Friday, January 29, 2016

Native American Caucus discusses history, Indian law

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Native American Caucus met for a presentation of Indian law and the history of that law in Arizona and the United States on Jan. 27.

Judge Michael C. Nelson, a retired Apache County Superior Court judge, gave an overview of the history of the legal relationships between Native American nations and the state and federal governments. He cited the Constitution of the United States, the Arizona Constitution, and Supreme Court cases in the explanation of this history. 

In addition to his presentation on the history of Indian relations, Judge Nelson discussed the Indian Child Welfare Act. The Indian Child Welfare Act applies to off-reservation Indian children in the state system. Representatives from the Department of Child Safety explained the process by which Indian children are placed in permanent housing.

Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3), commented on the importance of the Indian Child Welfare Act in keeping children with their families.

“In Indian communities, extended families have duties similar to the duties that are normally attributed to nuclear families. For example, in the Pascua Yaqui community, godparents play a special role in caring for children who have been displaced,” Gonzales said.

Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), expressed his appreciation for the presentation to the Native American Caucus.

“Judge Nelson provided us all with a greater understanding of why Indian nations are unique; why they have a unique relationship with the state and the federal governments; and why they are the only minority group in the country to have the authority to have their own lands, make their own laws, create their own governments, and govern the people within in their boundaries. Hopefully, the legislators here have gained a better understanding of the legal foundation that governs the relationship between state government and the Indian nations in the state,” Hale said.

The next Native American Caucus meeting will be held on Feb. 11, 2016. The Native American Caucus meetings are open to all legislators and to members of the public.

“The information shared at these meetings provides legislators with valuable insight into the interconnectedness of state and tribal governments,” Gonzales said.




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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Rep. Bolding makes Juneteenth Day official in AZ













                                                                                                                                               









                                                                                                                                                                                      To see the full language of the bill, please click here.

Rep. Gabaldon working to make sure Arizona's senior citizens are heard

UPDATE March 3, 2016

Feb. 23, 2016:



To see the full language of the bill, click here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

First Native American Youth Summit Announcement


Hale announces his legislative priorities for his last year in the Arizona House of Representatives

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), has introduced legislation to promote the interests of Native American nations in Arizona.

In his last year as a state representative, Hale continues to address the needs of his district and indigenous communities in Arizona.

“I am honored that I have the opportunity to serve my community at the Legislature. There comes a time when we must make way for new ideas and new energy, which is why I am not seeking re-election. I will continue to work for our people until the end of my term. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues and constituents on these important issues, and I am grateful for their continued support,” Hale said.  

Hale introduced a number of bills this year intended to reinforce the sovereign status of Native American nations and to recognize the contributions Native American nations have made to the state. A summary of the bills is below:

HB 2311 – tribal colleges; expenditure limitation; exemption
Exempts community colleges that are owned, operated, or chartered by Indian tribes from expenditure limitations.

HB 2312 – advisory council; Indian health care
Reorganizes the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Healthcare to add greater representation and to better serve the indigenous communities. 

HB 2313 – Indian tribes; JTED expenses
Provides funding for the operation, maintenance, renewal and capital expenses of the Northeast Arizona Technological Institute of Vocational Education District, the only Joint Technical Education District in an Indian Nation. JTEDs provide career and technical education for native students.

HB 2314 – appropriation; Navajo nation court complex
Allocates $7.5 million to help build a Supreme Court Complex on the Navajo Nation.  The entire construction project is expected to cost about $15 million, and the Navajo Nation is expected to contribute the other $7.5 million.

HB 2315 – TPT; Indian tribes; motor vehicles
Allows enrolled members of Indian Nations to qualify for vehicle sales tax exemptions when they purchase a vehicle even if they reside within the boundaries of an Indian Nation where they are not enrolled.

HB 2316 – appropriation; water projects; Navajo nation
Appropriates $3.4 million from the state general fund to the Navajo Nation for planning and developing water supply and infrastructure projects.  These projects are crucial to support community growth and economic development on Native American land.

HB 2317 – state transportation board; tribal representation
Requires the State Transportation Board to include a representative from an Indian Nation. The board is responsible for planning for the transportation needs of the state. The population of the 22 federally recognized Indian nations in Arizona exceeds 250,000. These Indian nations have unique transportation needs that are not currently being met.

