Thursday, July 16, 2009

Senator Amanda Aguirre Awarded for Contributions to Behavioral Health Care

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Sen. Amanda Aguirre (D-24) will receive the Cultural Heritage Award for 2009 from the Arizona State University in acknowledgement of her significant contributions to behavioral health care in Arizona. She will receive the award on July 23 at the 5th Annual Arizona Behavioral Health Awards Gala in the Canyon Ballroom at the Hilton Sedona Resort and Spa in Sedona, Ariz.

“I am honored to be recognized for my work in the behavioral health care field,” said Sen. Amanda Aguirre. “Given Arizona’s high rate of uninsured and unemployed (Yuma County 23.3% unemployment), it is vital that we help create access to affordable healthcare services for the uninsured and underinsured families. Adequate primary care, prevention services and mental health services are very important in rural areas and throughout the state.

“We know that creating a healthcare system that is accessible and affordable will be a challenge, but not impossible. There are best practice models in the healthcare delivery industry that could be implemented throughout the nation that can assure that families can get the medical care needed without losing their homes and family savings. Today, more so than ever, we have an opportunity to change how we deliver healthcare in our country.”

Sen. Aguirre is the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Health Committee and was appointed this year to the Governor’s Team on Mental Health by Governor Jan Brewer. In 2008, Sen. Aguirre sponsored "Steven's Law", which mandates insurance companies to provide medical treatment to children with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome.

Outside of the legislature, Sen. Aguirre is the CEO/President of the Regional Center for Border Health Inc. and CEO/President of the San Luis Walk-In Clinic. She has been involved for more than 25 years in public health education and administration with a strong emphasis on border issues.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SENATE DEMOCRATS APPLAUD BILL TO ALLOW ADULT ACCESS TO IMMUNIZATION INFORMATION SYSTEM

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – A bill that will allow a person’s physician to access childhood and adult records in the state immunization system was recently signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer. The bill, regarding the administration of immunizations by pharmacists (HB 2164), included a provision that would allow adult immunization records to be added to the current system for recording childhood immunization records.

The Arizona State Immunization Information System was created in 1998 as a registry for children from birth to 18 years old. Upon enactment, an adult’s health care provider will be able to access a person’s immunization history if it is available in the system. The bill requires pharmacists to report information to any adult immunization information system or vaccine registry established by the Department of Health Services. The bill also allows a person to request that information be withheld from disclosure from the System.

“We congratulate the legislature on its action to bring more resources to the protection of the public through immunization and technology,” said Sen. McCune Davis. “We are grateful to the pharmacists for stepping into this new role for the benefit of all Arizonans.”

Sen. Amanda Aguirre introduced the amendment to expand the System during a hearing in the Senate Committee on Healthcare and Medical Liability Reform. The bill passed the Senate with a 28-0 vote and the House with a 56-3 vote.

“The access to the System is a victory for public health,” said Sen. Amanda Aguirre. “This directory lends to our safety in case of a pandemic when it is necessary for doctors to access information. I would like to thank Rep. Nancy Barto for supporting this amendment to her bill. This is truly the result of bipartisan work to better serve the people of Arizona.”

During the Senate Committee on Healthcare and Medical Liability Reform on June 17, Dr. Bob England, Director, Maricopa County Department of Public Health, testified in favor of the amendment. Dr. England said, “There will be two different flu vaccines available at some point this season: regular, seasonal flu vaccine, and the new vaccine against the novel flu. Confusion on the part of many is inevitable. Novel flu vaccine may also require two shots, so we’ll need a system that crosses particular vaccine providers to be able to tell who has had which vaccine and whether enough time has passed between the two doses for the novel flu.”

The effective date for this legislation is September 30, 2009.

More Coverage:
Law creates new vaccine data system, Adults will be recorded in state's shot registry, Arizona Republic, July 19, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Senate Democrats and Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association Rally this Morning

This morning, approximately 150 people with the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association and Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs came to the Capitol to express their disagreement with a budget proposal to privatize some of Arizona's state-run prisons.


On behalf of Senate Democrats, Senate Democratic Leader Jorge Luis Garcia spoke against prison privatization. Also speaking at the rally were AZ Attorney General Terry Goddard, AZCPOA Executive Director Mike Duran and Vince Rabago.



