Thursday, December 9, 2010

First Bill of 2011 filed to restore transplant coverage

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – The first bill of the session was filed moments ago to restore AHCCCS transplant coverage and save the lives of Arizonans who were denied transplants by Republican budget cuts to health care.

“It has been over two months since Republican cuts to transplant coverage took effect and people are suffering,” said Schapira. “Instead of fixing the problem which only costs $1.2 million, Gov. Brewer is acting as a one-person death panel, trying to shift the blame from herself to the federal government. She has the resources to restore coverage, but chooses to let people who are dying become more ill each day. This legislation reinstates the transplant coverage, which is clearly not optional for people waiting for a transplant in order to live.”

Today, the Arizona Republic’s Editorial Board called for Brewer to stop holding transplant patients hostage. Democrats in the Legislature agree.

Without a life-saving transplant, patients like Francisco Felix, who desperately needs a new liver, will only have months to live, and Tiffany Tate will have to breathe with only 25 percent of her lung capacity. More patients are coming forward each day asking for a chance to live. There are 97 patients who are depending on Brewer and legislative Republicans to join Democratic lawmakers and make the right decision to restore coverage.

The legislation is Senate Bill 1001. The legislative session begins January 10, but Senate Democrats are hopeful the issue will be dealt with earlier.

The legislation is posted here:
http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/50leg/1r/bills/sb1001p.htm

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Democratic lawmakers, transplant patients, doctors urge GOP to fix ‘mistake’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Democratic lawmakers, transplant patients and doctors urged Gov. Jan Brewer and Republican lawmakers today to take immediate action to correct their admitted “mistake” of cutting health care for transplants.

So far, Republicans have taken no action in 68 days since their cuts to transplants took effect on Oct. 1. Meanwhile, transplant patients and their families are waiting desperately for the life-saving procedures.
“At this point, Jan Brewer is a one-person death panel,” said incoming Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira. “Brewer describes these transplants that she chose to ‘discard’ as ‘optional.’ A transplant isn’t an option for someone who is fighting for their life under Brewercare.”

Brewer’s office lied by blaming the new federal health care law for their own state cuts to transplants — Republicans voted to cut transplants before the federal law passed.

Democrats are urging Brewer to use federal stimulus dollars or call a special session immediately to save the $1.4 million transplant program. According to state economists, Brewer has $30 million in discretionary stimulus funds. She recently used $2 million on an algae program and $20 million to fix the roof of the Coliseum.

According to state economists, Brewer claims she has used the $30 million, but has not disclosed where she spent the money. She also has not disclosed that information to the public and has not responded to lawmakers’ and reporters’ public records requests to uncover how she spent Arizona’s money.

“People’s lives are at stake,” said Rep. Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson (District 13), a two-time transplant recipient. “I know that these families and their loved ones are fighting for their lives. As a transplant survivor, I know the difficult times they face. It’s time to hold Republicans accountable for wrong choices they made before another Arizonan dies.”

Dr. Maryl R. Johnson, president of the American Society of Transplantation and medical director of heart failure and transplantation at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, stood with transplant patients Randy Shepherd, Francisco Felix, Tiffany Tate, Douglas Gravagna and their families, as well as the family of Mark Price to call for action.

"The American Society of Transplantation is grateful for the ongoing dialogue and interaction with Arizona state leaders on this critical life and death issue,” Johnson said. “This is not a partisan issue. We have had positive conversations with leaders from both political parties as well as the governor's office. That said, an immediate solution must be identified before any Arizonans die awaiting life-saving donor organs. The real life repercussions of the Medicaid cuts we are discussing today will not simply reduce an individual's quality of life, rather they will determine whether or not an individual lives or dies. The modest savings achieved through these coverage cuts are not worth the loss of human life."

Photo: Senate Staff: (l to r seated): Tiffany Tate, Francisco Felix, Randy Shepard, Dr. Maryl R. Johnson, Douglas Gravagna, (back row far left) Shelly Gerhart (mother of Mark Price who recently passed away)
Second photo: Francisco Felix, Lois and Bob Tate

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Governor’s committee blatantly ignores public safety

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Members of the Governor’s Commission on Privatization and Efficiency say that the committee’s report due out by December 31 will include increasing privatization of state prisons.

