Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Campbell: ‘Arming school employees is not the solution to the gun violence problem’


Campbell:  ‘Arming school employees is not the solution to the gun violence problem’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), released the following statement on SB 1325, a bill that would allow designated school employees to carry concealed weapons on school campuses that are more than 30 minutes and 20 miles away from a law enforcement agency.

“We know that arming school employees is not the solution to the gun violence problem in our schools. I have a list of concerns with this bill. SB 1325 would allow any designated school employee to carry a concealed weapon on school campuses and does not require adequate training. We can’t expect school employees to react the way a trained peace officer would in an emergency situation.

“School resource officers are trained for emergency situations. Instead of wasting time on bills like this, we should be funding the school resource officer program. Schools that are more than 30 minutes and 20 miles away from a law enforcement agency are prime candidates for a school resource officer.

“The extremists at the Capitol seem to think that arming school employees is the only option to prevent gun violence in schools. That is completely false. There are plenty of things we can do to prevent gun violence. In fact, I proposed a series of bills that presented a comprehensive approach to protecting our schools and communities from gun violence. My plan would have increased school safety and security. It also would have provided mental health services and interventions to stop those with severe mental health issues from having access to firearms. Unfortunately, extremists here blocked my efforts.

“Democrats have offered other common-sense options. I won’t accept that this bill is the best we can do. We have an obligation to the people of Arizona to prioritize the safety of our kids over political ideology.”

Despite Democratic opposition, the House Appropriations Committee passed the bill today.

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House Democrats condemn efforts to distribute shotguns in Tucson neighborhoods

STATEMENT: House Democrats condemn efforts to distribute shotguns in Tucson neighborhoods


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats respond to reports that the Armed Citizen Project plans to distribute shotguns to residents in three Tucson neighborhoods.

Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9), released the following statement:

“This is plain lunacy. This group is planning to distribute shotguns in three neighborhoods, Pueblo Gardens, Midvale Park and the Grant-Campbell area. These neighborhoods did not request to be part of this twisted social experiment.  This effort is spearheaded by a former Tucson political candidate who is looking to grab headlines. If this is such a good idea, why isn’t he handing out shotguns to people in his own neighborhood?

“Obviously, this group is out of touch with what the people of Arizona want. Arizonans in Tucson and across the state are demanding that we reduce gun violence and create safer communities. Handing out shotguns is not a solution. I’ve been working with my colleagues to prevent tragedies like the one Tucson experienced when a mentally unstable person shot and killed six people and attempted to kill a congresswoman. Investing money in the Mental Health First Aid program would have been a great start. That program trains people to better recognize and help those who are experiencing a mental health crisis.  Supporting the program would have been a real solution, not a political stunt. Unfortunately, extremists at the Legislature blocked that effort. Regardless, I will continue to work on common-sense reforms because Arizonans deserve more than political grandstanding.”

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), released the following statement:

“The plan to hand out shotguns in neighborhoods is ideological extremism at its worst. This is a political gimmick that could have dangerous consequences. It is not a real solution to the violence that is occurring in our state and across the country.

“The people of Arizona have issued a very clear directive – help us make our communities safer. I proposed a series of bills that presented 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. My plan would have increased school safety and security, provided mental health services and interventions to stop those with severe mental health issues from having access to firearms. It also would have ensured only those who can pass a background check would have access to the most deadly guns.

“A handful of extremist ideologues at the Capitol were able to keep this legislation from moving forward. It is evidence that these extremists would rather push an ideological agenda than engage in any meaningful attempts to curb gun violence in our state.  

“Instead, the response from the extremists is to hand out shotguns. How does that make any sense? It makes me wonder what is next.”



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Sherwood criticizes Tea Party attempt to block cities and towns from passing anti-discrimination ordinances

STATEMENT: Sherwood criticizes Tea Party attempt to block cities and towns from passing anti-discrimination ordinances

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Andrew Sherwood, D-Tempe (District 26), released the following statement regarding a strike-everything amendment to SB 1045, which would give people and businesses permission to deny access to privacy areas, such as restrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms, based on gender identity or expression. This amendment would stop cities and towns from enacting and enforcing policies that protect people from discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Sherwood serves on the House Appropriations Committee, which is scheduled to hear the amendment today.

