Friday, April 30, 2010

Young Wright sibling rights bill awaits governor’s signature

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – A bill that grants more rights to displaced children to see their siblings passed the legislature Thursday.

House Bill 2419, sponsored by Rep. Nancy Young Wright, D-Tucson (District 26), clarifies that a child placed in out-of-home care by DES has the right to be placed in the same home with their siblings unless doing so would jeopardize the child’s safety or well-being.

It also grants a child the right to frequent visitation or other ongoing contact with siblings if such placement isn’t possible.

“This bill is incredibly important for children who hope to have better home lives,” Young Wright said. “Children don’t deserve to grow up in unsafe living environments, but they do deserve and should have the right to grow up with or at least visit their brothers and sisters.”

The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

After 2 years, Republicans still pushing Arizona down the wrong track

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Two years after Arizona entered a recession and after Gov. Jan Brewer took office with a Republican legislative majority, Arizona is still on the wrong track, House Democrats said Friday.

Republicans eagerly made massive cuts to jobs, education, health care, public safety and state parks and succeed in destroying the state.

“Clearly, after two legislative sessions during a recession, Arizona is no where close to getting back on track,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “While other states around the nation seem to be on the mend, Arizona continues to go backward instead of forward and our economy is hurting because of it.”

This year, Republicans and Brewer:
• Cut 400,000 people off of health care, causing emergency rooms to overflow even more.
• Cut another $765 million from K-12 education on top of the largest cut to education in state history last year, causing class sizes to grow larger, more teacher layoffs and businesses to not even consider moving to the state.
• Cut public safety jobs when we’re already missing police and firefighters from our neighborhoods.
• Closed the majority of state parks that bring vital tourism dollars to Arizona’s rural and small town communities.
• Failed to get Arizona back on track.

“It really is unfortunate that right here in Arizona, a small business is closing because it can no longer stay afloat, that a family is struggling to make a mortgage payment or downsizing because someone was laid off,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “But the worst part is that the majority of state lawmakers, who are all Republican, failed to lead to put Arizona back on track.”

Too many Arizonans still are losing their jobs, and Arizona’s schools are under funded, but Republicans eagerly cut education, jobs and public safety. Big corporations and the rich aren’t paying their fair share in taxes, but Republicans continue to give away tax breaks to big corporations and the rich, while middle-class families pay for it. Republicans massively cut health care during tough economic times and now many Arizona families and children can’t afford to go to the doctor.

“It’s embarrassing to explain to people in and outside of Arizona that Republicans have destroyed our state,” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “Republicans have shoved Arizona down the wrong track. Republicans have failed to lead. Republicans have been in office too long. It’s time for a change.”

Ableser bill to stop predatory tow truck companies awaits governor’s signature

A bill to prevent tow truck companies from trespassing onto private property passed House and Senate today.

House Bill 2462, sponsored by Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe (District 17), offers accountability and oversight for predatory tow truck businesses.

“This bill will hold tow truck companies that are not playing by the rules accountable for their actions,” Ableser said. “It is wrong for tow truck businesses to prey on Arizonans parked on private property, and this bill will hold these companies to higher standards.”

HB 2462 makes it illegal for tow truck companies to remove a vehicle on private property without permission from the property owner or authorization from law enforcement.

The bill passed with bipartisan support and awaits the governor’s signature to be signed into law.

Animal-human hybrids banned in Arizona

Republicans think Arizona soon will be overrun with creatures like centaurs and mermaids. Yet another national embarrassment. Thanks, GOP!

http://www.kpho.com/video/23315391/

Changes to controversial immigration law

Watch CBS5 press Sen. Russell Pearce about an e-mail exchange with Kris Kobach about using "cars on blocks" to enforce the new immigration law.

http://www.kpho.com/video/23315330/

Thursday, April 29, 2010

House Democrats successfully restore KidsCare, bring $7 billion to Arizona

Republicans’ elimination of KidsCare nearly eradicated all health-care federal matching funds

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Children in Arizona now will have access to quality and affordable health care, and Arizona will receive $7 billion in federal health care funding thanks to House Democrats’ efforts to restore it.

House Democrats first alerted Republicans and Gov. Jan Brewer on March 22 to the GOP’s grave mistake to eliminate KidsCare and urged them to restore it so that Arizona would not lose its fair share of federal health care funding.

“Today is a victory for all Arizonans,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “We were happy to help Republicans and Gov. Brewer recognize their mistake to kick thousands of people off of health care and forfeit all of our federal Medicaid dollars. It is wrong to rob health care from kids and seniors.”

When Republicans and Brewer eliminated health care for 42,000 Arizona children in their budget last month, they forfeited all future federal matching funds for health care in Arizona. That action would have caused an even bigger deficit in Arizona because the state still would have had to pay for health care.

“Republicans and Gov. Brewer had a choice when they passed their harmful budget that eagerly cut jobs, education and health care,” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “They made the wrong choice and we successfully pointed it out and made sure they corrected it. I hate to say it, but we told them so.”

The first action Brewer took after realizing her wrong choice to eliminate health care for kids, adults and seniors, was to call a special session to file a frivolous lawsuit against the federal government against the new health reform law.

“Instead of addressing the $7 billion hole she and Republicans created, Gov. Brewer decided to file a frivolous lawsuit that was neither based on fact nor on law,” House Democratic Leader David Lujan said. “She chose to pull a cheap political stunt —spending taxpayer dollars on a baseless lawsuit —than get any real work done. I guess she now realizes that she thought wrong.”

Today, the legislature sent Senate Bill 1043, the fix to KidsCare, to the governor for her signature.