“Apparently this committee was not paying attention this summer when prisoners escaped from a private prison in Arizona caused a nationwide manhunt and the deaths of several innocent people,” said incoming Senator Minority Leader David Schapira. “Before we start putting the for sale signs out on more of our prisons we need to make certain that public safety will not be further compromised.”

On July 31, 2010, three convicted murders escaped from a Kingman prison managed by Management and Training Corporation. Two of the escapees are facing capital murder charges for the deaths of Gary and Linda Haas of Oklahoma. Arizona is currently facing a $40 million suit as a result of the murders.

“Republicans are rushing to abandon state responsibility without considering the welfare of the state,” said incoming Senate Assistant Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor. “Increasing dependence on for-profit companies puts us all at risk.”

Senate Democrats call on Governor to take action

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Mark Price, the first AHCCCS patient to come forward after he was denied a bone marrow transplant due to Republican budget cuts has died.

“We are heartbroken at the loss of Mark Price and offer our prayers and condolences to his family,” said incoming Senator Minority Leader David Schapira. “Unfortunately the clock has run out for Mr. Price, but the clock is still ticking for others in Arizona who are counting on the Governor to take action by restoring life-saving transplant funding.”

Yesterday, Governor Brewer called the AHCCCS program a “Cadillac Plan” and claimed federal stimulus dollars are already accounted for in designated places, but refuses to state where she spent the money.

“Gov. Brewer continues to make excuses for cutting a program that denies life-saving transplants, but has not offered any solutions to people who are seriously ill and in need of those transplants,” said incoming Senator Minority Leader David Schapira.

Senate Democrats call on Gov. Brewer to immediately act to deal with these dire circumstances. According to an NPR report on November 11, there are nearly 100 Arizona patients awaiting life-saving transplants who have been turned away because of the budget cuts made by Brewer and Republicans in the Legislature.

“In the time it will take for Gov. Brewer to light a Christmas tree and a Menorah in the State Capitol this week, she could have issued a solution,” said Senator Leah Landrum Taylor, incoming Senate Assistant Minority Leader. “The lack of urgency to fix the AHCCCS problem is horrifying. These are life and death situations, and people may literally die if the Republicans do not take immediate action to change the law or provide the resources for these life-saving services.”

The coverage of specific transplants and services was revoked in HB 2010: health; budget reconciliation; 2010-2011 in the Seventh Special Session. The specific references to transplants are on page 21. http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/7s/bills/hb2010h.pdf

In the final Senate vote, all Democrats voted against the bill. All Republicans voted for the bill, except for Sen. Jay Tibshraeny who voted no and Sen. Carolyn Allen, who did not vote. http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/49leg/7s/bills/hb2010.sthird.1.asp

All House Democrats voted against the bill and all Republicans voted for it except for Rep. Doug Quelland. http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/49leg/7s/bills/hb2010.hthird.1.asp
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In case you missed it: AZ Republic Fact Check Proves Brewer Wrong

Here is the full fact-check, which was only in the hard copy edition of Monday's Arizona Republic.

THE CONTROVERSY: TRANSPLANT COVERAGE FOR LOW-INCOME ARIZONANS
by Mary Jo Pitzl - November 22, 2010

THE CONTROVERSY:
Transplant coverage for low-income Arizonans and the federal health-care-reform bill.

THE FORUM:
Dueling news statements from legislative Democrats and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer.

WHAT WE'RE LOOKING AT:
Gov. Jan Brewer has said the state can't afford to pay for certain transplant surgeries because of the constraints of the federal health-care-reform bill. Democrats say she's lying, and note Brewer could tap into federal stimulus dollars over which she has discretion to pay for the procedures. Alternatively, they argue she could call the Legislature into a special session to restore funding for the services.

The rhetoric has been heated and impassioned: Incoming Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, has called the governor a "one-person death panel" because she refuses to act.

ANALYSIS:
The Legislature in March approved a fiscal 2011 budget that cut funding for optional services provided by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state's Medicaid alternative. That included coverage of certain transplant surgeries, including bone marrow, kidney, liver problems due to hepatitis C and others. Those cuts took effect Oct. 1.

The budget also eliminated 310,000 people from AHCCCS coverage as of Jan. 1, 2011.

Soon after the state budget was completed in March, President Barack Obama signed the federal health-care-reform bill into law. It locked the state into providing required Medicaid services at the level in place at the time. That meant Arizona had to continue covering the 310,000 people, or risk the loss of $7 billion in Medicaid dollars to services such as long-term-care centers. It did not have to continue optional services such as the transplants.