“The Tea Party extremists at the Capitol are more interested in legislating restroom use than they are in passing a budget. Since last week, I’ve received hundreds of emails and phone calls from Arizonans who are disappointed with the direction that extremists in our Legislature are taking.

“These extremists are engaging in political grandstanding, fear mongering and diversionary tactics when the people want the Legislature to focus on the priorities all Arizonans share like job creation, economic development, education and health care.

“The proposed striker to SB 1045 is a solution in search of a problem. There are over 160 cities and towns across the country that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Other cities in Arizona have ordinances like the one the City of Phoenix just passed, and they haven’t resulted in people inappropriately using restrooms, putting public safety at risk or raising privacy concerns. Arizona already has criminal laws in place to deal with any perpetrator who would do that. 

“I am concerned that this political stunt will put Arizona back into the national headlines for all the wrong reasons.”

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

UPDATE: Senate Appropriations Committee passes Escamilla’s bill to support state parks, create jobs

UPDATE: Senate Appropriations Committee passes Escamilla’s bill to support state parks, create jobs


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today the Arizona Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Juan Carlos Escamilla, D-San Luis (District 4), that would provide additional funding for Arizona state parks through donations.

“State parks are integral to economic development and provide over 3,300 jobs, many of which are in Arizona’s rural communities,” he said. “This legislation allows for parks to receive donations on a mass scale, allowing them to get the resources they need to stay open, expand and provide continued access for Arizonans and out-of-state visitors to our beautiful state parks.”

HB 2621 would create an option for people to donate to state parks when registering vehicles in Arizona by establishing the Sustainable State Parks and Roads Fund. State parks would receive 85 percent of all the money contributed to this fund. The rest of the money would go to the Arizona Department of Transportation. Escamilla added that state parks are job creators.

“Tourism is a crucial part of Arizona’s economy,” Escamilla said. “Past budget sweeps of state park funding have created challenges, but with HB 2621 state parks will be able to reach out to Arizonans for donations.”

The bill must now go to the Senate Rules Committee for a hearing.

To view the bill, go to http://www.azleg.gov/DocumentsForBill.asp?Bill_Number=2621&Session_Id=110&image.x=7&image.y=10



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House Democrats oppose efforts to create more obstacles for people seeking unemployment benefits

House Democrats oppose efforts to create more obstacles for people seeking unemployment benefits

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXHouse Democrats today voted against a Republican effort to make it more difficult for people who need unemployment benefits to prove that they qualify for those benefits.

“We really should be finding more opportunities to create jobs, instead of spending time voting on legislation that will make it harder for unemployed people to get back on their feet,” Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 30), said.

The House of Representatives passed HB 2147. If this bill becomes law, former employees would have to prove to the Department of Economic Security they were laid off to be eligible for benefits. People are not eligible for unemployment benefits if they quit a job or are fired. Employers already have the right to contest a claim for unemployment benefits which makes HB 2147 unnecessary and unfair.

“How are people supposed to prove that they have been laid off? There is nothing that requires employers to provide any documentation to employees so that they can apply for unemployment benefits,” McCune Davis said. “This actually allows DES to take the employer’s word for the fact that an employee abandoned his or her job or was fired. It shifts the balance of power in favor of employers and burdens employees with demands that cannot be met easily. It is unfair treatment for working families.”

The bill passed, despite unanimous opposition from the House Democrats. Next it will go to the governor.


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Monday, March 25, 2013

Saldate honors Henry ‘Hank’ Oyama for contributions to civil rights, education

STATEMENT: Saldate honors Henry ‘Hank’ Oyama for contributions to civil rights, education

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXRep. Macario Saldate, D-Tucson (District 3), today honored Henry “Hank” Oyama, a Tucson native and civil rights advocate, who recently passed away.  Shortly after Oyama’s funeral services, Saldate offered an official proclamation from the floor of House of Representatives. He released the following statement:

“Henry ‘Hank’ Oyama was a man of many accomplishments. He lived a life of service. His mother was from Japan but he was born in Tucson and his primary language was Spanish. He and his family were sent to a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II when he was just 15 years old.  He still chose to serve his country in the United States Army and Air Force when he graduated from high school in 1945.

