Thursday, March 05, 2015

Native American Caucus delves into Indian Law

Native American Caucus delves into Indian Law
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Members of the Native American Caucus recently attended an overview of Indian law in Arizona and the United States.

At the meeting, retired Apache County Superior Court Judge Michael C. Nelson gave a presentation on the evolution and present status of the legal relationship between Indian Nations, states and the federal government. He said that often times, elected officials believe that their actions do not affect people living in Indian Nations, but there are many people who live and do business in Indian Nations who are subject to state regulations.

“You cannot say that state action stops at the reservation line. It doesn’t. It is a much more complex discussion than that, and that is what I was trying to get across today,” Nelson said.

Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9), thanked Nelson for his presentation and said that it is important that state legislators understand their relationship with Arizona’s 22 Indian Nations.

“Today’s presentation provided an exceptional opportunity to better understand the interactions between tribes, the state, and the federal government, which is vital information for legislators in Arizona to have,” Steele said.
Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3), agreed that the topic is important.

“We were very happy that Judge Nelson could share with us his expertise on this topic,” Gonzales said.

She added that she thinks this information should be shared with more people. Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), echoed that sentiment.

“I have spoken to my colleagues about how the U.S. Constitution does not apply to Native Americans on Indian reservations. The result is a federal government that has little restraint in its dealings with Native Americans,” Hale said. “Today’s caucus topic hopefully opened some eyes to why that is so. The ‘right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness’ has been constrained and dictated by the federal and state governments in their relations with Native American sovereign nations, all resulting in discriminatory treatment of Native American peoples and nations.”


House Democrats with Parents, Teachers and Students Protesting Republican Cuts to Education

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Meyer: ‘Republicans just made a bad budget worse’

Meyer: ‘Republicans just made a bad budget worse’
New Republican budget proposal favors special interests over education

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), released the following statement in response to the budget proposed by Republicans today:

“The Republicans just made a bad budget worse. They are proposing education cuts that are deeper than those included in the governor’s budget, which continues to draw criticism from taxpayers, teachers, students, parents and a university president.

“Funding for education is a priority for Arizonans. Instead of paying attention to what the people of this state want, the Republicans are continuing to push their agenda which protects and promotes special interests. A budget is a statement of values. The Republicans are stating clearly that they value special interests over students. It is irresponsible and shortsighted. And there are other options.

“House Democrats are proposing an alternative that would balance the budget while protecting education funding.

“First, the corporate tax cuts set to go into effect should be delayed. Second, we should repeal STO programs, which pull public money away from public schools. And third, we should close sales tax loopholes that cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars every year and have shown no return on investment. These are common-sense solutions that reflect the values of Arizonans and protect the state’s most vulnerable populations.”


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

House Passes Democratic Bills

For more information on this bill, click here.

For more information on this bill, click here.

For more information on this bill, click here.

House Dems Ask: Is the Governor Paying Attention?

Monday, March 02, 2015

Is the governor paying attention?

The Capitol lawn was recently packed with hundreds of teachers, parents, students and concerned citizens delivering a very clear message to Gov. Doug Ducey about his proposed budget – “No ifs, ands, or buts – no more budget cuts.”
House Democrats joined the rally, calling for the governor to invest in education. Do not be fooled by Ducey's claim that his budget puts more money in the classroom. He is playing a shell game - cutting K-12 education by about $13 million and refusing to return the voter-mandated $330 million inflation funding to our schools. 
For years, Republicans have been balancing the budget on the backs of Arizona kids. Teachers' salaries are too low and classroom sizes are too big. By failing to invest in education, the governor continues to jeopardize the state's economic stability. Any true economic recovery plan focuses on education, so that students are prepared for higher education and for 21st century jobs.

But the governor has also proposed slashing $75 million from universities. This prompted ASU President Michael Crow to write a letter in which he stated that “Arizona's public universities again shoulder the primary responsibility for balancing the state budget.” He added that Ducey's budget “signals to the state and the nation that higher education is a low priority in Arizona.”

President Crow is right. 

A budget is a statement of values. Ducey's budget cuts education funding, while bankrolling $100 million over three years for a new private prison. This despite the fact that Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan told the House Appropriations Committee that there is currently space available in some state prisons. Does this mean Ducey values incarceration more than education?

It is also an indication that the governor is out of touch with what Arizonans want. A recent poll from the Morrison Institute shows that education is a top priority for people in this state. The message is loud and clear; the governor needs to fund education. The question remains, is he paying attention?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

UPDATE: House passes delayed birth certificate bill

UPDATE: House passes delayed birth certificate bill

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today, the Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), which would codify recent action by the Arizona Department of Health Services to make it easier for Native Americans to obtain a delayed birth certificate in the state.

“Native Americans in Arizona, many of whom have struggled for years to obtain the recognition provided by a birth certificate, would benefit greatly from this bill. I am pleased that my colleagues in the House have made correcting this hardship a priority, and I hope my colleagues in the Senate will do the same,” Hale said.

This bill would make permanent the Arizona Department of Health Services policy that streamlined the process for Native Americans to receive delayed birth certificates. Previously, getting a delayed birth certificate required producing multiple forms of verification that a person was born at a specific time and place.  Many Native Americans are born at home and do not get a birth certificate issued at the time of birth, and securing the necessary documentation is often difficult. A birth certificate is important documentation for receiving social security and other benefits.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. The full text of HB 2157 can be found here.
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.