Centaurs and mermaids and satyrs, oh my! Republicans pass another crazy bill - to outlaw human-animal hybrids

Science fiction at Arizona Capitol?

by Jim Cross/KTAR (April 29th, 2010 @ 10:23am)

PHOENIX -- An Arizona Democrat is taking aim at her GOP colleagues for passing a bill in the House that outlaws animal-human hybrids.

Facebook and Twitter were lit up with posts about the bill, including one from Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix.

"I woke up this morning concerned about Centaurs, mermaids and griffins taking over the state," Sinema wrote.

Another post on Facebook read, "Release the Kraken."

Still another post said, "I'm winning the office pool for `Craziest bill to be passed by the AZ Legislative Republicans.'"

Sinema said House Republicans approved the bill Wednesday night.

While the bill sounded somewhat like science-fiction, both supporters and opponents said it could have serious implications.

Supporters said it is designed to ban human cloning and human embryo research. Opponents said they believed the bill is part of the state's anti-abortion movement which wants embryos defined as humans.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Republicans eagerly voted to cut state parks in March budget

House Democrats expose GOP harmful sham parks plan, successfully kill it

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats tonight exposed Republicans’ sham plan to “save state parks” when the GOP originally voted to eagerly close state parks in their massive budget cuts in March.

Republicans’ House Bill 2060 attempts to steal non-existent funding from Growing Smarter, a voter-approved initiative. That action is unconstitutional and undermines the will of Arizona voters.

“If Republicans cared so much about state parks, they wouldn’t have voted for a budget to close and defund them in the first place,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “Besides, Republicans already robbed all the money from Growing Smarter anyway, so their entire bill is a sham.”

HB 2060 would have stolen $20 million from Growing Smarter, Prop 303, which conserves Arizona’s open spaces in or near urban areas. Voters approved the measure in 1997.

“After they chose to cut and close state parks in the first place, Republicans could have chosen to work with Democrats to fix their mistake in a way that was actually constitutional,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “But it seems that Republicans don’t like to play by the rules. This year alone they’ve passed multiple sham measures that don’t clear Arizona’s constitution, like cutting hundreds of thousands of people off of health care.”

No one values state parks more at the legislature or realistically has worked harder to keep state parks open than Democrats.

“Bottom line, if Republicans actually cared about Arizonans and their state parks, why did they choose to cut it in the first place, then try to undermine the will of Arizona voters?” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “They just tried tonight to push Arizona down the wrong track again with their sham unconstitutional bill. Nice try, Republicans, but Democrats were the ones who voted against Republicans’ massive cuts to state parks in this year’s budget. Republicans unanimously voted for those cuts.”

Arizona immigration law could drive Latinos out of state

Daniel Gonzalez

The Arizona Republic

Adriana Miranda leaned against the door frame and started to sob.

Her husband hasn't found steady work in a year. Then, on Friday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the tough anti-illegal-immigration law
that will allow police to arrest illegal immigrants like her. It was the last straw. After seven years in Arizona, the family was moving.


"Yesterday, we sold our trailer," Miranda, 38, said between sobs. "We don't know exactly where. Another state."

Miranda is not alone. More than 100,000 undocumented immigrants have left Arizona in the past two years because of the bad economy and earlier enforcement crackdowns. Now, a new wave of Latinos is preparing to leave. And it isn't just illegal immigrants: Legal residents and U.S. citizens also say they will leave Arizona because they view the state as unfriendly to Hispanics.

(Read More)

McGuire’s foreclosure rescue bill passes Senate

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – A bill in House Democrats’ Foreclosure Rescue for Arizona package passed the Senate Tuesday.

House Bill 2766, sponsored by Rep. Barbara McGuire, D-Kearny (District 23), requires a landlord to allow a tenant at least 30 days to vacate a foreclosed property.

“This bill will help Arizona get back on the right track when our state ranked second in the nation for foreclosures,” McGuire said. “It gives families and renters enough time to find a new home at a time of foreclosure through no fault of their own.”

McGuire’s bill also requires a landlord to provide tenants with a written notice at least 90 days before the sale date and if the landlord fails to comply, the tenant may recover damages or one month’s rent plus the amount of the security deposit and attorney fees, whichever is greater.
“All of us have a financial interest in restoring property values, repairing neighborhoods and putting Arizona back on the right track,” McGuire said. “We can all benefit from these bills and working together, and that’s a winning combination for Arizona’s economy and quality of life.”

Republicans' corporate bailout package fails

No tax cuts this year for Arizona businesses

Howard Fischer

The East Valley Tribune

Arizona businesses won’t be getting tax breaks this year.

Senate President Bob Burns, R-Peoria, said Tuesday he doesn’t have the necessary backing to put a $950 million House-passed package of tax cuts up for a vote. In fact, Burns said there aren’t even the votes for a $650 million scaled-back plan.

At that point, House Speaker Kirk Adams, R-Mesa, decided to pull the plug on HB 2250, which he called the best hope for the state to create new jobs. Adams said he already had compromised and was unwilling to give up any more.

“He feels like that if he can’t get the entire package (of tax cuts) it won’t be effective,” Burns said of Adams.

“I couldn’t deliver the entire package,” the senate president continued. “So he said, ‘Let’s quit.’”

(Read More)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rachel Maddow investigates the origins of SB 1070

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Jon Stewart makes fun of Arizona Republicans on The Daily Show

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Thanks to Republicans, businesses don't want to move to Arizona

Businesses outside Arizona have a skewed view of state
By Patrick O'Grady
Phoenix Business Journal

Arizona pitches itself as a great place to set up a business, but those outside the state have a different perception.

When 60 representatives of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council went to Washington last week, their targets included the national media, which tend to portray Arizona as a state rampant with gun-wielding immigration foes who are about to lose their homes as the state’s budget moves toward the edge of a cliff.

