Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Quezada calls for Huppenthal’s resignation

Quezada calls for Huppenthal’s resignation

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), today called for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal to resign after reports surfaced that he authored multiple anonymous blog posts attacking families utilizing public assistance and the Spanish-language media.

Quezada, who also serves as the president of the Pendergast Elementary School District Governing Board, issued this statement:

“Although Mr. Huppenthal has apologized, his comments are absolutely inexcusable. He should take responsibility for his actions and resign from his position.

“As a school board member, I have the opportunity to interact with students, parents and teachers on a regular basis. He has betrayed their trust and no longer has the confidence of the public. The best thing Mr. Huppenthal can do for our students, our schools and our state is to step down and let someone else take the lead in repairing the damage he has done.”


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

McCune Davis statement on Medicaid Expansion Amicus Brief

McCune Davis statement on Medicaid Expansion Amicus Brief
Legislators, community leaders urge Ariz. Supreme Court to reverse appellate decision

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 30), released this statement after several members of the Legislature and community leaders submitted an amicus, or “friend of the court,” brief asking the Arizona Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals’ opinion granting legal standing to the Republican legislators who have filed a lawsuit challenging the bill that expanded Medicaid.

In February, the Arizona Superior Court ruled that the Republican legislators challenging the Medicaid expansion legislation did not have legal standing and could not pursue the lawsuit. An appellate court overturned that decision in April. In May, Gov. Jan Brewer and Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System Director Tom Betlach petitioned the Arizona Supreme Court to review the appellate court decision that allowed the Republican legislators to sue.

The brief filed today supports the governor’s efforts and urges the court to grant review and reverse the Court of Appeals’ opinion on standing.

“Protecting the legislation that provided for the expansion of the Medicaid program is of the utmost importance. Not only because expanding Medicaid benefits to hundreds of thousands of Arizonans will improve our economy, but also because this legal challenge puts the courts in an untenable position.

“Partisanship has given rise to this dispute. If the Arizona Supreme Court allows this lawsuit to continue, it will set an expectation that our courts act as referees in political debates. In the case of Medicaid expansion, the majority of the Legislature supported it because our economy and our hospitals needed it. It passed and is already helping people across our state get quality, affordable care.

“I hope that the Arizona Supreme Court will review this important matter and decide to dismiss the case against Medicaid expansion. This is in the best interest of our courts and our state.”


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Gabaldón urges quick action to address humanitarian needs of migrant children in Nogales

 Gabaldón urges quick action to address humanitarian needs of migrant children in Nogales

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Rep. Rosanna Gabaldón, D-Sahuarita (District 2), sent a letter to Gov. Jan Brewer encouraging her and agency directors to develop a plan to assist the migrant families and children that the federal government has custody of and transported to Arizona.

“I share the governor’s sentiments regarding the federal government’s actions. I am stunned and appalled by the decision to leave thousands of families and children, who were in federal custody for reported immigration violations, in Arizona without humanitarian support,” Gabaldón said. “Although immigration is a federal policy issue, I believe that when people in our state are suffering, regardless of how they arrived here, we must ensure they receive humane treatment. This is especially true when children are involved.”

Gabaldón recently toured the U.S. Border Patrol Youth Detention Center in Nogales where federal officials are holding some of the unaccompanied migrant minors.

“The situation is still dire. The facility is too crowded, and sanitation facilities remain an issue,” Gabaldón said. “I am afraid this kind of environment may contribute to outbreaks of illness or violence.”

In her letter to the governor, Gabaldón added that, following Hurricane Katrina, state agencies and private contractors quickly came together to provide relief services for hundreds of refugees who came to Arizona.

“Our state is capable of providing swift and efficient humanitarian relief. I urge the governor and state agency directors to implement a plan similar to the one that was so effective after Hurricane Katrina,” Gabaldón said. “This is another opportunity for all of us to demonstrate a commitment to child safety in Arizona.”


Monday, June 09, 2014

State Reps visit Border Patrol youth detention center in Nogales

State Reps visit Border Patrol youth detention center in Nogales

NOGALES, AZThree Arizona state representatives visited the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol youth detention center yesterday. The three Democrats, Rep. Rosanna Gabaldón, D-Sahuarita (District 2), Rep. Stefanie Mach, D-Tucson (District 10) and Rep. Demion Clinco, D-Tucson (District 2), were some of the first to see the developing situation at the border.

The three representatives toured the makeshift shelter facility that has been fashioned from a commercial warehouse converted in the 2000s to a detention center. The shelter was set-up in response to the increases in unaccompanied minors being detained as they cross the border in to the United States. The group was told the facility, which was designed to accommodate up to 2,500 adults, was shuttered in 2009 and reopened last week for this new increase in unaccompanied youth cases.  

The state lawmakers observed that the detention center was equipped with evaporative cooling, chain link fencing, razor wire and temporary bathrooms. It was clear to the representatives that the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol staff was working with other federal agencies to improve the conditions, with a goal of transferring children to other longer‑term facilities within 72 hours. The representatives said that the installation of temporary shower trailers, washing machines and other bathrooms was ongoing. 

“This is an incredibly sad situation but it is clear Customs and Border Patrol is working to improve the situations and conditions of these children,” Gabaldón said. “The State of Arizona takes on a moral responsibility whenever a child enters our state regardless of how they got here.”

Just two weeks ago the Arizona State Legislature passed sweeping reforms creating the Arizona Department of Child Safety. The three elected officials traveled to Nogales concerned by the reports that children within the borders of Arizona were at risk.

