Thursday, April 30, 2015

Rep. Larkin’s statement on the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore

Rep. Larkin’s statement on the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Jonathan Larkin, D-Glendale (District 30), released this statement regarding the civil unrest and violence in Baltimore:

“The tragedy of Freddie Gray’s death in Baltimore touches all of us and Mr. Gray’s family deserves our support as they mourn their loss. This sad event is yet another indication that we have a long way to go before issues of racial equality and responsible policing practices can be resolved. As discussions of these and other issues continue at the national and local levels, peaceful protest and community engagement will be crucial. Community violence cannot resolve these questions, and I encourage everyone to speak out, become involved, but remain nonviolent and respect the rule of law.

“This tragedy and the many that occurred before it should push all of us to look critically at public policies and internal police policies that may contribute to these events. The bonds of trust between police and the communities they serve are often not as strong as they could be. We should be holding these discussions in Arizona and throughout the United States because real changes can happen only when communities and their police departments work together.”



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Rep. Rios named a 2015 Arizona Latina Trailblazer


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Native American Caucus to Federal Government: Reject proposed AHCCCS changes

Native American Caucus to Federal Government:  Reject proposed AHCCCS changes

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Members of the Arizona State Legislature’s Native American Caucus recently sent a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell urging her to deny Arizona’s request for a waiver of certain requirements for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program. That request was sent pursuant to the recent passage of SB 1092. If the waiver is approved, the state would be allowed to place significant limitations on AHCCCS recipients.

SB 1092 would require that AHCCCS recipients be employed, participating in job training or actively seeking employment, and it would impose a 5-year lifetime enrollment limit on Medicaid benefits. With unemployment rates on Indian reservations at record levels, Native American legislators are concerned that these proposed restrictions would have a devastating impact.

“SB 1092 would put an unbearable stress on Native American communities in Arizona and would represent a continuation of centuries of oppressive treatment of indigenous people,” said Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9).
Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3), added that SB 1092 is also problematic because it sets employment requirements but does not provide any funding for employment resources.

“I strongly oppose SB 1092 because it will harm hundreds of thousands of Arizonans. It provides no money for job training programs, which are desperately needed on Indian nations. And the 5-year limit on benefits does not provide people with long-term healthcare,” Gonzales said.

Moreover, SB 1092 will reduce revenue to health care facilities on Indian nations, further harming Native American communities.

“SB 1092 will negatively impact Arizona Native American health care facilities by reducing the amount of revenue they receive.  This may result in a decreased quality of care to all Native American children, families and the elderly.  All Arizonans should be concerned about this legislation,” said Rep. Jennifer Benally, D-Tuba City (District 7).

Sen. Carlyle Begay, D-Ganado (District 7), agreed that SB 1092 will affect health services and that the consequences of the law would disproportionately burden Native Americans.

“SB 1092 would have enormous consequences for Native Americans, as well as the Indian Health Service and tribal and urban Indian providers from whom many Native Americans receive health services. Placing a lifetime limit on Medicaid eligibility and instituting a work verification requirement disproportionally hurts Native American families,” Begay said. “It would also impair critical preventive measures intended to lessen the effects of chronic stress and social marginalization, which remain serious challenges in Native American communities.”

Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), acknowledged moving people off government assistance and toward self-sufficiency is an admirable goal, but not if the process leaves people without the care they need.

“As legislators, we sometimes fail to see or understand the unintended and often very complex consequences of our actions. We affect the lives of every person in Arizona. SB 1092 is an example of the legislature not acknowledging the many consequences of its actions.  Self-sufficiency for all Arizonans is an admirable goal, but when the tools by which people move toward that goal are lacking, we only exacerbate the problems faced by many people in this state.  Without job training and economic development programs on Indian nations, the proposed employment requirements for AHCCCS will be impossible for many people to meet.  I am hopeful that the federal government will see these unintended consequences and reject Arizona’s request for a waiver and thereby not breach its trust responsibility to Native American people.”

All five members of the Native American Caucus voted against passage of SB 1092. The letter to Secretary Burwell can be found below.

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Navajo leaders’ statements on death of Ned Anderson, Sr.

Navajo leaders’ statements on death of Ned Anderson, Sr.

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), and Navajo Nation Council Delegate Jonathan Hale released this joint statement regarding the passing of Ned Anderson, Sr., the 13th Tribal Chairman of the San Carlos Apache Nation:

“Ned Anderson, Sr. was committed to the sovereignty and self-determination of Indian Nations. His efforts in fighting for Native peoples’ right to vote demonstrate that he was a true Native American leader,” Rep. Albert Hale said. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

“Chairman Anderson was a courageous person and a dedicated leader who used his life to help the Apache people and all Indian peoples in Arizona,” Delegate Jonathan Hale said. “We are deeply saddened by his passing and know that he will be missed.”

