Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Native American Caucus reviews the Northern Arizona Water Rights Settlement

Native American Caucus reviews the Northern Arizona Water Rights Settlement

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Recently the Arizona Native American Caucus reviewed the complexities of the Northern Arizona Water Rights Settlement to gain a better understanding of water issues facing the state and Indian nations.

“Things happening on reservations will have an impact here and now,” Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), said. “Water is a central issue here in the desert. As the Navajo saying goes, ‘water is life.’ We must be mindful of this resource, especially in light of our growing populations.”

Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (District 7), said she is pleased that the Arizona Legislature is taking an interest in the water rights settlement.

Water is a precious resource,” she said. “Educating the Legislature about the history of water rights and water use in our state is of the utmost importance."

The following experts presented at the caucus meeting on April 25:

  • Stanley Pollack, assistant attorney general, Water Rights Unit, Navajo Nation Department of Justice
  • George Mase, council representative, chair of the Water and Energy Task Team, Hopi Tribal Council.
 “We have to continue to discuss water rights at the Legislature,” Hale said. “It is important that the elected officials understand these issues and are able to inform people in their own communities.”

The Native American Caucus meets regularly during the legislative session to discuss topics of importance to Native American communities but this was the final scheduled meeting for 2013.

“This legislative session, the Native American Caucus had meaningful discussions about a variety of topics,” Hale said.  “I greatly appreciate the efforts of the legislators who attended, the experts who presented and the lunch sponsors and staff for their support. I look forward to next year’s caucus meetings.”

Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9), said the level of participation and interest in the caucus impressed her.

“It is a sign of respect that our fellow legislators and the staff have continually attended the Native American Caucus meetings to learn more about issues affecting Native American people in Arizona,” she said.

Copies of the presentation materials are attached. More specific information about what was discussed at the caucus meeting on April 25, including presentations and other documents, is available upon request.


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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Campbell: ‘We’re past due on a budget and a vote on Medicaid expansion’


Campbell: ‘We’re past due on a budget and a vote on Medicaid expansion’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today marks the 100th day of the legislative session and Arizona House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), wants the Legislature to intensify efforts to pass a state budget and vote on Medicaid expansion.

“Today is the 100th day of the legislative session and we are no closer to passing a state budget now than we were on the first day. The state constitution requires the Legislature to do one thing – pass a budget. Unfortunately, partisan politics and ideology are pulling our state’s priorities off track. The people of Arizona deserve more from their elected officials. 

“House Democrats spent this session working on legislation that would create jobs, improve education and expand access to health care. In February, we proposed a budget that invests in mental health care, promotes school safety and eliminates wasteful spending by closing corporate tax loopholes. There is a lot of common ground between our proposal and the governor’s budget proposal. It provides an opportunity for us to set aside partisanship and work together to move Arizona forward.

“That opportunity has been wasted. Instead, some of the ideologues decided to spend their time fighting with the governor over Medicaid expansion. Expanding Medicaid would bring federal resources into the state. It would give hundreds of thousands of Arizonans access to health care and would create thousands of jobs. We need to pass Medicaid expansion sooner, not later.

“We’re past due on a budget and a vote on Medicaid expansion. We have no more time for political games.”

A copy of the House Democratic Budget can be found at http://www.azhousedemocrats.com/2013/02/house-democrats-release-budget-today.html.

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McCune Davis requests public hearing to review investigation of the Arizona National Guard

McCune Davis requests public hearing to review investigation of the Arizona National Guard

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 30), is calling for a public hearing to review the results of an outside investigation into the mounting accusations of misconduct in the Arizona National Guard.

Today, McCune Davis asked Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson (District 11), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Energy and Military Committee and Rep. Justin Pierce, R-Mesa (District 25), chairman of the House Public Safety, Military and Regulatory Affairs Committee, to conduct a public hearing on a report from Major General Ricky Adams regarding the Arizona National Guard.

“The media have uncovered troubling accusations that some members of the Arizona National Guard have participated in unacceptable behavior including sexual abuse, firearms abuse and retaliation against people who reported unethical or criminal conduct,” McCune Davis said. “The governor appointed an independent, third party to investigate these allegations. I understand that a report will be ready soon.”

McCune Davis said the report should not be tucked away from the public.

“Many Arizona families rely on the National Guard for career development and opportunities for education,” she said. “The public must be permitted an opportunity to review the report and to comment about their experiences with the Arizona National Guard.”

McCune Davis also offered to help Melvin and Pierce organize a public hearing.

