Axios Phoenix

Newsletter branding image

💚 Happy Friday! Don't forget to wear green Sunday.

☔ Today's weather: A high of 63 with a chance of showers and storms during the day and evening.

  • Storms will clear up overnight for a mostly sunny rest of the weekend.

Situational awareness: Congratulations to Greg S. and Donna T., the first people with the correct location of yesterday's "Where in the Valley?"

  • It was the Deer Valley Water Treatment Plant on Dunlap Avenue west of I-17.

🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios Phoenix member Jim Kevlin!

Today's newsletter is 936 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: University of Phoenix deal targeted

The University of Idaho is attempting to acquire the University of Phoenix. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The University of Phoenix (UOPX) wants to be acquired by the University of Idaho (UofI), but some Idaho officials are trying to kill the deal.

Why it matters: UOPX is one of the nation's largest for-profit, online platforms for adult learning, but it's previously come under scrutiny by the federal government for deceptive marketing tactics.

  • The Idaho Board of Education approved the acquisition almost a year ago, but the state legislature this month asked the board to reconsider and threatened legal action if it doesn't.
  • Idaho's attorney general is also attempting to block the deal in court.

The big picture: If the plan goes through, UofI would purchase UOPX for $550 million. The online institution would become a nonprofit school and share at least $10 million of its revenue per year with UofI under the terms.

  • UOPX would maintain its faculty, staff, Phoenix campus and independent brand.

Catch up quick: UOPX has reorganized since its past issues came to light in the mid-2010s.

Zoom out: Universities like UofI are pursuing partnerships with online schools to stave off the impending "demographic cliff," which could be catastrophic for school funding, the New York Times reports.

  • Nationally, college enrollment is expected to peak next year and then fall as a result of lower birth rates.
  • Schools like UOPX cater mostly to adult learners, a student population that's not expected to see the same decline.

Reality check: Other attempts to fold for-profit schools into public ones have run into major issues, including in Arizona.

  • UofA's acquisition of Ashford University added $265 million to its operating budget last year, further complicating the university's financial issues, The Arizona Republic reported.
  • Additionally, the Department of Education last week said it is in the process of ordering UofA to repay forgiven loan debt for Ashford students.

What they're saying: UOPX and UofI say their deal is different because UOPX is financially solvent and would continue to operate as an independently accredited, self-sustaining nonprofit.

What we're watching

2. Capitol roundup: Delta-8 takes center stage

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

An attorney general opinion that threatened to crack down on unlicensed sales of hemp-derived intoxicants like delta-8 THC could soon be moot thanks to legislation approved by the Senate this week.

Why it matters: The passage came days after Attorney General Kris Mayes issued an opinion stating that delta-8 can only be sold by entities licensed to sell cannabis.

Zoom in: The proposal passed by the Senate Thursday with heavy Republican support and a handful of Democratic votes.

  • It would prohibit sales to people under 21 and ban marketing to children.
  • Licensing and regulation would be overseen by the Arizona Department of Agriculture, not the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), which enforces laws on medicinal and recreational marijuana.

What they're saying: Though Mayes' opinion is not legally binding, ADHS told Axios on Wednesday it recognizes the health risk such products pose and is "determining if and how this will affect enforcement."

Elsewhere at the Capitol this week…

🚧 After initially rejecting legislation requiring cities of at least 75,000 to allow duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, fiveplexes and townhomes on single-family-zoned lots, the House doubled back and approved the bill Tuesday.

  • It now heads to the Senate.

🏡 Gov. Katie Hobbs has yet to sign or veto a high profile bill aimed at encouraging developers to build more starter homes, a decision that could come today.

There is more. Keep reading.

3. Chips & salsa: Light rail workers get paid

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

💰 The U.S. Department of Labor recovered more than $600,000 in unpaid wages for people who worked on the northwest expansion of the Valley Metro Light Rail system. (AZcentral)

🦫 Buc-ee's finalized its land purchase in Goodyear, clearing the way for the Texas-based travel center to open its first location in Arizona. (AZ Family)

🏈 The Arizona Cardinals traded receiver Rondale Moore to the Atlanta Falcons for quarterback Desmond Ridder. (ESPN)

  • Free-agent receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown agreed to a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.

🏡 Restaurateur Sam Fox sold his Arcadia estate for $10.4 million. He plans to move to another home in the Valley. (Phoenix Business Journal)

4. 🇮🇪 Arizona's luck of the Irish

☘️ Share of people reporting Irish ancestry
Data: U.S. Census; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yavapai County is Arizona's most Irish county, according to Census data.

Zoom in: As of 2022, 14.2% of Yavapai County residents reported having Irish ancestry.

  • Mohave County was second in the state with 12.2%.
  • Gila County (11.7%) and Cochise County (9.9%) were the only other Arizona counties above the national average of 9.5%.

Between the lines: In Maricopa County, which has the majority of Arizona's population, 8.6% of people reported having Irish ancestry.

5. What to do this weekend, St. Patrick's Day edition

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

If you're looking to celebrate St. Patrick's Day this weekend, we've got some suggestions for you.

41st St. Patrick's Day Parade & Faire

Catch the parade that starts at 10am at 3rd and Oak streets, then check out the fair at Margaret T Hance Park from 10am-5pm

  • General admission $15, kids 12 and under are free.

Phoenix Official St. Patrick's Day Bar Crawl

Check out the bars of downtown Phoenix, starting at The Kettle Black.

  • Tickets $20, check in from 1pm-5pm.

Tempe St. Patrick's Day Bar Crawl

Paint the town green on Saturday night or celebrate St. Patrick's Day officially with a day crawl on Sunday.

  • $25 for Saturday and $15 for Sunday, or $33 for a two-day pass. Prices vary for group rates and day-of ticket purchases.

What's happening in Scottsdale

🎸 Jeremy has wanted to see the Descendents play live for nearly 30 years and he'll finally get his chance tonight.

😢 Jessica is heartbroken to miss a best friend's bachelorette party this weekend.

This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by Anjelica Tan.

To ensure the newsletter reaches your inbox, please add [email protected] to your contacts. If you use Gmail, just drag this email to your "Primary" tab. For other mail clients, check out this page.