HB 2318 – central Arizona project board; membership
Requires that the CAP board of directors include one non-voting member, who is a tribal elected official, to ensure Indian nations are included in discussions about CAP Colorado River water use. The member would be appointed by the governor and selected from a list of three nominees. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona would be responsible for identifying two nominees, and the Navajo Nation would be responsible for the third nominee. These Indian nations should have a seat at the table for discussions regarding water availability and use.

HB 2319 – Indian tribes; TPT revenues
Allocates Transaction Privilege Tax money, or sales tax, back to the Native American lands where it was collected. These funds would be used for infrastructure and community development, including telecommunication infrastructure development and roads on Indian reservations. Currently, TPT money is collected from businesses not owned by enrolled members operating on Native American lands. The tax money is distributed to the state, counties and municipalities incorporated under state law. Indian nations are not included in this distribution formula. Native American nations would be authorized to use the TPT money as collateral to fund projects.

HCM 2005 – veterans’ homes; tribal lands 
Asks Congress to enact legislation that would allow construction reimbursement and per diem payments for veterans nursing care homes built on Native American nation lands. Current federal law provides for a 65 percent construction reimbursement and per diem payments to veterans nursing care homes built on land owned by states, territories or land the U.S. possesses. Veteran homes built on Native American nation lands are not eligible for the reimbursement and per diem payments.

“Although this will be my last session in the Arizona House of Representatives, my commitment to the community is unwavering. I look forward to working with my colleagues on these priorities,” 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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Sen. Hobbs & Rep. Plumlee Work On Equal Pay in Arizona #EqualPayCantWait



Rep. McCune Davis joins CFA and CEI at #StoptheDebtTrap announcment





Contacts:                                            Consumer Federation of America, Jean Ann Fox, 202-387-6121
           Southwest Center for Economic Integrity, Kelly Griffith, 520-250-4416

Title Lenders Replaced Payday Loan Stores,
Trap Arizonans in Debt

Strong rules from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau needed to stop the debt trap while Arizona Legislature should respect Prop 200 mandate and repeal title loan law
PHOENIX, AZ (January 26, 2016)—Today the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the Southwest Center for Economic Integrity (CEI) released a new report titled Wrong Way:  Wrecked by Debt/Auto Title Lending in Arizona.”  The report examines the exponential growth of title lenders since Arizona’s law authorizing payday loans expired in 2010 and documents the high risk to borrowers who secure loans with the title to their vehicles, including repossession, deficiency balances, balloon payment debt and collection costs.
The full report is available here: http://bit.ly/wrongwayreport
Under the Arizona Secondary Motor Vehicle Finance Transaction law, lenders are authorized to charge 204 percent for loans of $500 or less, with tiered rates for larger loans to 120 percent for loans over $5,000.  These loans are renewed an average of eight times, resulting in $765 in finance charges on a $500 loan for total repayment of $1,265.  For larger, longer-term loans, consumers pay thousands of dollars to pay off loans and recover their titles.
“Five years after payday lending sunset in Arizona, title lenders saturate our neighborhoods, selling loans at up to 204 percent annual interest.  Prop 200 voters in 2008 supported a 36 percent rate cap with no special carve-outs for payday lenders,” stated Representative Debbie McCune Davis.  “The Arizona legislature should honor that voter mandate by repealing the triple-digit interest carve-out for title loans and regulating everyone fairly under the Consumer Lender law.”  McCune Davis served as chair of the No on Prop 200 committee in 2008.
Arizona licensees offer two loans under the title loan law, the traditional loan secured by a clear title as well as “registration” loans made to consumers who do not own their vehicles.  Many lenders require borrowers to provide a blank check, debit card or electronic access to their bank account in order to obtain loans, a key feature of the now-expired payday loan regime.
“Consumer advocates warned Arizona regulators that payday lenders would morph into title lenders to keep making triple-digit interest loans,” noted Kelly Griffith, Executive Director of the Southwest Center for Economic Integrity based in Tucson.  “Sure enough, title lenders are making registration loans with rates and terms very similar to payday loans that voters thought had been removed from their neighborhoods,” Griffith added.
Findings from the report:

·         In mid-2015, one hundred companies were licensed by the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions to make title loans at 633 locations, a 300 percent increase in less than a decade.  There are more title lender locations than there were payday lenders when payday lending in Arizona was outlawed in 2010.

·         Twenty companies with almost half the licensed title loan locations also offer “registration” loans at the same rates as title-secured loans.  These loans are similar to payday loans.

