Monday, March 31, 2014

Republicans block Hale’s attempt to fund construction of Navajo Nation Supreme Court Complex

Republicans block Hale’s attempt to fund construction of Navajo Nation Supreme Court Complex



STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Arizona House Republicans rejected an attempt by Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), to amend the state’s budget to include $7.5 million to help build a Supreme Court Complex on the Navajo Nation. This amendment initially received a passing vote of 29 to 28 when Speaker of the House Andy Tobin, D-Paulden (District 1), voted in favor of the appropriation.  Tobin then changed his vote to no, failing the amendment.

“For too long, the Navajo Nation Supreme Court has been operating out of substandard facilities, and the people working for the Supreme Court have been making the best of this situation,” Hale said. “The highest court of this nation lacks a home that appropriately reflects the values of the community it serves. The plans for the new Supreme Court Complex would correct these issues.”

The design plans for the new complex show that the buildings will incorporate Navajo teachings and promote peacemaking sessions. Hale said it would be a point of pride. The entire construction project is expected to cost about $15 million. Hale’s amendment would have allocated money for half of the project. The Navajo Nation is expected to contribute the other $7.5 million to complete construction.

Chief Justice Herb Yazzie of the Navajo Nation highlighted the importance of state collaboration to support necessary resources on indigenous reservations.

“The Navajo Nation Supreme Court thanks Rep. Hale for his effort to have the State of Arizona act collaboratively with the Navajo Nation to fund the construction of facilities that would recognize the need to express the dignity and respect for laws. The need remains,” Yazzie said.

Hale said that he will continue to advocate for the funding in the future.

“It is unacceptable that the needs of the people of the Navajo Nation, although they contribute to this state’s general fund by paying Transaction Privilege Tax, are not being recognized.  The Navajo Nation Supreme Court plays a critical and essential role in resolving disputes for all who come before it. This includes non-Indians and non-Indian owned businesses from outside of the Navajo Nation,” Hale said.


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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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Campbell calls for investigation of $900K private prison giveaway request

Campbell calls for investigation of $900K
private prison giveaway request

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), called for an emergency meeting of the Arizona House Appropriations Committee to investigate a last-minute appropriation for private prisons in Arizona, offered during last week’s budget debate.

“There is something suspicious about this request and we need to know more about the circumstances surrounding it,” Campbell said. “It is clear from news coverage that the Department of Corrections did not ask for or need the $900,000 that Rep. Kavanagh requested during our budget debate. On top of that, there was no testimony in the House Appropriations Committee about this topic. This raises some serious questions and has created a great deal of public concern.”

Campbell sent a letter to Speaker of the House Andy Tobin, R-Paulden (District 1), requesting an immediate investigation that would include testimony from the Department of Corrections and GEO Group, a private prisons corporation.

Campbell added that, although this appropriation has been removed from the current budget being heard in the Senate, questions of accountability and transparency remain.

“These kinds of behind-closed-doors deals are exactly what Arizonans are tired of,” Campbell said. “The taxpayers have a right to know how a giveaway like this is negotiated. Why are some members of the Legislature more concerned with lining the pockets of private prisons than they are with making sure schools have adequate funding and child safety services have enough resources? We have an obligation to get to the bottom of this.”

A copy of the letter Campbell sent to Tobin is available at www.azhousedemocrats.com.



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Meyer: Arizona needs a budget that prioritizes job creation, education and child safety

Meyer: Arizona needs a budget that prioritizes job creation, education and child safety

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Whip Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), released this statement about the Republican budget proposal currently being considered in the Arizona Senate:

“The budget that House Republicans passed and that is being heard in the Senate this week would do two things. It would protect the status quo and it would promote special interests. This is especially disappointing considering that House Democrats offered a balanced budget proposal that funded job creation, education and child safety.

“The Republicans allowed partisanship to prevail and pushed through a budget that supports an ideological agenda at the expense of Arizona’s future.  The Republican budget does nothing to rollback tax giveaways like student tuition organizations and the expansion of the empowerment scholarship accounts, which are basically voucher programs that syphon money from our public schools. It would, however, give another $900,000 to the ALEC-backed private prison industry which is ripping off the taxpayers and putting the public at risk.