“Hank served in many other ways. He helped to stop a discriminatory practice in Arizona. More than 50 years ago, he and his wife were not allowed to marry because Arizona law prohibited interracial marriage. Hank was of Japanese descent and Mary Ann Jordan, the woman who would become his wife, was not.

“Together they worked with the American Civil Liberties Union to change the law, which the Arizona Legislature repealed before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to end all race-based marriage restrictions.  Hank and Mary Ann were married until her passing in 1987.

“Years later he would pioneer efforts to bring bilingual education to schools in the Southwest and worked with federal lawmakers to fund bilingual education. He spent 18 years working for the Tucson Unified School District, which named an elementary school for him in February 2003.

“Hank spent much of his life in Tucson where he was a model citizen who contributed to his community. He will be missed.”

According to the Arizona Daily StarOyama is survived by his wife of 21 years, Laura Ann; daughter Mary Catherine Tate; sons David Oyama, Patrick Oyama and Steven Oyama; stepchildren Susanna Minegishi, Chris Toledo, Elizabeth Toledo, Pablo Toledo and Andrea Leyva; 14 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

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Alston announces Essential Tremor Awareness Month

STATEMENT: Alston announces Essential Tremor Awareness Month

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today Rep. Lela Alston, D- Phoenix (District 24), reminded legislators that March is Essential Tremor Awareness Month. She released the following statement after reading an official proclamation from the floor of the House of Representatives.

“Essential tremor is a neurological condition that causes shaking of the head, hands and voice. There are an estimated 10 million people in the United States who have essential tremor symptoms. Although essential tremor is not life threatening, it can get progressively more serious and can affect a person’s quality of life by making daily tasks more difficult. I would like to help by increasing awareness of this condition and providing helpful information to those who have or might have essential tremor. Many Arizonans are affected by this neurological disorder, and it can be commonly misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease.  Promoting greater awareness and education could result in more funding and research so that we may identify effective treatments and a cure for the condition.”

For more information on essential tremor, go to www.essentialtremor.org.


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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Arizona Native American Caucus addresses obesity concerns

Arizona Native American Caucus addresses obesity concerns

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today the Arizona Native American Caucus met to find ways to reduce the occurrence of obesity in communities across Arizona.

“Obesity has reached epidemic status in our communities, and the occurrence of childhood obesity is on the rise,” Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), said.  “If the upward trend is not reversed, there will be devastating consequences on the lives of our children and a  burden on the cost of health care.”

Dr. Paula Hale, director of policy and advocacy at Our Health, Our Lives, Inc., provided the caucus with startling facts about obesity.  She said that overall across the country, obesity is on the rise. She added that the problem is even more profound in most of the Native American communities in Arizona

She explained that the obesity trend in Native American communities can be attributed to a number of factors including lack of access to nutritious foods, difficulty incorporating exercise into lifestyles, poverty and a lack of information and education about the effects of obesity.

“Native American women are 60 percent more likely to be obese. Additionally, in a recent study, 40 percent of Navajos 45 years old and older were found to be diabetic. We have not educated people enough about this issue,” Dr. Hale said. “We need to be educating people and giving them better choices.”

Rep. Hale agreed, adding that there are many misconceptions about nutrition in Native American communities.

“Many of the foods that we call traditional, like fry bread and mutton stew, are not really traditional,” he said. “Most traditional Navajo foods are corn based but we’ve come to call the unhealthy foods traditional because they are available now and are what we know.”

ICM Food and Clothing Bank Executive Director Renea Gentry and Director of Development Jacquelyn Ahrenberg also attended the caucus meeting. Ahrenberg said that in many communities it is easier to get a prepackaged brownie than it is to find fresh vegetables.  She also said that there is a connection between poverty and high obesity rates.

“It is just easier to buy junk food if you are on a fixed income,” she said.

Before the caucus adjourned, members agreed to work together to develop ways to bring awareness to the obesity issues in their communities.