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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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Democrats Call on Governor to Ensure Transparency and Accountability As Controversy Continues to Plague Child Welfare Agency



Friday, April 24, 2015

No Gov. Ducey … the budget is not balanced

Republican legislative leadership and the governor have justified shameful cuts to education and social safety net programs in the name of  balancing the budget.

Saying they were “making tough choices” to “balance the budget,” they cut $117 million from K-12 funding, $115 million from higher education and millions from social safety net programs. But not only did they make the wrong choices, it turns out, they did not balance the budget.

The governor recently signed a law that will increase income tax deductions from certain, specialized business investments from $25,000 to $500,000 a year. This could cost the state another $31 million that wasn’t accounted for in the so-called balanced budget.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC), the Legislature’s budget office, shows that this law will leave Arizona’s budget structurally imbalanced for years to come. Here is a full analysis from JLBC.

Although education and social services will have to suffer more cuts, the Republican budget did fund new private prison beds, while protecting and expanding more than $3 billion in corporate and special interest tax cuts. Here is a list of some of the new tax cuts Republicans supported this year.

Time and time again the Republicans have shown that they are more interested in promoting an agenda that puts the priorities of special interest groups ahead of Arizona kids and Arizona’s economic future.  If you have ideas or an opinion about this you’d like to share, click here to find ways to ensure your voice is heard. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Governor signs Cardenas’ bill to help National Guard members go to college

Governor signs Cardenas’ bill to help National Guard members go to college

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The governor recently signed a bill Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix (District 19), introduced that will help National Guard members cover a portion of their college tuition.

“Arizona was one of only three states that provided no educational assistance to guardsmen,” Cardenas said. “This affects recruitment efforts because educational benefits are among the most sought after by potential recruits.”

HB 2240 creates a tuition waiver program for Arizona’s National Guard members who want to attend in-state, public universities. The waiver will be available beginning in 2017, provided that universities have funding available to cover the cost.

“In recent years, we have seen fewer continuing military education opportunities, although members of the armed forces are required to graduate from college in order to qualify for some promotions,” Cardenas said. “Without career advancement, some guardsmen may not stay in the service. By signing this bill into law, the governor has helped ongoing efforts to better serve those who serve our country.”



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Monday, April 13, 2015

Gabaldón receives Community Leadership Award

 Gabaldón receives Community Leadership Award
In recognition of her contributions to improve the region


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Pima County Board of Supervisors recently presented Rep. Rosanna Gabaldón, D-Sahuarita (District 2), with a Community Leadership Award for her positive efforts to contribute to the region. 

“It is an honor to serve my community,” Gabaldón said. “This is my home and I want to ensure that it is a safe place, with strong neighborhoods, vibrant schools and sustainable employment opportunities.”

Gabaldón received the award at a recognition ceremony on April 11 at the Mulcahy YMCA in Tucson.

“It was wonderful to receive this award, alongside many other community leaders and volunteers.”


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Republicans rush into bad decisions, leave destructive legacy

Republicans rush into bad decisions, leave destructive legacy

Throughout the legislative session, the Republicans showed that they prioritize special interests (like private, for-profit prisons) over ensuring a prosperous future for our state.

Arizona lags behind the rest of the country’s economic recovery, and that is because the Republican leadership in this state refuses to invest in education or job creation.  Just last week, all three Arizona universities proposed additional fees and tuition increases for some students to offset the nearly $100 million Republicans cut from their budgets.

The Republicans rushed into bad decisions this session and created long-term damage  that did not go unnoticed. Here are just a few pieces written about the poor choices made by the Republican leadership:

A budget is a statement of values, and so is a legislative agenda. The Republicans have shown that they do not value public schools, universities or the economic stability of our state.

We can do better than this. House Democrats remain committed to finding innovative ways to improve neighborhood schools, make higher education more affordable and ensure that there are sustainable, high-wage jobs here.

If you have ideas about how to move Arizona forward, now is the time to get involved. Click here to find ways to make your voice heard.

Rep. Steele Works to Move #AZFORWARD


Friday, April 10, 2015

Joint statement from Arizona House Democratic Leaders on the passing of former Governor Castro

Joint statement from Arizona House Democratic Leaders on the passing of former Governor Castro

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), Assistant Democratic Leader Bruce Wheeler, D-Tucson (District 10), and Democratic Whip Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix (District 27), released this joint statement regarding the passing of Raul H. Castro, Arizona’s first Latino governor.

“Governor Castro leaves a legacy of impeccable public service and inspiration. In his varied roles as ambassador, judge and executive, he contributed to the betterment of the state and the country. Governor Castro’s life and work are an indelible part of our history. He will be greatly missed, and our thoughts are with his family.”