“The House Democratic budget plan included $103 million for K-12 public education and $93 million for higher education so that Arizona students will be prepared to enter the workforce and be successful in our increasingly global economy. The Republican budget includes no significant increase in funds for K-12 or the universities after $3 billion in cuts over the past several years. It also bows to extremists by not funding Common Core implementation.

“Additionally, the Democratic plan included $193 million for child safety and health and human services. This money would be used to support preventative services and to hire enough child welfare caseworkers to handle their workload while providing them the resources they need to do their jobs. The budget the Republicans passed would ignore critical services including child care subsidies and domestic violence and hunger prevention.

“The House Republicans have a history of making the wrong choices for our state. They consistently prioritize tax cuts for big business and funding for special interests, like private prisons, above public education and child safety. This budget follows that trend. It’s a bad deal.”

A history of Republican budget cuts and a comparison of this year’s budget proposals are below.

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Peshlakai urging legislature to support indigenous rights to ancestral land in Wupatki National Monument

 Peshlakai urging legislature to support indigenous rights to ancestral land in Wupatki National Monument

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Recently the Arizona House of Representatives adopted HCR 2029, a House Concurrent Resolution proposed by Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (District 7), urging the Arizona Legislature to support efforts to help members of the Peshlakai family retain their residence and grazing rights throughout the Wupatki National Monument in Northern Arizona.

“It is essential that we allow public access to sites like Wupatki National Monument, however, it is also important to respect our traditional culture and lands,” said Peshlakai. “The legislation’s purpose is to ensure that the individuals testifying in committee at the Legislature are heard and that it is acknowledged that they are citizens who have been wronged.  Perhaps they will continue on to challenge the National Park Service to its claims to lands beyond the archaeological ruins it protects.”  

Before Wupatki National Monument was declared a national monument, it was home to hundreds of Navajo families. Because of a special lifetime permit, 89-year-old Stella Peshlakai Smith is the last Navajo woman allowed to live within the monument boundaries. Once Smith passes away, her permit will no longer be available for family members to reside on their ancestral home site. The Peshlakai family is requesting that the National Park Service make Smith’s permit permanent and transferrable in order for the family to continue to have access to the land.

“So far the National Park Service has been uncooperative with our family’s requests,” said Peshlakai. “This is an issue of indigenous land rights, and with the park service restricting access to our ancestral land, it is continuing the historical trend of taking land from tribes and families. This issue predates my election to the legislature, but I hope to add my credibility as a United States combat war veteran and elected official to stand amongst the displaced families stating they are contributing, upstanding citizens of these United States, Arizona and the Navajo Nation. I am obligated to sponsor this for my constituents.” 

HCR 2029 has passed the House and the Senate Government and Environment Committee but is awaiting further Senate action.
                                                                                                                          
To see a full copy of HCR 2029, go to:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Campbell: Republicans pass budget that ignores priorities of Arizonans

Campbell: Republicans pass budget that ignores priorities of Arizonans

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), released this statement about the budget Arizona House Republicans passed late Thursday night:

“House Democrats offered a budget proposal that promoted the priorities of the people of Arizona. Our plan focused on three main goals – it funded job creation, education and child safety. Our budget proposal was balanced and it included: $103 million for K-12 public education, $93 million for higher education, $400 million for the Highway User Revenue Fund over five years and $193 million for child and family safety.

“It was a substantive plan that would help get Arizona back on track. Instead of this common-sense budget, the Republicans in the House of Representatives passed a budget that neglects the needs of our state’s schools and families.

“The Republican budget prioritized money for private prisons while underfunding education and infrastructure development. It also ignored critical services including child care subsidies and domestic violence and hunger prevention. On top of that, their budget projections leave Arizona in a deficient in only a few years.

“It is unfortunate that partisanship prevailed tonight at the expense of Arizona families. Our state deserves better.”





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Monday, March 24, 2014

Affordable Care Act focus of Native American Caucus meeting


Affordable Care Act focus of Native American Caucus meeting

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Recently the Arizona Legislature’s Native American Caucus met to discuss the Affordable Care Act and its effects on Native American health care. Members heard presentations from healthcare experts on options and benefits under the ACA that would best cover Native Americans.

