Thursday, June 28, 2012

Quezada: 'Today's U.S. Supreme Court decision comes as a tremendous relief ... for working class people all over the country'

Quezada: 'Today's U.S. Supreme Court decision comes as a tremendous relief ... for working class people all over the country'


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX State Rep. Martin Quezada (D-Avondale, District 13) issued the following statement about the US Supreme Court's decision today to uphold the major provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal health care reform initiative promoted by President Obama and passed by the US Congress:


“I understand how important today's Supreme Court decision is because I have suffered from a pre-existing condition, as an insulin-dependent diabetic, since I was a child. As a self-employed business owner, I have had difficulty finding affordable health care and prescriptions. The communities I represent are also hardworking people who have fallen through the cracks of our health care system. These communities have been hit the hardest due to lack of employer-provided health care, high cost and limited access.


The US Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act will allow my constituents to have access to a basic cornerstone of the American dream - the ability to live a healthy life. Families will now have access to preventive care to make sure illnesses are treated before they become severe and they will no longer have to choose between paying for food, electricityor water and their prescription drugs.


Affordable and quality healthcare is a right every American should have. Today's verdict by the US Supreme Court will bring secure lives and secure futures for Americans and Arizonans.”


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Campbell, Farley and Tovar statements regarding the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act

Campbell, Farley and Tovar statements regarding the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today House Democrats issued the following statements after the Supreme Court of the United States announced that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14)

“The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act underscores how important health care reform is for Arizonans. This is a historic decision. There is no question that the current health care system is broken. It is too expensive and the insurance companies are calling the shots. We need reform and we need it now. Tea Party Republicans have been cutting funding for the health care industry so service providers have lost their jobs and the amount of services available have dwindled. Arizonans deserve affordable health care. As many as 411,000 Arizona children have pre-existing conditions. The Affordable Care Act prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and asthma. This is important now because the Tea Party Republicans at the legislature refused to restore full funding to KidsCare, leaving thousands of Arizona children from working families without heath care coverage.”



Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley, D-Tucson (District 28)

“A health care system that allows insurance companies to cherry pick who will receive coverage and who will be left to fend for themselves is a system that fails all Arizonans. The Supreme Court’s decision shows us that we are ready, now more than ever, for reform. Today, 60,000 young Arizonans who would otherwise be uninsured have coverage because of the Affordable Care Act. The 880,000 Arizona seniors benefiting from Medicare no longer have to face financial disaster because the Affordable Care Act closes the Part D 'doughnut hole.' Over the past few years, Tea Party Republicans have slashed funding in the health care industry. This resulted in job loss and drastic reductions in services and has pushed some hospitals to the brink of closure. That is intolerable. Arizonans deserve better.”



House Minority Whip Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson (District 13)

“The Supreme Court’s decision today affects me at a very personal level. As a cancer survivor and a transplant recipient, I understand deeply how crucial it is for people to have access to quality health care. All Arizonans should expect coverage that will provide life-saving treatment when they need it. The Affordable Care Act protects people from the exclusionary and unfair practices of some insurance companies. It also helps keep premiums low, so that people can afford insurance. There are 3.4 million Arizonans with private insurance and now they are protected by reforms that help keep premiums low. Before the health care law, some insurance companies spent as much as 40 percent of premiums on administrative overhead like marketing and CEO bonuses. But the health care law requires all Arizona insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on health care and quality improvement. The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates this will save Arizonans about $27 million. The Affordable Care Act is a major step toward meaningful reform.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Campbell to Bennett: ‘If people want to vote, let them vote’

Bennett rejects ballot initiative with nearly 300,000 signatures citing clerical error

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14), called for Secretary of State Ken Bennett to respect the will of the people and allow Arizona voters to decide on a ballot initiative this November. Bennett rejected the signatures of nearly 300,000 voters on a petition today.

“Mr. Bennett appears to be arbitrarily enforcing his own rules,” Campbell said. “In effect, he is telling almost 300,000 Arizonans that he does not care that they want to vote on an initiative because of a simple technicality. If people want to vote, let them vote.”

