Monday, April 28, 2014

UPDATE: Governor signs Miranda’s bill to encourage eighth graders to pursue high school

UPDATE: Governor signs Miranda’s bill to encourage 
eighth graders to pursue high school 

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Gov. Jan Brewer recently signed a bill Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix (District 27), introduced which is intended to encourage students graduating from eighth grade to continue their education.

Miranda’s bill, HB 2501, will prevent school district governing boards from requesting signed certificates of promotion from the county school superintendent while allowing schools to conduct ceremonies to honor the students being promoted from eighth grade.

“I want to thank Gov. Brewer for signing this bill and the legislators who supported it. This new law will help encourage our children to pursue higher education,” Miranda said. “We want our students to have higher expectations for themselves and think toward high school and college graduation.”

The bill will become effective 90 days after the legislative session has ended.





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Governor signs Escamilla’s bill to compensate cities for cleaning up graffiti

Governor signs Escamilla’s bill to compensate cities for cleaning up graffiti

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Recently, Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a bill introduced by Rep. Juan Carlos Escamilla, D-San Luis (District 4), that would require people responsible for graffiti to cover the costs of cleaning up the damage.

Escamilla’s bill, HB 2571, will go into effect later this summer and will allow the courts to include reasonable labor, material and equipment costs when calculating the damage resulting from graffiti.

“The cost of cleaning up graffiti can create a burden for our communities,” Escamilla said. “I am thankful that the governor and my colleagues at the Legislature recognized how important this legislation is because it will provide a way for cities and towns to manage the cleanup and to hold the offenders accountable for the full damage they inflict.”

A full copy of the bill is available at:




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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sponsor of Arizona TRUST Act calls cover-up revelations at ICE an outrage

Sponsor of Arizona TRUST Act calls cover-up revelations at ICE an outrage


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – This morning a U.S. Senate oversight committee issued a report revealing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were tampering with independent inspector general reports, including a 2012 report on the Secure Communities program. The senators found that the inspector general at the time and U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials coordinated the reports, taking into consideration timing and politics for the agency.

Rep. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe (District 26), author of the Arizona TRUST Act, a bill meant to curtail the damage of the Secure Communities program, issued this statement in response:

"I was already outraged at how ICE operates in Arizona but today's revelations take that to new heights. Our state knows better than anyone what happens when local sheriffs collaborate with ICE but now it’s evident that those relationships are corroded at the federal level as well. The idea of checks and balances is a bedrock principle of democracy but ICE is so out-of-control that it has eroded even that function of government.

“I proposed the Arizona TRUST Act to repair the damage ICE has done to Arizona families and our civic life at large but I could not have predicted how deep the agency's dishonesty goes. Looking at its recent history, it seems hell-bent on replicating Arizona's worst policies no matter what the cost.

“What was ICE hiding when it worked to alter the independent report on the Secure Communities program? At this point, it's overwhelmingly clear that S-Comm, like SB1070's section 2b, should be terminated.  In the meantime, localities have the responsibility to bring truth, transparency, and civil rights protections to what has been undone by the federal government's deportation quota programs."


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Campbell: ‘We’ve still got work to do’

Campbell: ‘We’ve still got work to do’
Legislative session ends without solution to child welfare system crisis

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), released this statement regarding the close of the regular legislative session.

“The legislative session ended today, leaving Arizona’s child safety and welfare system in crisis.

“The extremists at the Capitol chose to spend their time on policies that promoted a partisan agenda. During the time they should have been finding solutions for the troubled child welfare system, they instead focused on fast-tracking SB 1062 through the Legislature. This discriminatory legislation targeted LBGTQ communities and cities like Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff that have expanded civil rights protections. This is disappointing, not only because such legislation is offensive, but also because it took time and attention away from Child Protective Services reform. 

“At the beginning of the year, Republicans and Democrats agreed that fixing CPS was a priority, after 6,600 reports of child abuse and neglect went uninvestigated. This happened, in part, because there are not enough caseworkers as a result of years of Republican budget cuts. House Democrats proposed a budget that included $193 million for child safety and health and human services. It would have restored preventative services, like the childcare subsidy, and it would have provided enough money to hire additional child welfare caseworkers to handle the growing caseload in the state.

“This proposal was ignored because of partisanship; and vulnerable children and families remain in danger. Today five CPS supervisors and a Department of Economic Security administrator were fired after the Department of Public Safety issued a report on its investigation of the agency. Clearly, the situation is still dire. Solving the state’s CPS troubles should have been first on the agenda, and now we have to wait for the governor to call a special session.