·         If Arizona is typical of the other 24 states where title lending is legal, 190,000 to 285,000 consumers took out title loans last year.  If Arizona is similar to Virginia, a state that collects data on licensees, title lenders took in $316.5 million in revenue last year. 

·         Title loans are asset-based lending, based on the lender’s ability to collect rather than the borrower’s ability to repay the loan while meeting other obligations.  Lenders tout “No Credit, No Problem,” and many do not conduct credit checks.

·         Risks to title loan borrowers include repossession of vehicles, deficiency judgments when sale of repossessed property does not cover the amount owed plus costs, and lawsuits when borrowers default and lenders sue.  If Arizona repossession rates are similar to those reported by Virginia regulators, it is likely that 25,320 borrowers lost their vehicles to repossession last year, based on 633 locations. 

Recommendations include:

·         Repeal of the Secondary Motor Vehicle Finance Transaction law and regulation of all lenders under the Consumer Lender law including the 36 percent annual interest rate cap and stronger supervision and protections. 

·         Strong payday and car title loan rules by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to require ability-to-repay determination for the first and every loan made by title lenders.

·         Investigation and enforcement of state and federal laws by the Arizona Attorney General, the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions, CFPB and the Federal Trade Commission.

“While action from the Arizona legislature is necessary to protect Arizona consumers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau must also issue a strong rule this year to stop the worst abuses in the payday and title loans industry here and in other states,” stated Jean Ann Fox, Consumer Federation of America.  “Arizona consumers have waited long enough for relief from debt trap lending at triple digit rates.”

###

The Consumer Federation of America is a national organization of more than 250 nonprofit consumer groups that was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy and education.  www.consumerfed.org

The Southwest Center for Economic Integrity is a nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona, founded in 2001 with a mission to build economically strong communities for all and oppose unfair corporate practices.  CEI conducts research that illuminates the practices and impacts of specific companies or industries in communities of concern and acts as a facilitator for systemic economic change.  www.economicintegrity.org


Monday, January 25, 2016

House Democrats on Reinvesting in Eduation

House Minority Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28)


Rep. Randy Friese, D-Tucson (District 9)


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


Rep. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe (District 26)


Reinvest in Schools and Career & Technical Education

From day one, Legislative Democrats have made restoring Republican cuts to career and technical education (CTE) programs a priority. It was included among the key areas that need strategic investment to move the state forward.

In Arizona, Joint Technical Education Districts, a network of district and charter schools that provide career training programs, help keep students in school, prepare them to enter the workforce and can increase their overall earning potential. Last year, Republicans passed a budget that cut about $30 million from CTE programs across the state. Since then, there has been a bipartisan effort to fully restore these cuts, because these programs are growing and are “proven models of success.”  

Despite this level of support, the governor’s budget proposal would only provide money for competitive grants for these programs – totaling about $30 million over three years. It is a bureaucratic scheme. The governor’s proposal creates barriers for already-successful JTEDS struggling under the weight of past budget cuts. But if it’s not broken, don’t fix it; just fund it. These programs work for Arizona students and the schools need the money as soon as possible. 

The Arizona Republic reported that many school administrators aren’t satisfied with the governor’s proposal, saying that the new grant proposal “does little to address the root of their long-term funding issues.” Pima County JTED Superintendent Alan Storm told The Arizona Republic, “The governor did absolutely nothing to restore funding for JTEDS with his new grant proposal. Not a thing.”

The governor also failed to correct the teacher retention and recruitment problems plaguing Arizona schools. The Arizona School Personnel Association Survey from Dec. 2015 reports that there are 1,227 vacant teacher positions within the 84 Arizona school districts that participated. It’s been reported nationally that teachers are “fleeing Arizona in droves.” This could affect students immediately and also could have a lasting effect on the state’s economic security.  Democrats want to invest at least $50 million in teacher retention and recruitment programs. The governor’s budget proposal does not invest a dime in teacher retention or recruitment efforts.  

Arizona is full of independent and innovative people. There is no reason so many people should still be struggling after the recession. Democrats want to move the state forward by reinvesting in our schools and career and technical training programs so that our students have opportunities to find great careers. The governor has gotten very good at providing sound bites without substance, but Arizona needs more than that.

To see the Democratic plan for building a stronger Arizona, click here.