Bennett issued a letter that said the petitions were rejected, in effect, because of a clerical error. The committee seeking to get the initiative on the ballot submitted two versions to the Secretary of State’s Office - one paper and one electronic - that were slightly different. The group used one of the versions while collecting signatures but Bennett claims they should have used the other.

“Just a few weeks ago, a handful of ‘birthers’ asked Bennett to go on a fishing expedition for the president’s birth certificate and he did. Now there are nearly 300,000 people asking him to let them vote on an initiative and he is telling them no,” Campbell said. “Why do a few people involved in a fringe movement mean more to Bennett than hundreds of thousands of Arizona voters? Where is the consistency? Where is the leadership? Maybe his duties as Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign co-chair in Arizona are distracting him from his job as Arizona’s chief election officer. This is unacceptable.”

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Monday, June 25, 2012

House Democrats speak out on SB 1070 ruling

Today several House Democrats issued the following statements after the Supreme Court of the United States announced that it struck down three of the four key provisions of SB 1070 that were being challenged.



House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14)
“The Supreme Court ruling on SB1070 is not surprising. What we need is comprehensive immigration reform and border security so we can solve this issue for the long-term, not more divisive legislation and bickering. In light of today’s ruling, I ask all leaders at every level of government to put aside their political agendas and partisanship to work together on comprehensive, fair and effective immigration reform and border security.”


 Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley, D-Tucson (District 28)
"Arizonans expect and deserve reasonable immigration reform. SB 1070 is a far cry from reasonable. It lets politicians get away with political grandstanding instead of enacting real reform. We need substantive reform and we need to ensure our police officers have the tools they need to crack down on true criminals and keep our communities safe and secure. I commend the Supreme Court for striking down key parts of this law and forcing politicians to focus on real reform.”


House Minority Whip Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson (District 13)                                                      
“The ripple effect of this decision will be far reaching. It sends a message to lawmakers that we need sensible immigration reform. SB 1070 was divisive and ineffective. It promoted an extremist agenda and did nothing to help the economy.”


Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 16)
“Arizonans are well served by the Supreme Court’s decision on SB 1070 today. This law intensified partisan bickering and failed to provide a meaningful remedy to the immigration issue. While it would have been better to see the whole law struck down, this moves us in the right direction. The bottom line is that we need long-term, realistic immigration solutions. SB 1070 offered no real solutions and it stole focus away from what elected leaders should be focused on, which is creating jobs and improving education.”



Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Avondale (District 13)
“This is a victory. Three of the four key provisions of this law were struck down. The last provision is hanging on by a thread. The majority of SB 1070 is unconstitutional and all of it is bad public policy. We must prevent bad legislation like SB 1070 from making its way through the process. We will work to repeal what’s left of this ineffective policy that divides our community.  SB 1070 is an example of the extremist, Tea Party agenda that has been pervasive at the Arizona Legislature. Arizonans deserve better than this from their public servants.”


Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix (District 16)

"While most of SB 1070 will remain blocked, the poison pill of racial profiling remains intact. Our task as elected officials is to work with local jurisdictions to prevent abuses and civil rights violations. This decision has resulted in increased pressure for a sensible immigration policy that furthers our economic interests and humanely deals with our immigrant population.”    


Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 14)
“With today’s ruling by the Supreme Court on SB 1070, it is clear that the states cannot overreach and independently set immigration policy.  It is time to have meaningful discussions about sensible and substantive immigration reform on the national level. We cannot tolerate racial profiling and have an obligation to develop meaningful reform. SB 1070 is so divisive that it distracts from actual solutions to immigration issues and it also distracts from other important work - like creating jobs and improving education. SB 1070 offered no solutions to improve Arizona’s economy and has been an unwelcome distraction from stabilizing the economy of our state.”

Rep. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma (District 24)
“The Supreme Court announced a major decision that will affect people in our state and across the country. It’s important to note that today is not about winning. Today is about changing the way we approach immigration reform. Divisive policies and patchwork processes do nothing to solve the immigration issue. Even worse, such practices take focus away from other issues important to Arizona families, like education and job creation. We must have clear, rational and substantive immigration reform that provides law enforcement officers with the resources they need to do their jobs. Then and only then, can we truly call it a win.”

