Thursday, January 31, 2013

House Democrats vote on bipartisan bill to get critical resources to CPS

House Democrats vote on bipartisan bill to get critical resources to CPS
Campbell: ‘We took a big step in the right direction’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats voted on a bipartisan bill to get critical resources to Child Protective Services today.


The Arizona House of Representatives and Senate passed HB 2502, a bill that would provide CPS an additional $4.4 million and 50 full-time positions within the agency.


“We were able to come together in a bipartisan manner with our Republican colleagues to ensure that CPS gets more staff,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), said. “I am glad to see the governor making this issue a priority. House Democrats wanted this bill to go further but we took a big step in the right direction.”


Child Protective Services has become increasingly overwhelmed. An article published in The Arizona Republic last year reported that more children have died from child abuse in 2012 than in 2010 or 2011. Also, there are 37 percent more Arizona children in foster care since October 2009, while the number of available foster homes continues to decrease at an alarming rate.

“We know that the resources we sent to CPS today will not solve the crisis the agency is facing,” Campbell said. “There is still a lot of work to be done. CPS will need more resources for the support services that it provides going into the next year, but this will give some immediate relief.”

This bill will go to the governor’s office today.
“House Democrats are looking forward to working with Gov. Brewer and the Republicans to make sure that CPS gets all the funding and resources needed to protect Arizona kids,” Campbell said.




-30-



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Democrats leading effort to defeat Republican bills that push ideological agenda through intimidation


 
Democrats leading effort to defeat Republican bills that push ideological agenda through intimidation

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Democrats are leading an effort to defeat a group of Republican bills that push an ideological agenda through retaliation and intimidation.

Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), who is the ranking member of the Government Committee, reviewed the three bills in committee today. Quezada said the bills serve only to advance an ideological agenda.

The bills heard in committee today included:

HB 2343 – This bill would prohibit a public employer from compensating employees for union activities and would prevent employees from utilizing vacation pay for union activities, including salary negotiations and collective bargaining. It would also keep union members from being able to use paid vacation time to participate in political rallies and other activities at the Legislature. The committee held this bill.

HB 2330 – This legislation would make any meeting between a representative of a public body and a representative of an employee organization about salaries and benefits subject to the open meeting laws. It would also prevent local government bodies from going into executive session to discuss these issues and would require all discussions be recorded. The committee passed the bill.

HB 2026 - This bill would require local governments to vote to authorize payroll deductions for union dues by Dec. 31, 2013. If local governments do not vote by the deadline, they automatically lose the ability to deduct dues. Effectively, this bill would make it difficult for public sector workers to recruit and maintain union members. The committee passed this bill.

“The legislature has a lot of work to do. We have to pass a state budget, enhance access to health care, create jobs, improve education and protect our seniors,” Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), said. “Divisive bills like these do nothing to advance the issues that are most important to Arizonans. Instead, they target Arizona workers and working families who want an opportunity to address their concerns directly with members of the Legislature. I think these bills are retaliatory and I am pleased that one of them did not make it out of committee today.”

Rep. Jonathan Larkin, D-Glendale (District 30), is a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.  He also opposes the bills.

“HB 2330 is an attempt to intimidate people. It was designed to keep union members from utilizing their union representation,” Larkin said.  “HB 2343 might be worse because it would allow government to regulate what activities people can do on their vacation days. That seems like a First Amendment issue to me. HB 2026 is an obvious effort to hinder union membership. It also overreaches and interferes with local control. These bills promote an extremist agenda and attack volunteer organizations of teachers, firefighters, police officers and other employees who serve their communities.”

Quezada spoke out against the bills in committee.

“The people of Arizona do not support this attack on working families. They want our Legislature to focus on rebuilding our education system and turning our economy around,” Quezada said. “This collection of anti-working family bills would not create a single job in Arizona. They do nothing to get the economy moving.”

-30-

Arizona Latino Caucus ready for common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform


Arizona Latino Caucus ready for common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Members of the Arizona Latino Caucus applaud the efforts of the president and members of the U.S. Senate to bring focus and common sense to the immigration debate.  

“The federal government needs to lead the national discussion about immigration reform,” Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), said. “The proposals from the president and from members of the U.S. Senate are indications that people in Washington are ready to focus on this issue. Getting everyone at the table and committed to finding a solution are some of the biggest challenges we have faced during the immigration debate. Now that has happened and we are ready to work. We are ready for common-sense, comprehensive reform.”