“The Affordable Care Act is a vast, complex law that has been the subject of considerable ambiguity and confusion, including the impacts and application the ACA has had on tribal governments and tribal citizens,” Sen. Carlyle Begay, D-Ganado (District 7), said. “It is important for us to continue to work on helping both rural and urban tribal members understand the benefits of having health insurance and what it can mean to their local community, as well as their own individual health care. We need to continue to work to increase access to quality, affordable health coverage, invest in prevention and wellness, and give individuals and families more control over their care.”

The health systems director of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., Alida Montiel, gave an overview of the ACA. The presentation included information on access, outreach and enrollment resources for affordable health insurance for native businesses, families and individuals.

“The Affordable Care Act is landmark legislation that sets a process by which all Americans will have access to affordable healthcare,” Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), said. “It is the current law of the land. It has significant and beneficial provisions. For Native Americans, it supplements and complements the health care provided by the federal government pursuant to its trust obligations to Native Americans.”

The chief legislative liaison of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Jennifer Carusetta, also spoke about changes to and eligibility for AHCCCS. She outlined implementation and resources for eligibility for different Medicaid coverage options and the impact they would have on Native Americans in Arizona.

Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (District 7), highlighted the flexibility of the coverage options.

“The most important fact Native Americans need to be aware of is that they are not subject to open enrollment. They can change their enrollment status in any plan through the Marketplace once a month. Individuals who currently receive healthcare through Indian Health Services, the 638 tribal care facilities or Urban Tribal Clinics are still encouraged to apply for health coverage on the exchange or through Medicaid,” she said. “Acquiring health insurance ensures that there is a payment source for health providers and hospitals that would otherwise not be compensated for providing care. This helps ensure the viability of our health care system in the future.  We will all be better able to keep our service centers financially stable and help keep people in better health overall.” 

Hale added that it is important for people to have access to quality, affordable health care.

“I urge and encourage all to become familiar with the law, learn about the benefits, find out how to sign up for those benefits, and sign up for those benefits,” Hale said.

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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 mupshaw@azleg.gov 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 www.azleg.gov and clicking the Request to Speak System link.


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Statement from Campbell on the appointment of Muñoz to the Arizona House of Representatives

Statement from Campbell on the appointment of Muñoz to the
 Arizona House of Representatives

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), released this statement about the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors’ appointment of Norma Muñoz to fill the Legislative District 27 vacancy in the Arizona House of Representatives:

“I would like to thank Norma Muñoz for her dedication to public service and congratulate her on her appointment to the Arizona House of Representatives. Rep. Muñoz is joining our caucus at a critical juncture for our state, and I applaud her willingness to contribute to the legislative process. She is bringing a wealth of experience and a commitment to the issues that we will rely on as we work to ensure the priorities of the people of Arizona are reflected in the budget.”





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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jobs, education and child safety top budget priorities for Arizona House Democrats

Jobs, education and child safety top budget priorities for Arizona House Democrats

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today the Arizona House Democrats released a balanced budget proposal that promotes the priorities of the people of Arizona.

“We had three main objectives when we developed the House Democratic Budget this year – to fund job creation, education, and child and family safety,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), said. “Our budget consists of common-sense investments that will help get Arizona back on track. And we accomplish these goals while keeping our budget balanced.”

The House Democratic Budget for fiscal year 2015 includes:

·         $103 million for K-12 public education
·         $93 million for higher education
·         $400 million over five years for the Highway User Revenue Fund
·         $193 million for child and family safety

Rep. Andrew Sherwood, D-Tempe (District 26), who serves on the Arizona House Appropriations Committee, highlighted this budget’s substantial investment in education.

“For years, the Republican-led Legislature has cut money from public education. This year, we’ve seen even more attempts to syphon dollars away from our schools through voucher programs,” he said. “Our budget proposal reverses that trend and invests more than $100 million in our K-12 public schools. This money can be used to support teacher professional development, Common Core Standards implementation and additional assistance for school districts that have been starved of resources for too long. We need to send a message that we are ready to reinvest in our public schools. So we’re proposing the rollback of two dysfunctional school tuition organization tax credit programs, which cost the state millions of dollars and only help a select few students.”