“It is absolutely necessary for the public to be involved in this process,” McCune Davis said. “The families whose youth are recruited into the Arizona National Guard deserve to know that the organization operates at the highest level of integrity.”

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Monday, April 22, 2013

ICYMI: Rep. Ruben Gallego on comprehensive immigration reform

ICYMI: Rep. Ruben Gallego on comprehensive immigration reform

"We want to see our community be able to move forward. We want the country to be able to move forward and we know with comprehensive immigration reform that is possible."
- Rep. Ruben Gallego 4/17/13

Thursday, April 18, 2013

ICYMI: Rep. Martin Quezada on comprehensive immigration reform

ICYMI: Rep. Martin Quezada on comprehensive immigration reform

"Congress has finally acknowledged the importance of this issue" -Rep. Martin Quezada on the comprehensive immigration reform plan from the "Gang of 8" on 4/17/13

ICYMI: Rep. Peshlakai on the partisanship at the Capitol

ICYMI: Rep. Peshlakai on partisanship at the Capitol


"I realized that if I really actually want any of  my bill to go through, I have to ... ask one of my Republican colleagues to put their name on it and walk it through." - Rep. Peshlakai


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

STATEMENT: Campbell calls federal immigration reform effort a ‘reasonable and fair place to start the debate’


STATEMENT: Campbell calls federal immigration reform effort a ‘reasonable and fair place to start the debate’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), released the following statement regarding the congressional immigration reform bill recently introduced by a group of U.S. senators.

“The legislation put forth by the U.S. senators is a reasonable and fair place to start the debate about immigration reform. It is my hope that the Senate will take quick action on this bill.

“While there are some portions of the 844-page bill that I am concerned about, there are sections that provide common-sense reforms. The bill outlines a reasonable pathway to earned citizenship so hard working people across this country can pursue the American dream. That component is an absolute necessity for any legitimate comprehensive immigration reform plan.  It also improves the security of our border and accountability for those employers who are breaking the law.

“Overall this legislation tackles the big issues facing our country and our communities in Arizona.  It’s a great starting point and I am optimistic that Washington, D.C. is finally going to take real and fair action to address our broken immigration system.”

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STATEMENT: Campbell on U.S. Senate’s failure to require background checks for more firearm purchases

STATEMENT: Campbell on U.S. Senate’s failure to require background checks for more firearm purchases
 
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), reacted with disbelief and outrage at the news that the U.S. Senate today rejected a proposal to require background checks for more firearm purchases. He released the following statement:

“The U.S. Senate vote is a slap in the face to every parent whose child was lost in the Sandy Hook shootings as well as the countless other gun deaths that have needlessly occurred in this country. The bill defeated in the Senate today would have only expanded the background check requirements on gun show and internet sales.

“It was a weak compromise in my opinion. We also need background checks on private purchases, as I have proposed here in Arizona. The fact that members of the U.S. Senate refuse to even pass this modest reform is just unconscionable. Law-abiding gun owners have nothing to fear from a background check. Background checks are intended to ensure the safety of the public by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and people struggling with mental instability.

“It is easier to get a gun than a driver’s license in this country, and that is just not right. The stranglehold that a few extremists have over the politics of the gun issue is deplorable. Elected officials must stand up to the gun lobby and do the right thing - the moral thing. The U.S. Senators who voted to oppose background checks and killed this bill should be ashamed of themselves.”

Campbell, a gun owner and supporter of the Second Amendment, introduced a package of reforms in the Arizona House of Representatives earlier this year to address school safety and to promote common-sense gun reforms. None of the bills he introduced were given a hearing by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

A summary of those bills is below:

HB 2374 - school safety program; funding; expansion
Provides funding for the School Safety Program and more on-campus School Resource Officers, requires schools to conduct and update regularly a comprehensive threat assessment with the technical assistance of the Arizona Department of Education’s School Safety and Prevention Unit, provides funding for enhanced school security measures and doubles the number of school counselors to provide more mental health professionals in the school to help identify children who may need services and intervention.

HB 2375 - behavioral health services; appropriation
Provides funding for services to seriously mentally ill individuals who do not qualify for other health care programs. Representative Campbell also supports full expansion of Medicaid coverage to individuals with an income up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level to ensure expanded access to mental health services.

HB 2083 - RBHA; treatment outcomes; measurement tools
Reforms the mental health care system to incorporate incentives for providers to produce positive outcomes for the clients they serve.

