Monday, January 30, 2012

House Democrats introduce bills to create jobs, boost economy

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats added multiple jobs bills to their 2012 plan Monday, including a lower tax burden for small businesses who hire Arizona workers and local preference for in-state bidders on state and local contracts.

“We’re focused on what matters — creating jobs,” said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell. “We should make government work for us so our tax dollars create jobs here, not in other states, or worse yet in China or India. The best way to do this is to work in a bipartisan way to get common-sense bills passed to move our economy in the right direction.”

House Democrats’ Jobs, Clean Energy & Economic Development bills include:

Creating a lower tax burden for small businesses that hire Arizona workers
HB 2705 - small business employment; tax rate (Campbell)
HB 2700 – property tax valuation; residential; business (Chabin)

Create local preference for in-state bidders on state and local contracts
HB 2392 – state contracts; preference; Arizona business (Saldate)
HB 2680 – procurement; Arizona bidder; preference (Campbell)

Ensure that state and local government contractors use American companies instead of foreign ones
HB 2510 – government procurement; American products (Campbell)
HB 2638 – state contracts; foreign headquarters (Gallego)

Require an automatic sunset on all current and future tax credits and loopholes
HB 2645 – sales tax exemptions; repeal; dates (Farley)
HB 2685 – income tax credits; repeal dates (Farley)

Construct solar panels on public school sites to create jobs, repair schools and create more efficiency and lower energy costs for schools
HB 2047 – solar school grant program (Farley)

Invest in infrastructure to immediately create jobs
HB 2298 – improvement districts; renewable energy (Campbell)
HB 2085 – energy conservation; public buildings (Ableser)
HB 2243 – commerce authority; solar grants (Gallego)
HB 2699 – department of administration; solar panels (Chabin)

Other related bills:
HB 2353 – Arizona twenty-first century initiative; priority (Ableser)
HB 2638 – employment discrimination; long term unemployed (Gallego)
HB 2456 – solar energy tax credit; amount (Alston)
HB 2225 – trust land; agricultural classifications; algaculture (Heinz)
HB 2226 – property tax; algaculture (Heinz)


Friday, January 27, 2012

Campbell: ‘Tobin’s latest anti-voter move a new low’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell released the following statement today on Speaker Andy Tobin’s efforts to undermine the will of the voters and create maps that favor Tea Party and special interest control over Arizona:

“All of Arizona’s voters should be outraged that self-serving politicians desperately continue to try to control an independent redistricting process so they can fulfill their own self interests of controlling the state with their rigid, extremist ideologies and making Arizona the laughing stock of the nation.

“Speaker Andy Tobin’s introduction of bills to put his own secretly concocted redistricting map on the ballot just to get his way is a legislative power grab that thwarts a voter-approved, independent process. It is the epitome of a self-serving politician who will do anything to desperately hold on to power and protect his own job — even if it means overthrowing the will of the voters and possibly the state constitution itself.

“We all know what is happening here — certain Tea Party extremists who control the state capitol didn’t get their way in the redistricting process. They now might have to go out and actually campaign in competitive, balanced districts. They don’t care about compromise or making government work for the people; all they care about is protecting their own jobs. Speaker Tobin’s bills underscore that once again.

“This is a pitiful display of partisan, self-serving politics at its worst. Voters have had enough. They created an Independent Redistricting Commission in the first place to prevent politicians from drawing self-serving maps. Speaker Tobin doesn’t seem to care.

“Even though the IRC’s citizen volunteers listened to public comment and created fair maps that still favor Republicans, Speaker Tobin and certain Tea Party lawmakers want their way or the highway. This is a waste of taxpayers’ time and millions of dollars, and it does nothing to stop the partisan bickering, create jobs, fix our economy or help our children get the education they deserve.

“The IRC’s map is our one shot at fixing this so we can get Arizona on the right track with the benefit of competition. That’s how America works, that’s how it was built. And that’s why I hope both Republican and Democratic lawmakers will join me in rejecting the Speaker’s obvious attempts at a self-serving power grab. Let the independent process work for the people of Arizona, not for self-serving politicians.”


