked about how reconciling those revenue projections is crucial in getting a budget done. The Republican leadership's chance to impress on their members the need for a conservative budget.

Ted Simons: Indeed. The legislature's idea for a budget doesn't include much of anything the governor seems to want.

Luige Del Puerto: Not at this point. The legislature has not yet put out its own budget plan. What we have is essentially very basic spending requirements that the state needs. So those are forms of spending for education and other state agencies.

Ted Simons: Let's get to some of the bills making the rounds here. Let's start with the English only idea pushed buy representatives Steve Smith.

Luige Del Puerto: Steve Smith is from Maricopa County. City of Maricopa. The idea that he wants to do is he essentially wants to prohibit state agencies from disseminating official communication that's intended for the public unless they are in English only. Instead of having them printed and sending them out he wants them posted on the agency's website. Then for those that are sent out to voters those English only documents he wants a line that says if you want a printed copy of the document in another language you can pick it up at the state agency. He's pitching it as a way to save state dollars.

Ted Simons: this is adjunct to prop 103 passed a few years ago which made English the official state language.

Luige Del Puerto: Yes. Precisely. The idea is -- there convenience been previous incarnations of the proposal when it comes to official government actions those should be conducted only in English.

Ted Simons: this is something critics say violate the civil rights act.

Luige Del Puerto: yes. Title 6 of the civil rights act basically says when there's a government program or activity that's funded by federal funds you cannot discriminate based on natural origin, race, or color. The critics are basically saying, this is one of those that would directly contravene the civil rights act.

Ted Simons: how far this is likely to go?

Luige Del Puerto: Well, I think it will not go very far. The reason I say that is that like I mentioned earlier, there have been previous incarnations of this proposal before and they have not gone very far even when the Republicans had a bigger majority in the state legislature. I think when it comes to ushering it out of committee and it goes to the rules committee, I think you would have the rules chairman basically -- not rules chairman, rules attorney in the house in this case pointing out its potential constitutional legal questions.

Ted Simons: That hasn't stopped the legislature from pushing the test case, has it?

Luige Del Puerto: No it hasn't.

Ted Simons: Okay. We'll see what happens.

Luige Del Puerto: quite frankly there have been bills that have gone through rules where the rules attorney would say this is not constitutional, there are defects, this invites litigation. Clearly will invite legislation, the legislature says, we're passing it.

Ted Simons: We want the invitation. What about the idea, this is not a repeal of the medical marijuana law as John Cavanaugh seems to want, but a reform of the law? What's this all about?

Luige Del Puerto: There are competing forces about how to deal with medical marijuana now that we have dispensaries open, one from John Kavanagh repeal the whole thing. Pass a bill, have the voters revote on this issue. But some Republicans say that's not really a good idea. They fear that if there is a ballot measure to repeal medical marijuana that its supporters last time around would just go out in force and reject the proposal. Not only that their fear is that they will vote en masse, if you will, against Republicans from the ticket. So state Senator Kimberly Yee has a proposal that instead of repealing it would fix some of the supposed loopholes or improve the program rather than do away with it all together.

Ted Simons: some of these things would be illegal to have things like lollipops and cookies, these sorts of things?

Luige Del Puerto: Yes. One of her bills says that you cannot Mark it medical marijuana other than what it is, which is medical marijuana. If you're marketing it for candies or any other ways of enticing consumers as in loading them know this is for medical marijuana use that would be prohibited. From one of the proposals is that if the police seized medical marijuana or came into possession of medical marijuana during a criminal investigation they are going to destroy it the way they would do nonmedical marijuana.

Ted Simons: They don't have to give it back, in other words.

Luige Del Puerto: they don't. It stems from a case out of Yuma where the police seized medical marijuana from a lady and the court said you have to return it.

Ted Simons: A lot of gun bills floating around here, there, otherwise. One of them seems to be getting a lot of bipartisan support. In this is the idea, correct me if I'm wrong, felons are not supposed get a gun but if you do try, that becomes against the law.

Luige Del Puerto: that becomes illegal. Right now it's already illegal for a felon to own a gun, so under this proposal attempting to own a gun, going to a store or gun show and saying, hey, I want to buy this, you could get slapped with another felony offense. This proposal is being introduced by Senator Barbara McGuire, a Democrat, from Pinal County. She told me the other day this has the backing of the NRA, national rifle association. More importantly she has persuaded to add good number of Republicans and Democrats to co-sponsor the bill. Just before the show I told you this is the low-hanging fruit. Easier to go after a group of people that don't have the right to own guns anyway and use sort of making sure, doubly sure they don't get to own guns.

Ted Simons: basically that a a real good chance of getting through the legislature and signed by the governor.

Luige Del Puerto: it seems like it.

Ted Simons: Last question before you go, a sales tax holiday for Fourth of July and for Labor Day. This getting any traction down there?

Luige Del Puerto: I think it will get some traction. I don't know for what extent or if it will reach the governor's office. We are trying to stimulate the economy. We just came out from recession. Here's a program that's being done, will be done, more than a dozen states will be having a tax holiday as well this year. Let's give people a break. So when they are buying cars or big ticket items or even small ticket items that that would be stimulating the state's economy. It's a way to encourage people to buy more.