“House Democrats remain ready to put a stop to the partisan bickering and to find ways to end this crisis. The legislative session may have closed but we’ve still got work to do.”


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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Governor signs bill to remove the words handicapped and disabled from state statutes, materials

Governor signs bill to remove the words handicapped and disabled from state statutes, materials

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today Gov. Jan Brewer signed HB 2667 into law. Rep. Stefanie Mach, D-Tucson (District 10), introduced this bill which will remove the words handicapped and disabled from state laws and from all materials the government produces in the future, such as signs that indicate parking for people with disabilities.

“I am grateful for the support this bill received from my colleagues and from Gov. Brewer,” Mach said. “Replacing offensive language with terms that more accurately reflect our community is an important change.”

Mach, who survived a car accident in 1997 in which she sustained serious burn injuries and the loss of an arm, began working on this legislation because she said the term “handicapped” is dehumanizing.

“Our laws and signs should use language that reflects the respect we have for everyone in our state,” Mach said.

The bill will take effect 90 days after the legislative session ends and will replace the archaic language with “person or persons with disabilities.”




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Governor signs bill containing Otondo’s forest management provision

Governor signs bill containing Otondo’s  
forest management provision

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Gov. Jan Brewer today signed a bill including a provision proposed by Rep. Lisa Otondo, D-Yuma (District 4), that will help protect Arizona forests and firefighters while creating jobs.

Brewer signed HB 2343, a bill introduced by a Republican member of the House of Representatives which was amended to include portions of Otondo’s bill, HB 2536. Otondo’s contribution to this legislation provides opportunities for public-private partnerships to remove vegetation which can create dangerous wildfire conditions in Arizona forests.

“After the tragic loss of life in the Yarnell Hill Fire, we cannot afford to sit on our hands while we watch our communities and our firefighters be put in jeopardy. This is a step in the right direction for Arizona,” Otondo said. “I am thankful for the bipartisan support that this bill received in the Legislature, and I am grateful that the governor signed this bill.”

The law will go into effect this summer.





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Legislature passes Escamilla’s bill to compensate cities for cleaning up graffiti

Legislature passes Escamilla’s bill to compensate cities for cleaning up graffiti

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – On Tuesday the Arizona House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill introduced by Rep. Juan Carlos Escamilla, D-San Luis (District 4), that would require people responsible for graffiti to cover the costs of cleaning up the damage.

Escamilla’s bill, HB 2571, would allow the courts to include reasonable labor, material and equipment costs when calculating the damage resulting from graffiti.

“Graffiti cleanup has been a huge issue in our communities and it has budgetary implications,” Escamilla said. “This law would provide a way for cities and towns to not only manage the cleanup but also hold the offenders accountable for the full damage they inflict.”

The bill now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer for consideration.

A full copy of the bill is available at:




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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

UPDATE: Arizona Legislature passes Miranda’s bill to encourage eighth graders to pursue high school

UPDATE: Arizona Legislature passes Miranda’s bill to encourage eighth graders to pursue high school 

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Arizona Senate today passed a bill introduced by Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix (District 27), intended to encourage students graduating from eighth grade to continue their education.

Miranda’s bill, HB 2501, would prevent school district governing boards from requesting signed certificates of promotion from the county school superintendent while still allowing schools to conduct ceremonies to honor the students being promoted from eighth grade.

“Certificates and diplomas should be reserved for graduations,” Miranda said. “We want our students to have higher expectations for themselves and think toward high school and college graduation.”

The Arizona House passed the bill in February, and it now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer for consideration.





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Campbell on Medicaid suit appeal: ‘The decision today does not take anything away from the progress we made’

Campbell on Medicaid suit appeal: ‘The decision today does not take anything away from the progress we made’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), released this statement after the Court of Appeals decided that a group of Republican legislators can continue to pursue their lawsuit against Medicaid expansion.

“Last year, when a bipartisan group of legislators worked together to pass Medicaid expansion, we knew there would be challenges ahead. Earlier this year, after a Maricopa County Superior Court judge dismissed the case brought by many of those who voted against extending health care coverage to more Arizonans, we expected an appeal.

“Today, we learned that the Court of Appeals will allow these legislators to continue their efforts to stymie Medicaid expansion. The decision does not take anything away from the progress we made, and it is only one step in the legal process. Ultimately, providing more people with access to health care and bringing billions of dollars into our economy was the correct decision for Arizona.”




