Thursday, January 27, 2011

House Democrats' News of the Day

Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix, introduces bill to protect homeowner rights and stimulate the economy.

Rep. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma, holds government accountable for taking away health care from Arizona families.

House Minority Whip Matt Heinz supports ban on synthetic drug spice.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

House Democrats' News of the Day

Steve Farley, D-Tucson, introduces public safety bill to ban texting while driving.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell supports a Health Care Fairness Fund to avoid Republicans' massive Medicaid cuts.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell holds Republican Gov. Jan Brewer responsible for cuts to K-12 education.

Monday, January 24, 2011

House Democrats unveil Road Map for a Strong Future

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats unveiled today their “Road Map for a Strong Future,” promising to hold government accountable for ‘We the People’ and highlighting their priorities: Jobs & Economy, Education and Public Safety.

“We believe government should be honest and effective, and that we the people should have a right to know how our money is spent so that we can have a better quality of life and a strong future,” said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell. “If we don’t hold government accountable, it will continue to get away with insider deals like private prisons and irresponsible actions like eliminating life-saving transplants.”

House Democrats’ Road Map for a Strong Future relies on using Arizona’s natural strengths — renewable energy and solar power — to build a strong 21st Century economy and create good paying jobs. It prioritizes education as a means to get ahead in the worldwide economy and build an unshakable economic sector in research such as bioscience and technology.

House Democrats also underlined their support for strong public safety and tough immigration laws that go after Arizona’s real immigration problems — violent human smugglers, drug traffickers and corporations that hire illegal immigrants.

But House Democrats agreed that a strong future can’t rely on Gov. Jan Brewer’s “Four Cornerstones but No Structure” budget that does nothing to fix Arizona’s broken system.

“Gov. Brewer chose to cut more than $1.2 billion dollars from essential services — schools, health care and cities, towns and counties,” said Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley. “But she also chose to hand out revenue to a Building Slush Fund and tax breaks for special interests.”

House Democrats' Road Map for a Strong Future
Brewer's priorities

Friday, January 21, 2011

House Democrats' News of the Day

Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley, and House Minority Whip Matt Heinz, introduce bills that target dangerous synthetic drugs.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell holds Republicans accountable for waiver that steals money from Arizona voters.

Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, advocates for common sense gun laws.

Republican Gov. Jan Brewer wants even more control and we need to hold her accountable.

Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley, and House Minority Whip Matt Heinz, introduce bills that target dangerous synthetic drugs

Arizona bills target synthetic drugs used to get high
By Alia Beard Rau
The Arizona Republic

A bipartisan group of Arizona lawmakers wants to ban two substances increasingly being used to get high.

But new synthetics continue to pop up.

The real challenge, drug-education experts say, is creating a ban that is broad enough to cover new drugs but that keeps products with legitimate uses on the shelves.

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously passed House Bill 2167, which would expand the definition of dangerous drugs to include 10 chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana products sold under the names "K2" or "spice." The product is sold as
an incense or potpourri and labeled as not for human consumption, but it is known as a synthetic - and legal - marijuana.

"This is a bad drug," said Rep. David Burnell Smith, R-Scottsdale. "The effects are much worse than marijuana."

Use of spice has exploded in Arizona and nationwide in the past year.

Joranda MontaƱo, the prevention director at the Mesa-based substance-abuse treatment and prevention agency Community Bridges, said she had never seen something spread as quickly as spice had among kids.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that centers received more than 2,700 calls nationwide about the substance in 2010, compared with fewer than 100 in 2009.

Twenty other states also are considering legislation to ban spice. According to th
e National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 11 states took action in 2010.

Rep. Amanda Reeve, R-Cave Creek, said she worked on the bill with Rep. Matt Heinz, D-Tucson, a physician at Tucson Medical Center.

Heinz told the committee that he admitted a 21-year-old into the hospital this summer who couldn't walk and was twitching after taking spice.

"This is not marijuana," Heinz said. "It is not even a good resemblance to marijuana chemically. It is much more serious in terms of effects."

Reported side effects include seizures, stroke, headache, visual disturbances, racing heartbeat, elevated blood pressure and anxiety.

In November, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced it would institute a 12-month ban on five of the chemicals used to make spice and consider a permanent ban.

Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley, also a physician, introduced a bill to make it a crime to sell or give the drug Salvia divinorum to anyone younger than age 21.


Read more:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

House Democrats: Brewer/GOP waiver ‘irresponsible’, time for accountability

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats are holding Republicans accountable today for passing an irresponsible bill that attempts to undermine the will of Arizona voters and take away health care from nearly 300,000 more Arizonans.

Gov. Jan Brewer’s special session bill will send a waiver to the federal government to overturn a voter-approved initiative for health care, but likely will be unsuccessful.