The state is obliged to continue the required coverage through fiscal 2014, when federal dollars would arrive to cover them. The state's estimated cost over the next three years is roughly $1 billion a year.

Although the state is part of a lawsuit seeking to overturn the federal health-care-reform law, lawmakers and Brewer so far have concluded the state can't afford to ignore its requirements since $7 billion in Medicaid payments hangs in the balance. Therefore, they say they need to save money where they can - for example, by not covering optional services such as some transplants.

However, the decision to cut off some transplant funding was made before the effects of the federal health-care bill were known.

Brewer has said she would consider restoring the transplant funding if she were provided ideas on where to raise the money.

Democrats last week said the governor could tap into federal stimulus dollars that she controls. The latest available accounting of those dollars, from May, shows the governor had $46 million at her disposal. It would cost about $800,000 to restore transplant coverage through the June 30 end of this fiscal year; another $1.4 million for the following year.

Brewer's office did not respond to requests on whether she would consider using the stimulus dollars. Her office also did not immediately respond to a public-records request for the amount of stimulus money still unspent.

THE FINDING:
Brewer is wrong to directly link the denial of transplant coverage to federal health-care reform; it was a decision lawmakers made before the federal bill became law. But she is correct in noting that the federal law puts pressure on the state budget, which is facing chronic deficits.

Sources:
House Democrats' news release
Senate Democrats' news release
FY 2011 Appropriations Report, 5/24/2010/ May 24, and Long-Term Budget Projections, April 23, 4/23/2010
Budget bill with transplant language

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fact check proves Brewer wrong on transplant cuts

Senate Democrats call for governor to stop making excuses and take action

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – A fact-check by The Arizona Republic today agreed with Senate Democrats’ contention that Gov. Jan Brewer is wrong to tie denial of transplant coverage with the new federal health-care law because transplant cuts were made before passage of the federal law.

“People’s lives are on the line and instead of acting, the governor is revising history to shift blame away from herself and Republicans,” said incoming Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. “It’s time to set politics aside and take action to resolve this life-and-death issue. The governor’s inaction is absolutely irresponsible. She has yet to do anything other than misplace blame on others.”

Brewer has been cheering cuts to vital programs since coming into office. During a Thanksgiving week press conference in 2009, Brewer said, “Since I've become governor, we've cut over $1 billion out of the state budget. So, we are going to have a great Thanksgiving, have everybody go home and enjoy their families.” Brewer went on to say, “It’s a good day. It’s a good beginning to righting the ship here in Arizona.”

These cuts are just the beginning of what we will see as Republicans attempt to kick hundreds of thousands of low-income people off of health care while continuing to pander to special interests.

“We are glad the fact check sheds light on the governor's failed attempt to pin blame on federal heath-care reform,” said incoming Senate Assistant Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor. “For people on AHCCCS who need an organ transplant, unless they can find donated services, Brewer's budget cuts are essentially a death sentence. That is not something to celebrate.”

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brewercare costing Arizona lives: Senate Democrats call on Governor to take action

NEWS RELEASE
Arizona State Senate
1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85007
Senator-elect David Schapira, D-17
Senate Minority Leader (incoming)
Senator Leah Landrum Taylor, D-16
Senate Assistant Minority Leader (incoming)

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – This week, Arizonans faced some stark examples of the impact of the cuts the Republican majority voted for to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System budget when Francisco Felix was denied a desperately needed liver transplant and Randy Shepherd denied a heart transplant.

Senate Democrats call on Gov. Brewer to take action to deal with these dire circumstances.

“Brewercare is putting lives at risk,” said incoming Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. “Governor Brewer is now a one-person death panel. These Arizona citizens deserve to have the medical care they were promised. The Governor must take action now by allocating stimulus money or calling a special session. This cannot wait any longer while lives are at stake.”

According to an NPR report on November 11, there are nearly 100 Arizona patients awaiting transplants who have been denied because of the cuts made by Brewer and Republicans in the Legislature.

“The Arizona voters passed Proposition 204 to require the state to cover people who are at 100 percent of the federal poverty limit,” said Senator Leah Landrum Taylor, incoming Senate Assistant Minority Leader. “This is only Republicans continuing to look for ways to back out of their obligations to the voters by kicking low-income people off of health care.”

