Friday, August 30, 2013

Cardenas, Valenzuela pledge to live on food stamp budget for a week Both participating in Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program Experience

Cardenas, Valenzuela pledge to live on food stamp budget for a week
Both participating in Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program Experience

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Starting Sept. 3, Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix (District 19), and Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela will each spend about $4 a day on food for a week as Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program Experience participants.  

SNAP is the federal food stamp program and is designed to supplement food budgets for people living in poverty by providing individuals with $29 a week for groceries. Cardenas said because his family had to rely on assistance programs when he was a child, he has firsthand knowledge of how difficult it can be.

“SNAP is supposed to supplement a food budget but I know that, for some households, this assistance is the entire food budget,” Cardenas said. “I really want to bring attention to what the people who rely on this program deal with on a daily basis. In Arizona, one in five people struggles with hunger, and the news that there is an effort in Washington, D.C. to scale down the program concerns me greatly.”

The Arizona Community Action Association is organizing this event during National Hunger Awareness Month to promote a better understanding of poverty and hunger in the state.

"Walking in another's shoes is the only way to truly understand the challenges he or she faces - this is the spirit of the $4 a day experience," said Valenzuela, chairman of the City of Phoenix Neighborhoods, Housing and Development subcommittee. "Proper nutrition is the foundation for a healthy, successful life, and I will take this experience with me as I continue to advocate for healthcare and wellness programs and services for the residents of Phoenix."

Cardenas and Valenzuela will document their participation on social media. To view these posts, follow Cardenas on Twitter at @RepMarkCardenas or find him on Facebook at and follow Valenzuela on Twitter at @DTValenzuela or find him on Facebook at To learn more about the SNAP Experience, go to


Steele Selected for 2013 Western Legislative Academy

Steele Selected for 2013 Western Legislative Academy

State Capitol, Phoenix - The Council of State Governments, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization serving Western state legislators of both parties in 13 states, recently selected Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9), to participate in its prestigious training institute for lawmakers in their first four years of service. 

The purpose of the Western Legislative Academy is to build excellence and effectiveness in state legislators. Admission to the Western Legislative Academy is very competitive and is based on commitment to public service, desire to improve personal legislative effectiveness and interest in improving the legislative process.  Out of 114 applicants from throughout the West, only 39 state legislators were invited to join the Western Legislative Academy Class of 2013.  

The Western Legislative Academy will convene November 13-16, 2013, in Colorado Springs, Colorado for intensive training in subjects including legislative institutions, ethics, communications, negotiations, time management, and leadership.  Faculty is drawn from academia, former military and the private sector.  A highlight of the training is an afternoon at the US Air Force Academy, where participant will work on personal assessments and team building.

Steele, who recently completed her first legislative session at the Arizona Capitol, is a Tucson resident and represents Legislative District 9.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in this program,” Steele said. “The skills and training available at the Western Legislative Academy will help me continue my work to create jobs, improve education, increase access to health care and move Arizona forward.”

The Council of State Governments-West is the Western division of the national Council of State Governments, which is based in Lexington, Kentucky.  Regional offices of CSG are located in Sacramento, Chicago, Atlanta and New York.

Funding for the Academy comes from the Colorado Springs-based El Pomar Foundation, which is dedicated to excellence in nonprofit organizations, and from Western state legislatures and corporate sponsors.  The El Pomar Foundation also donates the campus for the Western Legislative Academy.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Larkin teams up with ALMA and Fry’s Food Stores to get school supplies for local students

Larkin teams up with ALMA and Fry’s Food Stores to get school supplies for local students

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Jonathan Larkin, D-Glendale (District 30), is working with the Arizona Latino Motorcycle Association and Fry’s Food Stores to distribute backpacks of school supplies to students at Isaac Middle School in Phoenix.

Who:                Rep. Jonathan Larkin
                        Arizona Latino Motorcycle Association
                        Fry’s Food Stores

What:              Donating 35 backpacks with schools supplies and a $25 gift card from Fry’s Food Stores to students

Where:            Isaac Middle School
                        3402 W. McDowell Rd.
Phoenix, Arizona 85009

When:              Friday, Aug. 30, 2013
                        1:45 p.m.