Seriously!? Arizona Legislative Moments of the Week

1st Place

2nd Place
Tea Party Sen. Don Shooter explained that he would not be taking any public comment during the Senate Appropriations Committee. Asked why no public comment, Shooter said, "I heard it last year."

3rd Place
“The federal government, what I was talking about earlier, asking about our citizenship inside America is what perturbs me,” said Tea Party Rep. David Gowan in MAPS on Wednesday, discussing his support for HCM2005, which would urge the federal government to move checkpoints closer to the border, obviously missing the irony that SB1070, which he supports, creates these situations everyday.

Gowan makes this statement while explaining his vote in MAPS, 01:35:00, January 25, 2012.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

House Democrats release statement on Brewer’s presidential ‘greeting’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell released the following statement on Gov. Jan Brewer’s treatment of the President’s visit to Arizona:

“Yesterday, the President of the United States came to visit our great state of Arizona to talk about creating new jobs and boosting the economy where middle-class families have suffered long enough during the recession.

“Instead of greeting our Commander in Chief with respect and welcoming him to our state, Gov. Jan Brewer chose to engage in political theater. She chose to put partisan bickering over civility and respect. This is an all-too-common occurrence at Arizona’s capitol. Disagreement is part of a democracy, but disrespect is not.

"As elected leaders, we have ample avenues and opportunities to deliver our messages and concerns to one another in an appropriate way. Demeaning one another in public is not the appropriate way. Ignoring standard protocols and good manners to engage in political theater is not the appropriate way.

“Like all Arizonans, we’re sick of partisan bickering. Instead of fighting each other, let’s work together to get things done. And let's remember that we all want the same thing: a stronger Arizona and a stronger America. Let's set an example that the rest of the country can follow.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Heinz bipartisan bill for more cancer screenings unanimously passes committee

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – A bill sponsored by Rep. Matt Heinz, D-Tucson (District 29), that would make it easier for women to screen and prevent breast and cervical cancer in Arizona passed committee on a unanimous vote today.

HB 2472 would recognize more health-care providers and services that administer screenings for breast and cervical cancer, rather than limiting recognition of these providers and services to programs under the Department of Health Services. A screening program would be recognized as long as it “operates consistently with Arizona Well Women Health Check guidelines.”

“This is an opportunity to show that Democrats and Republicans can work together, move past partisan bickering, and work toward results for Arizonans,” said Heinz who is sponsoring the bill with Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, a Republican. “This is a step forward in the fight against breast and cervical cancer so mothers, daughters, sisters and all women in Arizona can protect their health.”

Last year, inflammatory breast-cancer patient Bobbie Thayer was unable to enroll in MED, a program that was closed to new enrollees. Heinz helped Thayer get the treatment she needed, but recognized that preventative screenings could have helped Thayer fight breast cancer at an earlier stage as well as many other Arizona women like her.

Thayer testified in the Health and Human Services committee, where the bill passed on an 8-0 vote.

“I had no clue as to the cost of cancer today or imagined I would be the one diagnosed with such a catastrophic disease,” Thayer said. “I want to thank Rep. Heinz and his staff for working so diligently with my situation. I know of others who are not outspoken or do not have the ability or knowledge of where to turn for help.”


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Two House Democrats to relay Arizona needs, values to President Obama

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Two House Democrats will meet with President Obama Wednesday to discuss the 2012 Democratic plan that stops the partisan bickering, focuses on creating jobs and draws the line at more cuts to education.

House Democratic Whip Anna Tovar and Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 16), will relay Arizona’s needs for jobs and a stronger economy to the President before his speech in Chandler.

“This is a great opportunity to show the President that we’re committed in Arizona to end the partisan infighting and work to get things done,” Tovar said. “We hope the President can do the same in Washington. Middle-class families, Arizona’s economic engine, deserve our focus on good ideas to put people back to work and improve public schools so our kids can compete for the jobs of the future.”

Gallego said he will make sure the President knows what his constituents want to see from Washington.

“We want Washington to produce results, and I believe that can happen when we finally end the partisan bickering and move past the rigid ideologies and Tea Party extremism,” Gallego said. “It’s time to stop all of these divisive distractions and make Arizona stronger for our kids’ future through focusing on jobs.”