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Gallego admonishes Tea Party legislators for not helping people in Colorado City


‘Now the feds have to come in and do what the Tea Party Republicans here refused to do’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 16), admonished Tea Party legislators for not coming to the aid of people in Colorado City when they had the chance. They blocked a law that would have taken power from the local law enforcement agents who are now under fire for allegedly intimidating residents.

The U.S. Justice Department recently filed a federal civil rights case against a pair of polygamous Utah-Arizona border towns. The lawsuit claims that authorities in Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz. intimidated people deemed unfaithful to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

“We had a chance to put a stop to this reported abuse of power months ago. Now the feds have to come in and do what the Tea Party Republicans here refused to do.” Gallego, the ranking member of the House Military and Public Safety Committee, said. “The majority of the Tea Party Republicans in the House wouldn’t pull the trigger on legislation that would have helped people in Colorado City. People got hurt while they were too busy making laws to get women fired for using birth control and stealing money intended to help people facing foreclosure to fund private, for-profit prisons.”

The intimidation reportedly included denying victims housing and municipal services, destroying property and killing animals. The lawsuit claims that authorities, including members of the local law enforcement agency, were responsible for some of the intimidation at the behest of Warren Jeffs. Jeffs is the former president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for the sexual assault of two underage girls.

In late April, Tea Party Republicans in the House killed SB 1433, which would have replaced Colorado City’s local police force with Mohave County sheriff’s deputies. Specifically, the bill would have removed the authority of a city or town to establish, regulate, appoint or remove the police within that city or town where 50 percent or more of the city or town’s police officers have had their peace officer certifications revoked by the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, according to a specified formula.

Tea Party lawmakers also blocked another attempt to address this issue when it was added as an amendment to HB 2018. Those who supported the legislation argued that it was necessary to ensure police were enforcing the actual law, not Jeffs’ demands.

“The people who didn’t support this legislation, those who weren’t willing to stand up against the abuses occurring in Colorado City, should be ashamed of themselves,” Gallego said. “They stood by instead of stepping in.”

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Campbell: ‘We’re still waiting for Bennett to resign one of his jobs’

Campbell: ‘We’re still waiting for Bennett to resign one of his jobs’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14), renewed his call for Ken Bennett to resign as the co-chair of Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in Arizona or resign as secretary of state.

“Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett is not doing himself or the state any favors by his continued comments about President Barack Obama’s birthplace. If he wants to spend his time exploring conspiracy theories, that is fine, but his comments show a serious lack of propriety. He refuses to give up one of his jobs. It is absolutely inappropriate for him to be the co-chair of Romney’s presidential campaign in Arizona and the secretary of state,” Campbell said.

Campbell’s statement follows comments Bennett made at a recent meeting of state legislative district 12 Republicans. During that meeting, Bennett claimed he believes Obama was “fibbing about being born in Kenya when he was trying to get into college.”

“This most recent incident shows me that he is more interested in using his position as the state’s chief election officer to promote his strange theories about Obama’s birth and his preferred presidential candidate than serving the state. It is inexcusable and we’re still waiting for Bennett to resign one of his jobs,” Campbell said.

To view the video of Bennett discussing his conspiracy theory go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq8kP-MSQO8&feature=youtu.be&t=6m23s.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Miranda to Tobin: ‘We have become political ostriches … unwilling to address our immigration issues …’



STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix (District 16), sent the following letter to Speaker of the House Andy Tobin, R-Dewey (District 1), following his reaction to the immigration policy change that affects Dream Act students that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Janet Napolitano recently announced.

Dear Speaker Tobin;

I cannot express enough my disappointment in your reaction to President Obama’s call for a more reasonable and logical approach to one aspect of a failed immigration policy. This failure is the result of a political football game that is primarily contingent upon who controls the presidency … Republican or Democrat. Congressional inaction coupled with political posturing has turned a blind eye to economic realities. These young men and women are the brightest hope for this country’s ability to compete in a global economy.

This year an honors Dream Act student graduated in bio-medical engineering with offers from companies in China. Does it make sense for this country to ignore this valuable resource yet search in foreign countries for 50 % of our engineers and doctors? It is ironic that China is the same country that owns 60% of our foreign debt of the past five years. Every day at the Legislature this year was a reminder that we have become political ostriches unable or unwilling to address our immigration issues in a responsible manner.