"This is just more of the same irresponsible, failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place,” said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell. “It's another gimmick that does nothing to actually balance our budget, and it's a waste of taxpayers’ time and money to pass the buck instead of acting now on real solutions to solve our state’s budget deficit."

Brewer’s waiver:

  • Cuts funding that will result in 42,000 jobs lost (Arizona Chamber of Commerce study from last year's similar proposal to eliminate Prop 204 funded populations).
  • Eliminates health care for 280,000 people — including 5,200 seriously mentally ill — at a time when tragic evidence shows how dangerous it can be to allow those on the margins of society to fall through the cracks.
  • Forfeits more than $1 billion in federal tax dollars that Arizonans deserve to have back in our state for our needs, by eliminating the General Fund portion of the Prop 204 funding (via this waiver).
  • Asks the federal government for permission to enact cuts that are unconstitutional and in violation of Arizona's Prop 105, the "Voter Protection Act"; those eligible for the health care that would be cut by this waiver were given eligibility for AHCCCS under Prop 204, a voter-approved measure.

“This waiver is not on your side,” said House Minority Whip Matt Heinz, a hospital physician. “By seeking this waiver, they are putting trauma centers in southern Arizona and other parts of the state at risk. It’s time to hold them accountable to We the People.”

While nearly 100 Arizonans’ lives are still at risk because Republicans eliminated life-saving transplants and no action has been taken, Republicans continue to cut health care, including for the seriously mentally ill instead of considering other options, like closing tax loopholes that allow country-club memberships and facelifts to go tax free.

“It’s time for some accountability here at the state capitol and a good government, a government that is transparent and a responsive, efficient government,” said Rep. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma (District 24), whose district includes rural hospitals. “This waiver only puts our rural hospitals at risk in an area where we barely have enough doctors and floods our emergency rooms with the uninsured.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

McCune Davis proposes Borrowers’ Bill of Rights

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 14), has introduced a Borrowers’ Bill of Rights that holds abusive mortgage servicers accountable and guarantees the rights of homeowners by making certain unscrupulous servicing practices unlawful.

House Bill 2383 requires all mortgage servicers to engage in loss mitigation techniques in an effort to avoid unscrupulous servicing practices and to ensure the rights of homeowners under the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.

“The foreclosure abuses we have seen have hurt Arizona homeowners and our economy,” McCune Davis said. “Now more than ever, we need to hold these abusive mortgage servicers accountable to We the People. Arizona has the opportunity to fix a broken system, get our economy moving again and protect essential services for middle class homeowners.”

Hundreds of Arizona borrowers have filed complaints with the Arizona Attorney General's Office concerning abusive practices of their mortgage loan servicers. Despite federal efforts to encourage loan servicers to modify loans of borrowers at risk for foreclosure, consumers continue to complain of lenders failing to respond to their requests, misrepresenting the length of time the loan modification process will take and pursuing foreclosure while a loan modification is pending.

Under the Bill of Rights, borrowers would have the right to:
• Receive timely and accurate responses to good-faith borrower inquiries
• Receive clear information on how to avoid foreclosure• Pursue loss mitigation or loan modification negotiations whenever possible
• Not have their home foreclosed during loan modification negotiations
• If and when foreclosure becomes necessary, to have such foreclosure based on accurate documents, verified by someone with personal knowledge of the information contained therein.

The Borrowers’ Bill of Rights would also make any violation of its provisions an unlawful practice subject to investigation and prosecution by the Attorney General under Arizona's Consumer Fraud Act.

McCune Davis’s bill would cover all companies that service mortgage loans in Arizona, from national banks to small mortgage companies. This ensures that every person with a mortgage in Arizona can expect the standards set forth in the Borrowers’ Bill of Rights from whatever company services their loan.

“One-sided mortgage contracts and abusive foreclosure practices are unfair to consumers and they need to be held accountable, especially during one of the worst foreclosure crises we have seen in our lifetime,” McCune Davis said. “It is time to balance the scales. Borrowers should have rights that can be enforced.”

Cosponsors of the bill include House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, Reps. Hobbs, Patterson, Alston, Hale, Catherine Miranda, Tovar.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Democratic lawmakers to hold Brewer accountable

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Democrats on Friday said government needs to be held accountable after Gov. Jan Brewer released another plan rife with massive cuts and a tax increase that undermine our state’s ability to fix its economic woes.

“Gov. Brewer and her plan are not on your side,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said. “Jobs and the economy should be top priorities, but Brewer’s plans have left Arizona in crisis and they continue to do so. Now more than ever, we need to hold government accountable to ‘We the People’.”

