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 www.cabhp.asu.edu.

For more information on Youth Mental Health First Aid, visit www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/cs/take-a-course/course-types/youth/.

For additional information about DTAP, go to http://www.pcao.pima.gov/dtap.aspx.



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Monday, July 14, 2014

NHCSL Vice President Miranda says unified effort, humane solutions needed for immigration crisis

NHCSL Vice President Miranda says unified effort, humane solutions needed for immigration crisis

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix (District 27), along with other members of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, a group of lawmakers from across the country, expressed concern about the current immigration crisis and called for effective, humane solutions.

Miranda, who is the NHCSL vice president for public policy, said there must be a united effort to help the unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors who are migrating to border states.

“NHCSL is emphasizing the importance of working on a long-term plan, while dealing with the immediate crisis,” Miranda said. “We will work to help educate Congress on the importance of having adequate resources to provide the necessary emergency services these young people require. The masses of immigrant children and refugees left abandoned are unconscionable. As a nation we should respond in a unified manner to help these children as it is our country they’ve fled to. America is seen as a country people come to in search for a better life; many of their home countries are corrupt and crime ridden. It is our duty to serve.”

The NHCSL is the premier national association of Hispanic state legislators working to design and implement policies and procedures that will improve the quality of life for Hispanics throughout the country.  NHCSL was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with the mission to be the most effective voice for the more than 350 Hispanic legislators.  

For more information, visit www.nhcsl.org.


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House Democrats urge Brewer to call education special session

House Democrats urge Brewer to call education special session
Schools need court-mandated inflation funding immediately

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Arizona House Democrats today asked Gov. Jan Brewer to call a special session immediately to pay the $317 million in inflation funding that a superior court judge recently ruled the state owes schools.

“It’s crucial that we get this money into our classrooms and fulfill our obligation to the voters before the start of the next school year,” House Minority Whip Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), said. “Schools can use this money to hire teachers and reduce classroom sizes. The money could also be used to make repairs to buildings and infrastructure that have been put off because education has suffered drastic budget cuts over the years.”

Meyer, who serves on the House Education Committee and previously was a member of the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board, added that the court’s decision affirms the will of the voters and deserves immediate attention.

“The court ruling makes it clear that the Legislature must respect the will of the voters and cannot make education funding a political football,” Meyer said.

In 2000, voters approved Prop 301, which included a provision that required the Legislature to adjust school funding to keep pace with inflation. In recent years, the Republican-controlled Legislature ignored that provision, leaving schools underfunded. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled earlier that the Legislature must comply with the will of the voters and provide inflation funding. However, it asked the superior court to determine the extent of the state’s financial obligation. On July 11, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper decided the Legislature will need to pay schools $317 million for the upcoming year and a total of $1.6 billion during the next five years. Still in question is whether the state will need to pay an additional $1.3 billion for inflation costs that the Legislature withheld since 2009.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), said the Legislature should
have made funding for education a priority, even during the recession.

“Education and our economy are inextricably linked,” Campbell said. “Ensuring Arizona kids have access to a solid education is key to any economic recovery plan and to long-term economic stability. Instead of making education a priority, Republicans in the Legislature favored tax cuts for corporations that haven’t benefited our state and have depleted our resources.”

Campbell added that to fulfill its obligations, the state should utilize some of the money in the “rainy-day fund” and consider closing wasteful corporate tax loopholes.

“The Republican-controlled Legislature cannot continue to protect special interest tax cuts at the expense of school children,” Campbell said. “The courts and the voters have made that clear.”


For more information on the state budget impacts of this ruling, go to http://www.azleg.gov/jlbc/K-12InflationFundingLawsuitUpdate.pdf.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Quezada statement on Superior Court ruling requiring state to pay $317 million to schools for inflation


Quezada statement on Superior Court ruling requiring state
to pay $317 million to schools for inflation
 

 
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), today applauded Arizona Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper’s decision to require the state to pay $317 million in inflation funding that should have been allocated to schools in the 2013-2014 school year.

“The immediate restoration of $317 million, and possibly an additional $1.3 billion, in funding to our schools is huge for our children. They have suffered from poor and ultimately illegal policy decisions by the Republican-controlled legislature for too long,” Quezada said.

“Not only does this decision provide funding that our schools have desperately needed over the past several years, it ultimately requires that the will of the voters be respected. The voters said they want our schools to have the funding needed when they passed Prop 301 back in 2000,” Quezada said.