Ted Simons: It's also a way to lose state revenue. Do they have any idea how much it will cost?

Luige Del Puerto: I think a fiscal amount will be made available at some point. I think somebody -- I'm almost certain that one who may support the proposal will be asking for it. This has a fiscal note. Obviously this is a fiscal impact. If Arizonans decide they are going to hold off on their buying spree and decide just to buy stuff including cars during this tax holiday, that would surely have a negative impact on state revenues.

Ted Simons: very good. Sounds busy down there. Is everyone still pretty much getting along so far? Had much in the way of fireworks?

Luige Del Puerto: Nothing yet. You're right. The tone has been more civil than in the past few years. Things are just beginning to pick up. Committees are just beginning to hear bills and we haven't seen any of those hard ringing debates. Not yet anyway.

Ted Simons: Fourth of July still coming. Thanks for joining us.

Luige Del Puerto: Thank you.

Trio Gala

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  • For the first time ever, Ballet Arizona, Arizona Opera and The Phoenix Symphony will perform together in an inaugural fund-raising event. The event at Symphony Hall in Phoenix combines performances from each group, dinner and more. Allison Johnston, Ballet Arizona Executive Director, Scott Altman, Arizona Opera General Director, and Jim Ward, The Phoenix Symphony CEO and President, will talk about the Trio Gala.
  • Allison Johnston - Executive Director, Ballet Arizona
  • Scott Altman - General Director, Arizona Opera
  • Jim Ward - CEO and President, The Phoenix Symphony
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: music, arts, gala, ,

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Ted Simons: Ballet Arizona, Arizona opera and the Phoenix CIM for are set to perform together at a gala fund-raising event this try day evening at symphony hall. Here to talk about it is Allison Johnston, executive director of ballet Arizona, Scott Altman, Arizona opera's general director, and Jim ward, president and CEO of the Phoenix symphony.

Allison Johnston: we are kinds of positioning it as a night of firsts. This is the first time the three major arts organizations in Phoenix are working together to collaborate on an event. There's a part that's fund-raising. That's the gala part. We also have a concert part where the three groups will be performing together. That's a first. It's the first time we have ever had a collaboration like this. Then that kind of leads us into collaboration where we're all using the same ticketing system as well. It's really been very exciting to be part of this because it's never been done before in the Phoenix community.

Ted Simons: why hasn't it ever been done before?

Scott Altman: I think the poses challenges between organizations that have sometimes different cultures. We have just realized that at this point in time with this collaboration of leaders and patrons that it's a great opportunity for all of us. It's the rising tide. By working together we can be more efficient. Question reach our extraordinary fine arts patrons throughout the valley and throughout the state.

Ted Simons: was there maybe a little provincialism in the past?

Jim ward: Absolutely. This is a culmination of a two-year process where we began to discuss ways we could both potentially lower our expense models and create better impact for the community. It started off as a conversation with the CEOs that we brought board members together in a committee. We have a number of demonstrable ways we're collaborating. One is the formation of a consortium around a software program we are all now using, working with each other to provide better impact. Then this trio gala event as well. There are other ways that we can collaborate down the road.

Ted Simons: have we seen this kind of collaboration in other cities, other companies?

Allison Johnston: I think in other cities. This is the first time in Phoenix. I think it really took the three major arts organizations to come together and say we really want to do this because it really helps to promote the arts in our communities there have been other models but I think we're the first here.

Ted Simons: was it something that was forged in -- this have happened without ten years ago without a recession pushing things along?

Scott Altman: I think the rescission and the economic times have certainly instigated the conversations. But there were other models that have been around for a while, but you know, it's rare to have three major fine arts organizations working together on so many front. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We're in vigorous conversations all the time about how we can continue the model and create greater efficiencies for the organizations.

Ted Simons: how can you continue the model? What else is out there?

Jim ward: There's a lot of ways. We're looking at our back office operations, all of us over time have developed sometimes dupe licktive efforts that we're similar in what we do. There are ways to collaborate in those ways. There are other ways we could reduce the expense model by coming together to try to get health insurance, liability insurance. All those discussions are currently happening. We hope will yield some benefit.

Ted Simons: Certainly the collaboration is yielding quite the evening here. What can we expect to see, hear, witness at the trio gala?

Allison Johnston: I would say a whole lot of wonderful music, singing, ballet. So each group will have a chance to kind of debut their own art, if you will, so the ballet will be doing some pieces, then the symphony, then the opera. We come together at the end for an event that brings all three groups together. Beethoven's 9th symphony, we'll have the opera, ballet and symphony performing together. I think there will be over 100 people on stage at one time.

Ted Simons: how does the ballet incorporate Beethoven's 9th?

Allison Johnston: Difficultly, actually. I think my artistic director, he is a visionary. He can pretty much choreograph to anything. This will be certainly a tribute to his vision and his artistic excellence. It's definitely been a challenge to get off the grounds.

Jim ward: the choreography is world premier. This is grand mu choreography that he's bringing to the stage for this particular piece. Not only is it our three organizations, we're going have our Phoenix symphony choir and boys choir. We're going to have a lot of folks on the stage. It's going to be great.

