News Briefs — What To Know This Week
ISA SEARCH EXPANDS: POLICE LOOK IN MEXICO, QUESTION POSSIBLE WITNESS
Unfortunately, the most important local story this week surrounds 6-year-old Isabel Celis.
Isa, as her family — and now her entire community — know her, is believed to have been kidnapped from her bedroom sometime early last Saturday morning, April 21. She is still missing.
Police have expanded the search for Isa into Mexico this week, one report quoting a former FBI agent as calling the possibility that Isa was taken south of the border “actually realistic.”
Here in town, police are attempting to track down some people seen walking toward the Celis home in the early hours of Saturday morning. It is reported that one of the group, a potential key witness in the case, is now communicating with detectives. The authorities have not yet released information regarding what, if anything, the person can tell them about Isa’s disappearance.
FAMILY PLANNING AT RISK: PENDING LEGISLATION COULD HELP AXE COVERAGE, FUNDING
House Bill 2625, which passed the AZ House of Representatives on April 19 and is currently before the State Senate, would extend the rights of employers to refuse their workers health-care coverage for contraceptives.
Beyond allowing employers to fire women for using birth control regardless of how they obtained it, the bill also exempts employers from disclosing to new hires the company’s practices concerning family-planning coverage and how contraceptive use might affect their employment eligibility.
Meanwhile, House Bill 2800 — already through the Arizona House and Senate and awaiting Governor Brewer’s signature — would ban the use of federal funds like Medicaid for use by organizations that provide abortion services.
And on April 17, Brewer signed House Bill 2627 into law, stripping Planned Parenthood of its “eligible nonprofit” status. Doing so ensured that AZ taxpayers will not receive formerly available credits for donating to the organization.
NEW REPRESENTATIVE: FONTANA FILLS PATTERSON SEAT
Nicholas Fontana, a local attorney and Tohono O’odham tribal court judge pro tem, will fill the seat vacated by former District 29 legislator Daniel Patterson, who recently resigned amid a hailstorm of ethical allegations.
Fontana, a Tucson native, was appointed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors to represent the southside district on Monday, April 23.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES: APPLICATIONS BEING TAKEN
The Arizona Department of Health reported that it is accepting applications for medical marijuana dispensaries through May 25. Officials expect to award operational certificates as soon as August 7.