“I was so glad the members of ALMA asked me to participate in this event and to lend a hand to support our students,” Larkin, who is also a union pharmacy technician for Fry’s Food Stores, said. “I want to thank them and the people at Fry’s for the donations and the hard work.”


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

House Democrats earn recognition from League of Arizona Cities and Towns

House Democrats earn recognition from League of Arizona Cities and Towns

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXThe League of Arizona Cities and Towns recognized 12 Arizona House Democrats for their commitment to supporting cities and towns during the 2013 legislative session.

“City and town officials appreciate the support from these outstanding legislators and their recognition that local decisions should be made at the local level,” Executive Director Ken Strobeck said. “We are successful when we are all working together for the benefit of our citizens and Arizona.”

Four House Democrats were recognized as Champions of Cities and Towns:

  • House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24)
  • Rep. Juan Carlos Escamilla, D-San Luis (District 4)
  • Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28)
  • Rep. Andrew Sherwood, D-Mesa (District 26)
 Additionally, the following legislators received the Friends of Cities and Towns Award:

  • Rep. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix (District 24)
  • Rep. Andrea Dalessandro, D-Sahuarita (District 2)
  • Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix (District 19)
  • Assistant House Minority Leader Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 27)
  • Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 30)
  • Rep. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe (District 26)
  • Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29)
  • Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9)

“My colleagues and I appreciate the acknowledgment from the League,” Campbell said. “We know that cities and towns are economic drivers in Arizona and believe that all levels of government should work together in partnership. We’ll continue to collaborate with the League and cities and towns for a stronger state.”

The League will honor the awardees on Aug. 29 during its 2013 Annual Conference. The conference, held at the Hilton El Conquistador Resort in Oro Valley from Aug. 27-30, is a four-day meeting with more than 900 mayors, council members and officials from across the state. For more information about the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, visit


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wheeler serving on Income Tax Reform Task Force Protecting the middle class top priority

Wheeler serving on Income Tax Reform Task Force
Protecting the middle class top priority

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXHouse Minority Whip Bruce Wheeler, D-Tucson (District 10), is serving on the newly created Joint Task Force on Income Tax Reform.  This committee, charged with examining Arizona’s personal income tax system, is meeting for the first time today.

“Making any changes to the personal income tax system in our state will have far reaching effects,” Wheeler said. “It has to be done right. The system should be equitable and protect the interests of the middle class. We also have to be careful that we do not make changes that would jeopardize state funding for education or vital programs.”

Wheeler is one of thirteen people serving on the committee, which includes elected officials, members of the business community and representatives from several conservative policy organizations. The committee will convene twice a month until December and is expected to make policy recommendations to the Legislature.

“I feel it is my role to be the advocate for middle-class families on this committee. First and foremost, we must safeguard their interests amid any attempts to change the system,” Wheeler said.

Today’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Arizona House of Representatives in House Hearing Room 1.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Hale ‘dismayed’ by school’s disregard for Diné culture

Hale ‘dismayed’ by school’s disregard for Diné culture

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), today said he is shocked that a Diné student was not allowed to honor his culture, religion and heritage by wearing his hair long at a Laveen school.

“I am dismayed that our children must still face this kind of insensitive and offensive treatment,” Hale said. “Arizona law prohibits schools from discriminating against students based on religion, and I've asked the Arizona Department of Education to look into this situation.”

Hale said he spoke with Karen Wilson, a woman whose 12-year-old son keeps his hair long in accordance with Diné tradition. Wilson said on her son’s first day at Legacy Traditional School, she received a call from the vice principal who told her the school’s dress code prohibits long hair. Wilson explained that her son is Native American and that having long hair is part of his cultural and religious traditions. Wilson said she was told she would have to contact the school’s superintendent. She left a message but received no response. Wilson transferred her son to another school that allows long hair.

“This incident does not appear to support the district’s stance on tolerance. I hope that the school will recognize the significance of hair to Diné students and will alter its current dress code to accommodate this religious expression,” Hale said. “I applaud Karen Wilson for working so hard to protect her son’s ability to honor his heritage, and I am proud of this student for embracing his culture. Although Ms. Wilson’s son is now attending another school, I want to know how we can prevent this from happening to future Diné students at Legacy Traditional School.”

