Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Congress must act swiftly to protect Dreamers

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Catherine Miranda (LD-27) released the following statement on the U.S. District Court injunction that blocks the Trump Administration's phase out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

Senator Miranda
“This decision is a temporary relief from the devastation of the Trump administration's decision to end protection for DACA recipients. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge William Alsup recognized the disastrous impact President Trump's decision makes on our businesses, communities and families," said Senator Miranda.

"The good news is anyone who had qualified for DACA before September 5th of last year can now apply for renewal and I encourage every single one of them to do so immediately. The bad news is that first time applicants are still not allowed to apply for DACA status. Even worse, we still need the Republican-controlled Congress to make permanent the protection of those who were brought to our country as children. They must do so with haste as to mitigate any further damage caused by this hateful move against our Dreamers."

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Allegations of illegal practices in Arizona charter schools must be investigated

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today Senate Democratic leadership delivered letters to the state Attorney General and the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools requesting they review the American Civil Liberties Union report "Schools Choosing Students" to determine if violations of state law occurred. The report includes allegations of widespread practices that violate statutory requirements compelling charter schools to enroll "all eligible pupils who submit a timely application." (ARS §15-184 (A))

Among the findings in the report are:
  • Illegal caps on special education student enrollment
  • Disqualification of students based on their level of academic achievement
  • Requiring "probationary periods" before finalizing enrollment, and later "counseling out" or withdrawing students that do not successfully complete the probation period
  • Disqualification of students based on behavioral issues that fell short of expulsion at their previous school
  • Charging fees for essential course materials, without giving parents a waiver option
  • Failure to provide enrollment and admission information in the language spoken by the parents and students – violating the federal Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974.


In the letters, Senate Democratic leadership stated, "It is essential that access to all public schools, including charter schools, be maintained in accordance with relevant Arizona statutes. As stewards of taxpayer dollars, we feel a thorough investigation and, if necessary, prosecution will reassure Arizonans and restore trust that the charter schools funded with their tax dollars maintain compliance with the law and welcome any child who wants to learn."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

New Senate sexual harassment policy fails to protect gender identity

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Senate just completed a bipartisan process of updating its sexual harassment policy and is in the process of training staff and members on the new policy.

"We appreciate that action was taken quickly and collaboratively to update the Senate's sexual harassment policy. Throughout the process everyone's ideas and concerns were taken into consideration and we feel we have produced a policy that makes a good effort to protect members and staff," said Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs.

"However, we also feel it does not go far enough. Despite our insistence, majority leadership refused to allow the inclusion of gender identity in the list of protected classes. Many Arizonans identify as a gender different than their sex assigned at birth and they should have the same right as their peers to enjoy a work environment that is free from harassment. There should not be a reason for anyone to feel unwelcome at the Senate."

The new Senate Workplace and Sexual Harassment Policy can be downloaded here.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Immigration system must allow for humanitarian judgement

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Catherine Miranda (LD-27) released the following statement on the news that 10-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez was allowed to return to her family after being detained following surgery.

“I breathed a sigh of relief when I learned that Rosa Maria Hernandez was allowed to leave the
Sen. Miranda
hospital where she had gall bladder surgery and return to her Texas home where she has lived since she was three months old.

“I'd like to express my gratitude to Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro, who played an instrumental role in ensuring Rosa was safe and ultimately able to rejoin her family.

“In no way was this 10-year-old girl who suffers from cerebral palsy a threat to anyone, let alone the security of the United States. It's shameful that she was forced to endure harassment by the U.S. Border Patrol and the international media attention that followed.

“Our immigration system should allow flexibility for Border Patrol agents to exercise situational judgement, such as allowing Rosa to receive critical medical treatment without the unnecessary stress of having agents posted outside her hospital room then being detained in a federal facility for ten days.”

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Congress must act now to restore KidsCare funding

It has been 32 days since federal funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, also known as KidsCare, ran out and Congress has done nothing to restore it.