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Gonzales: ‘It is time for Arizona to move beyond SB 1070’

Gonzales: ‘It is time for Arizona to move beyond SB 1070’
State legislator issues statement after U.S. Supreme Court denies review of a portion of SB 1070

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3), released this statement after the U.S. Supreme Court left in place an injunction against a portion of SB 1070 that would make it illegal to transport or harbor unauthorized immigrants.

“It is time for Arizona to move beyond SB 1070. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the majority of this law. Now another portion is again enjoined and the state will not be able to enforce it. This is further affirmation that extremist legislation like this has no place in Arizona.

“Arizonans deserve more. From the start, SB 1070 served only to divide communities and heighten partisan bickering. It took time and attention away from real solutions to the immigration issues our country is facing. Additionally, it gave politicians an excuse to grandstand, at the local and national levels, when they should have been working on substantive policy reform or focused on creating jobs and improving education.

“The U.S. Supreme Court made the right call."


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Monday, April 21, 2014

UPDATE: Mach’s bill to remove the words handicapped and disabled from state statutes goes to governor’s desk

UPDATE: Mach’s bill to remove the words handicapped and disabled from state statutes goes to governor’s desk

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX –The governor will soon receive a bill Rep. Stefanie Mach, D-Tucson (District 10), introduced that would remove the words handicapped and disabled from state laws and from all materials the government produces in the future, such as signs that indicate parking for people with disabilities.

The Arizona Senate unanimously passed an amended version of HB 2667 and sent the bill back to the Arizona House for a final vote today where it passed unanimously. Mach is trying to change the way the state addresses people with disabilities. She survived a car accident in 1997, in which she sustained serious burn 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.

“The current language is offensive,” Mach said. “My bill changes the archaic words in our statutes and replaces them with ‘person or persons with disabilities.’ These are the terms that most people with disabilities prefer.”

The bill now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer for consideration.




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Legislature passes bill containing Otondo’s forest management provision

Legislature passes bill containing Otondo’s  
forest management provision

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Both the Arizona House and Senate have passed a bill including a provision initially introduced by Rep. Lisa Otondo, D-Yuma (District 4), that will help protect Arizona forests and firefighters while creating jobs.

“This bill addresses two important issues in our state,” Otondo said. “First, it contributes to the safety of our firefighters who are tasked with protecting our communities from wildfires. Second, this legislation could create hundreds of new jobs and generate millions for our economy.”

The Senate passed HB 2343, a bill introduced by a Republican member of the House of Representatives and which was amended to include portions of Otondo’s bill, HB 2536. Otondo’s contribution to this legislation provides opportunities for public-private partnerships to remove vegetation which can create dangerous wildfire conditions in Arizona forests. The House approved the amended bill, which passed unanimously today and will be sent to the governor for her consideration.

“After the tragic loss of life in the Yarnell Hill Fire, we cannot afford to sit on our hands while we watch our communities and our firefighters be put in jeopardy,” Otondo said. “This bill will encourage the protection of state lands while strengthening our economy. I encourage the governor to sign it as soon as it is on her desk.”





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Monday, April 14, 2014

House supports HJR 2002


House supports HJR 2002

Republicans consistently push wrong priorities in the House

Republicans consistently push wrong priorities in the House

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – After passing a disappointing, shortsighted budget, House Republicans continue to ignore pressing issues, including child safety and public education, choosing instead to focus on matters that do not move the priorities of the state forward.



“The Republicans have made bad choices throughout this legislative session,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), said. “House Democrats had a plan that would keep Arizona’s budget balanced and would support public education so all our kids could have access to schools that would ensure they’re prepared for college and the workforce. The Republicans ignored this plan, choosing partisanship over the priorities of the people. They continue to claim that we do not have the resources to adequately fund public education. At the same time, they tried to get nearly a million additional dollars for private prisons this year. Think of what a school district could do with that money. Choices like this show that the Republicans here are out of touch.”

Assistant House Minority Leader Bruce Wheeler, D-Tucson (District 10), added that instead of trying to solve the child safety issues plaguing the state, Republicans wasted time on legislation like SB 1062.