The coverage of specific transplants and services was revoked in HB 2010: health; budget reconciliation; 2010-2011 in the Seventh Special Session. The specific references to transplants is on page 21. http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/7s/bills/hb2010h.pdf

In the final Senate vote, all Democrats voted against the bill. All Republicans voted for the bill, except for Sen. Jay Tibshraeny who voted no and Sen. Carolyn Allen, who did not vote. http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/49leg/7s/bills/hb2010.sthird.1.asp

All House Democrats voted against the bill and all Republicans voted for it except for Rep. Doug Quelland. http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/49leg/7s/bills/hb2010.hthird.1.asp

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Senate Welcomes Senator Maria Garcia

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, Maria Garcia accepted the Oath of Office for the remainder of the late Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia’s term as Legislative District 27 State Senator.

Maria Garcia was born in Phoenix where she attended grammar school in South Phoenix and graduated from Phoenix Union High School. She attended Phoenix Community College and is near completion of a degree from the University of Arizona Eller College of Management.

Maria Garcia has been employed with Raytheon for thirty years where she has been involved in manufacturing, electronic technology, quality engineering and prototypes. She was promoted to supervision and is currently a value stream manager at Raytheon.

Jorge and Maria met when they were 15 years old and were married for 38 years.
She and Jorge moved to Tucson for him to attend the University of Arizona. They have three adult children, Yvette, a teacher, Dominique, a Harvard graduate who works in marketing and Rolando Jorge Luis, a civil engineer.

Maria has always been active and supportive in Jorge’s endeavors and participated in many conferences with him. She is involved in Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Shine for Shoes, which provides shoes for underprivileged children.

Previous to Senator Jorge Luis Garcia’s death, he and Maria had discussed her taking over his office should it be necessary. Maria Garcia was appointed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors to fill out the remainder of her late husband’s term.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge William “Bill” Brotherton, who had previously served in the Senate with Jorge Garcia, administered the Oath of Office.

Monday, November 8, 2010

SENATE APPOINTMENT CEREMONY FOR MARIA GARCIA

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – The Senate will convene an informal session on Wednesday, November 10 at 10 a.m. in order to administer the Oath of Office to Maria Garcia for the remainder of the late Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia’s term in Legislative District 27.

Following the administration of the Oath, the Senate will hold a commemoration ceremony in honor of the life and contributions of Senator Jorge Luis Garcia.

“Senator Garcia was a staunch advocate for Arizonans and he will be deeply missed by many,” said Rios. “We are honored to have Maria Garcia with us and welcome her to the Senate.”

Maria Garcia was appointed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors to fill out the remainder of her late husband’s term. They were married for 37 years.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Senate Democrats Elect New Leadership, Urge Focus on Economy

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Senate Democrats elected new leadership for the 50th Legislative Session. The Senate Democratic members elected Senator-elect David Schapira as the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Leah Landrum Taylor as Assistant Minority Leader and Senator Paula Aboud as Minority Whip.

“We must dedicate the next legislative session to addressing the economy and jobs,” said Schapira. “We need to move past the issues that divide us and move forward together to solve Arizona's problems. We need a legislature themed by moderation that is focused on building a stronger Arizona.”

Schapira is currently a state representative, a faculty member at Arizona State University and small business owner known for working on education issues and across party lines. He is a native of Arizona and is married and a father of one. He will be youngest member of state senate.

Landrum Taylor is a third generation native Phoenician educated at Xavier College Preparatory and Arizona State University where she received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Political Science. Landrum Taylor was elected to the House in 1998 and to the Senate in 2006. She is married and has three children.

Aboud, who has served in the Senate since 2006, is a graduate of the University of Arizona and a third-generation Tucsonan. She is currently the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations committee. She is committed to maintaining the quality of life for Arizona residents.

###

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Guest Memorial Book for Sen. Garcia

The Arizona Republic has set up a guest book in memorial of Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia.

If you would like to sign it, it can be accessed on their website: http://bit.ly/sengarcia


Condolences on Sen. Garcia's Passing from Sen. Paula Aboud

It is with great sadness that I am informing you of the passing of our own Senator Jorge Garcia. Jorge, our friend and mentor, passed away suddenly today (Friday) after a serious bout of heart illness.

Senator Garcia was one of the most committed and dedicated senators I have ever known. He helped every new member to find their way when they joined our democratic senate team and he stood by every one of us as a support, much like a father would have watched out for his kids.