The president’s plan includes four key parts:

  • Continue to strengthen the borders
  • Crack down on companies that hire undocumented workers
  • Hold undocumented immigrants accountable before they can earn their citizenship
  • Streamline the legal immigration system for families, workers and employers  
Similarly, the Senate Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, announced Monday, addresses directly some of the issues pertaining to citizenship and lawful permanent status.

“Immigration reform is a complex and often emotional issue,” Rep. Rosanna Gabaldon, D-Sahuarita (District 2), said. “This is the start of many difficult conversations that people and leaders in our country must have about the way we build an immigration system that will keep families united, empower our economy and make our country stronger.”

Gabaldon also said Arizonans expect sensible immigration reform.

“As a representative who serves citizens living in Southern Arizona and along the border, I have heard from my constituents that they would like to see immigration reform. When I think of issues, especially immigration reform, I think of people. I think of people like my parents who came to the U.S. from Mexico seeking a better life and found it here. It is time to fix a system that has been broken for a long time,” she said.

Quezada, the chair of the Arizona Latino Caucus, added that he and several other caucus members sponsored a resolution that reinforces the role of the federal government in immigration reform. HR 2002 calls for immigration enforcement that is implemented in an effective and humane manner. The resolution also recommends that comprehensive immigration reform should provide immigrant workers and their families with an opportunity for citizenship with fair and reasonable requirements. 

“If immigration reform includes the tenets outlined in HR 2002, our communities will be safer and we will uphold the principals of freedom and opportunity that are part of the foundation of our country,” Quezada said.


-30-


El Caucus Latino de la legislatura del estado esta listo para una reforma migratoria comprensiva y sensata

CAPITOLIO ESTATAL, PHOENIX - Los miembros del Caucus Latino de Arizona aplauden los esfuerzos del presidente y los miembros del Senado de los EE.UU. por atrae atención e incorporar el sentido común al debate de inmigración.

 
“El gobierno federal tiene que dirigir el debate nacional sobre la reforma migratoria" dijo Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix (Distrito 29). "Las propuestas del Presidente y de los miembros del Senado de los EE.UU. nos indican que la gente en Washington está lista para concentrarse en el tema de inmigración. Algunos de los más grandes desafíos que hemos enfrentado durante el debate de la inmigración ah sido conseguir que todos se sienten a la mesa y se comprometan a encontrar una solución. Ahora que esto ya a pasado, nosotros estamos listos para trabajar. Estamos listos para una reforma migratoria comprensiva y con sentido común."

 
El plan del presidente incluye cuatro puntos fundamentales:

 
• Continuar esforzando la seguridad en la frontera

• Tomar medidas enérgicas contra los empleadores que contratan a trabajadores indocumentados

• Responsabilizar a los inmigrantes indocumentados antes de que puedan obtener su ciudadanía

• Mejorar el sistema legal de inmigración para las familias, los trabajadores y los empleadores

 
Del mismo modo, la propuesta bipartidista del Senado, anunciada el lunes, para una Reforma Migratoria aborda las cuestiones con respecto a la ciudadanía y el estatus legal permanente.

 
“La reforma migratoria es usualmente un tema complejo y emocional, " dijo la Rep. Rosanna Gabaldon, D-Sahuarita (Distrito 2). “Este es el comienzo de muchas conversaciones difíciles que nuestras comunidades y líderes de nuestro país deben tener acerca de la forma en que construimos un sistema de inmigración que se enfoque en la unificación familiar, fortalecimiento de nuestra economía y en fortalecer nuestro país.


Gabaldon añadió que los Arizonenses esperan una reforma migratoria sensata.


"Como representante del sur de Arizona, área fronteriza, he oído a mis constituyentes que les gustaría ver una reforma migratoria. Cuando pienso en asuntos sociales, en especialmente el tema de la reforma migratoria, pienso en la gente. Pienso en gente como mis padres quienes emigraron a los EE.UU. desde México en busca de una vida mejor y lo encontraron aquí. Ya es hora de arreglar un sistema que ha estado quebrado por mucho tiempo," dijo.


Quezada, el presidente del Caucus Latino de Arizona, agregó que él y varios otros miembros del comité patrocinaron una resolución que reenforza el rol del gobierno federal sobre el tema de la reforma migratoria. HR 2002 exige una ley de inmigración que se lleva a cabo de una manera eficaz y humana. La resolución también recomienda que la reforma migratoria integral debe proveer a los trabajadores inmigrantes y sus familias un camino a la ciudadanía con requisitos justos y razonables.