Brewer’s plan:
-Increases property taxes on homeowners. Arizonans will see a $62 million increase overall in property taxes.
-Eliminates even more Arizonans from health care. Even though Arizonans repeatedly have passed voter-approved measures to adequately fund health care, Brewer's budget proposal would eliminate health care coverage for 280,000 Arizonans, including 5,200 of the seriously mentally ill. The cuts also disqualify Arizona from receiving $1.1 billion in federal dollars that Arizona taxpayers send to Washington, D.C. In a study commissioned by business leaders, a similar proposal would have resulted in 42,000 jobs lost in the health care sector.
-Does not restore life-saving transplants. Nearly 100 Arizonans’ lives are at stake because they were kicked off of health care and have no access to transplants. Brewer's budget prioritizes funding for state building repair, while the $1.2 million needed for transplants goes unfunded.
-Cuts another whopping $243 million from higher education. Since 2009, Brewer has made the largest cuts to education in state history, failing to solve the deficit and boost Arizona’s economy. Her newest cuts to universities and community colleges, 20 percent cut to their overall budget, disable the infrastructure needed to economically rebound and create incubators for economic sectors that will enable our state to weather future economic downturns through the creation of high-paying jobs.
-Borrowing on the backs of our kids. Brewer's budget also requires the K-12 education system to weather additional cuts of $170 million and will force school districts to loan the state an unprecedented fourth roll-over payment, totaling the state's debt to school districts at $1.2 billion. School districts are forced to borrow funds from the bank and incur the costs of interest to pay their bills while waiting for the state's late payments. Teachers will receive a $5.1 million pay cut.

“Gov. Brewer’s budget proposal is wrought with decisions that jeopardize our long-term economic recovery, eliminates jobs instead of creating them and worsens the educational and health care systems in our state,” said Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. “Our response to the economic crisis is a test of who we are as a people.”

Democrats believe in a government that is on your side:
-Accountability: Democrats believe in accountability — plain and simple. It’s time that government stop working for special interests and start working for ‘We the People.’ We need to hold accountable the system, lobbyists, governor, special interests, those getting special tax treatment, big corporations and tax cheats.
-Balanced, responsible solutions: Democrats believe we need to put Arizona first again by harnessing our natural strengths to build a strong 21st Century economy and create good-paying jobs. That includes making our state a leader in the development of solar power and renewable energy manufacturing.
-Strong future: Democrats know that quality education is both a moral and economic issue — key to both our state’s economic recovery and children’s future. We are fighting to fully fund our schools, ensuring our children have access to all-day Kindergarten and that our public universities and community colleges remain affordable and provide needed job training.
-Strong leadership: Democrats oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants and support tough immigration laws that arrest and deport human smugglers, drug traffickers and crack down on corporations that hire illegal immigrants. We’re fighting to give our hard-pressed local law enforcement agencies the tools they need to keep our families safe. We are pushing for the federal government to finally step up and secure the border.

In holding government accountable, Brewer has rejected options to solve the budget deficit such as:
-Go after tax cheats and uncollected taxes. Arizona has an opportunity to help balance the budget by going after hundreds of millions in uncollected taxes that rule breakers have not paid.
-Close tax loopholes. Nearly $10 billion of outrageous tax loopholes exist in Arizona, and Republicans refuse to close the loopholes that benefit their rich, special interest friends. These loopholes, such as tax-free country club memberships, spa treatments and facelifts and 4-inch pipes are a waste of our tax dollars.

To see Brewer’s irresponsible budget, go to: http://www.ospb.state.az.us/

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Democratic leaders change press conference to support Giffords and victims

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House and Senate Democrats will offer their support and thoughts for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and other victims of the Tucson tragedy this afternoon at a press conference.

The press conference will replace the House and Senate Democrats’ originally scheduled response to Gov. Jan Brewer’s State-of-the-State address.

The press conference still will immediately follow Brewer’s speech TODAY on the Senate Lawn.

Please join us.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Vigil planned tonight for Congresswoman Giffords

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats are saddened, disturbed and angry to learn of the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords staffers and others today in Tucson.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Congresswoman Giffords, her staffers, others and their families,” said House Democratic Leader Chad Campbell. “This is a horrific and senseless act, and we are all praying and sending out our thoughts for the victims today.”

Assistant House Democratic Leader Steve Farley and House Democratic Whip Matt Heinz, both from Tucson and who have worked closely with Giffords, said she is a champion for Arizona.

“I am honored to count Gabbie as a close friend and I know she has always fought for Arizonans and is beloved by her constituents and the people of Tucson,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Steve Farley. “She is one of the brightest and best and we all know through our hopes and prayers that she will fight through this. This is a human tragedy and we are praying for all the other victims who are here with her.”

“Gabbie is my friend and I am most concerned about her safety and well being,” said Heinz, a hospital physician in Tucson. “She is a wonderful woman and I’m proud to have her representing the people of Tucson in Congress. She has always stood up for what’s right for Arizona, and now we are all standing up for her.”

Vigil for Congresswoman Giffords and Tucson shooting victims
When:
Tonight at 6
Where: State capitol, Phoenix

House Democrats will hold a vigil for anyone who wants to join in sending their thoughts and prayers for Congresswoman Giffords, her staff and others who have been victimized in this horrific event.


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