Friday, August 28, 2015

Senator Ableser appointed to Nevada education position

Will serve LD26 until end of September 

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXSenator Edward Ableser has accepted a professional opportunity in Nevada and will serve in his seat until September 30th, 2015.

Sen. Ableser
Senator Ableser has been appointed by the Nevada State Superintendent of Public Instruction to be the founding director of the new Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment in the Nevada Department of Education, beginning October 1st.

According to the Nevada Department of Education, in his new position:

"Dr. Ableser will oversee a new office in the Department that is dedicated to providing a safe and respectful learning environment for all Nevada students that is free of bullying and cyberbullying. The office will establish programs and training to prevent, identify and report incidents of bullying and cyberbullying and monitor compliance of school districts with the program. The office will also administer a new grant program that provides funding to place social workers or other licensed mental health care workers in schools."

A long-time advocate for the well-being of Arizona children, Senator Ableser earned his doctorate in Justice and Social Inquiry from ASU and owns a private counseling practice in Tempe.

"It is not an easy decision to leave Tempe and our great state of Arizona, but the opportunity to enter the world of education in a position to help so many children have a learning environment free of fear, while also being closer to family, is one I cannot pass up," said Senator Ableser.

"I am deeply proud of the work my fellow Democrats and I have accomplished over the near decade I've been at the legislature. We have fought for what's right and we've been the voice for those who don't have the power or resources to be heard on their own."

"I'll continue that legacy in my new role, implementing Nevada's honorable commitment to protect its children and their learning environment."

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Private prison safety & costs are too great a risk for AZ

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXSenator Martin Quezada, Senate Democratic Whip and ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement on the cancellation of Management & Training Corporation’s contract to operate the Arizona State Prison Complex-Kingman and the release of Arizona Department of Correction’s investigation into the July riots that occurred there:

Sen. Quezada
“Terminating MTC's contract for the Kingman prison complex was the right thing to do, but many troubling questions remain unanswered,” said Senator Quezada.

“The Department of Corrections has always assured the legislature that they maintain strict oversight of private prisons, yet now they claim ignorance of the many failures detailed in their investigation. They can't have that both ways.

“It's not only time to assess the safety of every private prison in Arizona, as DOC says they will, it is time to assess the effectiveness of DOC's own oversight protocols. And it is long past time that we assess the true cost of private prisons to ensure no more Arizona taxpayer money is wasted in the private prison industry.

“In today's press conference, Governor Ducey said that private prisons are the "least bad alternative." We disagree. Escaped murderers and riots are not a risk we should be willing to take. That is why we are calling for the cancellation of next month's RFP for 1,000 more private prison beds, a full and independent accounting of DOC's private prison oversight capability and a cost/benefit analysis of building and operating our own state-run prisons.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Republican leadership continues to fail AZ schools

Senator Katie Hobbs, Senate Democratic Leader
Senator Steve Farley, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader
Senator Martin Quezada, Senate Democratic Whip
Senator Lupe Contreras, Senate Democratic Whip

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Caucus Leadership released the following statement on failed settlement talks in the K-12 inflation funding lawsuit and Republican legislative leaders’ vague proposal to increase educational funding:

“For years Republican leadership refused to fund education as required by voter initiative, refused to fund education when ordered by the courts and now they refuse to admit they are the problem, not the solution, for our state's educational failings.

“Don't believe the Republican spin; they are not coming to the rescue of Arizona schools. Republicans created the dire situation we are in by prioritizing tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy over the future of Arizona children. Even in the new budget passed this year, Republican leaders failed to fully fund the K-12 inflation funding lawsuit. Yet they gave away millions more in special interest tax cuts.

“With regard to inflation funding lawsuit settlement talks, Governor Ducey says he's "disappointed that has failed." Well, we are too. We are disappointed that Republican leaders refused to negotiate in good faith. We are disappointed they chose to announce a plan hatched behind closed doors with no clear source of funding. And we are deeply disappointed Republican leaders have left our children with struggling schools, overcrowded classrooms, crumbling buildings and a dysfunctional Department of Education.

“It is long past time for the Republican legislative leadership to step up, settle the inflation funding lawsuit and get the money flowing to classrooms throughout Arizona. We call on Senate President Andy Biggs, House Speaker David Gowan and Governor Ducey to end the legal posturing, call a special session and agree to a proposal that will fully fund the lawsuit settlement out of the General Fund budget and in a sustainable manner this school year. The citizens of Arizona are waiting and watching. Don’t let our schoolchildren down once again.”