(Top Picture: Senate Democratic Leader Jorge Luis Garcia and AZCPOA/AZCOPS Union President J. Rodriguez.)

(Bottom Picture: Vince Rabago, state prosecutor)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Democrats and Corrections Officers to Rally Against Prison Privatization

NEWS RELEASE
Arizona State Senate
1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85007
Sen. Manny Alvarez (D-25)
Senate Democratic Caucus

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Senate Democrats and the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association will hold a press conference and rally against a budget proposal to privatize prisons.

WHEN: Monday, July 13, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. (press conference begins)
WHERE: Arizona State Capitol Senate Lawn,

1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, Ariz.

The criminal justice trailer bill to the Fiscal Year 2010 budget (HB 2647) included a provision to require the Arizona Department of Administration to send out a request for information in order to privatize some of Arizona’s state prisons. The bill was recently vetoed by the Governor along with several other budget measures.

The Senate will resume floor session on Monday at 1 p.m. after allowing time for the four caucuses to meet this week concerning the Fiscal Year 2010 budget of which much is still left unresolved.

Bill of Rights for Children and Youth in Foster Care Act Goes to Governor

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Children in foster care are one step closer to having their rights clarified in state law now that a bill has passed the state legislature with bipartisan support and has been transmitted to the Governor. Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor sponsored SB 1209, the “Bill of Rights for Children and Youth in Foster Care Act” to ensure children’s rights are confirmed in law.

“Children in the foster care system are at an extremely vulnerable stage in life whereby they might be moved from house to house without knowledge of their full rights. This piece of legislation would enumerate the rights of children in foster care, so there is less confusion on what they are permitted by law,” said Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor.

The list of 22 rights includes items such as the right to live in a safe environment, the right to know why the child is in foster care and case plans and the right to speak with a caseworker (if over six years of age). In addition, children are allowed to participate in age appropriate service planning or may request someone to participate on their behalf or in support and to attend their court hearing and speak to a judge.

Children over age 16 are afforded an additional list of seven rights including the ability to attend adult living classes, to a transition plan with career planning and assistance, to be informed of educational opportunities, to assistance in obtaining an independent residency once the child is too old to remain in foster care, to request a court hearing to determine medical consent to care and to receive personal information within thirty days of leaving foster care (birth certificate, immunization records, education portfolio and health passport).

A number of these actions are currently afforded by Child Protective Services in the Children’s Service Manual, which provides a guideline. There is not currently a place in state law that affirms the list.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bills Signed

The Governor just released a statement saying that she has signed the four bills the legislature passed on Monday. The bills protect education funding and stimulus dollars.

Upon passage of the bills Monday, Sen. Garcia released the following statement.

“We look forward to continuing to move forward in a bipartisan manner to address the Arizona’s budget,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jorge Luis Garcia. “The bills voted on and passed today were much needed budget fixes to make certain that education and stimulus dollars would not be jeopardized.”


Leadership continues to meet regarding how to solve the rest of the FY 2010 budget. The full membership will return to the Capitol on Monday.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ariz. lawmakers reach bipartisan budget agreement, preserve federal stimulus

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Democratic and Republican lawmakers came together Monday in a bipartisan budget deal to restore education funding and preserve $2.7 billion in federal stimulus money for Arizona.

The bipartisan agreement is a victory for education after a nearly six-month budget battle, during which Democrats had requested bipartisan talks.

“Democrats are happy that our Republican colleagues agreed to negotiate with us and pass a budget that protects education, jobs, children and middle-class families in Arizona,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “Today is a long overdue victory for school children, teachers, parents and all of Arizona.”

Gov. Jan Brewer had vetoed on Wednesday the part of the 2010 budget that funds education, which would leave schools without funding after July 15. Her action also violated the federal stimulus act, potentially causing Arizona to lose $1 billion in federal stimulus funding for education.

With bipartisan support, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle introduced legislation Monday to ensure school districts and charter schools can proceed with adopting their budgets and the state is back in compliance with requirements to receive federal stimulus dollars.