Mr. Speaker you and I have had many discussions on immigration and, while we may not always agree, I have found you to be a person with common sense. Your statements reflect the prevailing attitude in our Legislature of attrition through enforcement. In Arizona, for too long we have seen the moderate Republican bullied into submission by extremists. Your reference to rampant “drug and human” damages Arizona’s image because it offers an opinion that is not factually based. Your suggestion that President Obama is pandering to the Hispanic community is interesting because in Arizona we also have seen the majority in the Legislature pander to extreme views. Mr. Speaker perhaps a return to logical, common sense politics is possible after the November elections.

Governor Brewer's call to secure the border first is the comparable to old country western song that says "How high is the water papa? Five-foot-five and rising son." How much more can a country do to secure a border? President Obama acted in the best interest of the country. So long as we are stuck like a broken record, our country will continue to witness a human capital flight of historic proportions which will relegate us to a third world status.

 
State Representative
Catherine Miranda
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Statement from Rep. Gallego on the Administration’s immigration policy reform



STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 16), released the following statement on the Administration’s immigration policy reform.

“I applaud the recent decision to lift the shadow of deportation from some of the young people who came here as children. These young people are committed to their own education and to serving our country. They should not be forced to leave because of a decision their parents made. This reform makes our nation’s immigration policy more fair and more efficient. While this is not a permanent fix, only Congress can provide that, it is the right thing to do.”

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Statements from Rep. Tovar and Rep. Miranda on immigration policy reforms announced by Napolitano

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Whip Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson (District 13), and Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix (District 16), released the following statements about Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano’s announcement that certain young people brought to the country as children will be considered for relief from removal.

House Minority Whip Anna Tovar

“This is a sensible policy. We should support the young people in our state who are doing the right things and contributing to the betterment of our communities. The new policy will affect young people who were brought to the United States when they were children and meet several key criteria including being in school or being an honorably discharged veteran. It is a reasonable and rational policy reform that will allow young people with promising futures, who are committed to their education and to serving the country, to continue to pursue their dreams in our great nation. This is progress but there is still much work to be done.”



Rep. Catherine Miranda

“I support this policy reform because it helps young people who were brought into our country as children, grew up here and exhibit an understanding of the importance of education and service. They have invested in their futures and in their communities. Reform like this also is an investment in the future but it is only a start. The broader solution will require us to set aside the partisan bickering and develop long-term solutions to this pressing matter.”





For more information about the recent decision go to http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/20120612-napolitano-announces-deferred-action-process-for-young-people.shtm.

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Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Arizona Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers awards Gallego Elected Official of the Year

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 16), is the National Association of Social Workers, Arizona Chapter Elected Official of the Year.

“I am honored to receive this award,” Gallego said. “The NASWAZ has a long history of service in this state. Their commitment to the community is impressive.”

The NASW was founded in 1955 and is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world. It has 145,000 members. The association works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain standards for the profession, and to advance social policies.

“Social workers appreciate Rep. Gallego's willingness to advocate for services for Arizona's vulnerable residents,” Jeremy Arp, executive director of NASWAZ, said.

Lindsay Simmons, NASWAZ public policy committee co-chair, nominated Gallego.

“He understands the intersection between a robust social safety net and safe, healthy, vibrant communities,” Simmons wrote in her nomination. “Because he is willing to serve as a watchdog at the State House, fellow legislators cannot forget their obligation to provide for vulnerable Arizonans. We all benefit from having Rep. Gallego speak out.”

The NASWAZ will present Gallego with his award at a reception on Sept. 14. For more information about the NASWAZ go to www.naswaz.com.

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Monday, June 04, 2012

Top AZ House Republican targets Democrats with campaign of misinformation

House Democrats debunking Tobin’s misleading social media statements

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Arizona House of Representatives Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden (District 1), recently started a twitter campaign filled with misinformation about what legislative Democrats supported during the budget vote earlier this year. House Democrats are debunking the disingenuous statements Tobin has made every day this month.