"Si la reforma migratoria incluye los principios trazados en HR 2002, nuestras comunidades serán más seguras y defenderemos los principios fondamentales de nuestro pais, el derecho a la libertad y la oportunidad,” dijo Quezada.

-30-

Monday, January 28, 2013

Arizona Democrats to attend President’s immigration reform announcement

Arizona Democrats to attend President’s immigration
reform announcement

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX House Assistant Minority Leader Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 27), and Senate Minority Whip Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson (District 19), received invitations from the White House and will attend President Barack Obama’s immigration reform announcement on Tuesday in Las Vegas.  

“Comprehensive, common-sense immigration reform is something we need here in Arizona,” Gallego said. “This announcement signals an important juncture in the immigration debate. I am looking forward to the President’s announcement. I’ll be working with my colleagues to review it and the U.S. Senate proposal. It is my hope that these ideas will help our state and our nation move forward.”

Tovar agreed.

“It is immensely encouraging that immigration is finally being addressed by Washington, especially after decades of inaction by the federal government," said Tovar. "Because the goal of comprehensive immigration reform has been critical to Arizona, and elusive for so long, we must make sure this opportunity doesn't slip through our grasp. I look forward to personally hearing President Obama's plan, and looking closely at the Gang of Eight proposal."

Both members of the Arizona Legislature will be available for comment following the President’s announcement.


-30-

House Democrats continue to work for increased government accountability

House Democrats continue to work for increased government accountability

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats are starting off the 51st legislative session with a clear focus on increasing government accountability.

“House Democrats are the advocates for accountability and transparency at the State Capitol,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), said.  “This session, as we have done in the past, we will continue to make that a priority.”

Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), added that earning public trust starts with accountability.

“As legislators, we have an obligation to ensure that Arizonans know and trust that we are working for them and that we are producing results,” Quezada said. “Several House Democrats are introducing bills designed to require the Legislature to be more transparent.”

Bills to increase government accountability and transparency include:

HB 2256 – This bill includes reforms that make it a criminal offense to recklessly file false financial disclosure forms and closes all of the lobbyist gift ban loopholes. It is intended to address Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s concerns following the Fiesta Bowl scandal.  (Campbell)

HB 2410 – This legislation creates a non-partisan commission to monitor and investigate candidates and elected officials.  The commission would have the authority to offer advisory opinions, audit candidate financial accounts and impose civil penalties against those violating the law.  (Quezada)

HB 2497 - This bill requires elected officials to disclose any scholarships or benefits they received for travel, lodging or fees for conferences. It also requires that the disclosure include the names of all donors contributing. Additionally, it requires lobbyists to disclose the same information.  (Mach)

“I’ve spent a lot of time talking with people in our communities, and they are letting me know loud and clear that they want the Legislature to stop working for special interests and instead work on getting our economy back on track by creating jobs and funding education,” Rep. Stefanie Mach, D-Tucson (District 10), said.  


-30-

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Arizona legislators setting national standard for veterans’ issues

Arizona legislators setting national standard for veterans’ issues 

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Arizona legislators are setting the standard when it comes to finding ways to help veterans.

“We are staying ahead of the curve on veterans issues in Arizona,” Rep. Jonathan Larkin, D-Glendale (District 30), said.

Yesterday in Washington, D.C., members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs introduced new bipartisan legislation that will, if passed, assist veterans pursuing a college degree. The proposed federal law would require schools eligible for GI Bill education benefits to charge veterans in-state tuition rates, regardless of what state the veteran is from or where the schools are located.

Larkin, a founding member of the Arizona Veterans Caucus, said Arizona instituted a similar policy in 2011.

“We’re going to keep setting the pace for the state and the country,” Larkin said. “Now our bipartisan Veterans Caucus is working on legislation that will help veterans continue to pursue their college degrees.”

This past week, Larkin co-sponsored a bipartisan bill, HB 2420, that if enacted would provide grants to qualifying veterans who have exhausted their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and who have not yet completed a bachelor’s degree program.

“Our veterans have spent years serving our country,” Larkin said. “We should ensure they have access to a quality education when they complete their service. It’s good to see members of Congress involved in the effort to improve educational opportunities for veterans. Finding ways to better serve those who have served our country should be a top priority.”

For more information on the federal legislation, go to http://veterans.house.gov/press-release/chairman-miller-and-ranking-member-michaud-introduce-bipartisan-gi-bill-tuition.