“Our state is struggling to recover from a recession and, instead of promoting legislation that would create jobs and attract business to Arizona, the extremists at the Capitol put their energy into fast-tracking SB 1062, a discriminatory bill that took direct aim at the LGBTQ community and cities like Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff that have expanded civil rights protections,” Wheeler said. “Not only was this bill offensive, but it threatened our state’s economic stability. It was clear that this legislation was bad for business, and that was reinforced by a number of companies including Intel, Apple, JPMorgan Chase, GoDaddy and PetSmart that voiced opposition to SB 1062.

“Although the Republicans rushed SB 1062 through the process, they were not able to sneak it by the public, and it was vetoed. It does, however, serve as an indication of what is important to Republicans - their partisan agenda. They also just passed a budget that fails to provide funding to hire enough child welfare caseworkers. At the beginning of the session, the Republicans claimed that solving the CPS crisis was a priority. Around 6,000 reports of neglect and abuse went uninvestigated partially because there weren’t enough caseworkers after years of Republican budget cuts. But they passed a budget that did not include enough money to increase the number of caseworkers. We know the situation is dire now. We should not be waiting to find solutions in a special session later this year.”


House Minority Whip Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), said the Republicans made choices that reflect their values.

“The state’s budget is the most direct indication of our values. The Republican budget shows that they value an ideological agenda above all else. They have prioritized funding for special interests over child safety and education. This is unacceptable, especially considering that Arizona has the second highest child welfare caseload growth in the country and our schools are still dealing with the $3 billion cut from their budgets since 2008.

“The Republicans had other options. There were real solutions on the table, but they made the wrong choice and opted for promoting partisanship over what would work for our state. The bottom line is that we should be demanding more for our children, our schools and our state.”


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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

House Democrats protecting public schools

Public education in our state is in jeopardy, and Arizona House Democrats are working to stop tax dollars from being syphoned out of the public school system.


Rep. Mach on protecting public schools


Extremists at the Capitol are pushing legislation that could pull millions of dollars out of our public schools through the use of student tuition organizations and a private school voucher program called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, which were developed by the Goldwater Institute and supported by the Center for Arizona Policy. ESAs do little more than continue the attack on public schools that extremists at the Capitol have waged for years. 

Rep. Quezada on protecting public schools

Since 2009, Republicans have cut about $3 billion from education. We can’t afford to continue to starve Arizona schools. Our state is working its way back from an economic crisis. We should be investing in a foundation that will protect our future. But the Republicans here have other priorities – like trying to get almost a million extra dollars for private prisons in our state.

If we want our kids to be ready for college and to compete in a global economy, we have to make sure they are prepared. That means funding our public schools and investing in the Common Core so all kids have the skills necessary to compete for 21st century jobs. It also means making sure our teachers have the resources they need to do their jobs.

Please join us in helping to stop these attacks on public education. 

Rep. Alston on protecting public schools

Monday, April 07, 2014

Republicans pass shortsighted budget that protects status quo instead of state’s priorities



Republicans pass shortsighted budget that protects status quo instead of state’s priorities

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Whip Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), who represented the House Democrats in the budget conference committees, released this statement about the budget Republicans passed in the Arizona House and which is scheduled for a vote in the Arizona Senate tonight.

“The budget Republicans passed today is a disappointment. It is shortsighted and fails to move the priorities of the state forward. The Republicans at the Legislature consistently make the wrong choices for the state and our children, and they continued this trend by prioritizing tax cuts and funding for special interests. All this budget does is protect the status quo.

“Earlier this year, Arizona House Democrats proposed a balanced budget that would have funded public K-12 schools and higher education. Our schools have had to deal with some of the deepest budget cuts in the nation. Their budgets have been slashed by $3 billion since 2008. Now that Arizona is working its way out of the economic recession, we must reinvest in education. That investment should also include higher education and help for students struggling to pay college tuition.

“The current budget bows to extremists by not funding Common Core implementation. These standards are in place to prepare our students for college and for the workforce. It also lacks adequate funding for universities, further jeopardizing our students’ ability to compete in the global economy.

“The Democrats’ proposal also included $193 million for child safety and health and human services. This money would have been used to restore preventative services, like the childcare subsidy, so that working families would have access to reliable, safe childcare. The funding would also have provided enough money to hire child welfare caseworkers to handle the growing caseloads in this state. Arizona has the second highest caseload growth in the country and we’ve seen the tragic results of underfunding this crucial safety net. This is not an issue that can wait until a special session.

“There were other options and other choices, but partisanship prevailed today. Our kids, our schools and our state deserve better.”

Democrats in the House and the Senate have submitted a minority report formally protesting this budget.