HB 2376 - mandatory mental health evaluation; admission
Requires law enforcement coming 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 allowed to own a firearm.

HB 2377 - prohibited possessor; voluntary commitment; restoration
Establishes a court hearing process for voluntarily committed persons to determine whether they should be allowed to own firearms.

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
Prohibits persons from owning a firearm if they 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.

HB 2381 - firearms; sales; transfers; background checks
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 and 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. 


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STATEMENT: Quezada comments on the congressional comprehensive immigration reform plan

STATEMENT: Quezada comments on the congressional comprehensive immigration reform plan

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Chairman of the Arizona Latino Caucus Rep. Martin Quezada, D- Phoenix (District 29), released the following statement regarding the comprehensive immigration reform legislation recently proposed by a group of U.S. senators.

“I am pleased a bipartisan group of U.S. senators is taking the lead on comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level.  It is an emotional and complex issue that affects every state, especially Arizona. It is good that we finally have a starting point for this important debate.

“Although some of the provisions are troubling, I support efforts to create common-sense reforms. No immigration reform proposal would have been acceptable if it had failed to include a reasonable pathway to citizenship. We must find a way to provide fair citizenship opportunities for students, immigrant workers and their families. The bill affirms that an estimated 11 million immigrants would be given the chance to legalize their status with a new visa that will create a registered provisional immigrant status. 

“There is still more to be done, however this effort is a show of good faith. I will monitor this legislation closely because it greatly affects our state.”

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DECLARACIÓN: Quezada comenta sobre el plan de reforma integral al sistema de inmigración presentada por el Congreso



Capitolio estatal, PHOENIX – El Presidente del Caucus Latino de la Legislatura estatal, Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix (Distrito 29), emitió la siguiente declaración con respecto a la legislación de reforma migratoria integral presentada por un grupo de ocho Senadores del Congreso de los Estados Unidos.

"Me alegra que un grupo bipartidista de senadores está tomando la iniciativa en la reforma migratoria integral a nivel federal. Es un tema emocional y complejo que afecta a todos los estados, sobre todo a Arizona. Es bueno que por fin tengamos un punto de partida para este importante debate.

"Aunque algunas de las disposiciones son preocupantes, apoyo los esfuerzos para crear una reforma con sentido común. Ninguna propuesta de reforma al sistema de inmigración habría sido aceptable si no incluyera un camino razonable para la ciudadanía. Tenemos que encontrar una manera de proporcionar oportunidades justas de ciudadanía para los estudiantes, trabajadores inmigrantes y sus familias. El proyecto de ley permitirá que aproximadamente 11 millones de inmigrantes se les de la oportunidad de legalizar su situación con una nueva visa que creara un estado provisional para inmigrantes.

"Todavía hay mucho por hacer, sin embargo esta iniciativa es una muestra de buena fe. Voy a seguir de cerca esta legislación, ya que afecta en gran medida a nuestro estado”.

Una copia de la propuesta se encuentra disponible en:



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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

ICYMI: Rep. Mach: 'It has been hard to get used to the hypocrisy here'

Update: Peshlakai continues to advocate for Highway 89 detour

Update: Peshlakai continues to advocate for Highway 89 detour

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Since a landslide damaged a portion of Highway 89 in February, Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (District 7), has advocated for emergency funding to repair the damaged highway and to create a detour by paving Navajo Route 20.

Good news came recently from the Arizona Transportation Board. The board approved funding to pave Navajo Route 20 for use as a detour that will reconnect the communities affected by the landslide to the rest of the state. Peshlakai issued this statement following the announcement from the board:


“I am glad that the concerns of the communities are being addressed by the Arizona Transportation Board. We should be working with the Navajo Nation and other communities to make this bypass route a safe alternative. Highway 89 is the primary corridor for the delivery of many goods. It is used to transport everything from groceries to gasoline in the area. Navajo Route 20, which runs from Highway 89 to Page, is an obvious alternative. By restoring connectivity to Page and the Lake Powell region, we are supporting economic activity in the region and in the state. I have consistently heard from people in the communities of Lechee, Coppermine, Gap-Bodaway and the Western Navajo Agency that basic improvements to Navajo Route 20 would address the fundamental needs of many Arizonans. As such, I have been an advocate for paving Navajo Route 20 for years, and I will continue that effort. I stand ready to help this process in any way that I am asked.”



