For the past 18 months, Arizona's economy has taken a nose dive, jobs have been lost, and schools have been starved of funding. Have the Republicans who control the state Legislature fixed these problems? No. But they have kept themselves busy!
Here are 10 of the most outlandish things Arizona Legislative Republicans spent time and taxpayer resources on in the past year:
1) Invoked the U.S. Constitution in an attempt to protect (wait for it) ... light bulbs ... from federal energy requirements. (But only the bulbs made in Arizona, of course.)
2) Eliminated the requirement for training and a permit to carry a concealed weapon. (Driver's license tests are still around, in case anyone is concerned about public safety)
3) Passed legislation banning human-animal hybrids in Arizona. (Our state is now safe from mermaids and centaurs.)
4) Voted to deny more than 47,000 children access to KidsCare health insurance. (They're kids, they're young, they're plenty healthy, right?)
5) Allowed guns in bars. (Bar owners, for some strange reason, did not support this legislation)
6) Increased property taxes and asked voters to tax themselves, but refused to close tax loopholes for the rich. Their country club memberships, spa treatments and pet grooming are exempt from the sales tax. Middle-class folks buying clothes and school supplies, however, are subject to the tax. (Darling, we already tip the help ... isn't that enough for you people?)
7) Made it a crime for teachers to talk to students of color about their own history and heritage. (There's only one version of history - duh!)
8) Based environmental policies on the belief that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, as cited by a state senator. (The Hohokam people apparently migrated to Arizona on the backs of dinosaurs.)
9) Cut off services to 36,500 seriously mentally ill patients, allowing those individuals to wander Arizona's communities homeless, untreated and unmedicated. (Shhh, just let the Democrats worry about this one.)
10) Jumped on the "birther" bandwagon, pushing legislation that would require presidential candidates to show proof of U.S. citizenship to be on the Arizona ballot. (Hey, don't call it a fringe movement - we don't want to offend the Tea Party now do we?)
Arizona has seen 40+ years of a Republican-controlled Legislature, but this absurd list is from only the past two years! And though my blog may sound a bit tongue-in-cheek about the ideas listed above, it is only because of the seriousness with which I view the impact these policies are having on my native state.
We can no longer afford political games and rhetoric aimed at diverting the attention away from the critical issues facing our state. Arizonans need to elect leaders who will get serious about fixing our budget, bringing jobs back, and making us competitive once again.
Democrats are outnumbered in Arizona, but we want everyone to know we're working hard to win key races in November and get our state back on track -- and off of The Daily Show.
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STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – More Arizonans will be able to make routine doctor visits to head off potentially serious conditions thanks to the Obama Administration’s finalization of rules developed after the passage of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
The federal departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury issued new regulations on Wednesday, requiring new private health plans to cover evidence-based preventive services and eliminate cost sharing requirements for such services.
The new rules will help Americans gain easier access to services such as blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol tests; many cancer screenings; routine vaccinations; pre-natal care; and regular wellness visits for infants and children.
“Arizonans this year were hit the hardest when Republicans and Gov. Jan Brewer kicked 400,000 kids, adults and seniors off of health care and voted to be the only state in the nation to eliminate health care for children,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema, a member of the White House Health Reform Task Force. "I am pleased with the new rules, which will allow women to get the mammograms they need to prevent breast cancer, kids to be immunized and our state to reduce costs all at the same time.”
After Brewer and Republicans made massive cuts to health care this year, Democrats restored health care for children, and the new health care law restored health care for Arizonans.
Preventable and treatable chronic diseases are the leading causes of death in the United States and the leading cost drivers in our health care system. According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease and stroke, are the first- and third-leading causes of death for both men and women and account for more than one-third of all American deaths. The total cost of heart disease and stroke was estimated to be more than $448 billion in 2008.
“Primary care providers have the tools to help prevent disease, but we are all ultimately responsible for lowering the costs of health care in this nation,” Sinema said. “By kicking hundreds of kids, adults and seniors off of health care, Brewer and Republicans only keep pushing Arizona down the wrong track and drive up our deficit.”
Under the regulations issued Wednesday, new health plans beginning on or after September 23, 2010, must cover preventive services that have strong scientific evidence of their health benefits, and these plans may no longer charge a patient a copayment, coinsurance or deductible for these services when they are delivered by a network provider. Specifically, these recommendations include:
- Evidence-based preventive services: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of scientific experts, rates preventive services based on the strength of the scientific evidence documenting their benefits. Preventive services with a “grade” of A or B, like breast and colon cancer screenings, screening for vitamin deficiencies during pregnancy, screenings for diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure and tobacco cessation counseling will be covered under these rules.
- Routine vaccines: Health plans will cover a set of standard vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices ranging from routine childhood immunizations to periodic tetanus shots for adults.
- Prevention for children: Health plans will cover preventive care for children recommended under the Bright Futures guidelines, developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration with the American Academy of Pediatrics. These guidelines provide pediatricians and other health care professionals with recommendations on the services they should provide to children from birth to age 21 to keep them healthy and improve their chances of becoming healthy adults. The types of services that will be covered include regular pediatrician visits, vision and hearing screening, developmental assessments, immunizations, and screening and counseling to address obesity and help children maintain a healthy weight.
- Prevention for women: Health plans will cover preventive care provided to women under both the Task Force recommendations and new guidelines being developed by an independent group of experts, including doctors, nurses, and scientists, which are expected to be issued by August 1, 2011.
More information on the Affordable Care Act’s new rules on preventive care can be found at: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/about/provisions/services/index.html
The regulations can be found at: http://www.healthcare.gov/center/regulations/prevention/regs.html
“Soon the brave service men and women of Pinal County will once again receive the counseling and time they deserve after risking their lives for our country and state,” McGuire said. “As the daughter of a World War II veteran, I know it will come as a relief that full-time counseling will be available again for our veterans.”
After receiving phone calls and e-mails from concerned constituents, McGuire inquired at the state Department of Veterans Services about the lack of a full-time veterans counselor in Pinal County, the home of more than 25,000 Arizona veterans.
Massive state budget cuts and the retirement of the area’s counselor caused Veterans Services to decrease counselor hours until they received approval to hire a full-time counselor.
The department received approval and now is working to hire a full-time counselor as soon as possible, according to the benefits services division of the Department of Veterans Services.
“I want to thank the department for acting so quickly in ensuring that all veterans in Pinal County have a place to go to get what they need,” McGuire said. “It’s the least that can be done for our Arizona veterans, a large wave of whom will be returning home in the near future.”
“I applaud the President’s strong stand on the need for tough immigration reform. His speech reflected what Arizonans already know; the need for tough immigration reform is urgent. President Obama asserted his commitment to reform, and now we need to see action that backs up the words.
“His administration is serious in tackling illegal immigration that has left states like Arizona to take matters into our own hands. We need a tough, comprehensive solution to border security and immigration at the national level that includes more security along the border, cracking down on criminal cartels who deal in weapons and drugs, sanctioning employers who hire illegal immigrants and stopping human trafficking by coyotes. We also need requirements for immigrants to pay back taxes and a fine, learn English, and pass criminal background checks on the path to legalization.
“Our broken system is a national crisis that requires strong and relentless presidential leadership and bold action from Congress. Our country desperately needs an immigration system that works.”