Monday, February 14, 2011

House Democrats crack down on Republicans’ public safety missteps

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats introduced bills today that provide strong leadership on tough public safety in Arizona and hold government accountable for missteps with private prisons.

House Democrats’ bills dealing with border security, drugs and prisons crack down on Arizona’s broken system and keep families safe.

“We need to secure our borders and reform our lax private prison system,” said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell. “Republicans voted right along with their party leadership to hand over control of our prisons to private corporations that are more interested in profits than public safety. And right now it’s time to hold them accountable and bring more transparency and efficiency to government.”

House Democrats’ Public Safety bills include legislation that deals with:
Securing the border
· HB 2655: Grant programs created under this bill would allow counties along the Arizona–Mexican border to hire law enforcement and prosecutors to fight crimes. It also allows the Department of Public Safety to create a smuggling and domestic terrorism squad. The Attorney General will be provided with the means to hire prosecutors that will pursue cases involving the methamphetamines, human trafficking, human smuggling and ID theft. This will all be paid for with the removal of the tax loophole on 4-inch pipes. (Campbell)
Oversight of prisons
· HB 2298: An audit will be conducted of Arizona’s Department of Corrections’ private prisons. Security, inmate management and control, and personnel practices will be observed in particular. (Campbell)
· HB 2589: Legislative hearings will be held within seven days in the event that an inmate escapes. Testimony will be heard from both the ADC and the Governor’s office. (Campbell)
· HB 2590: In the event that an electrical malfunction occurs, private prisons are required to notify the ADC director immediately. Failure to do so will result in a $10,000 fine each day following. (Campbell)
· HB 2299: Requires that private prisons shall comply with the American Corrections Association accreditation capacity requirements or may adopt the state Department of Corrections' published prison construction standards, puts in place new reporting requirements, and puts into statute stringent standards and regulations regarding which out of state prisoners can be housed in private prisons. (Campbell)
· HB 2294: Prevents the use of restraints on any pregnant prisoner without an individualized determination that such restraints are necessary. (Tovar)
Dangerous drugs
· HB 2398: Makes it unlawful to sell or provide salvia divinorum to a person under 21 years of age. (Meyer)
· HB 2429: Drug offenses will be increased by one year if it occurs on the public grounds of a park or playground, or on a parking lot or sidewalk adjacent from the public park or playground. (Tovar)
· HB 2167: Synthetic marijuana, under this bill, will be considered illegal, adding it to the list of dangerous drugs. (Heinz)
· HB 2382: An appointee would be provided to military veterans in need of services from various government agencies. (McCune Davis)
· HB 2651: Requires Medicaid screening agents to determine whether an applicant has served in the armed forces. If so, their name will be directed to the Department of Veterans Affairs. From there on, it will be determined whether they are eligible for aid from the department, rather than from the state. (Gallego)
Law enforcement facility
· HB 2695: Authorizes an appropriation of funds to build a public safety facility in Pinon, within the Navajo Nation. (Hale)
Violent behavior
· HB 2559: In the event that an individual is removed from employment, expelled from an educational institution or suspended more than once should be reported to a law enforcement agency. The agency must then report the individual to a Regional Behavioral Health Agency. This bill requires good faith in reporting in the violence. (Heinz)
· HB 2694: In the event that of a crisis, first responders must participate in crisis counseling training sessions and must contact themselves the not-for-profit agency that will provide counseling. Also, all communication made by first responders must be confidential and should not be reported back to their employers. (C. Miranda)

“Republicans have showed they are more interested in doing what’s right for the lobbyists and special interests rather than for Arizonans,” Campbell said. “Now it’s time to put the handcuffs on them and give law enforcement the tools they need secure our borders and keep our kids safe.”

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