Sherwood added that the House Democratic Budget focuses on higher education.

“The strength of our economy is linked to the strength of our schools, community colleges and universities,” he said. “This is why we’re supporting university parity funding, community college workforce and science, technology, engineering and mathematics development, and the Arizona Financial Aid Trust. We made a commitment to provide more financial aid opportunities to qualified students who are struggling to pay for their studies. We need to fulfill that commitment because it is good for our students and for our economy. It’s in the state’s best interest to ensure our students are prepared for an economy that is becoming more competitive and more global.”

Rep. Stefanie Mach, D-Tucson (District 10), who also serves on the Appropriations Committee, said this budget proposal encourages job creation by restoring money to the Highway User Revenue Fund and by providing more support for state parks.

“Our proposal allocates $40 million for HURF. This would be the first installment in a five-year plan to restore this fund,” Mach said. “Cities and towns use this money to build and repair infrastructure including roads and streets that were neglected at the height of the recession. Now is the time to develop and strengthen our state’s infrastructure so that we can continue on the path of economic recovery.”

Mach said the proposal also includes money for state parks to pay for ongoing capital projects and maintenance projects that were postponed during the recession. Additionally, there is a proposed allocation for the Arizona State Land Department for land management treatments designed to decrease the severity of wildland fires.

“These budget items are about two things: public safety and job creation,” Mach said. “Keeping our parks safe promotes tourism, and that creates jobs. Keeping our forests healthy is literally a matter of life and death in this state. Our budget proposal supports both of those things and would create upwards of 400 jobs.”

Rep. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix (District 24), who is another member of the Appropriation Committee, said the 2015 budget proposal reflects the value House Democrats place on keeping children, seniors and families safe.

“Recently, we’ve seen the tragic aftermath of a neglected child welfare system,” Alston said. “Since we learned that approximately 6,000 Child Protective Services reports went uninvestigated, we have been able to identify some serious problems with the system. These issues will take time and resources to correct. We can’t just change the name of the agency and hope for a better outcome. There must be real transformation that starts with accountability and with ensuring there are enough caseworkers to handle our caseload. Also, we have to make sure that caseworkers have the tools they need to do their jobs. To address that issue, we are budgeting to replace the outdated and inefficient computer system that child welfare staffers currently use to manage their cases.”

Alston said the child and family welfare system will likely remain overburdened until the state invests in prevention services.

“Our state’s safety net has been eroded and the programs designed to help keep struggling families from falling into crisis have sustained severe budget cuts. The most effective way to cut down on cases of abuse and neglect is to support the services designed to stop these situations from developing, which is why we are suggesting that the state put money toward hunger, homelessness and domestic violence prevention,” Alston said. “Our budget also includes $50 million for childcare subsidies. Ensuring more families know they have access to safe, affordable childcare would go a long way to help people get back to work as we attempt to recover from the economic downturn.”

A complete copy of the budget proposal is available below.


2015 Budget Proposal




2015 Budget Proposal Narrative









Monday, March 17, 2014

Meyer to be keynote speaker at UA Social Justice Forum

Meyer to be keynote speaker at UA Social Justice Forum

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), a graduate of the University of Arizona Medical School, will be the keynote speaker at the 8th Annual Social Justice Symposium on March 28 at the UA.

The theme of this year’s free event, which is hosted by students of the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, is Health Equality: From Policy to Action.  

“Access to healthcare continues to be a priority for many of us at the Legislature. All Arizonans deserve quality, affordable care,” Meyer said. “It’s encouraging to see so many students interested in the relationship between healthcare and policy. Both affect families on a day-to-day basis and both are made better when more people understand the issues and get involved.”

8th Annual Social Justice Symposium details are below:

When:            Friday, March 28, 2014
                        8:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Where:           UA Zuckerman College of Public Health
                        1295 N. Martin Avenue in Drachman Hall
                        Tucson, Arizona 85724
Keynote:        Poverty, health care, and a path for change: A call to action
9 to 10 a.m.
DuVal Auditorium at the UA Medical Center
1501 N. Campbell Ave.
Tucson, Arizona 85724

The symposium breakout sessions and panel discussion will follow the keynote speech and will be held in Drachman Hall.