-30-

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Statement from Quezada regarding driver’s licenses for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals permit holders

Statement from Quezada regarding driver’s licenses for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals permit holders

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), released the following statement about the clarification from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding young people who are granted deferred deportation action.



“Recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security clarified that a young person whose immigration case has been deferred is not considered to be unlawfully present in the country during the time that deferred action is in effect. The youth who qualify for deferred action are those who are working to achieve the American dream. Many of them are in school or are serving our country in the military.


“Given this clarification from DHS, there is no question that people who have been granted deferred action should be able to receive Arizona driver’s licenses. I ask that the governor rescind the executive order she issued that prevents this from happening.

“DHS made it perfectly clear, if a person has been granted deferred action, his or her presence is lawful and he or she should be treated as such.”

The “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program allows certain young people, who were brought into the country as children, who are not a risk to national security or public safety, and who meet other criteria, to be considered for temporary relief from deportation. For more information on the program and a list of eligibility criteria, go to http://www.dhs.gov/news/2012/06/15/secretary-napolitano-announces-deferred-action-process-young-people-who-are-low.



-30-

Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day delayed

Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day delayed


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today should have been a day dedicated to the 22 Native American nations in the State of Arizona.

Arizona statute requires that the Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day be held each year on the second Tuesday in January after the start of each new legislative session. The purpose of this day is to acknowledge the culture and history of Arizona’s Native American nations and to hear from Native American nation leaders about legislative and policy issues. Jan. 22 is the second Tuesday following the start of this session but the event was postponed until Feb. 5.

Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), a founding member of the Native American Caucus, said this delay is part of a pattern. In the past, the House of Representatives and the Senate took turns hosting the day-long event. According to tradition, the House was supposed to host the event last year but did not.
“We encourage a greater understanding and appreciation of Native American issues,” Hale said. “For Native American peoples, these are not one-day issues; these are everyday issues. Native Americans are citizens of the State of Arizona and a part of the history of our nation. The topics that are important to Native American communities are of importance to all communities. We welcome all to share ideas with us.”

Senator Jack Jackson, Jr., D-Window Rock (District 7), said that upholding traditions is one of the best ways to keep people informed about Native American issues.
“Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day was created 16 years ago after a conversation between longtime House Majority Leader Burton Barr and my father, Senator Jack Jackson, Sr. Their vision was to create a way to foster good relations and a productive dialogue between legislators and the many tribes native to Arizona,” Jackson said. “Over the last 16 years our tribes have come to the Capitol on the second Tuesday of session to participate in Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day. That specific day is mandated in statute and tradition is to have the House host one year and the Senate the next. Disappointingly, for the second year in a row, it will have to be delayed.”

Despite the delay, members of the Native American Caucus will participate in the Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day. Additionally, the caucus will meet regularly to promote a better understanding of Native American issues. Legislators and members of the public are invited to attend.

“I hope I am wrong, but there appears to be a dismissive sentiment directed toward Native American nations and peoples and a Native American event that is mandated by Arizona state law,” Hale said. “For years, we have been working to help our fellow legislators better understand Native American issues and cultures. The Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day is a large part of that effort, and I fear this is being seen as unimportant. That has to change.”

Below is a schedule of caucus meetings and topics of discussion.

Jan. 24 – Federal Indian Law 101

Jan. 31 – Introduction of Agencies and Organizations with Resources

Feb. 5 – 18th Annual Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day

Feb. 7 – Transaction Privilege Tax

Feb. 21 – Indian Child Welfare Act

March 7 – Navajo Generating Station

March 21 – Obesity, Clinton Foundation

April 4 – Native American Nations Revenue: Gaming/Tourism

April 18 – Northern AZ Water Rights Settlement


All meetings will be held in House Rooms 035/038 (Basement) except for the Jan 31st meeting – it will be held in Senate Caucus Room 2 from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.





-30-



Friday, January 18, 2013

Democratic leaders respond to Gov. Brewer’s budget proposal


Democratic leaders respond to Gov. Brewer’s budget proposal

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), and Senate Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor, D-Phoenix (District 27), released the following statements in response to the governor’s budget proposal.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell

“The governor’s budget is a good starting point. We appear to have a foundation for a plan that could bring legislators from both parties together to finally enact a common-sense budget for Arizona. I applaud the governor for her proposal to secure Arizona’s fair share of federal dollars through Medicaid expansion.

“It would be more productive for the state if the governor’s budget invested further in school resource officers, mental health services, child welfare programs, schools and job creators like state parks and other infrastructure and capital proposals. Overall, however, her funding priorities are reasonable.