Monday, August 24, 2015

Federal government must follow judge’s order, promptly release children

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX –Senator Catherine Miranda, chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus, released the following statement in response to Friday evening's decision in Flores v. Lynch by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee that detained immigrant children should be released within five days.

Sen. Miranda
Friday's ruling answered the government's response to Judge Gee's July settlement agreement in the case. In its response, the government claimed conditions in family detention centers had already been improved according to the settlement. Judge Gee found that not to be the case and has given the federal government until October 23rd to implement her ruling.

"We have long known that immigrant families and children have been housed in sub-standard detention centers, both here in Arizona and in other states," said Senator Miranda. "The conditions in which they are being held were seen by state leaders and the media last year in Nogales and universally deemed to be unacceptable and inhumane."

"That 'surge' of immigrants has since subsided and now is the time for the government to accept judge's ruling and adopt policies that improve conditions at detention centers and expedite the release of children to their parents."

Monday, July 20, 2015

Don’t let false allegations lead to damaging witch hunt

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement on today’s statements by Governor Ducey and Attorney General Brnovich on false allegations of illegal tissue sales occurring in Arizona:

Sen. Hobbs
“Today Governor Ducey and Attorney General Brnovich released strongly-worded reactions to a stunt set up by a political group whose goal is to damage Planned Parenthood. The group's video was heavily edited to make it appear Planned Parenthood's voluntary tissue donation program is illegally selling tissue, which it does not. In fact, Planned Parenthood Arizona does not even have a tissue donation program,” said Senator Hobbs.

“What Planned Parenthood does do is provide health care to millions of women, including birth control, STD testing and treatment, cancer screenings and abortion. For thousands of Arizona women, especially working poor women, Planned Parenthood is their main source of health care.

“It is entirely proper for Governor Ducey and Attorney General Brnovich to raise concerns of possible illegal activity in Arizona and their calls for investigations would be justified if there were legitimate proof of illegal tissue sales occurring in Arizona. But in this case there is no such evidence and a video hatchet job by political extremists does not justify a witch hunt.

“As Governor Ducey and AG Brnovich work to tighten up existing laws that already make tissue sales illegal, I ask that they resist the urge to launch investigations that could harass and intimidate Arizona women and their health care providers.”

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Trump/Arpaio event represents Arizona of past, not future

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX –Senator Catherine Miranda, chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus, released the following statement on Saturday’s visit to Arizona by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump:

Sen. Miranda
“With Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's event on Saturday where he will be appearing alongside disgraced Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Arizona has the chance to send a message to the rest of the country that it does not stand with men who spout hateful rhetoric and participate in blatant fear mongering,” said Senator Miranda.

“Trump's claims that Mexican immigrants bring with them drug and crime, even going so far as to label them rapists, are a throwback to a divisive era from which we are still recovering and to which we must never return.

“It is disgraceful to allow Mr. Trump to speak in our state, welcomed both by a politician facing federal hearings into his department's racially-motivated practices and by the Maricopa Republican Party. They represent the Arizona of SB1070, of divisive politics that deeply scarred our state's image and damaged our economy when it was already struggling.

“They don't represent the Arizona of today, where we have been making strides to celebrate our diversity and show the world we are open for business. The governor's recent trip to Mexico City shows just how far we have come from the dark days of 2010 and how we are striving for better relations with our neighbor and largest trade partner.

“A person like Mr. Trump who thinks that spiteful comments demonstrate leadership is, in fact, demonstrating exactly why he has no business running for our nation's highest office. Arizona must send a strong message to Mr. Trump and the world that he and his vitriol have no place in today's Arizona, where we are all working hard to build a strong, enduring and mutually beneficial relationship with Mexico and a bright future for our state.”


Monday, June 29, 2015

Ariz. Legislative Democrats Respond to Supreme Court’s ruling on the IRC

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Arizona House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), and Arizona Senate Democratic Whip Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), made the following statements in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission:

House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28):
Rep. Meyer

“Arizona voters said that they want an open, transparent and fair redistricting process, which is why they established the Independent Redistricting Commission. The Supreme Court decision today protects the will of the voters and will help prevent partisanship and political ambition from influencing the redistricting process.  Our state is better served by having a body, independent of the Legislature, in charge of this important task.”

Senate Democratic Whip Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29):
“Today was a victory for the people of Arizona and for fair representation in Washington, D.C. The court listened to the citizens of Arizona, honored their desire for independent redistricting, and made a decision in the best
Sen. Quezada
interest of our state and country that ensures a government of and by the people.

“Having free and fair elections is of the utmost importance to the preservation of our system of government. In light of this decision, I hope to see more states adopting IRCs and putting power into the hands of the people.”