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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Governor signs delayed birth certificate bill

Governor signs delayed birth certificate bill

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The governor signed a Senate bill identical to the one sponsored by Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), which will codify recent action by the Arizona Department of Health Services to make it easier for Native Americans to obtain a delayed birth certificate in the state.

“This is a very important issue to all Native American communities in Arizona. I am grateful that the governor and my legislative colleagues made correcting this hardship a priority,” Hale said.

The law makes permanent the Arizona Department of Health Services policy that streamlined the process for Native Americans to receive delayed birth certificates. Previously, getting a delayed birth certificate required producing multiple forms of verification that a person was born at a specific time and place.  Many Native Americans are born at home and do not get a birth certificate issued at the time of birth, and securing the necessary documentation is often difficult. A birth certificate is important documentation for receiving social security and other benefits.

Hale recognized the efforts of Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler in crafting the legislation.

“Without her efforts, this change would not have been possible,” Hale said.

Fowler highlighted the difficulties people face trying to collect the documentation currently needed.

 “This legislation will improve the quality of life for Native Americans in all 22 tribes in Arizona, and it will allow many people to prove their citizenship and their eligibility for services.”

The law will go into effect on July 3, 2015.

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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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Thursday, April 02, 2015

Meyer: ‘The Republicans have put the state’s future in jeopardy’

Meyer: ‘The Republicans have put the state’s future in jeopardy’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), released this statement after the end of the legislative session:
 
“The legislative session started with potential. Democratic members, who represent constituents in districts across the state, worked on legislation to create jobs, to protect education funding and to stop dark money. Instead of focusing on these priorities, the majority party passed a budget with massive funding cuts to K-12 education, universities and community colleges, while spending millions on private prison cells. Republicans also refused to consider dark money reforms and put our communities at risk by slashing funding to social safety net programs and to cities and counties.

“Their agenda included bills that would make it a felony to help collect early ballots, make it a crime if doctors don’t give some women scientifically unsupported pseudo-medical advice, prohibit service animals from being allowed in restaurants and prohibit teachers and school officials from sharing any information about legislation affecting education. House Democrats stopped some of the worst bills from passing, but the Republicans have put the state’s future in jeopardy.

“In the frenzy to end the session early, the Republicans pushed legislation through the process sometimes late at night and often with little public discussion. This tactic is shameful. Our children deserve better, and we had other choices. The Republican budget and legislative agenda together provide a statement of values. This session, Republicans have shown they value special interests over the long-term economic stability of our state and the future of our children. House Democrats remain dedicated to promoting the priorities of Arizonans including quality neighborhood schools, affordable higher education and the creation of sustainable, high-wage jobs.”

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Delayed birth certificate bill goes to governor

 Delayed birth certificate bill goes to governor

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today, the Arizona House of Representatives passed a Senate bill identical to the one sponsored by Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), which would codify recent action by the Arizona Department of Health Services to make it easier for Native Americans to obtain a delayed birth certificate in the state.

“The Senate bill is now identical to the bill I introduced and which this House passed in February,” Hale said, adding that his bill was held in the Senate for “political reasons.”

“It’s the game we play here,” he said. “But it doesn’t matter. This change is needed by many of the people in my district. And we have been working on this issue for years.”

This bill would make permanent the Arizona Department of Health Services policy that streamlined the process for Native Americans to receive delayed birth certificates. Previously, getting a delayed birth certificate required producing multiple forms of verification that a person was born at a specific time and place.  Many Native Americans are born at home and do not get a birth certificate issued at the time of birth, and securing the necessary documentation is often difficult. A birth certificate is important documentation for receiving social security and other benefits.

Hale recognized the efforts of Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler in crafting the legislation. Fowler highlighted the difficulties people face trying to collect the documentation currently needed.

“Native Americans from all reaches of our state have to make several trips to Phoenix and produce various documents to verify that they were born at a specific time and place. It is not uncommon that many of them speak no English. Some are among the most traditional Native Americans and should be considered living treasures. In case after case, it was apparent that all the requirements were both overwhelming and incomprehensible,” she said. “This legislation will improve the quality of life for Native Americans in all 22 tribes in Arizona, and it will allow many people to prove their citizenship and their eligibility for services.”

Several of Hale’s colleagues thanked him and Fowler for their work. Rep. Jennifer Benally, D-Tuba City (District 7), is a former Navajo Nation district court judge. She said some people spent years trying to get their birth certificates.

“As a judge, I saw people in my court stuck in the process of getting a birth certificate for up to 15 years,” Benally said. “Sometimes, they just gave up. This legislation is very important, and Supervisor Fowler and Rep. Hale have been working on it for years. I am grateful for their efforts.”

The bill now goes to the governor’s office.
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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.

Rep. Cardenas' HB 2240 passes Senate and House Final Read