His faith sustained him through the dark days of the budget process. And yet, it could be said that his heart was silently breaking from the nature of the cuts to public services for our needy populations---the populations that he advocated for so passionately. In the Senate he was our beacon of goodness and kindness...and he will be missed so dearly by our Democratic community and his colleagues who loved him so.

Our deepest condolences are extended to his entire family.

Paula Aboud

Please watch for a notice of his service and join us as we honor this humble man who became the leader of our Democratic Senate team.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Senate Democratic Caucus on the Passing of Senate Minority Leader Jorge Luis Garcia

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – The Senate Democratic Caucus is profoundly saddened upon hearing of the passing of our colleague and friend Senator Jorge Luis Garcia (D-27), the Senate’s Minority Leader.

“Senator Jorge Luis Garcia was a compassionate and humble man who tirelessly fought on the behalf of others,” said Sen. Rebecca Rios, Assistant Minority Leader. “We will miss him greatly. We extend our condolences to his wife, Maria, children, Yvette, Dominique and Rolando and four grandchildren.”

“We are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Senator Garcia,” said Sen. Paula Aboud of Tucson. “He was an honorable man and we always knew exactly where he stood on issues and he was well-respected for that.”

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Senator Amanda Aguirre Four Time Health Award Winner

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – For the fourth time in as many years, Senator Amanda Aguirre was voted to receive a 2010 Legislative Appreciation Award by the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association. The award will be presented by the AzHHA during its Annual Membership Conference on Thursday, October 14, 2010 at the Buttes Resort, 2000 Westcourt Way, Tempe, Ariz.

“It is an honor to be recognized and to work with AzHHA toward a common goal of increasing access to healthcare for Arizonans,” said Sen. Amanda Aguirre.

“Senator Amanda Aguirre has worked tirelessly to protect the quality and accessibility of healthcare services during the turbulent budget battles of the 2010 legislative session,” said Laurie Liles, AzHHA’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “AzHHA is proud to recognize Sen. Aguirre’s dedication to our hospital and healthcare community.”

Aguirre has been involved in public health education and administration for over twenty-five years with twenty-three in Yuma.

“The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association is recognizing Senator Amanda Aguirre with a 2010 Legislative Appreciation Award due to her leadership on behalf of Arizona’s hospitals,” said Patrick Walz, Yuma Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer. “Senator Aguirre has worked tirelessly in support of our state’s hospital community.”

“Senator Aguirre understands the needs of medicine and the needs of the State when dealing with the realities of hospital economics,” said Vickie Clark, CEO of the La Paz Hospital “She works for all of us.”

Aguirre is the current ranking Democratic member on the Senate Healthcare and Medical Liability Reform Committee.

The AzHHA expects more than 100 healthcare leaders from hospitals and healthcare systems throughout Arizona to attend the conference and awards luncheon.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Senator Aguirre participates in first new Homeland Security Senior Advisory Committee meeting

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Senator Amanda Aguirre participated in the first meeting of the new Homeland Security Senior Advisory Committee, which was created by SB 1178 signed in 2009. The meeting was held on Wednesday, September 1, at the State Capitol.

The committee is a replacement for the Arizona Governor’s Homeland Security Council first established by Gov. Napolitano on which Aguirre was first appointed in 2003 and served the last eight years. Aguirre was appointed by Senate President Bob Burns to serve on the new committee.

“The committee is tasked with advising the Department of Homeland Security Director on homeland security issues and for coordinating the federal homeland security grants,” said Aguirre. “To date in 2010, Arizona has received $50.5 million in federal homeland security grants in order to help with state prevention and response to terrorist acts and for training activities.”

The grant requests are brought to the committee from the five Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) consisting of law enforcement, first responders and elected officials. Yuma County is part of the South Region RAC along with Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties. La Paz County is part of the West Region RAC along with Mohave and Yavapai counties.

The committee will be meeting quarterly or as requested by the Arizona Department of Homeland Security.

Senator Alvarez Awarded by League of Arizona Cities and Towns

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Senator Manny Alvarez (D-Elfrida) was recognized by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns during the League’s 2010 Annual Conference Legislative Luncheon held on August 26 in Glendale, Ariz.

Sen. Alvarez received a “Friend of Cities and Towns Award” for legislators playing a vital role in defending and supporting local governments.

