Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Senator Miranda's "in the meantime" solution to the education of Dreamers in Arizona

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Catherine Miranda is glad to announce the opening of a Phoenix Extension of the Tohono O'odham Community College (TOCC) that will serve DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) recipients as well as undocumented students, at in-state tuition rates.
Senator Miranda
Following the Arizona Supreme Court's ruling that DACA recipients were ineligible for in-state tuition at public universities, Senator Miranda decided to collaborate with the Tohono O'odham Nation to open a Phoenix Extension of TOCC that will offer all students, including Dreamers, an $80 per credit hour in-state tuition rate, instead of the $326 per credit hour charged at the other state public universities.

To accomplish this undertaking, Senator Miranda worked closely with: Mr. Verlon Jose, Vice Chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation; Dr. Paul Robertson, President of TOCC;  Petra Falcon, Director of Promise AZ; Dr. Tom Nerini of the Phoenix Union School District; and Roberto Sanchez Garcia to find a solution for those DACA beneficiaries who are suffering the consequences of the recent suspension of the program by President Trump. 

In 2011, Senator Miranda, partnered with the Navajo Technical College to create the Manzana Foundation which helps students to prepare for college and extend accredited courses into the Phoenix area.

After partnering with Senator Miranda, the Tohono O'odham Nation and the Tohono O'odham Community College Board of Trustees have recently authorized the opening of a Phoenix Extension of TOCC which will welcome DACA beneficiaries at in-state tuition rates to ensure that they don't interrupt their education while their immigration status is on hold.
"Today we thank the Tohono O'odham Nation for generously joining us in the fight against this Administration's anti-immigration policies and to assist those DACA beneficiaries who have worked so hard to attain a higher education," said Senator Miranda. "The United States of America is a country that has been shaped by immigration and it is precisely its diversity which has made it so great. We cannot remain inactive in the face of our Congress' lack of action," she concluded.

The new Manzana/Phoenix Extension of TOCC will start a pilot program the week of September 24th, 2018 that will initially offer three courses (transferable to Arizona's three public universities):  English Composition I; College Algebra I; and Tohono O'odham Language I

Courses will be offered at the Phoenix Indian Center, located at 4520 N. Central Ave., Suite #250 in Phoenix.  Please see the Tohono O'odham Community College website: http://www.tocc.edu for further information. Instructors are sought to teach the courses.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

AZ Indigenous Peoples Caucus calls for immediate reunification of separated families

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today the Arizona Legislative Indigenous Peoples Caucus held a press conference to ask tribal nations to work in unity on behalf of the immigrant families who have been separated and imprisoned. On Wednesday the Caucus delivered letters condemning the separation of immigrant parents and children to the following elected officials: President Trump, Governor Ducey, Speaker Paul Ryan, and U. S. Representatives McSally and Grijalva.

Speaking at the press conference were Senator Jamescita Peshlakai (LD-7), Representative Wenona Benally (LD-7), Representative Sally Ann Gonzales (LD-3) and Pascua Yaqui Tribe Vice Chairman Peter Yucupicio.

Senator Jamescita Peshlakai:
"A sacred tribal teaching tells us we have a duty to each other and right now we have a duty to help these families that have been separated by the Trump Administration's cruel policy. Many caught in this nightmare are of indigenous descent who fled victimization by their governments only to be victimized by ours. As moral U.S. citizens, we denounce the Trump policy and the inaction of Governor Ducey to prevent this inhumane treatment from happening here in Arizona. I encourage tribal members and every American who is outraged by what is happening to write their elected officials to pressure them to end family separations."

Representative Wenona Benally:
“Indigenous children, who do not speak Spanish, but languages indigenous to their Central American countries, are among those being rounded up and detained. We are once again experiencing the horrible policy of forced removal of our children. Separating Indigenous children from their families is a form of cultural genocide and a violation of their human rights. We've seen this happen before in our history and we must not let it happen again.”