“It is time for us to bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the world that America can deliver social justice to its people. This symposium will define a vision for the future, which in turn helps to establish targets for the short and long term,” Jean Chang, a student and symposium co-chair, said. “It will define expected roles of different groups, and build consensus and inform people. Our hope is that you take something away from this symposium and feel inspired to create change in your community.”

Admission is free and lunch will be provided to all who register in advance. To print a copy of the agenda and to register, please visit the SJS web page. Registration is open until March 21. For more information, send email questions to: uofasocialjustice@gmail.com and visit SJS Facebook.


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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Arizona Minority Student Progress Report presented in Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee

Arizona Minority Student Progress Report presented in Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today the Arizona House Committee on Higher Education and Workforce Development reviewed a report illustrating the current racial and ethnic trends in Arizona schools with experts from the Arizona Minority Education Policy Analysis Center.

“Arizona is at a crossroads in education in terms of demographics,” said Everardo Martinez-Inzunza, associate dean for South Yuma County Services at the Arizona Western College and AMEPAC chairman. “The state has a window of opportunity to be proactive and help the increasing minority student population make more educational achievements.”

AMEPAC wrote the Arizona Minority Student Progress Report 2013, which highlights the educational achievement of minority students in Arizona, from pre-K through post-secondary education. The report concluded that there is a major racial and ethnic gap in Arizona’s educational institutions. It also contained policy recommendations for closing this gap. Additionally, the report showed that this gap could result in economic risks if education policies are not developed to accommodate the growing population of minority students.

“The education of our students has a profound impact on our state,” said Rep. Macario Saldate, D-Tucson (District 3). “Industrial growth and educational growth go hand in hand. This report gives us an opportunity to develop a framework for education policy that will benefit minority students and the state.”

To see the AMEPAC report, go to:



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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

UPDATE: Arizona House passes house memorial urging Congress and president to recognize health risks of military open-air burn pits

UPDATE: Arizona House passes house memorial urging Congress and president to recognize health risks of military open-air burn pits

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Arizona House of Representatives passed a house memorial introduced by Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix (District 19), that would call attention to health risks that war veterans could face as a result of exposure to open-air burn pits.

Cardenas said that open-air burn pits were used extensively during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, instead of incinerators, to dispose of waste materials until bases could become more established.

“Exposure to burn pits can result in serious illnesses,” said Cardenas. “Some veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan may have health problems that could have resulted from contact with the smoke from waste in these pits.”

A house memorial is a measure containing a request for another entity to act on an issue over which the Arizona Legislature does not have jurisdiction. HM 2002 would require that a message be sent to the president and Congress, urging them to recognize the significant health risks associated with open-air burn pit exposure.

The Arizona House passed HM 2002 by a vote of 45-13. It will now go to the Arizona Secretary of State, who will distribute it to the president and Congress.

A full copy of the house memorial is available at:




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UPDATE: House passes Steele’s bills for mental health training and awareness programs

UPDATE: March 25, 2013 Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously passes  HB 2490 Youth Mental Health First Aid bill. The bill is still awaiting consideration by the Senate Health and Human Services and Rules Committees.  

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UPDATE: House passes Steele’s bills for mental health training and awareness programs

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – On Monday, the Arizona House of Representatives passed HB 2490 and HB 2543, two bills that Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9), introduced which would provide funding for programs that promote mental health training.

HB 2490 appropriates $250,000 to the Department of Health Services to expand the Mental Health First Aid Program to focus on youth. The program is specifically designed to help people identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness, eating disorders and substance abuse disorders in youth.

HB 2543 gives an additional $250,000 to the Department of Education’s Office of School Safety to reimburse school districts and charter schools that facilitate mental health awareness programs. The goal is to maximize the number of school employees who can receive mental health first aid training.

Steele, a licensed professional counselor and a mental health professional, said that she hopes the extra training will help those who are showing signs of distress to get proper treatment.

“This is an opportunity to identify and respond to at-risk youth before they go into crisis,” Steele said. “This legislation will promote programs we know are already making a difference, and we can prepare more people who work with kids on a regular basis to recognize warning signs.”