Governor Ducey's letter to Arizona's congressional delegation is the right move. His idea to dip into the Rainy Day Fund or reallocate AHCCCS funding to cover interim costs is also commendable and may be the only option Arizona kids have for the short term. Should we decide to take that route, Arizona should demand that Congress reimburse our state for any expenses incurred due to their inaction.

But while the governor and legislature decide how to provide that funding, we call upon every Republican legislator who voted to restore KidsCare last year to contact and pressure Arizona's Republican members of Congress who are part of the road block against KidsCare.

We have just six weeks of KidsCare funding before the more than 23,000 Arizona children who depend on it will face the risk of losing coverage.

This unnecessary cruelty can be avoided if Congress acts quickly to restore KidsCare funding. Our first course of action must be to demand they not leave 9 million American children without healthcare.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Senator Peshlakai gives remarks at Vietnam Veteran Pinning Ceremony

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Last Friday, Senator Jamescita Peshlakai (LD7) attended a pinning ceremony at the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino and Resort near Flagstaff to honor Vietnam veterans. The senator provided remarks at the service recognizing and thanking veterans that served in the Vietnam War.

The pinning ceremony was coordinated by the Navajo Nation’s Veterans Administration in partnership with the tribe’s Office of the President and Vice President, and the Department of Defense as part of nationwide events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. As a combat veteran of the Persian Gulf War, Sen. Peshlakai was invited to speak at the event.

Sen. Peshlakai
Federal, state, and tribal officials gathered to place lapel pins on the veterans at the event. The pins included images of an eagle on the front with the message “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You” printed on the back.

“As a combat veteran, I am acutely aware of the unique challenges and ongoing trauma our veterans face,” said Sen. Peshlakai. “We know today that we must reach out and honor these warriors by helping them heal. The tragedy of not honoring our returning veterans, which happened to Vietnam veterans, must not be repeated and we must teach future generations to always support and recognize them for their sacrifice. I am honored to place these pins on our warriors.”

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Arizona State Sen. Jamescita Mae Peshlakai represents Legislative District 7. The culturally diverse district, covering the northern part of the state, spans the seven counties of Apache, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Mohave, Navajo, and Pinal — including eight tribes and the communities of Fredonia, Page, Winslow, Show Low and St. Johns. The district is the largest legislative district in the contiguous United States.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Senators Bowie, Contreras named as Tech Ten Legislators

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Whip Lupe Contreras (LD19) and Senator Sean Bowie (LD18) were named two of the Arizona Technology Council’s 2017 Tech Ten Legislators for their support of the technology community’s agenda. They will receive their awards at the 2017 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation Awards on Thursday, November 2, 2017, at Rawhide Event Center, 5700 W. North Loop Road, from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. 
Sen. Contreras

When announcing the awards, the Arizona Technology Council said of the senators:

“Senator Contreras has been a longtime supporter of the Council. His leadership has been instrumental in helping to show the full benefits of some of the Council’s initiatives and gain support for issues where the state benefits from the community’s successes.”

“Though it was his first session, Senator Bowie has shown he understands the importance of a strong business environment in this state and was instrumental in helping businesses, not only in his district, but also across Arizona. Additionally, he is a strong advocate for education for our students of all ages.”

Senate Democratic Whip Lupe Contreras:
Sen. Bowie
“I’m grateful for this recognition from Arizona’s vibrant technology community. We have a long tradition in Arizona of innovation and ingenuity, and technology is our new frontier. I’m proud of the achievements we’ve made and will continue to advocate for technological advancement in our state.”

Senator Sean Bowie:
“I’m one of millions of young Arizonans who understand how technology can improve quality of life, drive economic growth and change the way we see and interact with our world. I’m proud to support Arizona’s thriving technology sector, including our groundbreaking research universities, and appreciate this recognition from the Arizona Technology Council.”