Photo from press conference featuring (L to R): Rep. Charlene Fernandez, House Democratic Whip (LD-4), Rosetta Walker, community volunteer, Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai (LD-7), Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales (LD-3), Pascua Yaqui Tribe Vice Chairman Peter Yucupicio, Rep. Wenona Benally (LD-7)

Video of the press conference can be seen here: https://youtu.be/qVxSZPGLtCw

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

AZ Indigenous Peoples Caucus to condemn separation of families at the border

Indigenous Peoples Caucus

Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (LD 7)
Rep. Wenona Benally, D-Window Rock (LD 7)
Rep. Eric Descheenie, D-Chinle (LD 7)
Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (LD 3)

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today the Indigenous Peoples Caucus sent letters condemning the separation of immigrant parents and children to the following elected officials: President Trump, Governor Ducey, Speaker Paul Ryan, and U. S. Representatives McSally and Grijalva.

At a press conference this Thursday morning, members of the Arizona Legislative Indigenous Peoples Caucus and tribal leaders will call on state and federal policymakers to stop the practice of the Trump administration’s inhumane "zero tolerance" policy.

Who: Indigenous Peoples Caucus         Other community leaders

When: 10 a.m. Thursday, June 21

Where:   State Capitol Rose Garden, north side of historic Capitol building        1700 W. Washington St        Phoenix, Arizona.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Senate Democrats call for Special Session to enact gun safety measures

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leadership released the following statement after another deadly school shooting occurred today at Santa Fe High School near Houston, Texas:

“We demand that Governor Ducey immediately call the Legislature back into session to adopt comprehensive and effective gun safety legislation that will keep weapons of mass murder out of the hands of dangerous people and provide resources to identify and help troubled individuals,” said Senator Katie Hobbs. “Offering thoughts and prayers for the thousandth time won’t keep our kids safe in their schools, taking action will. Let’s work together like we did on the Opioid Epidemic Act and enact meaningful legislation to protect the people of Arizona, including comprehensive background checks and Severe Threat Orders of Protection that have the teeth to be effective.”

This session Senate Democrats introduced the following gun safety bills. None were allowed a hearing by Senate Republican leadership.

  • SCR1015 would require universal criminal background checks for people buying firearms, closing the so-called "gun show" or "private sale" loophole by requiring a private person selling or transferring a firearm to go through a licensed firearm dealer.
  • SB 1224 would require a person on probation for a domestic-violence offense to hand all their firearms over to a law enforcement agency for the duration of their probation.
  • SB 1348 would ban bump stocks and other devices designed to make semi-automatic weapons fire similarly to fully-automatic weapons.

Additionally, we offered the following amendments to Governor Ducey’s gun lobby-endorsed SB 1519. All were voted down by Senate Republicans.

  • Universal Background Check: Background check at every point of sale
  • Child Access Prevention: Requires firearms to be secured and add penalties for parents who allow access
  • Extreme Risk Protection Orders: GIFFORDS version of the STOP orders
  • Bump Stocks: Ban on bump stocks and other accessories
  • Age to 21: Raises age to all gun sales from 18 to 21
  • Right of ways repeal: Repeals the guns on rights of ways by high schools and universities from 2016
  • Stolen/Theft Reporting: Class 6 Felony for failure to report to police the theft/loss of a firearm
  • SRO/Counselor Menu: Allows SRO appropriation to be requested by schools for counselors
  • Firearm Tax: Sales tax on all gun purchases with 50% of funds directed to a Counselors on Campus Fund and 50% to a Gun Violence Victims Restitution and Assistance Fund.
  • Appropriation for counselors: $5 million appropriation for counselors/social workers in schools
  • Custodian Removal: Under STOP, removes option to give guns to a custodian for safe keeping 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Bowie legislation to make emergency communications accessible to all Arizonans is signed into law

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Sean Bowie (LD-18) released the following statement on the signing into law of his Senate Bill 1296.

The law established by SB 1296 requires state and local governments to ensure communications with persons with disabilities are equal to those without disabilities, including online and emergency communications. As part of this, the law requires those governments have a protocol in place to have licensed American Sign Language interpreters available to translate emergency communications to the public in emergency situations.

Senator Sean Bowie:

“Having access to critical information in an emergency is vitally important, and having a standard in place for professional interpretation and captioning is long overdue. SB 1296 will help make sure that life-saving information is available for all Arizonans. A huge thank you to the stakeholders who worked with me to craft this legislation, which included the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Ability 360, the Arizona Center for Disability Law and the Arizona League of Cities and Towns. I also want to extend thanks to my legislative colleagues for their support and to Governor Ducey for signing this bill into law.”