Both Tovar and Gallego will be available for interviews by contacting House Democratic Communication Director Sarah Muench at


Monday, January 23, 2012

Gallego introduces bill to end hiring discrimination against long-term unemployed

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 16), has introduced legislation that would prohibit hiring discrimination against unemployed workers.

HB 2660 would add “long-term unemployment status” to the list of prohibited discrimination in hiring. Long-term unemployment is defined as a person who has not been employed for at least 27 consecutive weeks.

“We’re focused on what matters — creating jobs,” Gallego said. “Middle-class families, Arizona’s economic engine, deserve our focus on good ideas to put people back to work. Right now, Arizonans who have been hurt by this recession are hurting even more due to their unemployment status. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Gallego noted that families who had been unemployed longer were at even more risk due to their unemployment insurance expiring, which makes it even more important to get them back in the work force without discrimination.

“It’s time to propose holding companies that receive tax credits accountable for creating jobs they promised and to make sure they do it without discriminating against an Arizonan who was unemployed for a longer period of time through no fault of their own,” Gallego said.


House Democrats introduce ALEC Accountability Act

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats will introduce a bill today that would require disclosure of lobbying activities and special perks to legislators by groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.

The ALEC Accountability Act requires ALEC to adhere to the same laws that other lobbying entities follow and shines the light on who funds special perks and which legislators are taking them.

“This bill keeps our elected officials in line and focused on getting results for Arizona’s families, not for special interests,” said Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley, the sponsor of the bill. “It’s high time that transparency becomes a priority down here, and lawmakers work to get the job done, not carry the water for out-of-state corporations.”

The bill is one of the first to come out of Democratic lawmakers’ 2012 plan to move Arizona forward and leave the Tea Party’s extremism and divisiveness behind.

The ALEC Accountability Act works to change a long-standing, back-door system of lobbyist-funded scholarships that pay for lawmaker participation in conferences with ideological agendas and provide fancy accommodations, upscale dining and entertainment "networking" opportunities in cities around the country.

Apart from that system, legislators and legislative staff also regularly attend conferences of groups such as the National Conference of State Legislators and the Council of State Governments to share policy information with lawmakers from other states. These meetings sometimes provide junket-like perks to lawmakers. But the activities of ALEC are unique. Like traditional lobbyists, ALEC actively promotes bills in the legislature (see attached document for examples).

“ALEC model legislation that has been promoted and adopted by the legislature is evidence of this,” Farley said. “Right now, ALEC operates outside the rules that limit lobbyist influence in Arizona. The public has the right to know who funds ALEC's activities, who funds legislators' costs associated with attending ALEC meetings and conferences around the country and which legislators are accepting those funds.”

The ALEC Accountability Act would:
—Require ALEC to adhere to the same laws that other lobbying entities must follow.
—Shine the light on who funds ALEC and who funds the travel and other participation costs of legislators active in groups like ALEC.
—Make information easily accessible through the Secretary of State’s website about which legislators are taking “scholarship” or other funding to pay for travel and lodging costs for ALEC and other conferences, including NCSL and CSG, and what special interests are paying for those trips.
—Make sure any entity acting in a lobbyist capacity is required to register as a lobbyist and comply with the regulations and public disclosure laws applicable to lobbyists.

“Some special-interest groups, such as the Goldwater Institute, define their regular testimony in front of legislative committees as ‘technical assistance’ or ‘legal advice,’ thus skirting the lobbyist registration requirements,” Farley said. “These loopholes must be closed so that any person or entities acting as lobbyists are required to register as lobbyists.”


House Democrats release statement on Giffords’ resignation

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats issued the following statement Sunday from Assistant House Democratic Leader Steve Farley on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ resignation:

“House Democrats thank Congresswoman Giffords for her service and her willingness to put her life on the line to make Arizona a better place for all families through her work on jobs, veterans and the economy. She humbly gave Arizona a voice in Washington and selflessly dedicated her life to her constituents. She has always been a true friend and always will be. We can't thank her enough and look forward to her swift recovery and working with her in the future.”