“This is a trend that is having devastating effects on our communities and our children,” Hale said. “It will take more than one discussion to reverse the damage that has been done but the level of commitment within the caucus is high. That will translate into direct action.”
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Campbell calls for increased financial aid and lower tuition costs

Campbell calls for increased financial aid and lower tuition costs

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), said decisions to cut per-student spending at universities while hiking tuition rates are unacceptable and must be reversed.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently reported that Arizona is one of two states in the country that has cut higher education spending per student in half during the past five years. The center also reported that Arizona increased tuition during that same time period by 78 percent - more than any other state in the nation. 

It seems the governor, the Arizona Board of Regents and the Republicans in the Legislature have done all they can to limit access to higher education over the past several years,” Campbell said. “How can they claim to support higher education when they have cut per-student spending and continue to increase tuition?  The universities have done everything they can to ensure students have access to a quality higher education, but they can only do so much.  We must have a new vision to move higher education forward in Arizona.”

Campbell added that higher education is a crucial component to economic recovery and stability.

“We have to ensure that our students are prepared to participate in an increasingly global economy,” Campbell said. “We should be finding ways to make education more affordable and more accessible. House Democrats have already proposed a budget that includes $11 million in financial aid for students in fiscal year 2014. The Republicans are pretending this problem does not exist. Meanwhile, students and their families are struggling to find ways to pay for school.”

This year, Campbell introduced a bill, HB 2602, that would have established a statewide system similar to the Northern Arizona University pledge system that allows a freshman entering the university to pay the same tuition for four years.

“Students and their families should be able to estimate how much school is going to cost. Tuition shouldn’t be a moving target. My bill didn’t even get a hearing,” Campbell said. “How serious is the Tea Party about supporting education? If actions speak louder than words, then it is clear that higher education will continue to be seriously jeopardized in this state.  It is time to rethink how we manage and support our universities and students.”

To see the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report, go to http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3927.


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Gallego supports nomination of Tom Perez to head Labor Department

STATEMENT: Gallego supports nomination of Tom Perez to head Labor Department

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXPresident Barack Obama nominated Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez to head the Labor Department. Assistant House Minority Leader Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 27), released the following statement in support of this nomination.

“Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez is highly qualified and, over the years, has been a constant voice for hardworking middle-class families. I strongly support his nomination and believe he will be extremely effective at promoting broad-based economic growth.

“Perez has consistently shown that he is a pragmatic leader and a consensus builder. He has had a long career in public service and much of his work was focused on helping families targeted by unfair mortgage lending practices. Additionally, he has worked to increase access to education. He has also worked to increase the enforcement of human trafficking laws.  Perez served as the secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, which protects consumers and workers through the enforcement of a wide range of consumer rights, workplace safety, and wage and hour laws. 

“He is the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, and he is firmly committed to preserving the American dream. His father passed away when he was only 12 years old but not before teaching him and his four siblings the importance of hard work and public service.

“He is an advocate for the American dream and the right person to head the Department of Labor.”


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Monday, March 18, 2013

STATEMENT: Quezada’s statement on the Arizona voter ID case heard in U.S. Supreme Court


 
STATEMENT: Quezada’s statement on the Arizona voter ID case heard in U.S. Supreme Court

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), released the following statement on the Arizona voter ID case heard in the U.S. Supreme Court today.

“Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, a case that focuses on Arizona’s requirement that people submit documents proving their citizenship when they register to vote.  The National Voter Registration Act increased opportunities for Americans to vote and standardized registration practices to better ensure equal treatment. The court will determine whether this voter protection prevents Arizona from imposing unfair voter registration requirements.

“There is already a standard federal voter registration form that requires people to affirm their citizenship under penalty of perjury. This practice is used by many states. In 2004, Arizona adopted voter registration requirements that undermined the NVRA and created unnecessary obstacles to voter registration, particularly to recently naturalized citizens.

“We need robust voter participation to support a healthy democracy. We are better served at all levels of government when we encourage all citizens to get involved in the elections process. The NVRA protections ensure that all citizens have a chance to have their voices heard. It is my hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will affirm that the NVRA prohibits Arizona from applying the proof of citizenship requirement to the federal voter registration form. Voter participation is vital in promoting American democracy. We need to make sure voting systems provide the tools to enrich the voting experience, and not turn qualified citizens away.”