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Monday, April 15, 2013

UPDATE: Legislature adopts an amendment to get money back into Native American communities


 
UPDATE: Legislature adopts an amendment to get money back into Native American communities

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The efforts of Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), to get Transaction Privilege Tax money back into the Native American lands where it was collected has moved a step closer to becoming law.

“We are one step closer to providing American Indian communities with access to the TPT money collected on their lands,” Hale said.

Hale explained that currently, TPT money, or sales tax, is collected from businesses not owned by enrolled members operating on Native American lands. The tax money is distributed to the state, counties and municipalities. Indian nations are not included in this distribution formula. Hale has worked diligently during the legislative session to correct this problem in the distribution formula.

A joint conference committee recently adopted an amendment to SB 1283 that would put 25 percent of TPT money collected from businesses on Native American lands directly back to the Indian nations where it was collected. The bill as amended would allow the use of the Indian nations’ share of TPT money as collateral for bonds or for loans to finance telecommunications, infrastructure development, community projects and roads.

“The TPT funds collected from non-Indian owned businesses operating on Native American lands will help support the growth of our communities,” Hale said. “When that money starts coming directly to Native American communities, people in those communities will be empowered to utilize the funds for projects and developments that are most important to those communities.  It can be the state’s assistance to Indian nations to help finance development on Indian nations where no state contribution now exists.  It is a win-win for the state and Indian nations.”

SB 1283 would create a study committee to analyze possible county boundary changes and TPT distribution equity and requires the committee to publish a report of its findings by the end of the year.  The conference committee amendment eliminates the county study commission and replaces it with distribution of TPT revenues to Indian nations and counties.  This amended bill must still be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate before going on to the governor.

“I express my appreciation to Senator Chester Crandell for allowing the amendment to be heard in committee,” Hale said. “I also thank the joint conference committee for supporting this effort.”

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.

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Native American caucus meets to review challenges, opportunities presented by higher education experts

Native American caucus meets to review challenges, opportunities presented by higher education experts

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – This week the Arizona Legislature’s Native American Caucus met to learn what challenges and opportunities face Native American youth who want to pursue a higher education. The group heard recommendations from experts who work with Native American students at Arizona’s public and private universities.

“Encouraging our youth to pursue a higher education and to have the resources to realize that dream is only the first step,” said state Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michael’s (District 7). “Once in college, these students need support. Sometimes it is financial support and sometimes it is mentoring and social support. Retention is a major challenge for Native American students.”

“Diversity is important and our higher education institutions are to be commended for prioritizing recruitment of Native American students to their campuses,” Hale said. “But the work does not stop there. The universities must also prioritize keeping our youth on the path to college graduation.”

The Native American Caucus heard from several experts in the field including:

  • Rick Waters, National Director of Tribal Relations, The University of Phoenix
  • Michael Begaye, Director of American Indian Student Support, Arizona State University
  • Dr. Joseph Martin, Special Advisor to the President, Northern Arizona University
  • Karen Francis-Begay, Assistant Vice President for Tribal Relations, The University of Arizona

“The economic benefit that comes with a college education and degree is incredibly important not just to those students and their families but also to our Tribal communities,” Hale said. “Having college-educated Natives returning to their home towns as professionals in the medical field, as engineers, as teachers, as lawyers – this is how our communities will overcome some of the economic challenges we face.”

The Arizona Legislature’s Native American Caucus meets biweekly at the Arizona State Capitol during the legislative session to discuss topics of importance to Tribal communities and their residents. Many members of the Arizona Legislature are involved in the Caucus. Some are Native American themselves but others, who are not Native, represent Tribal communities and so are especially concerned about issues of concern to Native American constituents.

More specific information about what was discussed at the Caucus meeting, including presentations and other documents, is available upon request.


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.

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A fresh perspective on the Arizona Legislature

A fresh perspective on the Arizona Legislature
Democratic freshmen on the inner workings of the Arizona House of Representatives

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX As the legislative session approaches the 100th day, many of the newest members are fed up with the lengths to which some of the ideologues at the Capitol will go to obstruct the efforts of Democrats to move Arizona forward.

Rep. Stefanie Mach, D-Tucson (District 10), is one of several new Democrats serving in the House of Representatives for the first time. She said she was optimistic about the ability of the incoming members to set aside partisan bickering and to focus on the issues that matter most to the people of Arizona.

