Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Quezada to Huppenthal: ‘Stop bullying school kids’

Quezada to Huppenthal: ‘Stop bullying school kids’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), today criticized Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal for using his position to promote an extremist agenda. Quezada, who is also the president of the Pendergast Elementary School District Governing Board, called on the superintendent to stop grandstanding.

“Superintendent Huppenthal announced today that he is asking the federal government to pay for the education of unaccompanied children who cross the border. The timing of his announcement is suspect in light of his political campaign. In reality, he is using these children as an opportunity to grandstand, and he should stop pandering to extremists at the expense of students.
Minority students are the majority in Arizona schools and Latinos are the largest student minority group. Unfortunately, Superintendent Huppenthal shows distain for this growing student population and their families.

“In 2012 Superintendent Huppenthal ended the Tucson Unified School District ethnic studies program, which fostered cultural awareness and promoted understanding, respect and success among Latino students. The program led to higher test results and to increased graduation rates among Latino students. In June, he was criticized for writing anonymous blog posts attacking families that utilize public assistance and calling for the elimination of Spanish-language media. His announcement today has no real impact because schools are not allowed to monitor the immigration status of students. All of this demonstrates that he is prioritizing an extremist agenda over the needs of our students.

“Our constitution clearly states that we have a responsibility to educate all kids. Arizona schools and teachers must be empowered to fulfill that responsibility, regardless of the immigration status of students and their family members. Our teachers, parents and communities want all our students to have the same opportunities to succeed. It is time for Superintendent Huppenthal to recognize that it is vital for the future of our state that all students are prepared for the increasingly global economy. The bottom line is he has to stop bullying these school kids in an attempt to score political points.”


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Steele to serve on the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators Executive Committee

Steele to serve on the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators Executive Committee

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – At the annual meeting of the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators this week, members elected Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9), to serve on the organization’s executive committee as secretary.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to be on the executive committee of this organization,” Steele said. “As a professional counselor, I have spent much of my career building a bridge of respect and understanding between cultures.”

With more than 70 members from 17 states, the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators is a discussion forum for Native American legislators working to increase awareness of the diverse Native American cultures. It also serves as an advisory committee for the National Caucus of State Legislators on issues affecting Native Americans.

Steele, whose ancestors are Seneca, Mingo and German, added that she is particularly interested in the organization’s focus on the development of inclusive policies. She has experience in this arena. Steele created the Native Ways program at a residential treatment center in Tucson.

“The program became a model of culturally appropriate mental health and substance abuse treatment,” Steele said. “That experience showed me that it is possible to create culturally competent public policy. I am looking forward to being more involved with the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators and continuing to develop meaningful policy. Ultimately, it will allow me to better serve my wonderfully diverse community.”

For more information on the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators, go to


Thursday, August 07, 2014


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     
August 7th, 2014                                                                    
CONTACT: Kimberley Pope, (602) 258-0019

Report shows food insecurity growing more rapidly in suburban neighborhoods than in rural or urban city areas!

Phoenix   – Arizona Fair Share Education Fund (AZFSEF) released Childhood Hunger in America’s Suburbs, a new report detailing the changing geography of childhood hunger at a time of growing suburban poverty, at a 10 a.m. news conference on Thursday. AZFSEF was joined by State Representative Lela Alston, State Representative Martin Quezada, and David Martinez III from St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance to discuss the report.

“Childhood hunger has changed,” said AZFSEF State Organizer Kimberley Pope. “Hunger is no longer strictly an urban and rural phenomenon. It affects nearly every American community, including communities that might otherwise think child hunger is a problem that happens ‘somewhere else.’ Our perceptions have to change -- and with our perceptions, our policies.”

Representative Quezada added, “Arizona has an inexcusable amount of children dealing with food insecurity, roughly 1 in 3 kids, and all evidence shows that the numbers are growing despite our charitable efforts. This is a problem we can’t ignore.”

As Representative Alston stated, “Almost half of the children enrolled in Arizona’s

schools are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Those are kids in city schools, in suburban schools, in rural schools. Childhood hunger is not a problem that can be pinpointed to one area. This is widespread in our state, and every one of those kids deserves a better shot.”

David Martinez III has the unique experience of working with low-income families in a charity setting, and pointed out that every community has a different need. “St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance and other charities are doing our part to try to close the child hunger gap by operating summer and afterschool meal programs in our community. But despite our efforts, we are still only able to reach a fraction of children in need. Charities likes ours could do far more to protect Arizona’s children from hunger if we had the choice of operating a meal program that matches our community’s needs, rather than forcing communities to adopt a one-size-fits-all model.”