#DemsLead


Friday, January 22, 2016

Democrats Protecting Arizona Elections




Rep. Ken Clark, D-Phoenix (District 24), and Senator Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), introduced a package of bills to fight the corrupting influence of dark money and protect voters’ access to ballots in Arizona elections.


The United States Supreme Court approved the disclosure of money in politics in the Citizens United opinion. The voters have a right to know who is funding elections. And Rep. Clark and Sen. Quezada want to make sure that happens. 


Democratic Election Legislation – 2016

SB1071/HB2095 independent expenditures; corporations; funding disclosures
Conforms the disclosure statement required by corporations to be the same as disclosure statements by political committees; clarifies that a corporation, labor union, or LLC that makes independent expenditures must file as a political committee if it accepts donations or contributions.

SB1069/HB2093 campaign finance disclosures; corporations; entities.
Requires independent expenditure committees to disclose three largest contributors, including corporations, LLCs and labor organizations (current law only requires the disclosure statement to include political committees).

SB1068/HB2092 foreign nonprofit corporations; foreign LLCs
Redefines “conduct affairs” and “transacting business” for corporations operating in Arizona to include an expenditure of monies for the purpose of influencing outcome of elections (this would require a corporation to register with the corporation commission before spending any money in this state to influence an election).

SB1072/HB2096 independent expenditures; corporations; unions; audit
Requires the Clean Elections Commission to conduct random audits of corporations, LLCs, and unions that make independent expenditures.

SB1079 voter registration deadlines; registration method
Allows for registration to vote on the 14th day before an election if the voter registers in person at the county recorder’s office or electronically through DMV, or on the 29th day before the election if the voter mails a registration form to the county recorder.

SB1074 voter identification; VA, student identification
Student IDs and VA IDs may be used as identification for voting in a polling place.

SB1073 voter registration; same day
Allows people to register to vote in the 28 days preceding any election if they meet requirements and vote provisional; limited to voting in federal races only.

SB1078 provisional ballots; verification; tally
If a voter votes at an incorrect polling precinct but completes the proper verification for registration, the voter’s provisional ballot will be counted for the races and ballot measures that voter was eligible to vote in by means of a duplicate ballot.

SB1076 provisional ballots; residence; partial tabulation
Allows for voters who move within the 29-day voter registration deadline will be able to vote on election day at their new precinct if their new address can be verified to be within that precinct; directs the Secretary of State to create a provisional ballot envelope for voters who refuse to go to the voter’s correct precinct.

SB1075 statewide voter registration portability
Allows for statewide voter registration portability. If a voter moves within Arizona (whether within the same county or to another county) and fails to re-register before election day, the voter will be able to vote a provisional ballot at a polling place. The provisional ballot envelope will provide a section for voters to write their old address in addition to their new one, which is currently required by law.

SB1078 provisional ballots; tally; verification
Requires counties to count votes cast on ballots in wrong precinct but only for items voter was eligible to vote for; directs the county recorder to create a duplicate ballot containing only those races for which the voter was eligible to cast a vote.

SB1080 early ballots; election day postmark
Require ballots postmarked on or before election day to be counted (current law requires the ballots to be received by 7:00 pm on election day in order to be counted).

SB1081 early ballots; signature problems; cure
Requires a notification to a voter whose early ballot is found invalid, and provides ten days after the election date for the voter to cure the defect of the early ballot.  If the voter corrects the early ballot, the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections must notify the voter if their ballot was verified and counted or not counted and the reason for not counting the ballot.

Number Pending: early ballots; precinct ballot box
Allow mail in ballots to be fed directly into the machines if they vote on election day, avoids signature issues.

HB2094 ballots; defects; notice and cure
Directs the county recorder to provide a method for notifying early voters if there is a defect in their ballot materials and allow the voters to attempt to cure the defect if their ballot was received on or before the Friday before the election.

HB2097 automatic voter registration; licenses; IDs
Automatically registers a person who is qualified to register to vote when that person completes an application for a driver’s license, license renewal, including a non-operating identification card, unless the applicant clearly expresses his decision not to register

HB2098 campaign finance; corporate recipients; registration
Requires corporations, LLCs and labor unions that make campaign contributions in specified amounts to a political committee or another corporation, LLC or labor union to register and notify the filing officer within one day after making the contribution; provides the requirements for the registration form; establishes a civil enforcement action for violations; provides a class 1 misdemeanor for a knowing violation

To find ways to make your voice heard on these topics, click here.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Rep. Friese Working to Keep Teachers in Arizona



To learn more about HB 2510, click here.