That’s not exactly the kind of image the business community wants to project when trying to land top-flight companies and beef up its renewable energy and biosciences portfolio, said Barry Broome, president and CEO of GPEC.

“We told them we’re more than immigration, and that day a story about the latest immigration bill is on the front page of The Wall Street Journal,” he said.

(Read More)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sinema bill honoring soldier burial wishes signed into law

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – A bill that requires the state to honor the burial wishes of fallen soldiers was signed into law today.

House Bill 2400, sponsored by Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema, fixes an existing Arizona law that ignores the burial wishes of fallen soldiers and causes delays for the soldier’s family during a time of mourning.

“The Arizona men and women who put their lives on the line each day to protect our country deserve to have their wishes respected,” Sinema said. “The very least that we can do is honor their wishes in the event that they give their lives in the line of duty. Currently, Arizona law creates a roadblock after these soldiers give their lives, and that’s the last thing military families should have to deal with during a time of mourning.”

Sinema’s bill requires Arizona law to recognize that if a soldier died while serving in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Reserve or National Guard, and they completed a U.S. Department of Defense record of burial wishes, the person the soldier listed on the form is the designated person to carry out their wishes.

Since 2006, active duty members must annually complete a federally mandated form to designate a person to take care of their remains. However, Arizona law designates arrangements for the dead in a descending order starting with the spouse, regardless of the soldier’s wishes on the federal form, and Arizona does not recognize the federal form, DD Form 93, as an equivalent document. This has lead to litigation between family members.
Laurie Crehan, representing the U.S. Department of Defense State Liaison Office, testified in committee in support of Sinema’s bill.
For example, Crehan said, a deceased soldier who was married but estranged from his wife, elected his mother as the person to take care of his remains on DD Form 93. The mother wanted to cremate the soldier, but the funeral home refused to cremate the remains without the wife's consent based on the rules of the state. The spouse was reluctant to sign the consent for cremation and only after a military attorney intervened, did the wife eventually consent. The situation, and the unnecessary delay it caused, could have been avoided if the state statute in question had referred to the DD Form 93.
“The proposed amendment to state law on disposition removes confusion for the family and enables funeral directors to confidently refer to a single document to approach the service member’s choice for directing the disposition of his or her remains,” Crehan said.

Republicans pass ridiculous bills amid major state problems

State Capitol, Phoenix- Republicans’ passage of ridiculous legislation fails to solve the real issues Arizona faces and continues to push the state down the wrong track, House Democrats said Monday at a press conference.

Republicans and Gov. Jan Brewer have passed and signed some of the “craziest” legislation Arizonans have ever seen, they said.

“Republicans have left Arizonans wondering when they’re going to get down to business and do the hard work on the real problems our state faces,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan.

This year, Republicans have voted to pass:

Birther Bill (SB 1024) — Makes Arizona the only state in the nation to require presidential candidates to prove their citizenship on Arizona’s ballot.

Elimination of KidsCare —Eradicates KidsCare and Medicaid, which makes Arizona the only state in the nation to completely wipe out health care for children.

Concealed Weapons (Senate Bill 1108) —Eliminates the CCW permit requirement, which makes it harder for police to do their job and makes Arizona the only state with a high crime rate to eliminate it. The only other states to do so are Vermont and Alaska, which are mostly rural with low crime rates.

Elimination of the Department of Tourism.

Elimination of the Department of Juvenile Corrections.

Automatic Weapons in Arizona (Senate Bill 1098) — Allows automatic weapons in the state, which are prohibited under federal law. The bill says that no federal regulations apply if guns are made in Arizona.

Republicans are also considering passing bills that would:

Not allow people on food stamps buy cell phones or drive cars worth more than $5,000.

Make it nearly impossible for single people to adopt children.

“These bills are nothing more than a waste of taxpayers’ time when the legislature should be working to fix real issues like the elimination of KidsCare, which forfeits all federal health care dollars for kids and seniors in Arizona and the real problems along our border,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “Republican ideologues continue to make Arizona the laughing stock of the nation during tough economic times. It’s embarrassing for Arizona.

For the past two years, middle-class families and their children have struggled to deal with an economic crisis, fewer police officers on the streets and exponentially growing classroom sizes.

“What have Republicans been doing for the past two years?” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “I think they make it pretty clear by wasting taxpayers’ time on wrong-track legislation instead of working on health care for kids and seniors, jobs, education and cracking down on violence along the border and in our neighborhoods.”

House Democratic Leader Pro Tem Jack Brown, retiring after 36 years, lauded at Capitol

The Arizona Republic

Ginger Rough

Arizona lawmakers took time away from their frantic end-of-session activity this past week to fete one of their own: Rep. Jack Brown, D-St. Johns.

Brown, the Legislature's longest-serving member and current Democratic leader pro tem, is retiring this year after spending 36 years in office.

House members honored Brown with a video tribute, before proclaiming April 20, Jack Brown Western Day.

Brown, a longtime rancher and farmer, is the last cowboy at the Statehouse, having first taken office in 1963 during the Kennedy administration. He served until 1974 and then returned to the Arizona Capitol in 1987.

(Read More)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Stephen Colbert rips Arizona immigration bill

by Bill Goodykoontz - Apr. 23, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

In a sure sign that Arizona's controversial immigration bill has morphed into culture-war ammo, Stephen Colbert destroyed the thing Wednesday night.

Colbert, the host of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," mercilessly - and hilariously - mocked the bill, which awaits an action by Gov. Jan Brewer, in his nightly segment "The Word." Wednesday night's word: "No problemo."