“We came here to do the work of the people,” Mach said. “We have a big class of freshmen and most of us brought fresh ideas and new energy to the Capitol. During the first two weeks, Republicans and Democrats worked well together. By week three, I saw that partisanship was making its way back into the process. I first saw how broken the system is after a Republican colleague informed me that he loved a bill I introduced and wanted to work on it with me next year. At first, I was confused because he could have helped me this year. Then I understood that he meant that he would help get the bill passed only if a Republican sponsored it. It was difficult to get used to the hypocrisy, but I’ll continue to reach across the aisle to develop good legislation.”

Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (District 7), said she had a similar experience after proposing an idea to create a Native American Day, after the Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill to create a Cowboy Day.

“I soon realized that a bill to create a Native American Day would only be successful if a Republican introduced it. If we are going to have a Cowboy Day, we should also have a Native American Day. This should be obvious to those who voted for the Cowboy Day bill, regardless of party affiliation,” Peshlakai said. “Since they insist on playing partisan politics with something that everyone should agree on, I am not surprised that some of the extremist Republican members are working so hard to block Medicaid expansion.”

Peshlakai added that she has seen how extremists are obstructing attempts to expand Medicaid.

“Recently, I was joined by a Republican senator for a tour of the Flagstaff Medical Center,” she said. “This was supposed to be an opportunity for the hospital to showcase the work done there. Instead, the senator talked the entire time about why he will not support Medicaid expansion. He was not interested in the fact that Medicaid expansion would increase access to health care to hundreds of thousands of people. He did not care that it would provide mental health services to people who are in need, nor did he seem to appreciate that it would create thousands of jobs across the state. He was blinded by partisanship.”

Rep. Andrea Dalessandro, D-Sahuarita (District 2), said she is concerned with how out-of-touch some of the Republicans are with the people of Arizona. Dalessandro sponsored House Concurrent Memorial 2007, which asked Congress to take action to prevent the closing of the Cherrybell Mail Processing Center in Tucson.

“This effort was successful and the Legislature did call on Congress to stop the Tucson Cherrybell Mail Processing Center from closing,” Dalessandro said. “Considering how many jobs the processing center creates, this should have been an effort that the Republicans rallied around. That was not the case, and I had to jump through more hoops than most to get this through the process.”

During her work to get support for HCM 2007, Dalessandro said she had to spend a lot of time encouraging people in the Senate to hear the memorial.

“While I was advocating for HCM 2007, I ran into a Republican senator in the lobby of the House of Representatives. He asked me what I was doing at the Capitol. I thought he wanted to know about the Cherrybell House Concurrent Memorial because I had spent so much time speaking with his colleagues about it. I quickly realized that he thought I was just visiting. He didn’t know that I was elected to serve my community.”

Dalessandro added that she and many of the other freshmen are concerned that the extremists at the Legislature are so committed to an ideological agenda that they are ignoring the Arizonans who are represented by Democrats.

“All Arizonans deserve representation. We are in the minority but we were sent here to do a job. That is something we take seriously,” she said. “Regardless of the obstructionist tactics by a few vocal extremists, House Democrats will continue work for ways to create jobs, improve education and expand access to health care.”


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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Arizona Veterans Caucus calls on Brewer to reinstate former director of the Department of Veterans’ Services

Arizona Veterans Caucus calls on Brewer to reinstate former director of the Department of Veterans’ Services


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix (District 19), on behalf of the Arizona Veterans Caucus, called on Gov. Jan Brewer to reinstate Col. Joey Strickland.

Strickland is the former director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services who recently resigned. Cardenas and Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu (District 5), the co-chairmen of the Arizona Veterans Caucus, signed and delivered a letter to the governor advocating for Strickland’s reinstatement.

“We sent this letter to the governor because we have received an outpouring of support from veterans for Col. Strickland. He has given five years of diligent service to this state and more than 40 years of service to our country,” Cardenas said. “The Department of Veterans’ Services thrived under Col. Strickland’s direction. The department made great strides in addressing issues affecting our veterans, including unemployment and homelessness. For these reasons and because of the overwhelming demand from the veteran community, we are asking the governor to reinstate Col. Strickland.”



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Monday, April 08, 2013

Hale speaks to Native American leaders about youth drug abuse

Hale speaks to Native American leaders about youth drug abuse
         
PALA, Calif. Arizona Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), shared stunning statistics on youth drug use with a crowd of Native American leaders and community members at the annual Native American Youth Forum on April 5 at the Pala Casino and Resort in Pala, California. 

This gathering is the first of its kind asking Native American leaders to focus on drug abuse in Indian Country. Leading the group with his call to action, Hale announced that native youth have the highest percentage of illicit drug abuse, which leads to other crimes and dysfunction in the community.

