Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Unbelievable, Republicans still attacking citizen initiative process

After spending this legislative session orchestrating systematic attacks on the citizen initiative process, that was dubbed "Operation Silence our Citizens," Republicans are digging in for another battle with Arizona voters.

Since the governor signed controversial bills that create more obstacles for the citizen initiative process, Arizonans formed a committee called the Voters of Arizona. This group is collecting signatures for a referendum on these laws. Opponents also filed a lawsuit to prevent HB 2244, a law that will make it easier to get citizen initiatives thrown out, from going into effect this summer.

That apparently didn't sit well with some of the Republicans at the Legislature, who are using taxpayer money to hire a law firm to try to halt the legal challenge.  An Arizona Republic columnist pointed out the irony of this maneuver recently:

House Democrats support the citizen initiative process because it empowers Arizonans to take action when the Legislature is unresponsive or oppressive. It’s a constitutional right that we will continue to fight to protect. We'll keep standing with you and against any attacks on our citizen initiative process. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

PRESS RELEASE: Espinoza's plan to create opportunities for at-risk youth receives bipartisan support

Contact: C. Murphy Hebert

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Diego Espinoza, D-Tolleson (District 19), spent the legislative session advocating for more opportunities for at-risk youth. Earlier this week, the governor signed into law a bill that included a provision from Espinoza that will provide support for at-risk youth in Arizona to prepare for college and careers.

The Legislature voted to include language from Espinoza's bill, HB 2184, which establishes the College and Career Readiness Program, in a separate bill, HB 2395, that received bipartisan support.

"This legislation provides opportunities that will help Arizona youth stay in school and acquire the personal, academic, leadership and vocational skills they need to be successful," Espinoza said. "This required work across the aisle, and I especially want to thank Rep. Boyer and Sen. Brophy McGee for their efforts."

Thelaw goes into effect this summer.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

STATEMENT: 'House Democrats will always choose people over politics'

Contact: C. Murphy Hebert

STATEMENT: 'House Democrats will always choose people over politics'

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Arizona House Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix (District 27), House Democratic Assistant Leader Randall Friese, D-Tucson (District 9), and House Democratic Whip Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma (District 4), released the following joint statement regarding the end of the 2017 Legislative Session:

"Arizona House Democrats are building an inclusive and prosperous state.  From the start of the legislative session, our priorities were education, creating jobs, preserving access to health care and building a better future for Arizona families. We value equity and fairness and believe the government is obligated to be transparent and fiscally responsible.

"We stood together for those values, and we stood with teachers, parents and students. There was an unprecedented amount of citizen participation this year. People came to the Capitol demanding accountability, and that made our democracy stronger. Arizonans made their voices heard, and it was an honor to amplify the calls for increased teacher pay, fair elections and quality jobs.

"Our state continues to struggle to recover from decades of failed Republican leadership and policies that prioritize corporate special interests and the rich. House Democrats will always choose people over politics. That was true for the work we did at the Capitol this session and will remain true as that work continues in our communities."


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

STATEMENT: Chavez on arrest of man in connection with Maryvale serial shootings

Contact: C. Murphy Hebert

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Cesar Chavez, D-Phoenix (District 29), released this statement regarding the arrest of a man allegedly connected to a series of shootings in the Phoenix area:

"For more than a year, people in Legislative District 29 have lived in fear because of a serial shooter. I am relieved the police have a suspect and hope that our community can now begin to recover.

"The incredible work of our Phoenix Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Jeri Williams, cannot go unrecognized. They selflessly labored to make our neighborhoods safe.  I'd also like to thank all of the block watches in District 29. These groups took it upon themselves to inform the community of this situation in a coordinated effort. It is my hope that Maryvale will be a safer place because this individual is off the streets. Now we must focus on revitalizing our community for our future generations."


Monday, May 08, 2017

Standing strong with you

Do you know where your representative was in the early hours of Friday morning? Chances are he or she was here, standing up for your values.

Throughout this session, we worked with Arizonans across the state to amplify the powerful messages coming from our communities. Our policy proposals were designed to move us toward a stronger, sustainable future.

We, like most Arizonans, believe that we have to prioritize public education now. The budget Republicans passed doesn't get close to the four percent raise our teachers need. So the crisis that Republicans created will continue, until they finally understand that paying teachers a livable wage is not negotiable. If we do not appropriately address the continuum of needs in our education system, we will be expanding universities that Arizona kids will never be able to attend. That is unacceptable.

Although the budget process is finished, the work is not done. There is too much at stake to be deterred. In fact, this week we are trying to stop a bill, SB 1236, that continues the attack on the citizens' initiative process.  We also expect to see several more bills for special interest tax cuts. Your voice matters, so stay strong, stay active and keep the Legislature and governor accountable. 

Friday, May 05, 2017

STATEMENT: Democrats offered budget solutions

Contact: C. Murphy Hebert

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The House Democratic leaders, Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix (District 27), Democratic Assistant Leader Randall Friese, D-Tucson (District 9), and Democratic Whip Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma (District 4), released the following statement about the recent budget vote:

"The budget process gives the Legislature an opportunity to invest in our state. Democrats are committed to building a future based on our shared values. Our hardworking public school teachers deserve more respect and appreciation than they have received from Republican state leaders. That is why we advocated for a budget that prioritized them with a four percent raise. We also worked for equity in our schools, affordable college tuition and accessible health care. Our policy proposals were designed to move us toward a strong, sustainable future.

"Republicans instead focused on protecting special interests with a budget that leaves students, teachers and struggling families behind, and ensures that the rich will continue to get richer. They ignored opportunities to develop bipartisan solutions, and opted for their usual, out-of-touch talking points instead of substantive policy.

"We are not deterred or disheartened. The Republicans have misplaced priorities that have created crisis in our state. Democrats remain committed to making Arizona a place where all families can successfully live, study, work and play for generations."


Thursday, May 04, 2017

VIDEO: Prioritize K-12 Now, so AZ kids have a shot at universities in the future

House Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios on why Democrats want to prioritize funding for K-12 schools right now. Democrats have and will continue to champion public schools - from kindergarten through universities.  The Republicans have created a crisis and a continuum of needs in public education. We believe firmly if we don't prioritize our K-12 schools now, we would be expanding universities that our kids will never be able to attend. Our kids deserve better. 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

We're working for Arizonans

Today House Democrats tried to improve the Republican Budget by attempting to fully restore #TANF get #4percent4teachers and require a review of tax exemptions and credits to ensure the state gets a return on that investment. Unfortunately, partisanship kept these good ideas from moving forward. But we will keep working to make sure your priorities are heard!

Monday, May 01, 2017

That was not going to happen…

In the past few weeks at the Capitol, we have seen how dedicated and committed Arizonans are supporting our public schools. Teachers, parents, students and entrepreneurs continued to show up and speak out even after the governor signed a voucher bill that "helps Arizona's wealthiest," while draining desperately needed resources from our public schools.

It seemed that some lawmakers wanted to just move on – to put the voucher bill vote in the past. That was not going to happen.  From The Arizona Republic:

This action prompted Republican House leaders to change the procedures in an attempt to limit the testimonials. But we'll keep talking about the crisis in our classrooms, for as long as Arizonans continue to demand more for our kids. Here are some videos from those who shared their stories.

To stay updated on these stories, click here.

Funding for public schools is a priority, and it is one we will keep fighting for in the upcoming budget debate. This state's budget should reflect our values, which is why we need you to stay involved. Your voice matters, and it does make a difference. Click this link for steps to ensure your priorities are included in the legislative process. #BeHeard

Click here for House Dems' comments on Teacher Appreciation Week and staying involved.