"It's like they're saying that harassing Latinos with racial profiling is an inevitable side-effect of this law," Colbert said. "It's not. It's the entire point of this law."

Colbert's show is a satire of conservative political talking-head TV shows, in which he adopts the persona, political views and tactics of a right-wing host.

Colbert, for instance, quotes Russell Pearce, the Republican state senator who sponsored the bill, as saying, "When you make life difficult, most (of them) will leave on their own."

Colbert then said, "It's the same strategy I use to keep deer out of my garden. . . . If this law fails, we should try sprinkling Arizona with wolf urine."

When explaining the bill, which would make it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally and would require law-enforcement officers to check the status of those they suspect are in the country illegally, Colbert said, "And I believe they're allowed to Taser anyone using the word 'chipotle.' "

(Read more)

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

First ever naturalization ceremony held at Capitol

Watch House Democratic Leader David Lujan and Rep. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma (District 24) speak at Arizona's first naturalization ceremony for three active duty military service members

Watch Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema explain how frivolous Republicans' birther bill is.

GOP repeatedly ignored House Democrats’ immigration bills

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Before Republicans passed another controversial bill that fails to solve the immigration problem in Arizona, they blocked House Democrats’ proposed real immigration solutions.

Republicans repeatedly ignored bills that directly addressed violent crime and immigration in Arizona:
· HB 2201 (misconduct involving weapons; fraudulent transactions): Gives authorities better tools to combat weapons trafficking and increase public safety by making it a felony to purchase weapons under false pretenses. Sponsor: Lujan

· HB 2149 (drop houses; human smuggling): Combats the use of drop houses and human smuggling across the border. Sponsor: Sinema

· HB 2354 (forgery; human smuggling; classification): Makes it a Class 3 felony if a person commits forgery in connection with purchase, lease or renting of a dwelling used as a drop house. Sponsor: Sinema

· HB 2148 (human trafficking; violation): Provides law enforcement with more resources to prevent human smuggling in Arizona by clarifying and expanding the definition of trafficking. Sponsor: Sinema

· HB 2152 (human trafficking; liability; victim services): Deters human smuggling by allowing victims to collect damages from traffickers. Sponsor: Sinema

· HB 2151 (human trafficking coordinating council): Establishes a council to collect and organize data on human trafficking in Arizona in order to offer better, more effective solutions. Sponsor: Sinema


“Republicans have failed to deal with crime and violence along the border,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “We need tough immigration reform that cracks down on human smugglers, the illegal sale of weapons to drug cartels and other violent criminals, and we need to give law enforcement the real tools they need to secure our borders.”

The only bill Republicans supported and that was signed into law last week was Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema’s House Bill 2763, substituted by Senate Bill 1059, that eliminates a requirement to prove that the trafficked individual be obtained “for transport” to qualify as being trafficked for sex or labor. The bill gives police more tools to arrest criminals who traffic people for sex or slave labor.

“Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the nation and we should do everything we can to make sure law enforcement can do their job and protect our kids and neighborhoods,” Sinema said. “Democrats support making sure police have the real tools they need to go after violent criminals. It’s time Arizona actually works toward real solutions, not unconstitutional bills that force law enforcement to go after janitors and landscapers instead of the real problem — violent human, drug, weapon and sex traffickers that infiltrate our cities and towns.”

Republican explains reason for voting for crazy 'birther' bill to CNN's Anderson Cooper

Republicans pass ridiculous birther bill, fail to deal with serious issues Arizonans care about

House Republicans approve 'birther bill'
It aims to verify presidential candidate's citizenship

by Mary Jo Pitzl
The Arizona Republic

The Arizona House of Representatives
has approved the "birther bill," which would require the Arizona secretary of State to verify the citizenship of U.S. presidential candidates.

The measure, Senate Bill 1024, passed with the minimum 31 votes, all from Republicans.

Several Republicans joined Democrats to oppose the bill, which Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett has said is of questionable constitutionality.

Democrats complained the bill is a frivolous distraction and another black eye to a state that is becoming a national joke because of its legislative actions.

"This is the straw that will break the state's back," Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said. "We are the laughingstock of the nation."

The House's vote comes two days after the Senate gave final approval to a wide-ranging immigration bill that, if signed into law, would make it a state crime to be in the country illegally and would require police to check the citizenship status of anyone whom they might have a "reasonable suspicion" is in the country illegally.

The "birther bill" has to return to the Senate for a concurring vote before it would go to Gov. Jan Brewer's desk.

Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson, said the bill is a waste of time when Arizona faces grave problems.

"What I have a hard time with is our priorities," he said. "Right now, someone's home is being foreclosed on in Arizona because we failed to act. Right now, someone is driving by a closed rest stop."

Republicans said the bill is constitutional. Arizona already has statutes that specify presidential qualifications, said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, and this just adds to them.

(Read More)

Rep. Pat Fleming, D-Sierra Vista (District 25), says we need to pass tough immigration reform at the federal level to secure our borders

Napolitano cites actions since death of Robert Krentz
BY SHAR PORIER
Wick News Service


After the death of Cochise County rancher Robert Krentz, Arizona and federal lawmakers voiced their outrage, but has there been a real effort to stop the crime and violence spilling over the border with Mexico?

According to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Arizona’s former governor, there are 100 additional Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement agencies in the San Bernardino Valley near where Krentz was shot. She also deployed Customs and Border Protection helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles.

It’s like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.

“The people I represent do not believe that their federal government has heard their pleas for help,” Giffords wrote in a second request for help on the border. “While much has been done over the past months to increase border security, it is clear that our border is not yet secure and that drug cartel violence is threatening the lives of our citizens.”