Ted Simons: Opera folks move around. So was it difficult? How much of a challenge was this?

Scott Altman: You know, we're all in the business of creation. As soon as you get great minds together to talk about what's possible, we said, dream something up that's collaborative. The Beethoven 9 there are four soloists world class performing in that segment. It was up to them to say, I can choreograph anything. First time.

Allison Johnston: That's another first.

Ted Simons: you'll probably get a lot of interest on that. The symphony where we have Shostakovich and Mozart as well?

Jim ward: Of course. It accompanies the ballet and the opera. We're going to preview a little of Romeo and Juliette. It's just a wonderful piece of great art.

Ted Simons: how difficult is it to stage something like this? Just from step one to what we're going to see, how difficult is that?

Allison Johnston: I think that our production and technical crews and our performers make it look so easy, but there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes. We were just talking about how actually the symphony has a concert tomorrow and then they end at 10:00, they have to break it down and build out the stage. There's a lot of people involved in this. It's definitely a lot of work. You start in the morning and they don't finish until the wee hours of the evening getting the stage ready.

Ted Simons: were there any times -- obviously I think everyone wants a fund-raiser to be a success, but you never know when you're going to get a diva who has a problem here, the lead violinist, says give me a break. Did you have that at all?

Scott Altman: The artists are so enthusiastic they are bubbling with excitement. We haven't had any of it. They are rarin' to go. They are just as thrilled about the event and innovation behind it. They have all performed around the world. This is a first. It's on the top of their list. Highlights.

Ted Simons: With this being a first, talk about does it put Arizona in any kind of a map, A, B, where is Arizona on the map as far as the fine arts are concerned?

Jim ward: Well, look. I think I'll speak for myself but I'm sure my colleagues feel the same way. This is not about comparing ourselves to anywhere else. We're here to service our community and our state. I think we all do a phenomenal job of doing that and we are great assets to the state in terms of not only the aesthetic cultural value but the cultural economy and those things as well. This is a rare opportunity for the community to celebrate these key assets that are world class coming together. It doesn't happen very often anywhere else. But certainly for us it's a first time. It's going to be a wonderful event.

Ted Simons: how do you convince people that the ballet, the opera, the Phoenix symphony, are key assets to a community?

Allison Johnston: I think when you look at as Jim said really the economic impact and what we contribute at that level in terms of the development of the community and of Phoenix, positioning it that way, showing them we actually are very viable and thriving industry, we contribute over $4 million in the Phoenix area to this economy. I think that that's very important. I don't think people realize how much we contribute and how much we give back. Between all our organizations we probably give millions of dollars back towards arts education in the community. That's what this gala actually is benefiting is our community outreach programs and our education programs. So we're doing that to augment education and to give back to the community as well.

Jim ward: excuse me. Look, we just did the study in Phoenix, and the arts community in Phoenix has an economic impact of over $300 million. That's on par with the super bowl. That's on par with the bowl games. That's on par with spring training. So we are very much a part of a thriving economy here and the revitalization of Arizona is dependent on that thriving culture because at the end of the day in order to diversify that economy, a lot of industries look to see whether that culture is thriving and it certainly is here.

Allison Johnston: One other thing that's very interesting, Phoenix is trying to revitalize the downtown area. They have been working in this area called the discovery triangle, Washington avenue now they are trying to create this entrepreneurial row and position that assess the leading entrepreneurial center in the nation. The opera is moving into a new building in that area and so are wee. We're the cornerstone arts organizations in this area that the city of Phoenix is really put ago lot of focus on to develop and to bring new business and to bring new people into Arizona.

Ted Simons: So, when someone says opera, I never go. I don't care, when they say that how do you convince them that it is important?

Scott Altman: Have you seen any of the dramas on TV? Any 9:00 slot? I guarantee it's been written by an opera composer 150 years ago. Whatever you can plot out it's set to music and there's nothing like experiencing a live opera, a live symphonic or a live ballet performance. It's just not the same until you're in the house feeling that emotion.

Ted Simons: How do you cultivate that new audience, convince them to go watch the ends of the world with a ring cycle kind of a thing?

Scott Altman: As soon as you explain that it's a friendly environment, breaking the notion that it's an exclusive scenario for any of our major performing arts, the opera has sur titles above the stage in English. We have activities in the hall prior. The ballet is friendly environment. We tell stories through our performances. It's just about educating the public.

Ted Simons: I think especially through the education and community outreach is starting with the younger audiences and really giving them that exposure is a way to get to their families as well.

Ted Simons: We have 30 seconds left. You see new audiences showing up?

Jim ward: You bet. Look, we impact through education. We alone impact over 65,000 kids in the valley every single year. They go home, tell their parents, the parents show up and we have family programming, pops programming, and so absolutely it's happening.

Ted Simons: symphony hall this weekend, February 8th. Good luck. Friday night. Do I say break a leg?

Jim ward: remember, folks can buy a ticket just to the performance. Those tickets start at $35. It's a great value for the evening.

Ted Simons: thank you for joining us.