Wilson said she would like an explanation.

“I’m disappointed my son had to go through this, but so many people have been supportive of our decision and I really want to make sure this doesn't happen again,” Wilson said.

Rep. Hale is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He was born in Ganado and raised in Klagetoh, Arizona. He is Ashiihi (Salt), born for Todichiini (Bitter Water). His maternal grandparents are Hanaghani (Walk About clan). His paternal grandparents are Kiyanii (Tall House clan). He is a 1969 graduate of Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school located east of Gallup, New Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (1973), and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1977), and an honorary Juris Doctor degree from Phoenix School of Law (2012).  He is the former President of the Navajo Nation.


Thursday, August 15, 2013



STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX (August 14, 2013) – Yesterday, Speaker of the House Andy Tobin (R-Dist. 1) and House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (D-Dist. 24) sent a letter to President Obama citing the reasons why it was necessary and important to grant Arizona’s request for Federal Disaster Relief for the recently devastated community of Yarnell.

After having sent the letter, Speaker Tobin stated, “I cannot understand how the people of Yarnell are any less deserving of Federal Emergency Assistance than the good people affected by hurricane Sandy or any other previously qualified American municipality. To deny or further delay relief to this economically vulnerable community sends a clear message to the people of Arizona that their suffering, although great, does not matter as much as that of other more populous states. Such a response should send a chill down the spines of every rural community in America as they will now face the prospect of paying taxes to maintain a system that may not be there after disaster strikes them.”

In the attached letter to the President, both legislative leaders reiterated the level of devastation that the rural community sustained and the economic fragility of the vast majority of the people of Yarnell. They asked the President to “honor your [President Obama’s] commitments and help the most deserving and distressed residents of Yarnell.”   

Citing the need to move on the request, Minority Leader Campbell stated, “We have an obligation to help the rebuilding efforts of those who lost so much in the Yarnell Hill fire. In Arizona, we are setting aside political divisions to ensure that those affected by this disaster get what they need. That work will happen at the state level regardless of FEMA’s decision to deny federal aid to Yavapai County.  Both the president and vice president said they would do all they can to help, and I hope they will honor that commitment. Clearly, there are rules and regulations that are meant to guide FEMA in making decisions about disaster relief. I am encouraging President Obama and Vice President Biden to look at the situation more closely because I strongly believe that, after further consideration, FEMA will overturn its decision.”

Hernandez hosting comprehensive immigration reform forum with La Fundación México Presente

Hernandez hosting comprehensive immigration reform forum with La Fundación México Presente

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX - Rep. Lydia Hernandez, D-Phoenix (District 29), is hosting a forum on the comprehensive immigration reform movement for Latino legislators and national leaders with La Fundación México Presente.

“La Fundación México Presente is an international mobilization organization that is committed to acting as a liaison between Mexico and the United States,” Hernandez said. “This forum will bring together Latino legislators and leaders from around the nation and Mexico to discuss the relationship between our two countries, comprehensive immigration reform and the importance of civic engagement.”

Who:               Rep. Lydia Hernandez and Alfonso Zapata Huesca, president of La Fundación México Presente with
Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix (District 27)
                        Rep. Lupe Contreras, D-Phoenix (District 19)
                        Rep. Juan Carlos Escamilla, D-San Luis (District 4)
                        And other elected and community leaders
When:              Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013
                        11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Where:            Arizona House of Representatives
                        House Floor Gallery
                        1700 W. Washington St.
                        Phoenix, Arizona 85007

“This is an opportunity to review the expectations of our community and evaluate the breadth and scope of the immigrant movement in this country to develop a collaborative working relationship for a prosperous future for all,” Hernandez said.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Hernandez hosting comprehensive immigration reform forum with Congressman Pastor and other AZ Latino legislators

Hernandez hosting comprehensive immigration reform forum with
Congressman Pastor and other AZ Latino legislators

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX - Rep. Lydia Hernandez, D-Phoenix (District 29), and Congressman Ed Pastor, D-Arizona (Congressional District 7), will be joined by several elected officials and community leaders for a comprehensive immigration reform forum this week.