Make sure your voice is heard! To get involved, click here.

#DemsLead

Rep. Friese proposes reforms to Arizona’s STO program


Rep. Randy Friese, D-Tucson (District 9), recently introduced bills to reform private school tuition tax credit programs in Arizona, known as Student Tuition Organizations.

STOs were proposed in order to increase access to private schools for students from financially disadvantaged families or those with special needs. Unfortunately, only a little more than one-third of these scholarships are used for these purposes.

In addition, there are other problems with these programs. Individual taxpayers can suggest to the STOs an intended recipient of the “scholarship.” This loophole introduces the potential for abuse. Families can agree to suggest their friends’ children as recipients, further eroding the purpose and intent of these programs. Finally, the “switcher” program allows a doubling of the tax credit, creating another way to divert money from public schools.

The switcher program also diverts money from the state budget by allowing individuals to give twice the amount of money to STOs: they can donate to both the traditional program and the switcher program. The switcher program was intended to help students switching from a public to a private school for the first year. Instead, it has been allowed to provide money beyond the first year, leaving far less money available for all state programs, including public education.

STOs transfer hundreds of millions of Arizona’s tax dollars to private schools, and the corporate STO cap currently grows by 20 percent every year. Additionally, STOs keep 10 percent of all donations received as an administrative fee. In 2014, private schools received $123 million of taxpayer money, allowing STOs to make $12 million.

Without the reforms Dr. Friese is proposing, Arizona public school funding will continue to deteriorate.

A summary of these bills is included below:

HB 2208 – STO Cap; General Fund Percentage
This bill will set a hard cap for corporate STO tax credits at 1 percent of the general fund which is approximately $9 billion. This would result in a corporate STO tax credit cap of $90 million. By 2020, the corporate STO tax credit program will have reached this limit, and this legislation will protect the general fund from further cuts.





















HB 2209 – STOs; Administrative Cost Allocation
This bill will decrease the administrative fee charged by STOs from 10 percent to 5 percent, providing additional scholarships for qualified students.

HB 2210 – STO Scholarships; Means Testing
This bill will require that the majority of the taxpayer money used for these programs go to students of families with modest incomes.

HB 2211 – STO Credit Gap; Growth Trigger
This bill will prohibit the 20 percent annual increase in corporate STO tax credit limits in years following an economic downturn, as defined by Proposition 123. Prop 123 would allow the legislature the option of not providing public school inflation funding. This bill would do the same for the corporate STO program. 

HB 2212 – STO Scholarships; Beneficiary Recommendations
This bill will reduce the potential for abuse by prohibiting a donor from naming a specific beneficiary.

HB 2213 – STO Scholarships; Student Transfers
This bill will limit the switcher tax credit program to a single year only.

As the 49th state in the nation for per student spending, Arizona cannot continue to allow STOs to redirect money meant for public school students to private schools. To share your ideas on STO reform, go to www.azhousedemocrats.com/p/take-action.html.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

House Democrats to host state budget overview presentation

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Arizona House Democrats will host a presentation from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee on the baseline budget. A comparison between the baseline budget and the governor’s budget proposal will also be discussed. 

Who:           Arizona House Democrats
                   Joint Legislative Budget Committee Staff      

When:        Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016
                   12:30-1:30 p.m.

Where:       House of Representatives, Hearing Room 2          
                   1700 W. Washington
                   Phoenix, Arizona 85007

House Democrats are hosting the full presentation to make it available to the public for review. This is an open meeting.


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Statement from Rep. Meyer on Matt Kopec’s appointment to the Arizona House of Representatives

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), released the following statement after the Pima County Board of Supervisors appointed Matt Kopec to the Legislative District 9 vacancy in the Arizona House of Representatives:

“I am pleased to welcome Matt Kopec to the House Democratic Caucus. I applaud his willingness to participate in the legislative process by serving the people of Legislative District 9. He is a Tucson native and has demonstrated exceptional commitment to the community. Our caucus members are looking forward to working with him, and we trust that he will represent the values of the region.”


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Friday, January 15, 2016

Ducey plan has small hits, big misses


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate and House Democratic leaders released statements on Governor Ducey’s 2017 budget proposal.

House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer:
“Governor Ducey does a good job of covering up the glaring lack of substance in his proposal with bold claims to get attention. In actuality, his budget does nothing to improve education in Arizona,” said Rep. Meyer.