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Native American Caucus meeting focuses on transportation issues

Native American Caucus meeting focuses on
transportation issues

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Arizona Legislature’s Native American Caucus recently hosted a discussion on the transportation issues facing Native American Nations. Legislators heard presentations from experts on transportation funding and the expectations of indigenous communities.

The Division Director of the Navajo Division of Transportation, Paulson Chaco, gave an overview of what is needed to resolve the transportation issues in the Navajo Nation. The presentation focused on the need for road improvements. The majority of the Navajo Nation’s roads are unpaved which has resulted in variety of community problems. For example, some children miss school because busses often get stuck in the mud on rainy days. Chaco stated that the division of transportation is lacking adequate funding to deal with what he referred to as a transportation crisis.

Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3), shared her concerns about the transportation situation affecting education.

“When we have thousands of children riding two hours to school on bad roads and miss 20 days of school on average, due to road conditions, we have bigger problems!” Gonzales said.  “Let’s get to work on roads in Arizona!”

Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9), added that it is also important for indigenous leaders be included in the decision-making process.

“Arizona’s transportation infrastructure is in crisis, and nowhere is that crisis felt more than on Native American tribal lands,” Steele said.  “As we address these issues, we must do so with Native American representation at the table.”  

Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), agreed. He highlighted the importance of Indian nations having a seat at the table for road development decisions.

“Transportation is essential to the economic development of any area,” Hale said. “Roads and other transportation systems need our constant attention so they do not adversely affect economic development. Indian nations are part of the economy of the state of Arizona. It is, therefore, important that Indian nations have a seat at the table when road development planning takes place at the state level. Too many times, we hear about traffic accidents that result in fatalities because the roads on Indian nations are unsafe. The state needs to pay attention to the safety of its Native American citizens and work with Indian nations to address safety issues and provide economic development through transportation infrastructure development.”

The Assistant Director of the Arizona Department of Transportation, Kevin Biesty, also spoke about state funding for transportation and the importance of improving Arizona’s transportation system. He said that Arizona is poised to become a manufacturing powerhouse, and in order to benefit from new businesses, the state must invest in its transportation infrastructure.

Sen. Carlyle Begay, D-Ganado (District 7), said that investing in transportation is important to economic growth.

“Transportation is the tie that binds us together as a state and is the backbone of Arizona’s tribal communities by helping to drive growth, create jobs, and provide more livable communities. Our roads, bridges, and transit systems quite literally carry people across a network that supports a multitude of economic interests, including tourism, agriculture, energy production and manufacturing,” Begay said. “However, progress within Arizona’s tribal communities does not travel down dirt roads and broken bridges. There is a dire need for further investments in transportation infrastructure in both rural and tribal communities. It is time, in this 21st century, for opportunity to be able to travel safely down our roads and connect the commerce and culture of our tribal communities.  Asphalt is the great equalizer.”

Gonzales agreed.

“Transportation is critical. Good roads are how we get to work, school, the doctors and hospitals, and how goods and products are transported,” Gonzales said. “If we can’t get through, there is a big problem! Transportation needs to receive more attention here at the Legislature for all of these reasons and for a good economy.”

Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (District 7), added that transportation contributes to tourism, which benefits Native American Nations and the state.

“Much of rural Arizona and especially Native American reservations are dependent upon tourism,” Peshlakai said. “Arizona’s natural beauty and cultural diversity ought to be accessible for all so that the state can remain a global destination point on every person’s bucket list.”



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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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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Clinco selected for Vanguard Class of 2014

Clinco selected for Vanguard Class of 2014

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Demion Clinco, D-Tucson (District 2), is among 43 people selected from across the country to join the prestigious Vanguard Class of 2014.

Clinco was chosen for his commitment to community service and leadership.

“I am honored to represent our communities at the Vanguard Conference this year,” Clinco said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn from other community leaders about innovative ways of making our communities better places.”

The Vanguard Class attends a conference hosted by Next City, a non-profit media organization, which selects leaders from around the nation whose ideas, experience in the field and ambition for the future show great promise. These individuals gather for an intensive series of presentations, workshops, neighborhood tours and more.

As the only Vanguard Class participant from Arizona this year, Clinco says he is committed to sharing his experience with other leaders from around the country.

“There are so many positive things that are happening in Arizona that often go unnoticed,” Clinco said. “I am thrilled to be able to inform others of the positive progress we have made in this state with people from around the nation.”

For more information about the Vanguard Class, go to:




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