Giffords, whose 8th Congressional District includes 114 miles of international border, called for the National Guard’s deployment on March 30, three days after Robert Krentz was slain on his Cochise County ranch. “On behalf of the people I represent and the thousands of other Americans who live in the most troubled sections of our southern border, I ask for your help in meeting the first responsibility of government: to provide for the safety and protection of its citizens.”

State Rep. Pat Fleming is convinced that there is a total failure to deal with crime and violence along the border in Arizona. “Our immigration system is broken and those in Washington, D.C., have been unable or unwilling to solve it. This is an issue that also requires leadership and action at the federal level or it will simply get worse, especially in Southern Arizona. Border security and immigration need to be acted on by Congress, as well, so that states and cities are not forced to act and bear the entire expense of enforcing our immigration laws. We need tough immigration reform that cracks down on human smugglers, the illegal sale of weapons to drug cartels and other violent criminals, and we need to give law enforcement the tools they need to secure our borders. I support making sure law enforcement has the tools they need to go after violent criminals.”

(Read more)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sinema releases statement on passage of ‘birther’ bill

April 21, 2010

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema released the following statement today about Republicans’ vote to pass “birther” legislation:

“Republicans chose today to push Arizona down the wrong track by wasting taxpayers’ time on radical and ridiculous legislation instead of working on important issues like health care for kids and seniors, jobs and education.

“Senate Bill 1024 requires Arizona to become the authority on a presidential candidate’s citizenship by requiring the secretary of state to verify a presidential candidate's birth certificate before the candidate's name is allowed on a ballot in Arizona. A presidential candidate already is required by the Federal Election Commission to prove that he or she is a naturally born citizen before they can run for that office.

“This crazy bill is nothing more than a waste of taxpayers’ time when the legislature should be working to fix more important issues like the fact that it eliminated KidsCare, which forfeits all federal health care dollars for kids and seniors in Arizona.

“It is unbelievable that Republican ideologues continue to make Arizona the laughing stock of the nation during such tough economic times, when real problems exist for middle-class families. It’s embarrassing for Arizona. Republicans have been the majority in this state for 40 years. Now more than ever, it’s time for a change.”

Watch Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema debate immigration with Sheriff Joe Arpaio on CNN

Watch Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema discuss how Republicans have failed to address the real problems with illegal immigration

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

House to proclaim ‘Jack Brown Western Day’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The House will celebrate the legacy of House Democratic Leader Pro Tem Jack Brown today by passing a resolution for Jack Brown Western Day.

HCR 2068 will honor Brown, who has dedicated 36 years of his life to service in the state legislature. He will retire this year.

“It has been an absolute joy to serve my fellow Arizonans,” Brown said. “I want to thank my colleagues for serving with me and working to get Arizona back on the right track. I hope to continue to work toward that goal even throughout my retirement.”

Jack Brown Western Day Schedule
Introduction of HCR 2068: Proclamation of Jack Brown Western Day, video tribute by ACTV (Arizona Capitol Television) and floor speeches by colleagues
When: 1:30 p.m.
Where: House floor

Tribute to Jack Brown and Reception
When: 5 to 7 p.m.
Where: Phoenix Wyndham Hotel, 50 E. Adams St., Phoenix

Brown will be available for questions AFTER the events on the House floor this afternoon.

Sinema bill to crack down on human trafficking signed into law

Bill offers real solution to border violence

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – A bill that gives police more tools to arrest criminals who traffic people for sex or slave labor was signed into law Monday afternoon.

Sponsored by Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema, House Bill 2673, substituted by Senate Bill 1059, eliminates a clause in Arizona law that requires police to prove that the trafficked individual be obtained “for transport” to qualify as being trafficked for sex or labor. The bill also aids prosecutors to convict traffickers.

“This bill gives law enforcement a greater ability to fight heinous crimes like human trafficking for sex or slave labor,” Sinema said. “It’s a simple fix that makes a huge difference for public safety in our neighborhoods and offers a real solution to violence along the border.”

SB 1059, which is the identical partner of HB 2763, eliminates the requirement that a person be enticed, recruited, harbored, provided or otherwise obtained for transport for an offense to qualify as sex trafficking or trafficking of persons for forced labor or services.

House Democrats to speak at military members’ naturalization ceremony

State Capitol hosts its first naturalization ceremony

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democratic Leader David Lujan and Rep. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma (District 24) will speak at a special naturalization ceremony for three active duty military service members on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. on the House floor.

It is the first ever naturalization ceremony to be held at the Capitol in Arizona.

“Service to one’s country is a strong American value,” Lujan said. “These service men and women risk their lives for our country and it is an honor to host their naturalization at the state Capitol.”

Two members of the U.S. Air Force and one member of the U.S. Marine Corps will state the Oath of Allegiance and be sworn in as U.S. citizens.

“It is an absolute privilege to witness our outstanding service men and women become citizens,” Pancrazi said. “Their dedication and loyalty to the United States and Arizona truly is admirable.”

Naturalization ceremony of military members
When: Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
Where: House floor

Republicans want to waste taxpayers' time with ridiculous birther amendment

Presidential 'birther bill' advances in state House
by Casey Newton
The Arizona Republic

The so-called "birther bill" won initial approval from the House of Representatives on Monday, advancing legislation that would require presidential candidates to produce a birth certificate before they can make the ballot in Arizona.

The legislation originated from a fringe group that believes President Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and therefore ineligible to be president.

Rep. Judy Burges amended Senate Bill 1024 to include a requirement that Arizona's Secretary of State inspect a presidential candidate's birth certificate before that candidate could qualify for the ballot.

Similar laws have been proposed in Oklahoma, Florida and Missouri. None have been signed into law.

Democrats criticized Burges' amendment, saying presidential candidates already had to prove their citizenship before they can run for the office.