 “It is upsetting because the situation highlights how fragile the system is,” Clinco said. “This vulnerable population has been on the rise. I don’t understand how this could not have been anticipated by federal agencies.”

The Representatives questioned how this situation was allowed to escalate and how the increases became a crisis, requiring U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to activate the facility.

“The circumstances in Nogales underscore a system in crisis and the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform,” Mach said.


Friday, June 06, 2014

Native American Caucus members honor Chester Nez

Native American Caucus members honor Chester Nez
The last Navajo Code Talker recently passed away at 93

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Members of the Native American Caucus issued these statements regarding the passing of Chester Nez, the last surviving World War II Navajo Code Talker. Nez was 93 when he died.

Sen. Carlyle Begay, D-Ganado (District 7)

“Chester Nez was a hero for our tribe, our state, our nation and for the free world. The Navajo Code Talkers' pivotal contribution to the end of World War II was invaluable.

“Mr. Nez and his fellow warriors should be honored for their valued contributions that saved many lives and our way of life today. That is why I proposed a bill to create an annual Arizona Navajo Code Talkers' Day, which the governor signed and will be celebrated for the first time on Aug. 14.”

Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3)

“I am sad to hear of Mr. Nez’ passing, but I am grateful for his military service to this country. I am also grateful that his indigenous language played such a big role in winning the war. I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to his immediate family and to the Navajo Nation.”

Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7)

“I am saddened to hear about passing of Chester Nez into the spirit world. Chester Nez was the last of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers. With his passing, a chapter closes. 
The story of the critical role the Code Talkers had in the United States winning World War II continues to unfold. The Navajo people and the American people owe an enormous debt of gratitude to these young Navajo men who became the Code Talkers and developed a code that was never broken. 

“I join many others in expressing my sorrow on the passing of another great warrior and hero of the Navajo Nation. My condolences and prayers go to Chester Nez' family, friends and all his relations.”

Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (District 7)

“With the passing of Navajo Nation Code Talker Chester Nez the door closes on an era. From riding horses, to traveling to the moon, he witnessed and contributed to the greatest advancement of humankind the world has ever seen.  Let us always remember the courage and sacrifice of our Navajo Code Talkers. I salute him and all our veterans.

“As a veteran, I am committed to fighting for a better system of providing benefits and services for those who have served our country. The overhaul of the VA is now occurring and our nation must honor these Code Talkers, as well as all veterans, in a more supportive, caring, and honorable manner befitting their sacrifice.”

Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9)

“Many thanks to Mr. Nez and the Navajo Code Talkers for their courage and contributions to our freedom. It is ironic that Mr. Nez attended an Indian Boarding School during a time that children were punished for speaking their native language and yet it was that same language that played a crucial role for U.S. communications during World War II. The Code Talkers developed a code that was impenetrable to the Japanese.  

“We are indebted to Chester Nez and will pay tribute to the legacy of the Navajo Code Talkers on Aug. 14, 2014 on the first annual Arizona Navajo Code Talkers’ Day.”

The Native American Caucus would like to encourage people to get involved in the legislative process and to make sure their voices are heard. To receive a registration form for a Request to Speak System account, please email Melissa Upshaw at or call the office of Rep. Hale at 602-926-4323. Once your account is created, you will receive the Request to Speak System Manual by email and you can comment on bills being heard in committees through your online access by going to and clicking the Request to Speak System link.


Thursday, June 05, 2014

Arizona Veterans Caucus supports creation of Veterans Crisis Command Center

Arizona Veterans Caucus supports creation of Veterans Crisis Command Center
Encourages participation at June 9 town hall

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Jonathan Larkin, D-Glendale (District 30), and Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa (District 16), co-chairs of the Arizona Veterans Caucus, commend the American Legion for its plan to create a Veterans Crisis Command Center to help those affected by the situation at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“Our veterans and their families, as well as the public, deserve answers to the questions they have about the crisis at the VA Medical Center,” Larkin said. “This new command center should help ensure that everyone has their concerns heard and that there will be follow up.”

The new Veterans Crisis Command Center, which is located at the American Legion Post 1, 364 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, Arizona 85007, will open on June 10 from noon to 8 p.m. It will also be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 11 and June 12. On June 13, it will be open from 8 a.m. until noon.

Additionally, the American Legion Post 1 will host a town hall meeting for local veterans and community members at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 9. Members of the Arizona Veterans Caucus plan to participate.

“This kind of outreach is crucial to ensuring that our veterans get the care they deserve and that these issues are corrected,” Townsend said. “I encourage all those affected by the events at the VA Medical Center to participate.”


Wednesday, June 04, 2014

All Arizona School Retirees Association names Alston 2014 Legislator of the Year

All Arizona School Retirees Association names Alston
2014 Legislator of the Year

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix (District 24), today received the 2014 Legislator of the Year Award from the All Arizona School Retirees Association.

“This award has special importance to me,” Alston said. “My experience as a classroom teacher influences the choices I make at the Legislature every day. To be recognized by my colleagues for the work I’ve done at the Capitol to improve education is an honor.”

AASRA’s mission is to provide leadership and promote action on issues and services for the organization’s members. The organization encourages volunteerism in schools and political activities at the local, state and national level.

“AASRA does a fantastic job of making sure policymakers and businesses in Arizona know that educators are important members of our community,” Alston said. “I look forward to working with them in the future.”

Alston received the award during the AASRA conference in Phoenix. For more information about the organization and the conference, visit