Monday, August 31, 2015

Hale urges Arizona congressional delegation to keep North Rim of Grand Canyon open longer

Hale urges Arizona congressional delegation to keep North Rim of Grand Canyon open longer

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), recently wrote to the Arizona congressional delegation urging the members to extend the visitors seasons for the North Rim of The Grand Canyon National Park by two weeks.

“Extending access to this part of the national park will provide an economic boost to both the state and region,” Hale said. “It would be a benefit to Arizona’s economic and employment situation.”

In the letter, Hale requested that the congressional delegation and the National Park Service work together to make the policy change a priority.  He wrote that the services and businesses associated with the North Rim of the Grand Canyon create a “sustained seasonal economy” and “provide needed employment in Northern Arizona.”

“There are hundreds of jobs that are dependent on the seasonal flow of visitors to this area,” Hale said. “Businesses and employees would benefit greatly if the season were extended until October.”

Hale added that he believes that keeping this portion of the Grand Canyon open for an extra two weeks would have only a negligible impact on the National Park Service budget.

“The benefits to the region will likely outweigh the cost associated with changing the length of the visitors season,” Hale said.


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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.

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Not far enough

Not far enough

The governor’s announcement that the state will end its contract with Management and Training Corporation to operate the private prison in Kingman, where riots left 16 people injured, does not go far enough to address the public safety and efficiency concerns related to these for-profit facilities.

A report from the American Friends Service Committee identified “chronic understaffing at Kingman… and poor management” as well as “cost cutting” measures as contributing factors to the most recent riot. The Department of Corrections was in charge of investigating itself in this incident, and the governor directed the department to evaluate all private prison operators.  The DOC investigation of the riot highlighted MTC’s “culture of disorganization, disengagement, and disregard” of DOC policies.  


It appears that DOC officials have been aware of staffing problems in both the for-profit and state-run prisons for some time. A recent report in The Arizona Republic showed that in the last fiscal year, Arizona had to pay almost $40 million in overtime wages because the 10 state-run prisons have hundreds of job vacancies.

This information raises questions around DOC’s ability to investigate itself and draws criticism of the level of transparency and accountability within the department. To help restore public confidence, there should be an immediate, independent investigation of Arizona’s correction system.
For years, Republicans have repealed statutory oversight of private prisons, while increasing the number of these for-profit facilities. Until oversight is restored, an independent investigation is completed and Arizonans are satisfied that their tax dollars are being used efficiently to protect public safety, all contracts for future private prisons should be canceled. This includes the current contract for up to 2,000 new private prison beds.  

Let’s #AskDuceyWhy private prisons will continue to get state support, regardless of ongoing concerns about accountability, safety and responsible use of taxpayer money.








Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Meyer calls for immediate, independent investigation of all private prisons in Arizona

Meyer calls for immediate, independent investigation of all private prisons in Arizona

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), released this statement after Gov. Doug Ducey announced plans to terminate the contract with Management Training Corporation for the operation of the Kingman for-profit, private prison that was badly damaged in a recent riot. This riot also left several people injured.

“Arizona needs an immediate and independent investigation of all for-profit, private prisons in the state. The governor’s decision to terminate one contract with an operator does not go far enough to assuage the public safety concerns associated with these facilities.

“Additionally, the Legislature should reinstate the statutory oversight of private prisons that Republicans repealed several years ago. Arizonans should know whether private prisons are an appropriate use of taxpayer money. Until this happens, the state should suspend all efforts to seek bids to build new private prisons. It is time for more accountability and more transparency in this industry, which appears deeply troubled.”




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Friese: Republicans should accept judge’s Medicaid expansion ruling, forgo further legal challenges

Friese: Republicans should accept judge’s Medicaid expansion ruling, forgo further legal challenges


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Randall Friese, D-Tucson (District 9), released this statement after a Maricopa County Superior Court judge decided today that the assessment that hospitals pay to fund the expansion of Medicaid is constitutional:

“Today’s decision means that well over 250,000 Arizonans will continue to have access to quality, affordable health care. As a physician, I’ve seen what can happen to people who put off receiving prompt medical attention because they are concerned about its cost. The medical issues they are dealing with often get worse.

“The people who were able to qualify for Medicaid after the program’s expansion will not face an interruption in their care. This could help avoid costly and complicated medical procedures in the future.

“The Republicans in the Legislature who filed this lawsuit should accept this as a final decision and should forgo wasting state money on frivolous appeals.”