“Even when budgets are tight, we have to prioritize education. Not only is it good for our economic recovery and long-term economic stability, it has been mandated by the voters. The Republicans ignored that mandate and, instead, passed huge tax cuts that primarily benefitted large corporations. I am glad that they are now being held accountable by the judicial process. When I hear my Republican colleagues at the Legislature say they can’t afford to pay the bill that is due, I will remind them about the funding they squandered with that tax cut legislation,” Quezada said.

House Bill 2001 passed in 2011 during the Second Special Session. The fiscal impact of the tax cuts increases over time and when fully implemented in 2018, it will cost the state $538 million in lost revenue each year.

The school funding was mandated by the voters’ approval of Prop 301 in the year 2000 but the inflation funding has not been budgeted by the Republican-controlled Arizona State Legislature in recent years. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the State Legislature must provide the inflation funding each year but asked the Superior Court to determine whether back payments for prior years is required. Judge Cooper’s decision addressed the question of back payments for the 2013-2014 but still unclear is whether the schools are due $1.3 billion in funds from previous years that the Legislature did not allocate inflation dollars.

More details can be found at the attached link:


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Peshlakai advocates for creation of Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument

Peshlakai advocates for creation of Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (District 7), recently added her name to a letter sent to President Barack Obama, urging him to establish the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument.

The proposed national monument would be located within the Kaibab Plateau in the Grand Canyon watershed region.   

“The Grand Canyon is a sacred site for many Native American nations,” Peshlakai said. “It has both cultural and environmental significance. The Kaibab Plateau alone is home to 22 sensitive plants and animals, some of which can’t be found anywhere else in the world. It is an invaluable resource and must be kept safe.”

The letter called for the president to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect the Grand Canyon’s watershed by establishing it as a national monument. It also outlined several key threats to the area, such as:

  • Uranium mining
  • Loss of habit connections for wildlife
  • Logging of ancient trees
  • Irresponsible off-road vehicle use
  • Unsustainable livestock grazing

“Making this region a national monument will protect it, which will ensure it is respected and taken care of for generations to come,” Peshlakai said. “Regardless of when the president acts, I will continue to advocate for safeguarding this region.”



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Monday, July 07, 2014

Quezada statement on appeals court ruling on driver’s licenses for DACA recipients

Quezada statement on appeals court ruling on driver’s licenses for DACA recipients


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), today applauded an appeals court decision to stop an executive order that prohibits state agencies from issuing driver’s licenses to young immigrants who have been granted permission to work in the United States and are qualified for delayed deportation proceedings under President Obama’s deferred action policy.

“I am pleased that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reinstated the injunction against this extremist executive order. The governor’s effort to deny driver’s licenses to deferred action recipients was simply political grandstanding.

“Deferred action recipients who received work permits are authorized to be in this country. There is no legitimate reason to treat them differently. The appeals court decision today reinforces that fact and is good news for supporters of sensible immigration policies.

In 2013, I made the same point when I offered a floor amendment to a bill being debated in the Arizona House of Representatives. My amendment would have reversed the governor’s policy and would have granted DACA recipients the ability to get driver’s licenses. When the House voted on my amendment, it failed along party lines. Unfortunately, this issue has become a partisan rallying point rather than a debate over what is good public policy.

“As such, it is unlikely that this will be the final word on the topic. I am sure that there will be additional court proceedings. I am equally sure that the ‘dreamers’ will prevail. Arizona is ready to put corrosive immigration policies in the past.”

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Miranda statement on appeals court ruling to allow deferred action recipients to get driver’s licenses


Miranda statement on appeals court ruling to allow deferred action recipients to get driver’s licenses

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix (District 27), released this statement regarding an appeals court decision to block an executive order from Gov. Jan Brewer that prevented state agencies from issuing driver’s licenses to young immigrants who have received work permits and are avoiding deportation under the Obama administration’s deferred action policy.

“The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is an important step forward for our state. This executive order not only hurt the young people who were granted deferred action and allowed to work, but it also hurt our economy. 

“Recently, our Legislature has focused on attracting new businesses to Arizona from all over the world. For these efforts to be successful, we need to move beyond the kind of immigration policies that create a negative image for our state. This is an issue I’ve been outspoken about. In 2013, I introduced HB 2032, a bill intended to clarify that deferred action recipients are able to use federally issued work permits to show that their presence is authorized when applying for driver’s licenses. I believed we needed this legislation because the executive order preventing deferred action recipients from receiving driver’s licenses was inappropriate. It affected our economy and promoted politics over people.  Although this bill was heard in the House Transportation Committee, it did not pass, and the issue remained unresolved, until today.

“I believe that this ruling will offer an immediate economic benefit to our state. It will support jobs and move Arizona toward more common-sense immigration policies.”

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