"Republicans continue to take Arizona down the wrong track by wasting taxpayers' time on frivolous legislation instead of working on important issues like health care for kids and seniors and education," said Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, in a statement.

Burges, a Skull Valley Republican, did not respond to a call for comment.

(Read More)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sinema to host discussions on new health reform law

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema, a member of the White House Health Reform Task Force, will host discussions about the new health reform law Sunday in Flagstaff and Sedona.

FlagstaffWhen: April 25, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Where: Flagstaff City Hall Council Chambers, 211 W. Aspen Ave., Flagstaff

Sedona
When: April 25, 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Where: St. Andrew Episcopal Church, 100 Arroyo Pinion Drive, Sedona
Last month, President Obama signed health reform into law. Sinema will discuss health reform with easy-to-understand details, answer questions and explain what the new law means for Arizona.

“Health reform makes health care affordable for all families, provides greater accountability, ends discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions and gets our economy back on track,” Sinema said. “As a member of the White House Health Reform Task Force, I’m happy to answer any questions about the new health reform law.”

Sinema was one of 32 legislators nationwide selected to President Obama’s White House Health Reform Task Force. Working in the task force, Sinema shared best practices and lessons learned from Arizona, which helped shape national health reform. She has worked tirelessly on the state and federal level to create dialogue among legislators and leaders.

Sinema releases statement on ‘birther’ amendment

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema released the following statement today about Republicans’ amendment to try to pass “birther” legislation:

“Republicans continue to take Arizona down the wrong track by wasting taxpayers’ time on frivolous legislation instead of working on important issues like health care for kids and seniors and education.

“Republican Rep. Judy Burges’ amendment to Senate Bill 1024 today would require the Arizona secretary of state to verify a presidential candidate's birth certificate before the candidate's name is allowed on a ballot in Arizona. A presidential candidate already is required to prove that he or she is a naturally born citizen before they can run for that office.

“This bill is nothing more than a waste of taxpayers’ time when the legislature should be working to fix more important issues like the fact that it eliminated KidsCare, which forfeits all federal health care dollars for kids and seniors in Arizona.”

Bill by Rep. Barbara McGuire, D-Kearny (District 23), close to passing Senate

McGuire pushes bill to protect renters of foreclosures

Maricopa Monitor

Brett Fera

It’s a cause that’s hit close to home for Rep. Barbara McGuire.

Or, rather, a cause that’s hit right at home for plenty of her constituents.

“Last year I had many e-mails from renters – as well as phone calls from personal friends who were renters – who were caught up in the foreclosure fallout,” said the Democrat from Kearny. “I cannot imagine having to move an entire house in three days or less – some relocating to only find themselves in the same situation two or three months later.”

That’s what led McGuire, who represents district 23 – covering much of Pinal County, including Casa Grande and Maricopa – in the Arizona State House of Representatives, to sponsor house bill 2766, requiring homeowner-landlords to provide ample notice of their properties impending foreclosure to the property’s tenants.

The bill, which passed through the house on March 29, was working its way through committees in the State Senate as of Wednesday.

(Read More)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Check out Rep. Nancy Young Wright's op-ed in The Explorer

Park fund raid, closures 'wrong track'
The Explorer

Rep. Nancy Young Wright

Tough choices are made every day at the state legislature, but whether to shut down our state parks isn't a difficult decision.

It just shouldn't happen.

Arizonans know that closing our state parks is a wrong-track plan that just pulls more money away from our communities' economies.

The revenue generated by our own state parks — Catalina and Oracle for example — is important to small businesses. Out-of-state visitors to our parks pump money into our communities and can play important role in getting Arizona back on the right track.

But recently, the majority at the state legislature passed and the governor signed a budget that takes away the Heritage Fund, a voter-approved fund allocated to state parks.

Taking away $10 million voters approved for state parks undermines the will of Arizona voters. Arizona's Voter Protection Act protects citizen initiatives from legislative power grabs. Voters brought the initiative to the ballot after the legislature repeatedly raided voter-approved measures.

(Read More)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Watch Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema debate Sen. Russell Pearce on his immigration bill that fails to address violence at our border

Republicans' corporate bailout package would give away $650 million from education and health care to big corporations

$60 million in tax cuts advance
Package touted for job creation; critic calls it 'corporate welfare'

By Mary Jo Pitzl
The Arizona Republic

A package of tax cuts that would take $60 million from the state budget beginning in July 2011 won approval from a Senate committee Monday amid praise that it would spur job creation and criticism that it would further aggravate the state's budget deficit.

The Senate Finance Committee approved House Bill 2250 on a 5-2 vote, following party lines.

Republicans said the bill is crucial to spurring job creation, while Democrats complained that it would rob money from a state budget struggling with a structural deficit.

House Speaker Kirk Adams, the bill's sponsor, told the panel that the only way to resolve the state's budget woes is to get the economy
rolling again.

"It's important to work on the jobs deficit as well as the budget deficit," said Adams, R-Mesa. He said the tax cuts and incentives are designed to attract good-paying jobs, especially in manufacturing.

In deference to the ongoing structural deficit, Adams said the bill's bigger tax cuts - and the bite they would take out of tax collections - were moved to five or six years out.

(Read More)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Constituents invited to have ‘Coffee with Cloves’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Cloves Campbell Jr., D-Phoenix (District 16), is inviting constituents to discuss important state issues over coffee Friday.
Constituents will be able to meet with Campbell while he answers questions and discusses what’s happening at the Capitol.

“I look forward to meeting with my constituents and addressing any questions they may have,” Campbell said. “I highly value their opinions and hope that their input will help me better serve my district and put Arizona back on the right track.”