Both bills passed the House and now go to the Arizona Senate for consideration.

To see the full version of HB 2490, go to:

To see the full version of HB 2543, go to:




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Arizona House Democrats elect new leadership

Arizona House Democrats elect new leadership

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Democrats in the Arizona House of Representatives elected Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), to serve as the new House minority whip. Rep. Bruce Wheeler, D-Tucson (District 10), who was serving as the whip, moved into the position of assistant House minority leader.

New leadership elections for the caucus were required after Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 27), stepped down from his position as assistant House minority leader. Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), will remain the House minority leader.

“I’d like to thank Rep. Gallego for his service to our caucus. That said, the goal today is to ensure that this transition is seamless,” Campbell said. “That has been the case, and we’re not wasting any time getting back to work.”

Wheeler, a former Tucson City councilmember, has been a member of the House since 2010. Previously, he served as the House minority whip. He said that he will continue to encourage the caucus to act as a watchdog for the state.

“Part of our job is to ensure this government is serving the people of Arizona,” Wheeler said. “That means focusing on legislation that will help strengthen our economy and improve education. It also means preventing the extremists at the Capitol from promoting an ideological agenda over the priorities of the people.”

Meyer, a physician, has been a member of the House since 2009. He is also a member of the Children’s Museum of Phoenix Board of Directors and is a former member of the Scottsdale School District Governing Board.

“I’m looking forward to serving the caucus in this position,” Meyer said. “We’ve worked all session to get Arizona back on track and that will continue. Next steps should include passing a budget that will reflect the needs of the middle class, that will fund schools and safety programs and that will promote economic security.”


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UPDATE: Miranda’s bill establishing First Responder Special Plate and Fund moves to the Senate

UPDATE: Miranda’s bill establishing First Responder Special Plate and Fund moves to the Senate

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill introduced by Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix (District 27), that is designed to help the families of Arizona public service officers who are killed or hurt in the line of duty.

HB 2582 would create a first responder special license plate and a fund for organizations like the 100 Club of Arizona, a nonprofit whose mission is to help families of officers and firefighters who have given their lives in the line of duty.

“These license plates will honor the memory of those first responders who have been killed in our state and will show gratitude to those who have been injured,” Miranda said. “This month, two of our law enforcement officers were involved in a shootout. Tragically, Phoenix Police Detective John Hobbs lost his life and Detective Albert J. Casados was injured. Our thoughts and prayers remain with these heroes and with their families but many want to offer more. This plate and fund would create another opportunity for people to show their support and their appreciation.”

After the state recoups the cost of establishing the license plates, most of the proceeds from sales of the plates will go to organizations that will use the money to provide immediate financial assistance, emotional support, peer training and professional referral services to families of public service officers who were seriously injured or killed in the line of duty. Additionally, the money can be used for scholarships for family members of public safety officers and firefighters wishing to continue their education beyond high school.

The bill passed 50-7 and now goes to the Arizona Senate for consideration.





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Monday, March 10, 2014

UPDATE: Arizona House passes two bills introduced by Cardenas

UPDATE: Arizona House passes two bills introduced by Cardenas

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix (District 19), introduced two bills that the Arizona House of Representatives passed today.

“This legislative session, I’ve worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on bills that would provide more support to our veterans and to our state’s children,” Cardenas said. “It makes sense to ensure Arizona kids can read and to find more ways to serve the men and women who have served our country because these actions will have a positive effect on our economy. Beyond that, these bills are about doing the right thing.”

HB 2428 would provide $500,000 from the state general fund in fiscal year 2015 to the Department of Education for school districts and charter schools to fund reading-intensive programs designed to help third graders who are falling behind. This bill passed 33-24.

HB 2475 would establish a tax credit for people and corporations that hire an unemployed veteran who is receiving unemployment benefits and left the United States Armed Forces under honorable conditions. This bill passed 50-8.
These bills will now go to the Senate for consideration.



