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McSally, Sinema unite on bill to expand federal court access in Arizona

(AP Photos)

PHOENIX – Bipartisanship appears to be alive and well in the Grand Canyon State.

Most of Arizona’s Congress members in both houses have united for a push to expand access to federal courts in the state.

Under current law, federal district court proceedings in the state can be held only in Globe, Phoenix, Prescott and Tucson. That means Arizonans living outside those areas might have to travel long distances for hearings and trials.

“It should not be a hardship for Arizonans to have access to our judicial system,” Republican Sen. Martha McSally said in a press release.

To address the issue, McSally introduced a bill Wednesday that would amend Title 28 of the U.S. code to include Flagstaff and Yuma to the list of cities that could hold federal proceedings.

The bill has one cosponsor: Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, who defeated McSally in the 2018 election before McSally was appointed to the seat formerly held by the late John McCain and his temporary successor, Jon Kyl.

“By expanding federal district court proceedings to Yuma and Flagstaff we increase access to our courts for rural Arizona communities and create jobs,” Sinema said in the release.

Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran introduced a companion bill in the House on the same day, with seven Arizona cosponsors: Democrats Ann Kirkpatrick, Raul Grijalva and Ruben Gallego and Republicans Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, David Schweikert and Debbie Lesko.

Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton is the only Arizona Congress member whose name isn’t on one of the bills.

The proposal was welcome news in the cities that would be impacted.

“It only makes sense to add Flagstaff to the places that the district can hold hearings or cases, and … I applaud our Arizona senators for introducing this long overdue and much-needed legislation,” Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans said in the release.

Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls added that “including Yuma as an authorized location for District of Arizona federal court proceedings is a commonsense approach to add flexibility to the courts system.”

The bills aren’t the only recent sign of bipartisanship from Arizona’s congressional delegation.

Members from both parties have been working to prevent money allocated to programs at Luke Air Force Base from being diverted toward President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to build a border wall.

Additionally, both Arizona senators and all but two representatives, both Republicans, recently sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross urging him to protect tomato imports from Mexico.

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