When: 8 to 9:30 a.m.
Where: Starbucks, 5150 W. Baseline Road, Suite 101, Laveen

Sinema to host discussion on new health reform law in Surprise

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema, a member of the White House Health Reform Task Force, will host a discussion about the new health reform law Sunday in Surprise.

When: April 18, 2 to 3:30 p.m.
Where: Holiday Inn Express, 16540 N. Bullard Ave., Surprise

Last month, President Obama signed health reform into law. Sinema will discuss health reform with easy-to-understand details, answer questions and explain what the new law means for Arizona.

“Health reform makes health care affordable for all families, provides greater accountability, ends discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions and gets our economy back on track,” Sinema said. “As a member of the White House Health Reform Task Force, I will be happy to answer any questions about the new health reform law.”

Sinema was one of 32 legislators nationwide selected to President Obama’s White House Health Reform Task Force. Working in the task force, Sinema shared best practices and lessons learned from Arizona, which helped shape national health reform. She has worked tirelessly on the state and federal level to create dialogue among legislators and leaders

GOP to eagerly raise taxes on homeowners with corporate bailout package

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Republicans this year made devastating cuts to health care for kids and seniors and asked Arizonans to pay more in sales tax with no guarantee to fund education.
This week they eagerly want to raise taxes on homeowners to fund nearly $650 million a year in sweet-deal tax breaks for their friends — big corporations and the rich.

“Republicans may have changed a few things in their plan, but the end result remains the same: Republicans’ corporate bailout package permanently puts Arizona on the wrong track,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “Their plan just raises taxes on middle-class homeowners while giving huge tax breaks to big corporations.”

According to Republicans’ corporate bailout package:
Homeowners’ property taxes will increase in the bond elections because they’ll have to pick up the tab for big corporations’ new sweet tax break — paying less in property taxes.
Corporate Arizona will receive a 30 percent tax break with no guarantee that they will use it to create more jobs.Schools will lose more funding by repealing education equalization, which directly funds schools. Brewer already cut $765 million in cuts to kids’ classrooms this year.“The headquarters of a big corporate retailer located in another state like Arkansas or Minnesota, would decide how to use Arizona’s tax break,” said House Democratic Policy Leader Steve Farley. “It could be used for things like salary raises for corporate executives who already are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Republicans’ corporate bailout package is set to be heard in the Senate this week.

“This is no ‘jobs creation package’ and Arizonans know it,” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “This is about Republicans bailing out big corporations and the rich and giving away middle-class Arizonans’ hard-earned cash.”

Friday, April 09, 2010

Waters bill to make schools safer signed into law

A bill that will make school structures safer and prevent dangers like the three Valley school roof collapses last year was signed into law today.

House Bill 2760, sponsored by Rep. Rae Waters, D-Ahwatukee (District 20), requires that that each school adopts preventative maintenance guidelines for its buildings, including plumbing, electrical systems, heating, ventilation and other special systems. It also recommends that roofing systems be inspected for signs of structural weakness by a licensed contractor.

“My hope is that this law will ensure a safer learning environment for our children while at the same time improve our schools,” Waters said. “The value of education is only as good as the structures that support and maintain it, and improved infrastructure puts us one step closer in getting Arizona on the right track.”

On March 16, 2009, C.I. Waggoner Elementary School’s roof collapsed onto the multipurpose room. Luckily, no children were in the school at the time, but the disaster flooded 12 classrooms and forced students to miss several days of school.

McDowell Mountain Elementary in Fountain Hills and Santa Maria Middle School in Tolleson also both endured roof collapses last year.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Sinema to host discussion on new health reform law

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema, a member of the White House Health Reform Task Force, will host a discussion about the new health reform law Friday in Tucson.

When: April 9, 4:30 to 6 p.m.
Where: First Christian Church, 740 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson

Last month, President Obama signed health reform into law. Sinema will discuss health reform with easy-to-understand details, answer questions and explain what the new law means for Arizona.

“Health reform makes health care affordable for all families, provides greater accountability, ends discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions and gets our economy back on track,” Sinema said. “As a member of the White House Health Reform Task Force, I’m happy to answer any questions about the new health reform law.”

Sinema was one of 32 legislators nationwide selected to President Obama’s White House Health Reform Task Force. Working in the task force, Sinema shared best practices and lessons learned from Arizona, which helped shape national health reform. She has worked tirelessly on the state and federal level to create dialogue among legislators and leaders.

Even conservative Republic columnist Robert Robb disagrees with GOP corporate bailout package

Robert Robb

The Arizona Republic

In making the case for business-oriented tax cuts, Arizona Chamber President Glenn Hamer takes issue with my contention that Arizona's current tax structure is compatible with economic growth.

Writing in Saturday's Arizona Republic, Hamer points out that Arizona has lost more jobs than any other state in this recession, except Michigan. “The numbers make clear that the status quo isn't working,” Hamer asserts. “A new approach is needed.”

Hamer makes a common mistake in discussions about the Arizona economy these days. He assumes that Arizona's economy at the height of the housing bubble was normal and measures the current decline from there.

But, of course, Arizona's economy was artificially inflated and oversized at the height of the bubble. It's a false starting point for comparisons.

A more appropriate starting point is Arizona's economy prior to the start of the bubble. Academics argue about when the seeds of the housing bubble first began to sprout. But mid-2003 was when increases in housing prices clearly began to exceed historical bounds.

(Read More)

Republicans waste Arizona's money on costly "postcard" to Washington D.C.

Mary Jo Pitzl

The Arizona Republic

The House has a delivery for you to pick up, courtesy of Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix.

