Friday, October 31, 2014

Meyer: State can pay $1.3 billion owed to schools

Meyer: State can pay $1.3 billion owed to schools

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – A Maricopa County Superior Court judge will hear closing arguments today in a case that will determine whether the state will have to pay the $1.3 billion it owes Arizona schools. House Minority Whip Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), released this statement:

“For years, our schools have been underfunded. As a result, classroom sizes have grown, buildings have fallen into disrepair and curriculum has suffered. This jeopardizes the economic security of our state.

“There are some extremists in the Legislature who believe that it is all right to cut education funding, while doling out ineffective, corporate tax breaks. Most people in Arizona disagree with that strategy. And the Arizona Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that it was illegal for the Legislature and the governor to withhold voter-mandated inflation funding from schools.

“Education funding is not a political football. It is the key to any realistic economic-recovery plan. I trust that the judge will make the right decision and order the state to repay the $1.3 billion it owes schools. There are ways to meet this financial obligation.  We could close some of the wasteful tax loopholes or stop handing out ineffective tax cuts to big business. We could also quit funding private prisons or stop Student Tuition Organizations from draining money from our public schools. It is absolutely possible to fully fund education; it is just a matter of having the right priorities.”


Monday, October 27, 2014

Peshlakai urges AZ Congressional Delegation to pressure NFL to change Washington Redskins’ team name

Peshlakai urges AZ Congressional Delegation to pressure NFL to change Washington Redskins’ team name

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (District 7), is urging the Arizona Congressional Delegation to support federal legislation that would pressure the National Football League to change the name of the Washington Redskins.

“The name is inappropriate, creates conflict, and we should be beyond this type of offensive naming as a nation,” Peshlakai said. “It’s time to make a change.”

Peshlakai is a member of the Navajo Nation and represents Legislative District 7, which includes nine of Arizona’s 22 federally recognized Native American Nations. She recently sent letters to everyone in Congress representing Arizona, asking them to support a bill that would revoke the tax-exempt status for professional sports leagues that use the term “redskins.”

“I am disappointed that the NFL and Dan Snyder, who owns the team, have not yet taken action,” Peshlakai said. “We must do something that illustrates the seriousness of this issue.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Washington Redskins’ trademark registration because it considers the name and logo disparaging. Peshlakai said that this action, coupled with the protests outside of stadiums where the team is playing, shows how much opposition the name has.

In her letter, Peshlakai writes:

“By supporting and encouraging your colleagues to support S.2884 you can show the Native American community that this nation will no longer continue to support racial slurs for the sake of sports entertainment.”

She said that it is important to keep perspective.

“This is a sports team with a name that hurts people,” she said. “This should be a non-issue. I hope that this legislation will be enough to encourage Mr. Snyder and the NFL to do the right thing.”


Friday, October 17, 2014

Quezada: ‘Love and equality won the day’

Quezada: ‘Love and equality won the day’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), released this statement after Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced that he will not appeal the court ruling that struck down Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage.

“Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne took the ethically correct route today when he decided not to appeal the court ruling lifting the ban on same-sex marriage. His decision is legally appropriate, will save taxpayers money on unnecessary legal fees and is just the right thing to do.

“I would like to express my happiness for the couples who can now proclaim their commitment through marriage in Arizona. Love and equality won the day.  This is a historic moment for our state because the work for full, legal equality for all Arizonans must continue and these events add momentum to that effort.”  


Clinco: Judge’s decision provides ‘a moment to embrace equality’

Clinco: Judge’s decision provides ‘a moment to embrace equality’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – After a federal judge today rejected the Arizona ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, Rep. Demion Clinco, D-Tucson (District 2), the only openly gay member of the Arizona House of Representatives, issued this statement.

“This is an amazing day for Arizona and for love. It’s a moment to embrace equality and an opportunity to celebrate our uniqueness.

“Our state joins 30 others that have achieved marriage equality, which is a huge accomplishment. It adds momentum to the fight for full equality for everyone. In many places in our state, it is still legal to discriminate against people because of who they are and who they love. That is unacceptable. We must support non-discrimination laws to assure that no Arizonan is mistreated.”

Clinco added that he supports Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s decision not to appeal this ruling.

“The ban against marriage equality is absolutely indefensible. I’m glad that Attorney General Horne recognizes that and will no longer stand in the way of progress.”


