Friday, October 28, 2011

Tea Party extremists hit new low in attack on IRC citizen volunteers

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – In yet another day of sad and whiny attempts to keep Arizona under Tea Party rule, extremists drunk with power hit a new low today by enlisting the help of their own legislative staff.

A taxpayer-funded partisan staffer testified in the Senate Committee on Redistricting and spread baseless speculation about the Independent Redistricting Commission maps.

“These partisan extremists have launched a full-scale attack on citizen volunteers who are trying to build a fair and competitive Arizona,” said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell. “It is unbelievable the lengths to which they will go because they are afraid of competitive districts that more accurately represent Arizona.”

The staffer testified and made baseless comments that singled out members of certain districts in Arizona implying the maps were drawn specifically for them. This is the latest in a string of blatant attacks from Tea Party elected officials like Gov. Jan Brewer and Congressional and legislative Tea Party lawmakers against the IRC. Just hours before the committee hearing, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge disqualified Tea Party Attorney General Tom Horne from moving forward with his bogus investigation on the IRC due to conflict of interest.

The fact that they had to use one of their taxpayer-funded staffers to come up with slanderous testimony they've been looking for shows just what a partisan witch hunt this committee has been," said Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. "I'm sick and tired of their attempts to undermine the will of Arizona voters."

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Heinz urges use of surplus for struggling patients who fell through cracks

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Rep. Matt Heinz, D-Tucson (District 29) is urging the legislature to use surplus money to restore a health-care program that can save the lives of Arizonans who were kicked off and fell through the cracks.

Two Arizonans cut from health care said Thursday they are fighting for their lives and hope they and Heinz can help thousands of others in the same situation.

Inflammatory breast-cancer patient Bobbie Thayer and heart-disease patient Bill Nelson said that thanks to the elimination of the Medical Expense Deduction program, Arizonans with life-threatening conditions are struggling to survive.

“I am just one individual who fell through the cracks due to these cuts, and there are many more people out there just like me,” Thayer said. “I have met a lot of single adult individuals who are in the same situation as me; some do not know how to be aggressive or to speak up or even knew they were going to be terminated until we started talking about it.”

Thayer was unable to enroll in MED, a program designed to assist people who do not qualify for Medicaid but who suffer from an accident or catastrophic illness and whose medical bills put them below 40 percent of the federal poverty level. The program was closed to new enrollees on May 1 and terminated on Oct. 1. About 5,700 people were enrolled, and the number of Arizonans who would have qualified for it since its elimination is unknown.

Heinz, a hospital physician, said he sees every day the toll health-care cuts have taken on Arizonans who no longer have coverage and in order to fix it, the MED program needs to be restored.

“Our emergency rooms are flooded with Arizonans like Bobbie and Bill who have no where else to go and who have no other choice due to their acute, and often deadly, conditions,” Heinz said. “The elimination of the MED program was not only a poor financial choice for the state, but also potentially a death sentence to thousands of Arizonans who fall through the cracks and otherwise would have had a safety net.”

State economists predict a surplus this year of $416 million (see story); the MED program was estimated to cost $70 million this year.

The elimination of the MED program caused heart-disease patient Nelson and his wife, who suffered from breast cancer, to seek out all possibilities for health-care coverage, even a divorce.

“It was really heart wrenching for us that after 31 years of marriage we would have to lose the sanctity of that marriage just so we could receive insurance,” Nelson said. “We’re depending upon the charity of other people of whom we haven’t had to depend on before. Thousands of people like us don’t know where to turn. It isn’t that we can just walk into a hospital and they can just fix us when we need specialists for these conditions.”

Heinz said he hopes that the majority of state lawmakers will see the catastrophic conditions, the strain on emergency rooms and how the cut to MED simply don’t make sense.

“It’s important they know what these cuts did,” Heinz said. “Now we’ve got to work together to fix it.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Campbell: ‘GOP partisan games undermine Arizona voters’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX House Minority Leader Chad Campbell released the following statement today on Republicans’ divisive partisan games with Arizona voters:

“Republicans’ move to form a committee to prevent a fair redistricting process for voters is another partisan stunt to undermine the Independent Redistricting Commission and the will of the voters.

“First, state Attorney General Tom Horne launches a bogus investigation on the IRC, then Congressional and state Republicans, along with Gov. Jan Brewer whine in chorus when the IRC attempts to level the playing field for Congress with four Republican districts, two Democratic districts and three as toss ups. Now Speaker Andy Tobin forms a committee to thwart the independent redistricting process.

“Clearly, Republicans are unreasonably threatened by a fair voting process after holding control for more than 40 years. They know Arizona voters want and deserve better, and they’re scared because they’ve produced partisan bickering, not results.

“Democrats also were never informed about this committee, and Tobin appointed the Democratic member without consultation from Democratic Leadership, a complete violation of protocol. This is the third time he has done this.

“I guess Arizonans shouldn’t be surprised by Tobin’s actions, given that in August he asked for citizens’ opinions on banning special interests’ gifts to legislators but then called their suggestions “silly.” (See story: Arizonans want legislators to reject gifts)

“Since when did protecting political parties become more important than protecting our Democratic principles that Arizona and our nation were founded upon? What a shame.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

McCune Davis recognized for work on children’s health and welfare


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 14) will receive Children Action Alliance’s Jacque Steiner Public Leadership Award for Children on Friday in Phoenix.