“The kind of misdirection that Mr. Tobin currently is engaging in is an example of Arizona politics at its worst,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14), said. “He is distorting the truth and Arizonans will be able to see through that right away. Instead of spending his time manipulating the facts, maybe Mr. Tobin should be focused on finding ways to create jobs and improve education."

House Democrats developed and released a budget proposal long before Tea Party Republicans struck a deal for a bait-and-switch budget with Gov. Jan Brewer. The House Democratic Budget focused on creating jobs and improving education. It allocated:

• $43 million to replace federal money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families fund that expired. The program provides resources and support for abused and neglected children.

• $39 million for the Department of Health Services programs for the seriously mentally ill. In 2010, the Republican-controlled legislature voted to eliminate nearly all services for the seriously mentally ill who did not qualify for Medicaid. Not only did Tea Party Republicans leave a vulnerable population without services, the funding cuts resulted in significant job loss in the mental health industry.

• $5 million to the University of Arizona Medical School in Phoenix. The facility is ready to open but needs money for staffing and other operations. The economic impact of the campus is estimated at $2.5 billion annually.

• $5 million for community college scholarships to help students acquire high-tech, industry-specific job training.

The House Democrats also made health care for children of working families and job creation top priorities in their proposed budget. The House Democratic budget included:

• $7 million to restore KidsCare to lift the freeze on the children’s health care program. Currently, Arizona is the only state in the nation that has not restored funding to this vital program.

• $7 million for capital improvement projects in state parks which would have improved infrastructure in state parks, created jobs and generated tourism.

• $5 million to promote tourism in Arizona. This would have created both jobs and revenue for the state.

• $26 million for the Local Transportation Assistance Fund for cities and towns to use for community-specific improvements. This would have helped city and town officials create jobs.

“House Democrats developed a realistic and responsible budget that created jobs, supported universities and community colleges, restored KidsCare and ended fund sweeps. That’s more than Tea Party Republicans did,” Campbell said. “House Democrats refused to support the budget deal between the Tea Party legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer because it killed jobs, expanded private prisons, stole money that was supposed to be used for homeowners hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis and created more taxpayer handouts for special interests and the wealthy.

"For Tobin to suggest that we rejected their irresponsible Tea Party budget for other reasons is insincere. He’s just trying to play politics," Campbell added. "That’s unfortunate because the people of Arizona deserve an accurate and factual debate, not more partisan rhetoric and political games.”

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Friday, June 01, 2012

Campbell to Bennett: ‘Are you secretary of state or a political operative?’

Bennett backpedals on promise to voters, Campbell renews resignation call

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett is backpedaling on a promise he made to Arizona voters. He recently refused to answer constituent requests to verify Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s birth certificate, despite promising to do so if voters asked.

Bennett is co-chair of Romney’s Arizona campaign and appears to be struggling to fulfill both his campaign obligations and his responsibility as the state’s top election officer, according to House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14).

“Last month Mr. Bennett said that he was looking into the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate because a few constituents asked him to do so,” Campbell said. “I know that several constituents made similar requests for him to verify Romney’s birth certificate. Now he’s refusing because the requests didn’t come from law enforcement officials like Tea Party ‘birther’ Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He broke his promise to voters and continues to pander to a fringe movement.”

Campbell renewed his call for Bennett to resign either as secretary of state or as a political operative for the Romney campaign. He said he is still waiting for a response to a letter he sent Bennett in May asking him to step down from one of the positions.

“Mr. Bennett can’t have it both ways,” Campbell said. “He can’t be Arizona’s highest ranking election officer and a political operative for a presidential candidate. He needs to resign from one position or the other.”

Only two years ago, when he was running for secretary of state, Bennett said that he did not think it was proper for the state’s head election officer to publicly back any candidate or ballot measure. Now he is openly campaigning for Romney. Campbell insists that Arizonans deserve better from their elected officials.

“He can’t keep his story straight. What are we supposed to believe? He is making this up as he goes along and that’s not leadership,” Campbell said. “I’ve not gotten a response to my letter. He needs to decide whether he wants to be a public servant or a political operative. It is absolutely inappropriate for him to do both.”

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