Friday, October 10, 2014

McCune Davis urges Phoenix City Council to allow Arizona Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force access to $350,000

 McCune Davis urges Phoenix City Council to allow Arizona Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force access to $350,000

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX The Arizona Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has not been able to use the $350,000 the Legislature set aside for the program earlier this year. Today, Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 30), sent letters urging the Phoenix mayor and City Council to do whatever is necessary to get the funding to the task force.

The Department of Child Safety received the money but it does not oversee the task force. The Phoenix Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Unit operates the program.

“There have been significant delays in getting this money to the task force, because it was unclear whether it would require an intergovernmental agreement or a grant to allow the money to pass from the Department of Child Safety to the Phoenix Police Department,” McCune Davis said. “Regardless of the funding mechanism, the Phoenix City Council will need to act immediately to approve the spending. This is an urgent matter because the task force fights cybercrimes statewide, and the new funding will increase the resources available to protect children against sexual exploitation through the Internet, and can be used for equipment, training and staff costs.”

The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is a national network of more than 60 coordinated task forces representing over 3,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. It helps state and local law enforcement develop effective responses to cyber enticement and child pornography. Since 1998, task forces throughout the country have reviewed more than 330,000 allegations of child sexual victimization resulting in more than 30,000 arrests. For more information on the task forces, go to


Democrats encourage participation in upcoming public forum

Democrats encourage participation in upcoming public forum
Unified Community Advisory Board to discuss groundwater clean-up project

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3), Rep. Macario Saldate, D-Tucson, (District 3), Rep. Rosanna Gabaldón, D-Sahuarita (District 2), Rep. Demion Clinco, D-Tucson (District 2), and Sen. Andrea Dalessandro, D-Tucson (District 2), are encouraging Tucson residents to participate in an upcoming public meeting of the Unified Community Advisory Board regarding the groundwater clean-up project at the Tucson International Airport Area Superfund Site. The Unified Community Advisory Board was established in 1995 to inform the community about the clean-up process and to collect local perspectives on the project.

“This is an opportunity for our community members to ensure their voices are heard on this important issue,” Gonzales said. “Anyone who wants more information about this project or who would like to share their opinions should attend.”

Who:               The Unified Community Advisory Board

Where:            El Pueblo Activity Center
                        101 W. Irvington Rd.
                        Tucson, Arizona 85714

When:             Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014
                        5:45 p.m.

“Less than one percent of the world’s water is drinkable,” Gabaldón said. “It is important that we remain diligent on issues that may affect our water quality. Our future depends on protecting our drinking water supplies.”

For more information on the Unified Community Advisory Board, go to


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

New policy for Native American delayed birth certificates in place

New policy for Native American delayed birth certificates in place
Policy offers temporary solution, future legislation will be necessary

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Recently the Arizona Department of Health Services announced that there is a new, streamlined process to help Native Americans born before 1970 receive delayed birth certificates.

Before Department of Health Services Director Will Humble approved this temporary administrative solution, some of our country’s original Native American citizens – born at home or in the care of a traditional midwife in one of Arizona’s rural, remote Indian Nation areas – have been unable to obtain a state birth certificate. This made it difficult for some Native Americans to get a driver’s license, a social security card or to prove residency.

“Over the last few months, we’ve been working with tribal governments to develop a procedure to make it easier for elder tribal members to use their tribal documents to get a delayed birth certificate,” Humble said.  “We crossed the finish line ... when we adopted a new Substantive Policy Statement that outlines and streamlines the process for tribal elders.”

Previously, getting a delayed birth certificate required producing four separate forms of verification that a person was born at a specific time and place. The more time that passed from the date of birth to the time a delayed birth certificate is sought, the harder it often became to produce the required documentation.

Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), and community leaders from across the state developed a new process that requires less documentation.

“Native Americans are the first Americans. They are citizens of the United States and the state of Arizona. It is their right to have access to this basic documentation needed to enjoy the rights and privileges afforded to citizens of this country,” Hale said.

Officials from the Arizona Department of Health Services have been working with Hale and other legislators, Indian Nation representatives, and county officials, including Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler (District 5) to develop the streamlined process for Indian Nation citizens to use in obtaining a delayed birth certificate.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Fowler said. “I’m glad it’s finally here. This will help lots of people.”
Hale added that because this solution is temporary, he plans to work with other legislators to introduce a bill that will solve the problem permanently.

“This new policy is an indication of the progress we’ve made, but it is only temporary,” Hale said. “The solution will require legislative action and I am happy to work with my colleagues at the Capitol to ensure that there is a lasting solution.”

Information on the new policy can be found here,