After last week's lengthy and passionate debate on suing the feds over the healthcare-reform law (think microcosm of the Washington, D.C. debate), Sinema proposed sending a letter to Congress attesting that the Arizona Legislature agrees with at least parts of the sweeping federal law.

She ticked off five areas of bipartisan agreement, such as preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines.

“It's a good thing that this country will stop the practice of discriminating against children with pre-existing conditions,” said Sinema, who served on President Obama's White House Health Reform Task Force.

She even brought her own 44-cent stamps to mail off the letters — a swipe at the concurrent resolution that GOP lawmakers. The resolution, referred to as "postcards" in legislative lingo, goes through a more-costly and time-consuming process through the Secretary of State's
office before getting to D.C.

The resolution asked Congress to repeal the new healthcare reform law, something that Republicans eagerly supported and Democrats angrily opposed.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Pancrazi chosen for 2010 Western Legislative Academy

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX –The Council of State Governments-WEST, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization serving Western state legislators of both parties has selected Rep. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma (District 24), for its prestigious training institute for lawmakers.

The Western Legislative Academy training program builds excellence and effectiveness in state legislators in the Western region in their first four years of service.

“It is an immense honor to be accepted into this prestigious organization,” Pancrazi said. “My hope is that this experience will provide me with even more legislative skills and information that will enable me to better serve my district and help get Arizona back on the right track.”

Admission to the Western Legislative Academy is competitive and is based on commitment to public service, desire to improve personal legislative effectiveness and interest in improving the legislative process. Nearly 40 state legislators from states in the West were selected.

The Western Legislative Academy consists of intensive training in subjects such as the legislative institution, ethics, team building, communication, negotiations and time management.

Pancrazi has served her district as a state legislator since 2007. She has an extensive background and interest in Arizona’s education system.

Tovar to support organ donation during Donate Life Day

State lawmaker’s life saved by organ donation

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson (District 13) will show her support Tuesday for organ donation at the “Circle of Life” event at the Capitol.

Tovar has supported organ donation since her brother saved her from cancer by donating his bone marrow and stem cells.

“The ‘Circle of Life’ garden at the Capitol is a celebration of heroes who donated to save another person,” Tovar said. “I am truly honored to attend an event that celebrates the compassion and hope that organ donors give to recipients.”

A hospital poster of Tovar showing support for organ donation inspired Jennifer Loredo and her family to donate her brother’s, Jacob Daily’s, organs after he suffered severe brain damage from a rollover car accident in 2009. Tovar and Loredo will be on the Capitol Lawn at Donate Life Day to celebrate donors for their life-saving actions and recipients.

Tovar and Daily will be featured among 80 posters featuring donors and recipients of organs in the “Circle of Life” garden.

The garden will be on display today for the general public from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Watch Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema debate Republican Rep. John Kavanagh on Channel 3

House Democratic Leader David Lujan on Horizon

Republicans play politics with foreclosure crisis and refuse to hear House Democrats' Foreclosure Rescue for Arizona Act

The Arizona Republic

By Alia Beard Rau

Arizona is among the five states in the nation hit hardest by the nation's housing crisis.

The federal government will send additional money to help Arizona families facing foreclosure this summer.

State legislators are trying to help families as well.

Nearly a dozen bills were proposed this session to address issues related to the housing crisis. About half are still moving through the system.

Seven of them, all sponsored by House Democrats, were packaged together and named the Foreclosure Rescue for Arizona Act. The Republican-controlled Legislature granted a hearing to only one of the bills.

(Read More)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Deschene resolution preserving legacy of Navajo Code Talkers passes House

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – A House resolution to acknowledge Navajo Code Talkers for their contributions to American history and military success passed the House Wednesday.

House Concurrent Resolution 2026, sponsored by Rep. Chris Deschene, D-St. Michaels (District 2), acknowledges the Navajo Code Talkers who developed a military code using the Navajo language during World War II.

“This resolution is a remarkable landmark for the Navajo people,” Deschene said. “The legacy of the Navajo Code Talkers who served as Marine Corps Radio Operators will now be branded in American history. These warriors will now be honored for their valued contributions to many lives and our way of life today. I am proud to sponsor this resolution.”

Although the military code developed by the United States was deciphered by Japanese soldiers, the code that these Navajo men developed proved unbreakable and helped saved countless lives.

The U.S. Department of Defense was secret about the Navajo code until 1968 when it was declassified. Navajo Code Talkers were not recognized for their contributions until 2001 when they received the Congressional Gold Medal.

Copies of this resolution will be distributed to each member of Congress, the Navajo Nation President and the U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary.

Deschene is a retired major of the Marine Corps and grandson of a Marine Corps Navajo Code Talker.

Rep. Barbara McGuire, D-Kearny (District 23), is working to protect renters from foreclosure

Sarah Buduson
Reporter, KPHO.com

PHOENIX -- Rep. Barbara McGuire, D-District 23, has heard many tales of foreclosure woes during the housing crisis, but a group of them made her decide to try to change the law.

“I received several e-mails that caught my eye that complained that nobody was doing anything for renters," said McGuire.

McGuire heard has proposed requiring landlords to give renters 90 days notice about an impending foreclosure sale.

House Bill 2766 also says landlord of a foreclosed property must give renters at least 30 days to leave the property.

However, Jeff Kastner, an attorney for Community Legal Services in Phoenix, said McGuire’s proposal may be ineffective.

“I think the intent is good,” he said, but he worries the details contradict federal law.

Last year, Congress passed a law that allows renters to continue to live in a foreclosed home until their lease ends, unless the new buyer want to reside in the home. In that case, the renter has 90 days to find a new place to live.

Kastner fears McGuire's proposal will make it more difficult for landlords and renters to figure out the rules before and after a foreclosure.

(Read More)