“We are thrilled to honor Rep. McCune Davis for her longtime commitment to children and families through her service at the legislature and the Arizona Partnership for Immunization,” said Dana Wolfe Naimark, president and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance.

The Jacque Steiner Public Leadership Award for Children, in memory of the late state Sen. Jacque Steiner, is given to a public official who, through tenacious and courageous leadership, improves the lives and life chances of Arizona’s children, Naimark said.

McCune Davis will accept the Steiner award at Children’s Action Alliance’s awards luncheon on Friday, Oct. 14 at 11:30 a.m. at the Wyndham at 50 E. Adams St. in Phoenix.

McCune Davis also was nationally recognized this week with the Every Child By Two’s Immunization Champion Award for her efforts to immunize all Arizona children.

McCune Davis, who has served 24 years as a state lawmaker, received the Every Child By Two’s award Tuesday in Washington, D.C. at the 20th Anniversary Gala for their organization, founded by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and former Arkansas First Lady Betty Bumpers.

“Ms. McCune Davis made it her mission to be a champion for immunizations for all Arizona citizens,” Every Child By Two’s award program reads. “Through Ms. McCune Davis’s untiring efforts, Arizona’s childhood immunization rate has risen from 46 percent in 1992 to 75 percent in 2011.”

“I am incredibly grateful and honored to receive both the Jacque Steiner award and the Every Child By Two’s champion award,” McCune Davis said. “I work hard every day at the capitol to fight for kids and their chance to have a bright future even during tough times and massive budget cuts. It’s important that every child receives quality medical care and vaccines as well as an enriching education.”

McCune Davis, program director of the Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI), has been influential in promoting immunization and preventive health services for all Arizonans through her work at TAPI. She has been on the ground floor of creating a statewide registry for tracking immunizations of children and adults.

Tucson Democratic representatives to address parents at education institute

Democratic state representatives from Tucson will meet with parents this month to discuss education as part of Voices for Education’s Parent Leadership Institute.

Rep. Daniel Patterson and Rep. Matt Heinz, who represent District 29, will discuss how the legislature affects public education.

Voices for Education’s Parent Leadership Institute


When: Wednesday, Oct. 26, 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Where: Holladay Elementary Magnet School, 1110 E. 33rd Street, Tucson

"I'm thankful for this opportunity to talk with parents one on one about how we can work together to improve education in Arizona," Patterson said. "At the legislature, I see the harmful, massive cuts Republicans have made to our kids' schools, and I see those cuts first hand as a parent. Our kids deserve a quality education."

Heinz said if legislators spent more time talking to parents and teachers, Arizona wouldn’t hold the title of last in the nation for education funding.

“Too many state lawmakers are failing to acknowledge our most important asset – our kids and their future,” Heinz said. “We cannot compromise their future by failing to invest and prioritize in their education now. Education will grow our state and attract businesses and jobs. Education is a core Arizona value.”

Voices for Education is a parent-based education advocacy organization that works to improve the educational outcomes of Arizona’s students. For more information go to www.voicesforeducation.org.

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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Campbell: ‘GOP chorus of whining on competitive redistricting pathetic’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX House Minority Leader Chad Campbell released the following statement today on Republicans’ whining about more fair districts in Arizona:

“Clearly, Republicans have easily controlled Arizona for decades without a level playing field, and it was made obvious yesterday when they joined in chorus to whine about fair and competitive Congressional districts.

“The new Congressional district map approved on a divided vote by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission proposes a total of nine districts. Four of those districts are strongly Republican. Only two would favor Democrats. Three would be competitive toss ups. Do the math.

“Democrats in Arizona are used to tough competition and we welcome it. Arizonans deserve maps that accurately reflect the population and give voters a real choice in every election. Politics should be removed from this process so that fair and balanced maps are created. We want fair and balanced maps that enhance competition and protect communities of interest.

Arizona voters don’t deserve Republicans’ strong arming an independent process. It’s time to get rid of the partisan politics and finally move Arizona forward on a level playing field.”

For more, see Campbell’s op-ed in The Arizona Republic: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2011/09/17/20110917campbell17.html#ixzz1a0rpR2yc

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Farley chosen for American Planning Association award

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley has been selected to receive the 2011 Distinguished Elected Official Award from the Arizona chapter of the American Planning Association.

Steve is a tireless advocate for transportation planning and transit,” said Leslie Dornfield, Arizona chapter secretary. “One of his strengths is his ability to work with all sides of an issue to bring forth solutions to the many problems in Arizona today.”

Farley is the ranking Democrat on the state legislature’s Government and Ways & Means committees, as well as member of the Transportation committee. He was a key member of Tucson’s Citizen Advisory Committee that created the multimodal Tucson Regional Transportation Authority plan in 2006. That initiative passed and was the first transportation plan to pass in Tucson history, after four previous tries.

Farley has been Vice-Chair of the Pima Association of Governments Regional Transportation Plan Task Force, a member of the Regional Transportation Authority Citizens Advisory Committee, and a member of the City of Tucson Major Transit Investment Study Citizen Advisory Group.

“There are a lot of things our state government is lacking these days and planning is one of them,” Farley said. “Good planning, especially when it comes to creating better places for us to live and work and better ways to move about, is the key to creating good jobs and a better future for all of us.”