Video: Arizona Lawmaker Suggests Law Requiring Attendance at Church

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Republican Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen suggested this week that lawmakers should debate forcing people to attend church services once a week.

Allen acknowledged such a law would never be allowed, but floated as an idea to create what she described as a much-needed "moral rebirth of this country."

"How we get to back to a moral rebirth of this country, I don't know, since we are slowly eroding religion at every opportunity that we have," Allen said. "Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth."

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Phoenix 4-Year-Old Finds Gun, 3-Year-Old Brother Fires It

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Vladimir Dudak
A 3-year-old Phoenix boy fired a gun on Sunday while playing with his siblings in their parents' bedroom, police say.

The kids, ages 3, 4, and 9, were playing in the bedroom when a handgun fell off the bed and onto the floor. Phoenix Police Officer James Holmes says the 4-year-old picked up the gun, but the 9-year-old knocked it out of her hand. The 3-year-old boy then picked up the gun and fired it, though no one was hit.

However, the children weren't out of harm's way.

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Arizona on Track to Close Gender Pay Gap -- in 29 Years

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Maciej Zygmunt/Flickr
Arizona could be one of the first states in the nation to close the gender pay gap, according to a new report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

Women in the United States are paid about 78 cents on the dollar compared with men, which is about 16 cents better than the 1960s. If progress continues at this rate, nationally, men and women will not earn equal wages until the year 2058.

By IWPR's estimates, however, Arizona could get there more than a decade sooner -- by 2044. Only Maryland, California, and Florida are predicted to do better.

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Debra Milke: I Had "Absolutely Nothing" to Do With Son's Murder

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Debra Milke spoke publicly for the first time yesterday after more than two decades on Arizona's death row for her son's murder.

A federal court overturned Milke's conviction after finding that the state unconstitutionally withheld information about the key witness in the case, a former Phoenix cop who claimed Milke confessed to him, though he never recorded the confession.

Knowing that there are at least some people who still don't believe Milke is innocent, she stated emphatically that she didn't participate in her son Christopher's murder.

"I had absolutely nothing to do with the brutal murder of my son Christopher and i did not give a confession to [Detective Armando] Saldate," Milke said.

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Positive Developments in Sky Harbor Noise Problem

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For any Phoenix residents expecting an evening of lip service by the city's Aviation Department, last night's Community Outreach Meeting was a pleasant surprise.

After six months of disruptive, and at times, constant airplane noise, Chad Makovsky, Assistant Aviation Director at Sky Harbor, assured the room that his department is "working every day to mitigate this [problem] and find a path forward." And, he added, "it does appear we're making some inroads with the FAA."

Over the course of the two-and-a-half hour meeting, Makovsky, along with Rob Adams from the private consulting firm Landrum and Brown, presented three pieces of good news:

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New Tax Break for Arizona Religious Groups Approved by Governor

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Toby Hudson
Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill that gives a new tax break for certain religious groups.

House Bill 2128, being pushed by the Center for Arizona Policy, was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer after it was passed by lawmakers last year, but it got a better reception from Ducey.

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Arizona Ballot Initiative Proposed to Cap In-State Tuition

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Nick Schweitzer
An organization is working on a proposal to cap in-state tuition rates at Arizona's universities.

The group, Save Our Students, is hoping to gather enough signatures to get the proposal on 2016 ballots.

"A large number of students get priced out for every increase there is," Save Our Students president Matthew Capalby tells New Times. "The Legislature and unforuntely now the governor seem to ignore . . . the Arizona Constitution that says higher education needs to be 'as nearly free as possible.'"

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Darren Sharper Gets Nine Years in Prison for Sex Crimes

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Former NFL safety Darren Sharper was sentenced today in Maricopa County to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to two sex crimes.

Sharper was accused of drugging drinks and sexually assaulting two women in a Tempe apartment in late 2013, and this morning pleaded guilty to sexual assault and attempted sexual assault.

Sharper faces similar accusations and charges in several other states.

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"No to Loan Sharks!" in Arizona, Community, Faith Leaders Say

Elizabeth Stuart

A bill that would put an end to a nearly five-year ban on payday lending is languishing in the Arizona Senate after narrowly slipping through the House with a 31-29 vote.

Still, about two dozen legislators, faith leaders, and community activists gathered in a gravel parking lot sandwiched between two auto-title loan offices Friday to protest the proposal.

"I won't believe the bill is dead until they adjourn the session," said Kathy Jorgensen, a member of the board of directors at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix, who attended the rally. "It's like zombie land up there at the legislature. You think you've killed something and it comes back."

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Phoenix to Investigate Airport Employee's Involvement with Flight-Path Changes

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Evie Carpenter

An employee with the Phoenix Aviation Department might have known more about the Sky Harbor flight path changes than was originally thought.

In a memo sent to the mayor and City Council members yesterday, City Manager Ed Zuercher wrote that the city was "told that there was no authorization or endorsement of the FAA changes" by the Aviation Department, "and that now appears to be potentially false."

In the past, Aviation Department officials have maintained that only "technical experts" knew "technical details" about the changes, but this new revelation prompted "enough concern to launch an investigation," explains Deborah Ostreicher, spokeswoman for the City Manager's Office.

The question arose during an Aviation Noise and Air Quality Symposium held earlier this month. "An FAA employee made public comments that caused renewed concern regarding the level of Phoenix staff's knowledge about or participation in the FAA's planned flight path changes," the memo states.

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