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Democrats release 2012 plan for a stronger Arizona

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Democratic lawmakers unveiled today their 2012 plan that included awarding local businesses contracts, drawing the line at cuts to public schools and stopping the partisan bickering to yield results.

The plan outlined specific policy priorities and legislation for the year that would create jobs, boost the economy and invest in our schools and law enforcement.

Arizona Democratic Map For The Future

“This year, our state’s 100th birthday, is a chance for the state legislature to get things right and work for the people of Arizona in the next 100 years,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said. “We want Arizona to move on a path of economic success instead of the direction it’s been headed — toward destructive divisiveness that rips our state apart. It’s time for a new direction.”

Democrats’ roadmap is a common-sense, practical plan that sheds Tea Party extremism and rigid ideologies to yield results for Arizona’s families, focusing on four different areas: No More Partisan Bickering, Jobs, Clean Energy & Economic Development, Education and Public Safety, Health & Immigration.

"The bills we are proposing are common sense solutions to the real problems hard-working Arizonans face every day. Making opportunities for job creation, protecting our kids' education and ensuring the safety of our families - that's what Democrats stand for," Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira said.

Some of the policy priorities include:

—Adopt ethics reform to stop gifts and favors to legislators from special interests in the wake of the Fiesta Bowl scandal
—Create a lower tax burden for small businesses who hire Arizona workers
—Create local preference for in-state bidders on state and local contracts
—Require a competency test for courses taken at schools that provide online instruction and conduct audits of those schools to ensure accountability
—Stop private prison expansion, which has led to serious safety issues, including violent prisoners escaping and committing murders and costs Arizona taxpayers more than traditional public prisons.

“This is a comprehensive, common-sense plan that prepares Arizona for the long term, for our businesses and families,” Campbell said. “Right here, right now, it’s time to stop the partisan bickering. It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to sit down at the table, break down the Tea Party’s rigid walls, roll up our sleeves and get to work."

Democratic lawmakers plan to introduce the common-sense plan in multiple bills throughout the session, even if Tea Party lawmakers refuse to work in a bipartisan way.

"We invite any Republican legislator who is willing to put partisanship aside and the people of Arizona first to join us in getting Arizona back on track,” Schapira said.


Miranda newly appointed chair of national Immigration Task Force

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix (District 16), has been appointed chairwoman of a task force that will make policy recommendations designed to have a positive impact on Hispanics.

Miranda, with other members of the International Relations, Trade, and Immigration Task Force, will develop priority policy recommendations in these areas for the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators.

“It’s a good opportunity to recommend policies that will have positive effects on the growing Hispanic community in this country,” Miranda said.

Representing the task force, Miranda will visit Alabama with other state legislators and meet with citizens and members of the business sector to assess the impact of immigration legislation there and bring the facts to Arizona. Miranda will also give a thorough report of the trip to the caucus.

“My trip to Alabama is an opportunity to hear directly from the business sector and people of Alabama, which will guide us to logical and fact-based discussions on immigration in Arizona,” Miranda said. “I believe the unintended consequences of immigration legislation in Arizona and Alabama will have an impact on the economic development of both states and I hope to learn more on this fact-finding visit.”


Friday, January 13, 2012

Democrats reveal truth about Brewer's capitol building buy-back

CBS5 Reporter Elizabeth Irwin asks governor spokesman why surplus money is unnecessarily being spent on the capitol buildings, costing taxpayers millions of dollars that could be spent on schools and health care.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pancrazi receives award from Arizona Association of Realtors

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma (District 24), received an award Tuesday from the Arizona Association of Realtors for her support for hard-working realtors during the recession.

The association awarded her as the 2011 Public Policy Champion at the Annual Realtor Day at the capitol event.

“Rep. Pancrazi was chosen based on past support of realty issues as well as her voting record,” said Nicole LaSlavic, Government Affairs Director at the association.