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House Republicans too focused on bills that promote extremist agenda

House Republicans too focused on bills that promote extremist agenda
House Democrats call for more work on issues that will move Arizona forward

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Some Republicans in the Arizona House of Representatives insist on wasting time on extremist legislation that promotes an ideological agenda focused on undermining the federal government instead of working on what matters most to Arizonans – creating jobs and improving education.

“House committees only have a few more days to meet and hear bills,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), said.  “Instead of working on things that will move Arizona forward, Republicans are choosing to focus on foolish bills that seem designed to do little more than challenge the federal government. We actually have real work to do. We have a budget to pass and should not be wasting time on irrational legislation because the extremists here just want to make a point.”

Campbell specifically identified SCR 1016 as an example. This is a Senate Concurrent Resolution that would create a ballot measure for the voters of Arizona to amend the state’s constitution to allow the Legislature or voters to decide if certain federal laws are unconstitutional. It would negate the need for a court system, and would undermine the checks and balances system. The Senate already passed this bill, as did the House Committee on Federalism and Fiscal Responsibility.

“Apparently the Republicans at the Legislature have decided to do away with the checks and balances system,” Campbell said. “They want to expand the powers of the State Legislature so that the extremists here can cherry pick which federal bills they don’t like, and try to prevent them from being enforced. It would basically make courts useless. Aside from being ridiculous, it’s a blatant power grab.”

Rep. Lydia Hernandez, D-Phoenix (District 29), said the House Committee on Financial Institutions is scheduled to hear SB 1439 Monday afternoon. This is a bill that would allow people to use gold and silver, instead of money, in financial transactions in the state.  

“This is a clear example of ideology being put ahead of common sense,” Hernandez said. “If this bill becomes law, it would create a huge bureaucratic nightmare. There is no plan for how to implement this. How are local businesses going to have the equipment to determine the value of gold and silver? How will it be stored? Does this mean that I can use a silver fork or a gold earring as legal tender? Is there a public demand for this? Issues of currency should be handled by the Federal Reserve, so this is yet another attempt to undermine the federal government. There are just too many questions that remain unanswered to even consider this legislation credible.”

Rep. Lisa Otondo, D-Yuma (District 4), points to HB 2318 as another example of legislation designed to support an extremist agenda. This bill would exempt charter schools and district schools that do not receive federal funding from some federal and state regulations. If this bill becomes law, education funding across the entire state would be in danger.

“If we release one school from its federal requirements, then we jeopardize about $1 billion in federal funding for all schools in Arizona,” Otondo said. “When it comes to federal education funding, it is all-or-nothing, meaning either everyone agrees to play by the same rules or no one gets the federal money. The people supporting this bill are undermining federal funding for education during a time when our schools are being starved of resources. The Tea Party extremists want to put education funding on the line so they can take a shot at the federal government. It makes no sense.”

Campbell added that if the Republican ideological extremists want to usurp power from the federal government and from the judicial branch they should just be up front about it.

“All of this legislation is absurd,” Campbell said. “If the extremist faction here wants to secede from the union, they should just do that instead of forcing the rest of us to consider bills like this when we should be working on Medicaid expansion and the budget.”

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Monday, March 11, 2013

UPDATE: Cardenas’ bill to create incentives for hiring veterans passes in the House

UPDATE: Cardenas’ bill to create incentives for hiring veterans passes in the House

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – After Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix (District 19), dedicated HB 2484 to a soldier he served with in Iraq, the Arizona House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill he sponsored to support Arizona's veterans.

During the vote, Cardenas explained that he lost a friend and fellow soldier to suicide after he returned from the Iraq war. Cardenas said his friend struggled to find work, with depression and with other issues and eventually took his own life.

“We need to find ways to ease the struggles our veterans face when they return home,” Cardenas said.

HB 2484 would establish a tax credit for individuals and corporations who hire unemployed veterans. It would also give advance notice to veterans for state employment announcements.

“HB 2484 is one way of helping our service men and women. We know that veterans have skills that can be put to good use in our growing job market.  This bill would give incentives to employers to offer those jobs to veterans,” Cardenas said. “This is a huge step forward for Arizona's veterans.”