Sarah Kader, staff attorney with the Arizona Center for Disability Law:

“The Arizona Center for Disability Law applauds the passage of SB 1296 which will improve access to emergency communications for people with disabilities. Given that people with disabilities and especially those who are deaf and hard of hearing have historically been excluded from accessible alerts and instructions during emergencies, this law is an important step towards improved access in the State of Arizona.”

Thursday, May 3, 2018

2018 is the Year of the Teacher

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs (LD-24) released the following statement on the passage of the Fiscal Year 2019 state budget:

"The 2018 legislative session will be known as the year of the teacher. Their passion, their perseverance and their unleashed power is the sole reason we finally passed a budget that begins to give them a long overdue raise and makes a small step toward making our neglected public schools whole.

"The budget passed tonight is nowhere near perfect. It does some good, like sweeping far less of the critical HURF dollars that our state's roads desperately need. It hires back some of the corporate tax auditors fired by Governor Ducey, which had let tax cheats slide and state revenues plummet. But it also spitefully punishes taxpayers who live in Democratic districts, and gives more of Arizonans' hard-earned tax dollars to the dark money benefactor Koch brothers' 'freedom schools' to produce extremist-indoctrinating K-12 curriculum.

"We voted for the good parts of this budget and we voted against the bad parts of this budget, but ultimately we helped get this budget through the legislature and on the governor’s desk so our dedicated teachers can return to their students with the start of a decent raise and a little more money for their classrooms.

"Just a month ago, those in power here were only willing to give Arizona's teachers another one percent bonus. Our teachers deserve all the credit for forcing Governor Ducey and legislative Republicans to finally acknowledge the devastation their policies have done to our kids' schools.

"But make no mistake, there is much more to do to restore the funding that decades of Republican control have taken from Arizona’s public schools. We are not done fighting."

Friday, April 27, 2018

Walkout could be ended if legislature, governor willing to work with education leaders, Democratic colleagues

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement on the lack of progress toward resolving the teacher walkout:

“Yesterday, as well over 50,000 Arizona educators, parents and students gathered at the Capitol, no action was taken to resolve or even discuss the education funding crisis that brought us to this point. While Democratic lawmakers gave impassioned floor speeches urging action to properly fund public schools, Republican lawmakers chided our dedicated teachers for standing up for themselves and our governor hid in his tower giving carefully scripted interviews about his unsustainable plan. As the rally reached its zenith at the front doors of the legislature, our Senate and House majority leaders quietly gaveled floor to a close and slipped out the back door for three days away from the work we were elected to complete. Shame on them.

"Let me be very clear, Senate Democrats would be happy to be in session all day today and into the weekend if we were working across the aisle, and with education leaders, on a sustainable plan to fund the 20 percent pay raise our educators deserve. The devil is in the details and we support this pay increase only if all classroom and instructional support personnel are included in a raise that is responsibly funded. Numbers matter. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimates that Governor Ducey’s plan would lead to a $265 million cash shortfall in FY’20, growing to $302 million in FY’21. 

"The biggest reason that this plan has not already been enacted is that our Republican legislative colleagues can also do the math. The governor’s rosy revenue estimates, fund sweeps and starving of other budget priorities is not sustainable over time or what the voters want. Passing this budget on the back of critical care providers for our developmentally disabled community, cutting funding to our universities, not protecting KidsCare in future years and continuing to shift state responsibilities to our cities, counties and towns is both fiscally and morally irresponsible. And increasing our sales tax to the nation's highest save California would put an exponentially greater burden on Arizona's poor and middle class. They shouldn't have to pay for tax cuts this state has given away to corporations and the wealthy.

"My Democratic colleagues and I are here to serve the people of Arizona, not on our schedule but on theirs, and they are demanding action now. We are, and always have been, eager to work with whoever is willing to find meaningful solutions, not simply to recite talking points at us. Working with people who share different viewpoints than your own can be challenging, but the results from doing so are what has made our nation and our state a place where people from all over the world yearn to live.

"That's democracy. Let's give it a try.”