Pancrazi was a prime sponsor of HB 2639, which would have given preference in awarding state and local contracts to in-state businesses, including realtors headquartered in Arizona. Pancrazi has been a licensed realtor for 21 years and was a member of the local, state, and national realtors’ associations before becoming a state representative.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Democrats: 'Stop the partisan bickering, focus on jobs, no more cuts to schools'

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Democratic lawmakers said today that Arizona’s centennial is an opportunity for government to stop the partisan bickering and focus on what matters — creating jobs and drawing the line at further cuts to our schools.

Senate Minority Leader David Schapira and House Minority Leader Chad Campbell both said middle-class families, Arizona’s economic engine, deserve our focus on good ideas to put people back to work and improve public schools so our kids can compete for the jobs of the future.

“When our Arizona families sit down at the table, I don’t want them talking about how they can’t pay for their next grocery store trip,” Campbell said. “I want them to discuss the bright future their children are going to have and the jobs they’ll secure when they graduate from college. We’ve seen our middle class — our very own economic engine — dwindling and suffering while Tea Party lawmakers vote to give tax breaks to the rich during times of hardship.”

Campbell and Schapira said Arizonans are sick of the partisan divide at the capitol and just want results. Democratic lawmakers are ready and willing to work toward the middle on a compromise but Tea Party legislators have been attached to their rigid ideologies and the special interests that drive them.

"With this legislative session, we have an opportunity to get our state back on track, setting us on a path to recovery and renewal,” Schapira said. “If we’re to achieve this goal, we need to put aside the partisanship and extreme Tea Party agendas that have bogged us down in the past. Arizona families are struggling right now, so we must focus on common sense ideas that will help Arizona prosper and get folks back to work.”

Tea Party legislators and Gov. Jan Brewer have:
• Sold state capitol buildings to big Wall Street banks. Taxpayers will have to spend $1.6 billion to lease and buy those buildings back with interest from those Wall Street banks.
• Voted to give millions in tax cuts to big, out-of-state corporations similar to BP, while providing next to no help for small, local businesses.
• Voted to cut more than $1.5 billion from our kids’ schools and 10,000 school employees’ jobs were lost, overcrowding classrooms, closing schools and endangering our kids’ future.
• Voted to raise income taxes on middle-class Arizona families while cutting taxes for those earning more than $100,000 a year.
• Focused on divisive and failed immigration legislation instead of on jobs and the economy.

“It’s time to propose holding companies that receive tax credits accountable for creating jobs they promised,” Campbell said. “It’s also time to reform our unfair tax code. We need to stop picking winners and losers and make it fair for everyone — hard working individuals, families, and small businesses deserve a tax code that gives them the opportunity to achieve the American dream.”

Schapira said if Arizona is going to move forward after the Tea Party and Brewer went to war on our schools, we have to stand our ground at any further cuts to our kids’ classrooms.

“In order to ensure long-term success for our state, we must make protecting education one of our top priorities,” Schapira said. “Not only will our kids be better prepared for success, but by restoring budgets for school building renewal we can create construction jobs while repairing our crumbling schools, making them safer for your kids and mine. It’s time to be willing to work together to get results that will guarantee a better future for our families and our state."

Friday, January 06, 2012

McCune Davis applauds appointment of consumer watchdog head Cordray

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 14), a longtime consumer rights advocate who worked to eliminate predatory payday loans in Arizona, today issued the following statement applauding the appointment of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau America's consumer watchdog agency:
"Since President Obama nominated Richard Cordray last summer, the Tea Party has consistently stonewalled his appointment to stop the consumer watchdog bureau from doing its job. As a longtime consumer advocate, I applaud the choice of Mr. Corday to stand up to payday lenders, debt collectors, credit-reporting agencies and private student lenders.

“It's time to start looking out for the best interests of consumers and protecting Arizona's working families from the abuses of the financial industry. Everyone should play by the same rules so that hard work pays off and responsibility, not recklessness, is rewarded. Ensuring Richard Cordray can do his job without delay is a significant step forward."

This week, the CFPB is launching a simple phone number - 1 (855) 411-CFPB - that you can call to make sure you're getting a fair deal on your mortgage. The Bureau is also charged with protecting veterans to make sure they aren't taken advantage of when they return from serving our country, as well as protecting seniors at danger of losing their homes or retirement because someone saw them as an easy target.