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Today's newsletter is 926 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Voters want environmental action

Data: Conservation in the West poll, 2024; Note: MOE +/- 3.5%; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Conservation in the West poll, 2024; Note: MOE +/- 3.5%; Chart: Axios Visuals

Cost of living and water security are top of mind for Arizona voters this election year, a new poll shows.

Why it matters: Arizonans expressed more worry about water pollution and hazardous waste impacts than voters in any other Western state.

  • The findings provide a peek into voters' shifting priorities — especially as they pertain to environmental issues, Jessica reports with Axios Denver's John Frank.

By the numbers: About 80% of Arizona voters said they are extremely or very concerned about the rising cost of living and low river water levels, according to the 14th annual Conservation in the West poll by Colorado College released earlier this month.

  • The researchers polled more than 3,300 voters across eight Western states in January 2024.

Between the lines: With the West in the middle of a megadrought, Arizonans' water worries are not surprising. But the poll also found growing concerns about climate change and other environmental issues.

Zoom in: About 85% of Arizonans surveyed said issues related to clean water, clean air, wildlife and public lands are important when deciding whether to support an elected official.

  • Regarding potential solutions, the survey found 82% or more people supported requiring oil and gas companies to pay for cleanup and land restoration costs after drilling, limiting light pollution on public lands, creating new national parks and monuments and building wildlife crossings at major highways.

Reality check: The poll questions didn't capture the potential downsides of the proposals, putting their actual level of support in doubt.

The big picture: Researchers poll voters in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Montana and found heightened environmental concern across all states.

  • The bloc of environmentally minded voters increased to 85% from 75% in 2016, representing a majority in each major political party and independents.
  • 53% of Western voters were worried about climate change, an increase of 4 points from a year ago.

The bottom line: "This year we've seen the widest margin in favor of conservation," pollster Dave Metz of FM3 Research said.

  • It's remarkable, he said, because it comes at a time when economic pressure against conservation is the "highest it's been in years."

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2. 💅 We don't age

Data: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. is getting older, but metro Phoenix is timeless, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

By the numbers: The median age nationwide has been increasing each year for at least a decade, hitting an all-time high of 39 in 2022, the most recent annual data available.

Yes, but: The Valley's median age held steady at about 37.6 between 2021 and 2022.

The intrigue: Political, business and university leaders have spent the past decade trying to transform Phoenix from a retirement destination into a place where young, university-educated people want to stay after graduation.

3. Capitol roundup

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The House and Senate had jam-packed schedules this week as they dealt with the flood of bills that survived a key committee deadline last Thursday.

Here's what we're watching:

👀 A measure that would require state and local governments to use E-Verify for all public benefits recipients took a step toward the November ballot after House Republicans passed it on a party-line vote. The online system verifies whether someone is legally eligible to work in the U.S.

  • Because it's a ballot referral it wouldn't need Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs' signature if the Senate passes it.

⛔ Bills making it a state crime to enter the country illegally were approved by Republicans in the House and Senate even though Hobbs has threatened to veto them.

📱 A bill to make it a felony to secretly record phone calls is awaiting a full House vote.

🚗 Electric vehicle owners would pay a new annual $135 fee to cover road funding — since they aren't subject to the gas tax — under a bill moving through the state House.

  • Per the Arizona Constitution, the new tax must receive a two-thirds vote.

🐌 A bill that would impose a $250 fine for driving "less than the normal speed of traffic" in the left lane was narrowly defeated in the Senate.

Keep reading

4. Chips & salsa: APS rates are going up

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🔌 The Arizona Corporation Commission approved an average rate hike of 8% for Arizona Public Service customers. (Arizona's Family)

🌹 Former "Bachelor" star Clayton Echard challenged a Scottsdale woman's pregnancy claim in court. (AZcentral)

🦠 Maricopa County confirmed two additional measles cases, following its first documented case since 2022 earlier this month. (ABC 15)

🍹 A new microdistillery called One Handsome Bastard announced its opening this week in Old Town Scottsdale. (KTAR)

5. 📅 Things to do this weekend

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

If you're not planning to spend your weekend soaking in spring training games, we've got some other suggestions:

🐱 Cat Fest

Visit the mew-seum for a day of cat-themed arts, crafts, vendors and more at the Mesa Historical Museum.

  • The free event is from 10am-4pm tomorrow.

🇯🇵 Arizona Matsuri: A Festival of Japan

Celebrate the food, art and culture of Japan at Steele Indian School Park.

  • Free admission from 10am-5pm tomorrow and Sunday.

🔬 Chandler Innovation Fair

Bring the kids to Dr. A.J. Chandler Park for a celebration of invention, innovation and science.

  • Free admission from 10am-2pm tomorrow.

🏘 36th Annual Coronado Home Tour and Street Fair

See what Phoenix's historic Coronado neighborhood has to offer with tours, vendors and food trucks.

  • Tickets are $20; 10am-4pm on Sunday.

🛁 Maricopa County Home and Landscape Show

Check out deals on flooring, solar, artificial turf, kitchen and bath remodeling, windows, doors and landscaping, along with classes, seminars and workshops.

  • Tickets are $10 for people over 12; from 10am-5pm today through Sunday at State Farm Stadium.

📺 Jeremy will be a guest today on the Journalists' Roundtable on PBS' "Arizona Horizon," so make sure to tune in at 5pm.

💕 Jessica is excited to celebrate some lovely newlyweds this weekend.

This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by Jay Bennett.

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