“I’m committed to keeping our community informed of the comprehensive immigration reform efforts across this state and the country,” Hernandez said. “I encourage anyone interested in knowing more or getting involved to attend.”

This will be the first of many forums organized by Hernandez in partnership with Arizona Latino legislators throughout the state.

Who:               Rep. Lydia Hernandez and Congressman Ed Pastor
                        Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix (District 27)
                        Rep. Lupe Contreras, D-Phoenix (District 19)
                        Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix (District 19)
                        Rep. Juan Carlos Escamilla, D-San Luis (District 4)
                        Rep. Rosanna Gabaldon, D-Sahuarita (District 2)
                        And other community leaders

What:             Comprehensive immigration reform community forum

Where:           Trevor G. Browne High School, community room
                       7402 W. Catalina Dr.
                       Phoenix, Arizona 85033

When:            Friday, Aug. 16, 2013
                       5:30 p.m.


Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Larkin statement on presidential visit

Larkin statement on presidential visit

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Jonathan Larkin, D-Glendale (District 30), released the following statement today regarding President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Arizona.

“On Tuesday, I had the honor of representing District 30 during President Obama’s visit to Arizona.  In his speech, the president outlined a plan for getting a better bargain for the middle class by promoting responsible homeownership. He talked about cutting red tape for qualified borrowers trying to get mortgages and creating jobs by putting people to work rebuilding the communities hit hardest by the mortgage crisis.  

“His plan includes fair housing finance reform that would put private capital at the center of the housing finance system and would promote home financing products like the 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Additionally, the president spoke about ending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s failed business practices, which he said forced taxpayers to bear the burden of bad loans and bailouts. He also said he wants to ensure prospective homeowners get a simplified, three-page mortgage disclosure form, to increase incentives for lenders who provide quality loans and to help borrowers find the right lender by leveling the playing field for all financial institutions.

“This plan is an indication that the president understands that housing is a priority in Arizona and across the country. President Obama also highlighted the work being done by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and the city to end chronic homelessness among veterans.  As a veteran, I too applaud these efforts and look forward to any opportunities to help veterans in my district.

“Ultimately, I agree with what President Obama said about restoring the American dream. We need to reassure people that the American dream can be achieved with hard work and fair play. We have to focus on building a sustainable and equitable system that promotes homeownership and economic security.”


Escamilla, Otondo and Pancrazi to speak at National Health Center Week event at San Luis Cultural Center

Escamilla, Otondo and Pancrazi to speak at National Health Center Week event at San Luis Cultural Center

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXRep. Juan Carlos Escamilla, D-San Luis (District 4), Rep. Lisa Otondo, D-Yuma (District 4), and Sen. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma (District 4), will be guest speakers at an upcoming celebration of National Health Center Week organized by the Sunset Community Health Center.

Every August, Sunset Community Health Center recognizes the contributions and services delivered by community health centers, which are patient-directed organizations that serve people who live in areas with limited access to health care.

“These centers play a vital role in our state and across the country,” Escamilla said. “Not only do they contribute to the physical well-being of people in our communities, but they also contribute to our state’s economic health.”

The National Association of Community Health Centers estimates that by 2015 health centers will:

o       Save $122 billion in total health care costs nationally over five years
o       Generate $54 billion in total economic activity nationally
o       Create about 284,000 jobs in local communities

“Community health centers are crucial to maintaining a good quality of life for rural Arizonans by providing health care services and health care jobs in areas not serviced by major hospitals,” Pancrazi said. “I look forward to seeing everyone at this celebration of National Health Center Week.”

This year’s event will be held on Aug. 10 at the San Luis Cultural Center at 1015 N. Main St., San Luis, Ariz. from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. In addition to remarks from Escamilla, Otondo and Pancrazi, the event will feature other community and elected leaders, free health screenings and referral information.  Event organizers are also planning prizes, raffles and a live broadcast.

“It is so important to recognize the significant contributions that community health centers make throughout Arizona and to support the high-quality, affordable care these centers provide. I encourage the community to come out to this event,” Otondo said. “I think it will be fun, educational and good for our health!”


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

POTUS comes to Phoenix

For more information A Better Bargain for the Middle Class, click here.