Note to media: Arizona Fair Share Education Fund has pictures of Thursday’s event. To follow up, please contact Kim at or call (602) 258-0019.

Arizona Fair Share Education Fund is a grassroots field and advocacy group, working to make sure everyone gets, pays, and does their fair share; and plays by the same rules. Find out more at

Monday, August 04, 2014

Statement from Campbell on the death of Sen. Chester Crandell

Statement from Campbell on the death of Sen. Chester Crandell

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), released this statement regarding the death of Sen. Chester Crandell, R-Heber (District 6). 

“I am shocked and saddened by the news of Sen. Crandell’s passing. We didn't always see eye to eye on things, but I have absolutely no doubt that Sen. Crandell worked on the issues he did because he believed they would improve Arizona. He served his constituents with honor and class. This is a great loss for our state and I offer my condolences to his family and his friends.”


Monday, July 28, 2014

U.S. Senators urged to reject federal Child Tax Credit legislation

U.S. Senators urged to reject federal Child Tax Credit legislation
Miranda says bill would disproportionately penalize Latino families

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix (District 27), today urged Arizona’s U.S. Senators to use their influence to stop H.R. 4935, the Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014, after it passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives on a vote of 237-173. The bill now faces Senate consideration.

“Overall, this legislation will hurt Latino families,” Miranda said. “It appears to target the Latino community and other immigrants by requiring social security numbers for a taxpayer to be eligible for the child tax credit. It effectively will make millions of families ineligible for the child tax credit, just because they are immigrants.”

The child tax credit is only available to taxpayers who are working, earning an income and raising children. Currently, individuals with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) can qualify for the child tax credit but under section 3 of the proposed congressional bill, they would no longer be eligible. Only those with social security numbers would qualify for the child tax credit. The types of taxpayers that typically utilize ITINs versus social security numbers are primarily noncitizens. Domestic violence victims sometimes also utilize ITINs out of privacy concerns.

“The child tax credit is a powerful tool in combating poverty. It helps families, which are struggling to pay the bills, keep more of their income to meet basic needs. Effectively singling out immigrant families and penalizing them under our tax code is unfair and inhumane,” Miranda said.

Experts estimate that 4.4 million Latino children will lose eligibility for the child tax credit under the proposed bill and 80% of the families adversely impacted by the policy change would be Latino.

“I thank Congressmen Pastor and Grijalva and Congresswoman Kirkpatrick for voting against this dangerous bill. I urge all of our congressional delegation to reject this attempt to use the tax code to target and disadvantage Latino families,” Miranda said.

“Congress should be passing laws to help the economy rebound, not hurt those families that are hardest hit by the recession,” Miranda said.

There is one provision in the bill that Miranda favors and that is indexing the amount of the child tax credit to inflation so that the amount increases each year to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

“I think it would be best for Congress to go back to the drawing board on the child tax credit issue and focus on good provisions, like the inflation issue, that help all families,” Miranda said. “Arizona’s families deserve a no vote from their congressional representatives on this bill.”


Hale and Fowler work with government agencies to make it easier for Indian Nation citizens born outside health facilities to get “delayed” birth certificates

Hale and Fowler work with government agencies to make it easier for Indian Nation
citizens born outside health facilities to get “delayed” birth certificates

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – A birth certificate is something most people take for granted. It is an essential document needed to get a driver’s license, a social security card, even to prove legal residency and United States citizenship. But some of our country’s original Native American citizens – born at home or in the care of a traditional midwife in one of Arizona’s rural, remote Indian Nation areas – have been unable to obtain this vital document.

State Representative Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), and Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler, D-Tuba City (District 5), are helping change that.

“Native Americans are the first Americans. They are citizens of the United States and the state of Arizona. It is their right to have access to this basic documentation needed to enjoy the rights and privileges afforded to citizens of this country,” Hale said.

As a result of Hale and Fowler’s work with state officials over the past few months, the Arizona Department of Health Services met and consulted with Indian Nation leaders Friday, July 18 on a new, draft streamlined process for obtaining a delayed birth certificate if there was not one initiated for a Indian Nation citizen at the time of his or her birth.

“Our objective is to correct the injustice that Native American citizens of our state must endure because they cannot obtain this personal documentation that proves their legal citizenship. Arizona tribal members at this very moment are being denied services they are eligible for,” Fowler said. “For this reason, Rep. Hale and I are working to change the department policy, regulation and state law.”