“Despite widespread, bipartisan support for restoring money to career and technical education programs, the governor plans to strangle them with red tape by forcing them into a bureaucratic grant scheme. These programs improve graduation rates and increase employment opportunities. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it; just fund it.

“He again illustrates his true priorities by planning to provide more money for prisons than for universities. And the governor’s budget for K-12 education does nothing to solve the teacher retention, mentoring and recruitment problems in our public schools. The executive budget fails to offer real solutions to real problems.”

Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs:
“Governor Ducey’s proposed budget has some wise investments but does not go far enough in areas of critical need. We are pleased to see investments in areas like vocational rehabilitation, adult preventive dental and a community correction center in Maricopa County that will help offenders adjust to life out of prison,” said Sen. Hobbs.

“However, we are disappointed to see the status quo maintained at DCS. The failures there are systemic from the top down, with caseloads at historically high levels and staff morale at historically low levels, yet this budget ignores recommendations from independent experts and stakeholders on how to keep kids safe. The funds proposed to address the backlog simply aren’t enough to solve the problems and come with no accountability to ensure the funds are spent effectively.

“This budget provides no new money for preventive services, like restoring TANF and eliminating the child care wait list, that are proven to keep kids in their homes and out of the system in the first place. It appears that Governor Ducey’s staff spent more time and energy into putting together a $31.5 million border strike force that nobody wants than finding a solution to our state’s child safety crisis.

“We hope that the governor and Republican leaders will acknowledge that they serve all Arizonans, not just Republicans, and engage in meaningful discussions on reasonable changes to this budget that will protect Arizona’s children, help those in need and position our state to excel economically and improve quality of life for everyone.”

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Career and technical education offers Native American students new opportunities


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The first meeting of the Native American Caucus in 2016 focused on education, workforce development and Joint Technical Education Districts.

“There was a wonderful turnout to the first Native American Caucus meeting, which focused on JTEDs and the value they bring to students in Native American Nations and students throughout Arizona,” Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), said.

JTEDs offer career and technical education courses to high school students and adults interested in job training. These courses include training in highly skilled fields like welding, cosmetology and nursing.

Some program participants attended the meeting. A  Northern Arizona Technical Institute of Vocational Education JTED graduate attributed his ability to provide for his family to his experience in the program. A current student in the Pima JTED told caucus members that the program will give her the opportunity to work as a nurse while she attends college, instead of earning minimum wage at an entry-level position.

“Because many of Arizona’s Native American nations are in rural areas, high school students there often struggle to find employment. JTEDs provide important skills that make students employable by the time they graduate from high school. This is why these programs are so valuable to our students and vital to our state’s economy,” Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3), said.

A study done by the Morrison Institute, entitled “On the Rise,” details the positive effects JTEDs have on student performance. For example, students in the Mesa Public Schools are 79 percent less likely to drop out of high school when they take two career and technical education courses[1].

Despite the benefits to individual students and Arizona’s economy that come from career and technical education programs, Republican leaders last year cut $30 million from JTED funding. JTEDs used to be offered for all high school students, beginning in ninth grade. Cuts in state funding have now limited student eligibility to high school juniors and seniors.

“Full funding of JTEDs is important because success depends on education. This education should be available beginning at the ninth-grade level for all students,” Rep. Jennifer Benally, D-Tuba City (District 7), said.

The Native American Caucus will meet biweekly to discuss issues affecting Arizona’s Native American populations. The caucus will next meet on Friday, February 11, 2016 for presentations on gaming and taxation on Native American lands. The meetings are open to the public.


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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Opening Day Videos 2016

House Democrats Respond to State of the State


Rep. Meyer Responds to State of the State

Rep. McCune Davis on the State of the State


Rep. Meyer on DCS

Statement from Meyer on Steele’s resignation

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), released this statement after Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9), announced her resignation from the Arizona House of Representatives:

“I know that Rep. Steele made a difficult decision to resign from the House Democratic Caucus and that she consulted with her colleagues, family and friends before taking this step. I support her choice and believe it will best serve her community and the state of Arizona by allowing her to focus fully on her future endeavors. At the same time, it will provide an opportunity for the new appointee to contribute to the legislative process quickly. I admire Rep. Steele’s commitment to the community and look forward to working with her and the new appointee to ensure the residents of District 9 continue to receive strong, passionate representation.”

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Copies of Rep. Steele's Letters of Resignation