“It is imperative that we move quickly to get additional Child Protective Services caseworkers and resources into the CPS system. I support the governor’s call for immediate action in that area. The governor’s proposed changes in how education is funded need to be discussed with stakeholders so that the impact on schools and school districts can be determined. We can’t just eliminate the existing funding formulas, many of which are currently unfunded, and pretend that starving Arizona’s schools of money has not done damage to the education system. Helping our schools rebound and implementing reform efforts, like Common Core, takes money. It must be done to ensure Arizona students have the skills needed to compete globally. We should start by providing the $80 million owed to schools for inflation funding. The court of appeals recently ruled that withholding that money from schools was illegal.

“I welcome the opportunity to work with the governor and my Republican counterparts in adopting a budget that reflects the values of our state and moves us toward a more secure economic future.”


Senate Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor

“The governor is doing the right thing by proposing we expand Medicaid. It’s a smart business decision that’s good for our state’s economy and good for the people of Arizona.

“We hope that same logic would be applied toward putting education on a path for success. Unfortunately, we’ve seen all too well that this Tea Party Legislature is willing to put our kids last.

“Over the past few years they have decimated education funding by more than $2.9 billion and slashed funding for CPS and healthcare - all while giving away hundreds of millions in tax cuts for corporations and special interests.


“We need to make smart choices as we craft next year’s budget, and it must be done in an open and transparent way with meaningful input from the public, unlike in past years. We must invest in our kids’ future, in our state’s future, if we hope to succeed.”


-30-






Thursday, January 17, 2013

Campbell introduces bills to enhance school safety, curtail gun violence

Campbell introduces bills to enhance school safety, curtail gun violence


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today, House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), introduced a series of bills that will enact the provisions of a plan he outlined last week that is designed to enhance school safety, provide more mental health services and promote responsible gun ownership.


"I am introducing a package of bills today that, if enacted, will provide a comprehensive approach to protecting our schools and communities from gun violence perpetrated by those who have, too often, slipped through the cracks of our legal or mental health systems," Campbell said. "My plan increases school safety and security, provides mental health services and interventions to stop those with severe mental health issues from having access to firearms, and ensures only those who can pass a background check have access to the most deadly guns."

Bills in Campbell's "Safer Schools, Safer Communities Plan" include:



HB 2374 - school safety program; funding; expansion

HB 2375 - behavioral health services; appropriation

HB 2083 - RBHA; treatment outcomes; measurement tools

HB 2376 - mandatory mental health evaluation; admission

HB 2377 - prohibited possessor; voluntary commitment; restoration

HB 2378 - destruction; forfeited or unclaimed firearms

HB 2379 - prohibited possessor; order of protection

HB 2380 - concealed carry; permit requirements; offense

HB 2381 - firearms; sales; transfers; background checks

Additionally, Campbell says he backs a plan, recently endorsed by Republican Governor Jan Brewer, to fully fund the expansion of Medicaid services to those with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to provide mental health services to people in this population. Campbell did not introduce a specific bill on this issue because the legislature will have to consider it as part of the state budget package later this year.

"The governor’s Medicaid expansion proposal suggests that a hospital provider assessment financing mechanism be utilized to cover the $138 million cost, and I am open to considering that as well as other funding options," Campbell said. "It is a positive sign that the governor appears to support more funding for school resource officers and Medicaid expansion. A common sense, bipartisan plan to address the threat of gun violence to our schools and communities is what the public wants, and maybe the time has finally come in Arizona where we can give them the action they demand.”


A brief summary of each bill that Campbell introduced is below .

The Arizona Safer Schools, Safer Communities Plan

Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24)
Minority Leader – Arizona House of Representatives


The Arizona Safer Schools, Safer Communities Plan will:



Make school sites safer ($100 million total cost upon full implementation in 3 years):

HB 2374 - school safety program; funding; expansion

1) Triples the funding for the existing School Safety Program that funds on-campus School Resource Officers (SROs). Currently, this program receives about $8 million in funding. Under my proposal, it would receive $25 million annually (a $17 million increase) to allow more SROs to be placed on school sites.



2) Creates infrastructure within the Arizona Department of Education’s School Safety and Prevention Unit to coordinate statewide trainings and provide technical assistance to district, charter and private schools for emergency response planning and threat assessment. My plan would allocate $1 million annually for this work.



