Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sponsor of Arizona TRUST Act calls cover-up revelations at ICE an outrage

Sponsor of Arizona TRUST Act calls cover-up revelations at ICE an outrage


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – This morning a U.S. Senate oversight committee issued a report revealing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were tampering with independent inspector general reports, including a 2012 report on the Secure Communities program. The senators found that the inspector general at the time and U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials coordinated the reports, taking into consideration timing and politics for the agency.

Rep. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe (District 26), author of the Arizona TRUST Act, a bill meant to curtail the damage of the Secure Communities program, issued this statement in response:

"I was already outraged at how ICE operates in Arizona but today's revelations take that to new heights. Our state knows better than anyone what happens when local sheriffs collaborate with ICE but now it’s evident that those relationships are corroded at the federal level as well. The idea of checks and balances is a bedrock principle of democracy but ICE is so out-of-control that it has eroded even that function of government.

“I proposed the Arizona TRUST Act to repair the damage ICE has done to Arizona families and our civic life at large but I could not have predicted how deep the agency's dishonesty goes. Looking at its recent history, it seems hell-bent on replicating Arizona's worst policies no matter what the cost.

“What was ICE hiding when it worked to alter the independent report on the Secure Communities program? At this point, it's overwhelmingly clear that S-Comm, like SB1070's section 2b, should be terminated.  In the meantime, localities have the responsibility to bring truth, transparency, and civil rights protections to what has been undone by the federal government's deportation quota programs."


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Campbell: ‘We’ve still got work to do’

Campbell: ‘We’ve still got work to do’
Legislative session ends without solution to child welfare system crisis

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), released this statement regarding the close of the regular legislative session.

“The legislative session ended today, leaving Arizona’s child safety and welfare system in crisis.

“The extremists at the Capitol chose to spend their time on policies that promoted a partisan agenda. During the time they should have been finding solutions for the troubled child welfare system, they instead focused on fast-tracking SB 1062 through the Legislature. This discriminatory legislation targeted LBGTQ communities and cities like Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff that have expanded civil rights protections. This is disappointing, not only because such legislation is offensive, but also because it took time and attention away from Child Protective Services reform. 

“At the beginning of the year, Republicans and Democrats agreed that fixing CPS was a priority, after 6,600 reports of child abuse and neglect went uninvestigated. This happened, in part, because there are not enough caseworkers as a result of years of Republican budget cuts. House Democrats proposed a budget that included $193 million for child safety and health and human services. It would have restored preventative services, like the childcare subsidy, and it would have provided enough money to hire additional child welfare caseworkers to handle the growing caseload in the state.

“This proposal was ignored because of partisanship; and vulnerable children and families remain in danger. Today five CPS supervisors and a Department of Economic Security administrator were fired after the Department of Public Safety issued a report on its investigation of the agency. Clearly, the situation is still dire. Solving the state’s CPS troubles should have been first on the agenda, and now we have to wait for the governor to call a special session.

“House Democrats remain ready to put a stop to the partisan bickering and to find ways to end this crisis. The legislative session may have closed but we’ve still got work to do.”


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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Governor signs bill to remove the words handicapped and disabled from state statutes, materials

Governor signs bill to remove the words handicapped and disabled from state statutes, materials

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today Gov. Jan Brewer signed HB 2667 into law. Rep. Stefanie Mach, D-Tucson (District 10), introduced this bill which will remove the words handicapped and disabled from state laws and from all materials the government produces in the future, such as signs that indicate parking for people with disabilities.

“I am grateful for the support this bill received from my colleagues and from Gov. Brewer,” Mach said. “Replacing offensive language with terms that more accurately reflect our community is an important change.”

Mach, who survived a car accident in 1997 in which she sustained serious burn injuries and the loss of an arm, began working on this legislation because she said the term “handicapped” is dehumanizing.

“Our laws and signs should use language that reflects the respect we have for everyone in our state,” Mach said.

The bill will take effect 90 days after the legislative session ends and will replace the archaic language with “person or persons with disabilities.”




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Governor signs bill containing Otondo’s forest management provision

Governor signs bill containing Otondo’s  
forest management provision

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Gov. Jan Brewer today signed a bill including a provision proposed by Rep. Lisa Otondo, D-Yuma (District 4), that will help protect Arizona forests and firefighters while creating jobs.

Brewer signed HB 2343, a bill introduced by a Republican member of the House of Representatives which was amended to include portions of Otondo’s bill, HB 2536. Otondo’s contribution to this legislation provides opportunities for public-private partnerships to remove vegetation which can create dangerous wildfire conditions in Arizona forests.

“After the tragic loss of life in the Yarnell Hill Fire, we cannot afford to sit on our hands while we watch our communities and our firefighters be put in jeopardy. This is a step in the right direction for Arizona,” Otondo said. “I am thankful for the bipartisan support that this bill received in the Legislature, and I am grateful that the governor signed this bill.”

The law will go into effect this summer.





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Legislature passes Escamilla’s bill to compensate cities for cleaning up graffiti

Legislature passes Escamilla’s bill to compensate cities for cleaning up graffiti

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – On Tuesday the Arizona House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill introduced by Rep. Juan Carlos Escamilla, D-San Luis (District 4), that would require people responsible for graffiti to cover the costs of cleaning up the damage.

Escamilla’s bill, HB 2571, would allow the courts to include reasonable labor, material and equipment costs when calculating the damage resulting from graffiti.

“Graffiti cleanup has been a huge issue in our communities and it has budgetary implications,” Escamilla said. “This law would provide a way for cities and towns to not only manage the cleanup but also hold the offenders accountable for the full damage they inflict.”

The bill now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer for consideration.

A full copy of the bill is available at:




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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

UPDATE: Arizona Legislature passes Miranda’s bill to encourage eighth graders to pursue high school

UPDATE: Arizona Legislature passes Miranda’s bill to encourage eighth graders to pursue high school 

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Arizona Senate today passed a bill introduced by Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix (District 27), intended to encourage students graduating from eighth grade to continue their education.

Miranda’s bill, HB 2501, would prevent school district governing boards from requesting signed certificates of promotion from the county school superintendent while still allowing schools to conduct ceremonies to honor the students being promoted from eighth grade.

“Certificates and diplomas should be reserved for graduations,” Miranda said. “We want our students to have higher expectations for themselves and think toward high school and college graduation.”

The Arizona House passed the bill in February, and it now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer for consideration.





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Campbell on Medicaid suit appeal: ‘The decision today does not take anything away from the progress we made’

Campbell on Medicaid suit appeal: ‘The decision today does not take anything away from the progress we made’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), released this statement after the Court of Appeals decided that a group of Republican legislators can continue to pursue their lawsuit against Medicaid expansion.

“Last year, when a bipartisan group of legislators worked together to pass Medicaid expansion, we knew there would be challenges ahead. Earlier this year, after a Maricopa County Superior Court judge dismissed the case brought by many of those who voted against extending health care coverage to more Arizonans, we expected an appeal.

“Today, we learned that the Court of Appeals will allow these legislators to continue their efforts to stymie Medicaid expansion. The decision does not take anything away from the progress we made, and it is only one step in the legal process. Ultimately, providing more people with access to health care and bringing billions of dollars into our economy was the correct decision for Arizona.”




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