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Bill to expand federal court access for Arizonans sent to president

(U.S. District Court District of Arizona Photo)

PHOENIX – A bipartisan bill backed by all of Arizona’s members of Congress to expand access to federal courts in the state is heading the president’s desk.

Two weeks after the House version passed, the Senate on Thursday approved the companion bill introduced by Republican Sen. Martha McSally and cosponsored by Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

If President Donald Trump signs the legislation, Title 28 of the U.S. code will be amended to add Flagstaff and Yuma to the list of Arizona cities authorized to hold federal district court proceedings.

Currently, those proceedings can be held only in Globe, Phoenix, Prescott and Tucson. That means Arizonans living outside those areas, including witnesses and jurors, might have to travel long distances for hearings and trials.

“It is great to see my commonsense, bipartisan legislation that increases access to our judicial system headed to the president’s desk,” McSally said in a press release.

“Now, Arizonans will be able to access federal proceedings in Yuma and Flagstaff to better serve our growing communities.”

Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls called the passage “monumental” in the release, and Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans said it was “long overdue.”

On July 10, the House passed the bill introduced by Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran in March and co-sponsored by Arizona’s eight other members.

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