“I am deeply concerned about all the youth incarcerated in the federal system, 79 percent are Native American. This is unacceptable. We must act and do something to stop this now,” Hale said.   

“Our children deserve more.  They are not a promise in a campaign; they are our priority. We must include them in the conversation and show them that we love them and hold ourselves accountable for their future,” Hale said. 

Hale addressed the challenges found in most Native lands such as high poverty, low employment, high dropout rates, and lack of infrastructure.

“When our kids come home after school, what is there for them to do? We don’t have youth centers, we don’t have basketball courts, we don’t have libraries – we have little to offer them.  So what do they turn to? They turn to drugs and gang activity. We know this. We are responsible to do something about it now,” Hale said.

The Native Youth Forum featured additional guest speakers from Arizona including Bernadine Boyd Burnette, vice president, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation; Mary Thomas, former governor of the Gila River Community; Dr. John Molina, Phoenix Indian Medical Center; and former Arizona State Attorney General Terry Goddard.  All shared statistics and concerns about the youth they serve.

The event was hosted by Loretta Avent, former deputy assistant to President Clinton for intergovernmental affairs, White House liaison to Indian Country and liaison to First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton’s Office. Avent said she decided to collaborate with Millennium Laboratories, based in San Diego, to bring Native American Youth Drug Education for a Community Response to tribal leaders. 

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Friday, April 05, 2013

UPDATE: Dalessandro’s effort to keep Cherrybell Mail Processing Center open continues to Congress

UPDATE: Dalessandro’s effort to keep Cherrybell Mail Processing Center open continues to Congress

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX –Rep. Andrea Dalessandro, D-Sahuarita (District 2), announced that her effort to keep the Cherrybell Mail Processing Center open earned overwhelming support in the Arizona Senate and will now go to the United States Congress.

Dalessandro sponsored House Concurrent Memorial 2007, which asks Congress to take action against the closing of the Cherrybell Mail Processing Center in Tucson. A house concurrent memorial can be used by the State Legislature to make an official statement on an issue outside its jurisdiction.

“I am thrilled my concurrent memorial passed both the Arizona House and the Arizona Senate and is now on its way to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, U.S. Senate President Harry Reid and the entire Arizona congressional delegation. If the Cherrybell Mail Processing Center closes, nearly 300 Arizonans could lose their jobs. I hope they see the importance of keeping these Arizonans employed,” Dalessandro said. “The first step to job growth is to keep the jobs we already have.”

On Thursday, the Senate voted in favor of the memorial 27-2.



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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Gallego: ‘Conspiracy theorists hijacked our Legislature’

Gallego: ‘Conspiracy theorists hijacked our Legislature’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXToday House Democrats railed against the Republican extremists at the Capitol who continue to focus on conspiracy theories instead of the priorities of Arizonans.

“Conspiracy theorists have hijacked our Legislature,” Assistant House Minority Leader Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 27), said. “There is no other explanation for the absurdity we saw in the House of Representatives today.”

Republicans, in an effort to appease Tea Party ideologues, amended a bill, HB 2573, to prevent the state from participating in a fictitious conspiracy involving the United Nations’ sustainability program, often referred to as Agenda 21. The amendment claims that the United Nations has enlisted the support of independent, nongovernmental organizations to implement its agenda. It prohibits local governments from working with any group attempting to overthrow the U.S. Constitution, with the express purpose of adopting Agenda 21.

“Somehow, the Republicans found the time to rally against the United Nations but they can’t bring themselves to find the time to do something important – like pass a budget,” Gallego said. “The Tea Party tried to promote crazy conspiracy legislation like this last year. It was crazy then and it is crazy now. What is next, black helicopters and tin foil hats?”

Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix (District 19), added that Republicans also brought a bill to the floor that would allow people to use gold and silver, instead of money, in financial transactions in the state.  

“SB 1439 is just another example of ideology being put ahead of common sense. It is ridiculous,” Cardenas said. “Like much of the legislation that is getting traction with extremists here, it is a solution in search of a problem.  We should not be spending time and taxpayer dollars debating bills like this, when we have yet to pass a budget, when Medicaid expansion has not been accomplished and when funding for Common Core education reform remains in jeopardy.”

House Democrats opposed both pieces of legislation. HB 2573 passed in the House, despite Democratic opposition and will now go to the Senate. The Committee of the Whole passed SB 1439 but this bill must be heard at least one more time in the House.

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