3) Requires each school district and all charter schools to conduct and update regularly a comprehensive threat assessment (if they haven’t already done so) and identify what is needed to provide adequate security at each of their school sites.



4) Establishes a school safety fund of $20 million that will provide competitive grant money to enhance school security measures and equipment based on the needs identified in the school site threat assessment and emergency response plan and training.



5) Doubles the number of school counselors to provide more mental health professionals in the school setting to help identify children who may need services and intervention. The total approximate cost of my proposal is $62 million and this amount will be phased in over 3 years to allow adequate implementation time.



Address the needs of the mentally ill ($161 million total cost):

HB 2375 - behavioral health services; appropriation

Fully funds Non-Title XIX services for the Seriously Mentally Ill (SMI) at the 2009 levels at a cost of $23 million. This will ensure all services previously provided under the Arnold v. Sarn lawsuit settlement will again be made available to all who are eligible.



HB 2083 – RBHA; treatment outcomes; measurement tools

Reforms the mental health care system to incorporate incentives for providers to produce positive outcomes - such as stability in housing, employment/education, and lower involvement in crime and the criminal justice system - for the clients they serve.



(NO LEGISLATION – will be a budget issue)

Support full expansion of Medicaid coverage to individuals with an income up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL). This will ensure access to mental health services for all individuals in this population through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). The estimated cost for the first year of this coverage is $138 million. My proposal is consistent with Governor Brewer’s plan to expand Medicaid, announced during her State of the State address on Monday, January 14, 2013. The Governor’s proposal suggests that a hospital provider assessment financing mechanism will be utilized to cover the $138 million cost, and I am open to considering that as well as other funding options.



Ensure gun ownership is safe:

HB 2376 - mandatory mental health evaluation; admission

Requires law enforcement who come into contact with an armed person who appears to be a threat to him/herself or others to temporarily seize the firearm and initiate a court hearing process to determine whether that person should be a “prohibited possessor.” The “prohibited possessor” list is a list of those persons prohibited from possessing firearms.



HB 2377 - prohibited possessor; voluntary commitment; restoration

Establishes a court hearing process for voluntarily committed persons to determine whether they should be “prohibited possessors.” Arizona law currently prohibits possession of a firearm by any person who has been found to constitute a danger to him/herself or others pursuant to a court order.



HB 2378 - destruction; forfeited or unclaimed firearms

Ensures that local government agencies can adopt ordinances to allow for the disposal of guns they obtain through seizure, forfeiture or abandonment, including through firearm “buy back” programs.



HB 2379 – prohibited possessor; order of protection

Adds to the “prohibited possessor” list, persons who have an order of protection issued against them which has been issued after a full judicial proceeding where both parties were present.



HB 2380 - concealed carry; permit requirements; offense

Reinstates the training and other requirements that were in place previous to 2010 related to receiving a permit to carry a concealed firearm (CCW permit). Failure to comply with these requirements would be a criminal offense.



HB 2381 - firearms; sales; transfers; background checks

1) Closes the “gun show” loophole by requiring sales and transfers to take place through a federally licensed firearms dealer to ensure all background checks and other requirements are met. Failure to comply with the requirement to use a licensed firearms dealer for the transaction would be a criminal offense.



2) Requires that person-to-person sales, loans and transfers of any firearms defined as “assault weapons” be processed by a licensed dealer to ensure all background checks and other requirements are met. Failure to comply with the requirement to use a licensed firearm dealer for the transaction would be a criminal offense. For providing this service to private parties, licensed dealers will be permitted to charge no more than $50 (in addition to any government-imposed background check or other required fees). Weapons passed down to family members as family heirlooms and keepsakes would be exempt from this requirement.

New legislative caucus formed by veterans for veterans

New legislative caucus formed by veterans for veterans

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Military veterans who are now serving in the Arizona Legislature are forming a new caucus that will focus on issues affecting veterans across the state.


“As active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces, we had the obligation and the freedom to not be bogged down with partisan politics. We did not take an oath for a political party or a particular leader. Our oath was to the United States Constitution,” said Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu (District 5). “We in the Veterans Caucus have come together as a non-partisan partnership to continue honoring that tradition. Our mission is simple. Set the example for the service and support of veterans’ causes. Semper Fi.”


Caucus members including Republican and Democrats have already started reaching out to veterans’ groups.

Melissa Lange, co-founder and president of the Southwest Veterans Chamber of Commerce, said that she is pleased to see the legislators focusing on veterans issues including employment. The mission of the chamber is to improve the business climate, economy and quality of life for veterans.