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Friday, March 07, 2014

UPDATE: House unanimously passes bill to remove the words handicapped and disabled from state statutes

March 10, 2014 UPDATE: The Senate Government and Health Committees both unanimously pass bill to remove the words handicapped and disabled from state statutes

**************************************************************
UPDATE: House unanimously passes bill to remove the words handicapped and disabled from state statutes

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – On Thursday, the Arizona House of Representatives unanimously passed HB 2667, a bill Rep. Stefanie Mach, D-Tucson (District 10), introduced that would replace the words handicapped and “disabled person” from state laws with more respectful language that the community prefers. The new language, “person or persons with disabilities,” will also appear on all materials the state produces in the future, such as signs that indicate parking for people with disabilities.

Mach is trying to change the way the state addresses people with disabilities. She survived a car accident in 1997, in which an electrical line shocked her, causing multiple injuries and the loss of an arm. She said as a person with a disability she understands the effect of dehumanizing words on a person or a group of people.

“Our laws should respect everyone in our state,” Mach said. “My bill changes the archaic and offensive words in statute and allows for people with disabilities to be seen as people who happen to have a physical or mental impairment, as opposed to being fully incompetent.”

The bill passed 57-0 and now goes to the Arizona Senate for consideration.




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Thursday, March 06, 2014

Peshlakai working to increase participation in tribal college dual enrollment programs

Peshlakai working to increase participation in tribal college dual enrollment programs

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXRep. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (District 7), introduced a bill that would create the Tribal College Dual Enrollment Program Fund. The bill is intended to encourage more youth to participate in dual enrollment programs, which allow students to receive college credit for some classes they take at tribal colleges while they are still in high school.

HB 2601 would put $500,000 from the Arizona State Lottery Fund into this newly created dual enrollment fund. Tribal community colleges that offer dual enrollment programs, such as Diné College and Tohono O’odham Community College, could use money from this fund to offset the tuition and fees of the students participating in the program.

“This fund will help create an incentive for Native American students to start planning for and pursuing higher education sooner,” Peshlakai said. “Dual enrollment programs are a great way for our youth to begin preparing for the future, but the cost of these programs can create an obstacle.”

Peshlakai, an outspoken advocate for indigenous communities, said this bill also makes economic sense.
 
“We have to make sure our kids are ready for what the world has in store for them,” Peshlakai said. “Offering opportunity earlier may create a stronger and more focused interest from younger students. Getting a college education is becoming an absolute necessity. This bill would eliminate some of the financial barriers so that kids can start their college careers early, set goals, transition into four-year colleges and enter the workforce prepared. It is a domino effect that will benefit our economy.”

For a copy of the full bill, go to:




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Monday, March 03, 2014

House Democrats committed to keeping money in Arizona public schools

House Democrats committed to keeping money in
Arizona public schools


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX
– Arizona House Democrats are working to stop tax dollars from being syphoned out of the public school system.

“Extremists at the Capitol are pushing legislation that could pull millions of dollars out of our public schools through the use of private school vouchers,” Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), said. “One of the most recent examples of this is HB 2291, a bill that would increase the number of students who can use state dollars to attend private schools, which are not subject to state regulations.”

HB 2291 would change the requirements to qualify for the Empowerment Scholarship Account Program, which offers private school vouchers, to include all students and who are eligible to receive free or reduced lunches and the siblings of current voucher recipients. This could increase the program by more than 400,000 students.

“This change, combined with the other voucher program expansions over the years, would make about 60 percent of public school students eligible for these vouchers,” Meyer said. “Students using the vouchers receive an average of $5,400 a year. That money comes directly out of the budgets of our public schools.”

Jeremy Calles, the Kyrene School District chief financial officer, said redirecting state funds from public schools jeopardizes the education of students who remain in public schools.

“The state continues to use tax dollars and tax credits to make private school more affordable for the approximately 5 percent of the Arizona student population that makes the choice to attend those schools, while causing significant damage to the education of the 95 percent of students who are choosing to attend public schools,” Calles said.

Meyer added that supporting public education should be a priority of anyone at the Legislature who is interested in investing in the economic security of the state.

“Legislation that undermines the public school system in our state is incredibly detrimental to our economic future,” Meyer said. “These vouchers use tax dollars to subsidize schools that are not subject to state testing standards. We need our kids in schools that can be held accountable for preparing them for the workforce. By starving public schools of resources, we are affecting the very foundation of our economy.”


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