“We look forward to continuing to move forward in a bipartisan manner to address the Arizona’s budget,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jorge Luis Garcia. “The bills voted on and passed today were much needed budget fixes to make certain that education and stimulus dollars would not be jeopardized.”

Democratic and Republican lawmakers remain open to working together to create a comprehensive bipartisan solution to Brewer’s vetoed legislation.

Education legislation will:
Provide a budget for K-12 education for the full year. The budget would be based on the baseline budget the schools received after the 2009 budget changes made in January but including their 2 percent voter-mandated inflation funding. Passage of this bill will allow school districts some budget certainty for the next year so that they can set budgets and know how many teachers they can hire, what their class sizes will be, etc.

Ensure that charter schools also will receive funding for this year. Charter schools do not have the authority to borrow or go into debt like school districts do so, without a July 15 payment, they would have had no funding at all

Enact the statutory provisions needed to ensure that Arizona's law and funding distribution is in compliance with the provisions of the federal stimulus act. Brewer’s veto of HB 2650, the health and welfare budget bill, had the effect of violating the federal stimulus act, putting $1.7 billion in federal stimulus funding for Medicaid (via FMAP dollars) and $1 billion of fiscal stabilization stimulus money at risk.

Prevent the larger per diem pay amounts to lawmakers allowed during the special session from taking effect. While leadership and key members of the Senate and House Appropriations committee members are meeting in Phoenix to hammer out the skeleton of a revised budget proposal, this bill will limit the amount of per diem paid to legislators.

Contacts:
Jeanette Tejeda de Gomez, Director of Communication, Senate Democrats, 602-926-4477, jtejeda@azleg.gov
Sarah Muench, Public Information Officer, House Democrats, 602-926-5848, smuench@azleg.gov

Plan for Today

The Senate and House just wrapped up a joint presentation by JLBC of the veto impacts.

The Senate is expected to come back to small group presentations, to the floor, to committee, Rules, Caucus, COW and Third Read.

The bills just posted to the Legislative website. They are all cosponsored by Senate President Burns and Senate Democratic Leader Jorge Luis Garcia.

SB1013 education; appropriations; 2009-2010.
SB1014 health and welfare; budget reconciliation.
SB1015 legislative subsistence payments; exception.
SB1016 K-12 education; budget reconciliation.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What?

Governor Brewer came to the Senate today and had press availability. This is a transcript of part of the briefing. It is perplexing at best.

Brewer: I haven’t talked to the Minority leadership. I don’t know exactly where they are at or what they want to do so to say that they want to have five-way talks when they haven’t agreed to it yet to me personally.

Reporter: They say they’ve been urging this for months.

Brewer: I don’t know if that is entirely correct. I think that they did in the last hours of this legislative session…they probably have. But you know, I have always said and I’ve always been public about the fact that it’s not a Republican problem, it’s not a Democrat problem. That we needed to work across the aisle. I still believe that. I think that everyone should be included and I welcome their help and welcome their support. And I’m sure the people of Arizona welcome their support as well as the Republicans.

Reporter: Does that mean you want everyone at the same table?

Brewer: Do I want everybody at the same table? Absolutely, I think if we can work it out and everyone can be at the same table. We can resolve it.

Reporter: Is there one Democratic idea that has any merit?

Brewer: They haven’t really given me anything in detail. They gave me the printed copy you all have on Sine Die. All the elected officials want the best for the state of Arizona and I’m willing to join in with them and help.

For months now Democratic Leadership has asked Governor Brewer to convene five-way talks between all four caucuses. Letters from May and June have been sent to media to prove it. In addition, Senate and House Democrats provided at least two complete budget proposals and several option lists over the course of the legislative session. Here are a few examples.



Impact of the Veto Stamp

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee has posted several new documents to reflect the budget as of the Governor's veto.

Budget Plan Summary

Impact of Governor's Line Item Vetoes

Budget Legislation Summary

Special Session begins Monday at 1 p.m.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It's 5 a.m. and we're still here.


The legislature has been working all night long. The Republican leadership pushed through a budget during the early hours of the morning. In case you ever wondered, this is what the state Capitol grounds look like at 4:30 a.m.