“There are a lot of people, even today, who are not born in hospitals. In Indian Nation communities, sometimes there is no choice but to have a baby at home because the closest health care facility may be miles away,” Hale said. “If you don’t have the baby at a hospital, no one starts immediately working on the documents required to create a birth certificate.”

If a birth certificate is not immediately processed at the time of birth, a person must go through a lengthy process with the state to obtain a “delayed” birth certificate. This process currently involves producing four separate forms of verification or “proof” that a person was born at a specific time and place. The more time that passes from the date of birth to the time a delayed birth certificate is sought, the harder it often is to produce the required documentation.

“For many people, it is almost impossible to get through the process and actually obtain a birth certificate,” Hale said. “If you don’t have a birth certificate, that means no social security card, no driver’s license, no passport. You have Native Americans unable to prove they are U.S. citizens. It just doesn’t make sense,” Hale said.

Hale, Fowler and other Indian Nation representatives raised concerns about the “delayed” birth certificate process to DHS and found that DHS was sympathetic to the concern, especially as it disproportionately appeared to impact people living in Native American communities.

Officials at DHS have been working with Hale, Fowler, other legislators, Indian Nation representatives, and county officials to develop an alternative process for Indian Nation citizens to use in obtaining a delayed birth certificate. This new process will only require two forms of verification and will allow Indian Nation government documents and U.S. Indian Health Service official records to meet most of the documentation requirements.

At this time, it is unclear when the new alternative process for Indian Nation citizens to use in obtaining a delayed birth certificate will be available. But Hale said, “Things continue to move in a positive direction. The meeting last Friday with stakeholders was very productive. There will be other meetings to continue to refine the alternative process.”

“I am pleased that government officials joined with Indian Nation representatives to find a common-sense solution to this problem,” Hale said. “I stand ready to introduce legislation and advocate to make this new process and policy become a permanent part of Arizona state law.”

The existing delayed birth certificate process can be found at this link:


Rep. Hale is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He was born in Ganado and raised in Klagetoh, Arizona. He is Ashiihi (Salt), born for Todichiini (Bitter Water). His maternal grandparents are Hanaghani (Walk About clan). His paternal grandparents are Kiyanii (Tall House clan). He is a 1969 graduate of Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school located east of Gallup, New Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (1973), and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1977), and an honorary Juris Doctor degree from Phoenix School of Law (2012).  He is the former President of the Navajo Nation.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Steele to receive Legislative Leadership Award from the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy

Steele to receive Legislative Leadership Award from the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy

PRESCOTT, Ariz. – Arizona State University’s Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy will recognize Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9), for her efforts to improve access to behavioral health care in Arizona.

The CABHP selected Steele, according to a letter from the organization, because of her “profound, positive impact on behavioral health care in Arizona.”  Steele, a mental health professional, said she is honored to receive the award.  

“Mental and behavioral health services are important parts of overall health care services,” Steele said. “Advocating for more funding and more services is a responsibility I take to heart.”

Steele was instrumental in getting funding for Youth Mental Health First Aid and for the Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison Program. She worked on legislation that was included in the past two budgets that allocated a total of half a million dollars to the Department of Health Services to expand Youth Mental Health First Aid. The program is designed to help people identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness, eating disorders and substance abuse disorders in adolescents.

“Mental health issues manifest differently in young people,” Steele said. “This program helps prepare those who interact with kids on a regular basis to recognize the warning signs. It has already trained hundreds of Arizonans including educators, school staff, coaches and even young people.  The goal is to provide the skills to recognize when a young person is struggling and how to intervene and get the appropriate help.”

Steele was also involved this year in securing $250,000 for the DTAP program, which allows drug-addicted criminal defendants to plead guilty to an offense and enter a treatment facility for three years, instead of going to prison. In the facility, the person receives addiction treatment and a variety of other training and support services, while being monitored by the court.

“In Pima County, DTAP saves lives and money while reducing crime,” Steele said. “This is an investment in the safety of our communities.”

The CABHP will present Steele with the Legislative Leadership Award during its 15th Annual Summer Institute at the Prescott Resort on July 17 at 5:30 p.m.

“I am grateful for the support that CABHP is providing to the community and hope that its work will inspire others to get involved,” Steele said.

To learn more about CABHP, go to

For more information on Youth Mental Health First Aid, visit

For additional information about DTAP, go to