"We at the Southwest Veterans Chamber of Commerce feel an obligation to help veterans succeed in the business world. These men and women dedicated a good deal of their time to serving our country. We think that it is only fitting that we spend some time helping them when they return to civilian life,” Lange said. “Our organization was created by veterans and for veterans because we best understand the specific needs of the veteran community as they re-enter the workforce. It stands to reason that a legislative caucus, created by veterans, for veterans, is uniquely qualified to address veterans’ issues."


Terry Araman, director of the Madison Street Veterans Association, said that he is looking forward to working with the caucus to help Arizona become the most supportive state in the country for all veterans.

“Ending veteran homelessness, assisting veterans with opportunities for quality employment, education, and health care, can only be accomplished with the participation and support of the entire community - government, business, service and faith-based organizations,” Araman said. “Let’s make sure Arizona is the most supportive state in the country for all veterans. These are men and women who have dedicated a portion of their lives to ensure that we remain free and safe, at home and abroad. Our returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as previous generations of veterans, deserve no less than our full and complete support to successfully reintegrate back into civilian life.”

The caucus will be open to any state legislators with past military experience. All legislators or interested members of the public are invited to attend caucus meetings.


“There are many of us at the Legislature who have military experience. We know firsthand the challenges many of our veterans are facing now. We are prepared to work together and across the aisle to find better ways of providing services for our state’s veterans,” said Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix (District 19). “This session we’ll be addressing issues including employment, education and mental health care for veterans.”





-30-



Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Campbell announces details of Safer Schools, Safer Communities Plan

Campbell announces details of Safer Schools, Safer Communities Plan
‘We need to have an honest discussion about gun violence’


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), said that the best way to curb gun violence in schools and in communities is to face the problem head on.

“We have to have an honest discussion about gun violence,” Campbell said. “The only way to effectively change things is to implement comprehensive solutions. We need to talk about ways to keep our school campuses safe, we have to discuss ways to provide services to people with mental illness, and frankly, we need to talk about guns.”


Campbell has been working with law enforcement, mental health care providers and educators to develop a comprehensive legislative package intended to create safer schools and safer communities in Arizona.

“It’s time that we restore funding for the school resource officer program,” Campbell said. “Keeping trained professionals on school campuses is one of the first things we can do to protect Arizona kids. This is a program that works and that is already in place. ”


Andrew F. Morrill, president of the Arizona Education Association and a former classroom teacher, said student and school safety must always be a budget and a policy priority for Arizona’s lawmakers. He said the AEA supports legislation that promotes reasonable and comprehensive approaches to school safety, including those designed to identify, diagnose, and intervene in cases where patterns of violence or bullying emerge.


“Ensuring school safety requires better solutions than extremists would offer. Expanding mental health and counseling services reduces the likelihood that troubling behavior would escalate into violence,” Morrill said. “District safety plans may include armed security or law enforcement personnel, but our campuses are no place for guns unless carried by trained law and security officers.”

Detective Rob Katzaroff, on behalf of the Arizona School Resource Officers Association, said that SROs enhance school safety and are the people best equipped to handle crisis situations when and if they occur on a school campus.


“Properly trained SROs not only bring the knowledge and resources of the police department but also understand the school climate on their campuses and can more effectively evaluate and respond to threats against the schools where they are assigned,” Katzaroff said.


Campbell’s plan also includes funding for resources for mental health care services and school counselors. Mindy Willard has been a school counselor at Sunset Ridge Elementary School in Glendale, Arizona since 2004. The American School Counselor Association named her the 2013 National School Counselor of the Year. She said school counselors provide services that can prevent tragedies.


“School counselors help students with academic and personal skills. We provide guidance and support,” Willard said. “We know these kids; we’re in every classroom. And we know the warning signs. When there’s a problem, we can help families find resources to intervene."


She added that in Arizona, there aren’t enough school counselors on campuses.


“Right now because there aren’t enough school counselors in the state, it is difficult to stay on top of everything happening on campuses. The proposal to increase funding for counselors will create jobs in our communities and will immediately impact the safety of our schools.”


Campbell’s proposal would double the number of school counselors in the state.


The Safer Schools, Safer Communities Plan includes legislation that will enhance background checks for gun purchases and will restore the state’s concealed weapons permit requirements.


“Gun law reform is something we have to do in this state,” Campbell said. “I’m a gun owner and I support the Second Amendment but we need common sense reforms.”