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Hale: Neighboring states should work together to transport students who must cross state borders to go to school

Hale: Neighboring states should work together to transport students who must cross state borders to go to school

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), recently discussed school district transportation challenges facing Native American students who must travel across state borders to attend Arizona schools with the New Mexico State Indian Affairs Committee.  Hale released this statement related to this discussion:

“Arizona continues to experience a cross-border flow of students from New Mexico and Utah. This is in part due to the fact that some of the out-of-state students reside closer to Arizona schools. Arizona allows some out-of-state school districts to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to ensure students have access to education opportunities and to avoid financial hardships. The school districts can transport or contract for transportation for these students. However, route miles run to transport non-resident students are not funded by the state. Transportation costs in addition to other costs of education should be part of the IGA.

“Neighboring states must work together to develop a sustainable funding mechanism for the costs of education, including the transportation of our students who are crossing state lines to get an education. Other states have laws that address students crossing state borders into other school districts. However, except for Arizona, the states do not address the education costs (tuition, transportation, etc.) related to its students who cross the state lines to attend school in the neighboring state.

“Arizona school districts have already developed and presented IGAs to New Mexico. The Window Rock School District proposed an IGA with the Gallup-McKinley County School District. At this point, New Mexico has not acted on this proposal. This is likely because, under New Mexico’s laws, this type of IGA must be approved by the state’s secretary of education and director of finance administration. This process stalled while waiting for this approval.

“I recommend that New Mexico immediately adopt a law authorizing local school districts to enter into IGAs related to the education of students attending schools in neighboring states. Without these changes, the students could be adversely affected. Often times this issue affects Navajo students who live within the Navajo Nation, which straddles the Arizona and New Mexico border. School is back in session. Finding a solution to this issue must be an immediate priority.”

Hale added that recently the New Mexico Indian Affairs Committee requested a letter be sent to the New Mexico governor and secretary of education calling for a meeting to develop a suitable IGA. The IAC also requested a letter go to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration secretary asking why the department did not approve an earlier IGA addressing these issues.

Hale said there have been reports from community members that some students must travel two hours by bus to go to their assigned schools and that there are already more than 600 students crossing state borders to attend school.


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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.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

National Caucus of Native American State Legislators adopts Hale resolution urging Congress to help with the construction of veteran homes on tribal lands

National Caucus of Native American State Legislators adopts Hale resolution urging Congress to help with the construction of veteran homes on tribal lands


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Earlier this month the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators adopted a resolution sponsored by Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), urging Congress to allow construction reimbursement for veteran homes built in Native American Nations.

Hale is the Vice President of the National Caucus. He sponsored a similar concurrent resolution in the Arizona State Legislature. He intends to sponsor another concurrent resolution when the Legislature convenes in January 2016.

The resolution asks Congress to enact legislation that would allow construction reimbursement and per diem payments for veterans nursing care homes built on Native American Nation lands. Current law provides for a 65 percent construction reimbursement and per diem payments to veterans nursing care homes built on land owned by states, territories or land the U.S. possesses. Veteran homes built on Native American Nation lands are not eligible for the reimbursement and per diem payments.

Hale said that a change in the federal law would encourage the construction of veterans nursing care homes and make it possible to provide more services to veterans living on Native American Nation lands.

“While there are many veterans living in Native American Nations, there are no veterans nursing care homes.  This type of facility is eligible for both construction reimbursement and per diem if it is not on Native American Nation lands. Extending this law to include facilities that would serve the Native American veterans who wish to stay connected to their communities would do a lot of good,” Hale said.

The resolution was sent to the president and vice president of the United States, to members of Congress and to other federal and state government officials.

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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.

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Meyer to Republican Leaders: Stop playing political games with Arizona’s schoolchildren

Meyer to Republican Leaders: Stop playing political games with Arizona’s schoolchildren

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), released this statement regarding the failed K-12 inflation funding settlement negotiations and the recent Republican education funding proposal:

“If the Republican leaders in Arizona were serious about getting money into classrooms now, they would use the $325 million projected surplus. Instead they are using smoke and mirrors to play political games with the future of Arizona kids.

“The lawsuit needs to be settled immediately, and Republican leaders need to stop grandstanding. They also need to find real solutions to the public education funding challenges they created with years of massive budget cuts. Their current proposals are insufficient. ”




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