The House passed the bill, 47-11. It now goes to the Senate for consideration. To view the bill, go to http://www.azleg.gov/DocumentsForBill.asp?Bill_Number=2484&Session_Id=110&image.x=10&image.y=9.

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Friday, March 08, 2013

House Democrats working with community members to show how harmful election bills will disenfranchise Arizona voters

House Democrats working with community members to show how harmful election bills will disenfranchise Arizona voters

Phoenix residents Miriam Gundry (front, left) and Dorothy Anderson (back, left) meet with Rep. Ruben Gallego (front, right), Rep. Martin Quezada (center, right) and Rep. Lela Alston (back, right) to discuss some of the harmful election bills being heard at the State Capitol.
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today House Democrats met with Phoenix residents Dorothy Anderson, 97 years old, and Miriam Gundry, 88 years old, to discuss several election bills that would disenfranchise Arizona voters.

Recently, Republicans have been pushing legislation that would negatively affect some Arizona voters. Both Anderson and Gundry rely on volunteers to pick up and deliver their ballots. SB 1003 would drastically limit who can help voters return early ballots during elections. Anderson invited House Democrats to her home to discuss the ramifications of such legislation.

Anderson said she first voted in a presidential election in the 1930s, and she thinks the Legislature should “just leave things alone.” Gundry, who cast her first vote in 1948 for Harry S. Truman, said she thinks the legislation will disenfranchise the elderly.

“How can you make it more difficult to vote?” she said. “Voting is an American right. I think it’s really unfair to pick on old people.”

Rep. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix (District 24), applauded Anderson and Gundry for speaking out on this issue.

“It is so important that Arizonans participate in the process,” Alston said. “These ladies are standing up for their rights and for the rights of countless others who would be disenfranchised by this legislation.”

Assistant House Minority Leader Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 27), added that proponents of the legislation may argue that people like Anderson and Gundry could just mail their ballots.

“That argument doesn’t hold water,” Gallego said. “Many voters would rather have someone they trust deliver their ballots. The cut off date for mailing ballots can be confusing, and they want to be sure their voices are heard. The bottom line is we should be making it easier for people to participate, not setting up obstacles.”

Another bill, SB 1261, would make it more difficult for people to be included on the Permanent Early Voting List and more difficult to stay on that list once they are added. About 50 percent of all Latino voters in Arizona are registered on the PEVL.

“Voter turnout within the Latino community increased dramatically this past election cycle.  Part of the reason for that was because many Latinos utilized the PEVL system,” Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), said. “This legislation will marginalize Latino voters and other minority voters. We should be expanding voting opportunities for the people of Arizona, not finding ways to restrict them.”

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Thursday, March 07, 2013

UPDATE: House supports Dalessandro’s efforts to keep Cherrybell Mail Processing Center open

UPDATE: House supports Dalessandro’s efforts to keep Cherrybell Mail Processing Center open


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today the Arizona House of Representatives supported efforts to urge Congress to keep the Cherrybell Mail Processing Center in Tucson open.

Rep. Andrea Dalessandro, D-Sahuarita (District 2), sponsored House Concurrent Memorial 2007, which asks Congress to take action against the closing of the Cherrybell Mail Processing Center. A house concurrent memorial can be used by the State Legislature to make an official statement on an issue outside its jurisdiction.
“If the Cherrybell Mail Processing Center closes, nearly 300 Arizonans could lose their jobs,” Dalessandro said. “The first step to job growth is to keep the jobs we already have. I am so pleased that this effort got bipartisan support.”

The House voted in favor of the memorial 35-24. It now goes to the Senate.

A copy of HCM 2007 is available at http://www.azleg.gov/DocumentsForBill.asp?Bill_Number=HCM2007&Session_Id=110



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STATEMENT: Sherwood statement on bill that would establish partisan primaries for recall elections

STATEMENT: Sherwood statement on bill that would establish partisan primaries for recall elections

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX  Rep. Andrew Sherwood, D-Tempe (District 26), released the following statement today after Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to pass HB 2282. This bill adds a requirement that a recall election be split into a partisan primary election and a general election.  Under the current system, a recall election is a special election in which all voters in the district may participate. 