Campbell added that making schools and communities safer is not a partisan issue.


“Everyone should be able to come together on this,” Campbell said. “I think that we can all agree that keeping kids safe is a priority.”


A summary of the legislation included in Campbell’s Safer Schools, Safer Communities Plan is below.

The Arizona Safer Schools, Safer Communities Plan
Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24)
Minority Leader – Arizona House of Representatives


Too often, we hear terrible news reports of shootings in our country’s schools and public places. Some of these tragic events have even happened in our own state, most notably the shooting of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords that killed 6 people in Tucson in January 2011. The numerous school shootings and recent murders of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut have again demonstrated how vulnerable our children can be in a setting where they should always be safe and secure.

The story is almost always the same when one of these horrific events unfolds: a person suffering from mental illness takes deadly, high-powered weapons into a setting that lacks the security to detect or stop the armed gunman before he can carry-out his murderous intentions. It is past time that Arizona provides help to those whose mental illness makes them a threat to themselves or others. We must work to prevent these types of tragedies while aggressively protecting our children and community from the potential deadly consequences.

The Arizona Safer Schools, Safer Communities Plan will:

Make school sites safer ($100 million cost):

1) Triple the funding for the existing School Safety Program that funds on-campus School Resource Officers (SROs). Currently, this program receives about $8 million in funding. Under my proposal, it would receive $25 million annually (a $17 million increase), to allow more SROs to be placed on school sites.


2) Create infrastructure within the Arizona Department of Education’s School Safety and Prevention Unit to coordinate statewide trainings and provide technical assistance to district, charter and private schools for emergency response planning and threat assessment. My plan would allocate $1 million annually for this work.


3) Require each school district and all charter schools to conduct and update regularly a regular comprehensive threat assessment (if they haven’t already done so) and identify what is needed to provide adequate security at each of their school sites.


4) Establish a school safety fund of $20 million that will provide competitive grant money to enhance school security measures and equipment based on the needs identified in the school site threat assessment and emergency response plan and training.


5) Double the number of school counselors to help ensure there are more mental health professionals in the school setting to help identify children who may need services and intervention. The total approximate cost of my proposal is $62 million and this amount will be phased in over 3 years to allow adequate implementation time.


Address the needs of the mentally ill ($161 million cost):

1) Fully fund Non-Title XIX services for the Seriously Mentally Ill (SMI) at the 2009 levels at a cost of $23 million. This will ensure all services previously provided under the Arnold v. Sarn lawsuit settlement will again be made available to all who are eligible. In addition to restoring funding to the SMI population, my proposal will also reform the system to incorporate incentives for providers to produce positive outcomes - such as stability in housing, employment/education, and lower involvement in crime and the criminal justice system - for the clients they serve.


2) Fully expand Medicaid coverage to individuals with an income up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL). This will ensure access to mental health services for all individuals in this population through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). The estimated cost for the first year of this coverage is $138 million.

Ensure gun ownership is safe ($0 cost):

1) Close the “gun show” loophole by requiring sales and transfers to take place through a federally licensed firearms dealer to ensure all background checks and other requirements are met. Failure to comply with the requirement to use a licensed firearm dealer for the transaction would be a criminal offense.


2) Require that person-to-person sales, loans and transfers of any firearms defined as "assault weapons" be processed by a licensed dealer to ensure a background check and other requirements that would be imposed if the purchase were made from a dealer are met. Failure to comply with the requirement to use a licensed firearm dealer for the transaction would be a criminal offense. For providing this service to private parties, licensed dealers will be permitted to charge no more than $50 (in addition to any government-imposed background check or other required fees). Weapons passed down to family members as family heirlooms and keepsakes would be exempt from this requirement.


3) Reinstate the training and other requirements that were in place previous to 2010 related to receiving a permit to carry a concealed firearm (CCW permit). Failure to comply with these requirements would be a criminal offense.


4) Limit access to firearms for those individuals who are a risk to themselves or others. Arizona law currently prohibits possession of a firearm by any person who has been found to constitute a danger to him/herself or others pursuant to court order, but the definition of “prohibited possessor” must be extended to include those who have been voluntarily committed and/or assessed as a threat to themselves or others by law enforcement. In addition, persons who have an order of protection issued against them, which has been issued after a full judicial proceeding where both parties were present, would be prohibited possessors under my proposal.

5) Ensure that local governments can adopt ordinances to allow for the disposal of guns they obtain through seizure, forfeiture or abandonment, including through firearm “buy back” programs.