“This bill flies in the face of the Arizona Constitution, and it was prompted by the Russell Pearce recall. I was a resident of his district at the time of that recall election, and it was clear to me that my neighbors wanted him out. The people exercised their constitutional rights. Just because that did not work out for the Tea Party extremists in this case does not give them the right to change the rules.

“The Pearce recall is the first time in our state's history that a sitting legislator has been successfully recalled.  So the claim that the system needs to be changed is unfounded. It has worked just fine for an entire century.

Arizona's founding fathers, in drafting our constitution, specifically considered the question of a recall primary election and they rejected that idea, putting in our constitution one special recall election.  We should respect the original intent of our founding fathers and keep the recall as one general election at which all of the elected official's voters can decide whether or not to keep him in office.

“I strongly oppose this bill.”
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UPDATE: House overwhelmingly passes Mental Health First Aid Bill

UPDATE: House overwhelmingly passes Mental Health First Aid Bill

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – On Wednesday, the Arizona House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed HB 2570, a bill that provides $250,000 to the Department of Health Services for Mental Health First Aid, a program that helps the public identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9), co-sponsored the bill.

“I’m a licensed professional counselor, and because of my training, I am certain this program makes a difference,” Steele said. “It will help people know how to better respond to individuals in crisis. The responses to this bill have been thoughtful and emotional. Many of us have had experiences with friends or loved ones who need assistance or are in crisis. The support the bill received in the House is an indication of how important this program is.”

The House passed the bill with a 54- 4 vote. It will now go to the Arizona Senate.

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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Attempts to create new county could negatively affect Native Americans

Attempts to create new county could negatively affect Native Americans

Hale: ‘We’ve been down this road before’


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), spoke in a House committee hearing about the potential negative consequences of SB 1283, a bill that would establish a committee to study the feasibility of creating a new county that would include a large Native American population. Hale said that this study committee could lead to the disenfranchisement of Native Americans in Arizona.

In committee, Hale said the Legislature made a similar attempt in the early 1980s.  Hale said former Gov. Bruce Babbitt vetoed that legislation because it created new county boundaries based on racial lines. The new county would have consisted entirely of the Navajo and Hopi nations.  Hale added that the current proposed legislation could lead to similar results.  Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa both sent letters to the Legislature opposing the bill.

“We’ve been down this road before and it was very divisive,” Hale said. “Legislation like this needs the support of the Native American nations it would affect. That isn’t the case. If the intent of SB 1283 is to study the feasibility of a separate county for Native Americans, not only is that discriminatory but we already know it is not feasible. Property taxes are not collected in Native American nations, so this proposed county would have no way to sustain itself. However, there is an easier and simpler way to return sales tax money back to Indian nations.  I have been introducing legislation for the last 12 years that addresses the issue of returning TPT revenues to the Native American nations.”

Hale explained that currently, Transaction Privilege Tax money, or sales tax, is collected from non-Indian-owned businesses operating on Native American lands. The tax money is distributed to the state, counties and municipalities incorporated under state law. Indian nations are not included in the distribution formula. His bill would correct this problem by including Indian nations in the distribution formula.

Hale introduced HB 2522, which would put 50 percent of TPT money collected from businesses on Native American lands directly back into the communities where it was collected. The bill would allow the use of the Indian nations’ share of TPT money as collateral for bonds to finance telecommunications, infrastructure development, community projects and roads.

“Introducing a bill that directly affects members of the Native American community without first talking to affected Indian nations is contrary to long-established government-to-government relationships between Indian nations and Arizona. Creating a separate county to further separate Native Americans from their neighbors is offensive.  We are already living on reservations that separate us from others. We do not need another reservation on top of the present reservation,” Hale said. “And a study committee is a waste of time. If the intent really is to return money to the nations, SB 1283 is not the way to do it. How much more studying do we need to arrive at the conclusion that Indian nations should be included in the TPT distribution formula?”

Despite these objections, and without the support of any Democrats, the committee passed the bill. It now goes to the House Rules Committee. 

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 a member of the New Mexico State Bar Association and the Navajo Nation Bar Association. He also is the former President of the Navajo Nation.


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