“Cities and towns are a critical part of our state’s infrastructure. It is greatly important to keep open good lines of communication between the state and the cities and towns as we continue to look for ways to rebuild Arizona’s economy during this difficult time,” said Sen. Alvarez. “I look forward to continuing to work with the League in order to best serve Arizonans.”

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns represents the 90 incorporated cities and towns in Arizona at the state legislature.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Senate Democratic Statement on Prison Breaks

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Governor Brewer continues her bad faith ways with Democrats. After continuous pressure by Democrats for her to investigate the prison escape and make public the results, Governor Brewer calls Senate and House Leadership for a confidential briefing for Wednesday afternoon. That meeting was cancelled by Brewer and purposely rescheduled to occur after she called a surprise press conference releasing the report to the public Thursday morning.

“This is a slap to Democratic Leadership,” said Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia, Senate Democratic Leader. “Rather than play partisan political games, Governor Brewer should focus on trying to work in a bi-partisan manner to fix this public safety crisis.”

“We still need public hearings to determine what went wrong and how we can ensure that murderers are not escaping from prison and inmates are not walking away from work crews,” said Sen. Rebecca Rios, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader.

“We planned on attending this meeting in good faith to cooperatively hear about how Governor Brewer is addressing the public safety issues in Arizona,” said Sen. Linda Lopez, Senate Democratic Whip.

The Governor was not present at today’s press conference at the Department of Corrections, she was instead having lunch with the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sen. Linda Lopez Statement on Aug. 18 Tucson Inmate Escape

“While awaiting answers from Governor Jan Brewer for a prison break resulting in a nationwide manhunt, yet another inmate walks away from state custody on her watch,” said Sen. Linda Lopez, Senate Democratic Whip (D-Tucson). “State budget cuts are creating real public safety issues in our local communities where now six schools are on lockdown.

“Governor Brewer has failed to protect the people in Arizona from dangerous inmates while also failing to provide support for prison employees who are working hard to secure our safety with fewer resources,” said Lopez.

Sen. Amanda Aguirre to Chair state Autism Task Force

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Sen. Amanda Aguirre was appointed to serve as the chair of the Arizona Joint Legislative Autism Spectrum Disorder Task Force, which was created by her legislation and signed into law this year.

“The task force will bring together state and community experts appointed by the Senate President and Speaker of House in order to identify and coordinate services and resources available to families to ultimately enhance early intervention and education to improve the quality of life of children impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder,” said Sen. Amanda Aguirre.

The Centers from Disease Control and Prevention estimates that an average of one in every 110 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. This definition includes Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

Aguirre was appointed by the Senate President Bob Burns as one of two Senate members to serve on the task force.

SB 1181, which creates the task force, will:

Review the coordination of services provided by state agencies, schools and organizations relating to the treatment of persons with autism spectrum disorder, including resources available to the families and other caregivers of persons with autism spectrum disorder.

Identify problems and recommend solutions regarding the availability of services to persons with autism spectrum disorder and their families and caregivers and the efficient delivery and coordination of those services.

Identify current funding sources for services provided to persons with autism spectrum disorder and determine if there are additional available federal or other funding sources that are not being used.

Identify and recommend opportunities for the sharing of resources of services to persons with autism spectrum disorder, including partnerships between the public and private sectors.

Identify evidence-based treatments and best practices for autism spectrum disorder.

Identify state models and service systems for persons with autism spectrum disorder.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Senate Republicans playing partisan games?

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, Sen. Meg Burton Cahill (D-Tempe) proposed an amendment to SCR 1001 that would have allowed an employee to choose whether to have an additional person present when going to speak with their employer.

Partisan politics may have entered the fray when Burton Cahill was not allowed a roll call vote on the amendment despite having her desk light on, which signifies her desire to be recognized to speak by the Senate President.

“In the Senate, we have rules of procedure and these rules should be abided by in order to keep the process fair and diligent,” said Burton Cahill. “By ignoring the light, the Senate President circumvents the stated rules of procedure. I verbally asked to be recognized and was still denied the opportunity to make a motion. If it was a matter of the Senate President overlooking the light, he should have taken corrective action and allowed me to speak. If he saw the light and ignored it, that action is an abuse of our own rules.”

Senate Democrats introduce bill to return per diem

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – The Arizona State Legislature convened the 9th Special Session this week for the sole purpose of pushing an anti-union piece of legislation the courts kicked off the November ballot. Each day the legislature is in session legislators are paid a daily stipend.

Today, Sen. Rebecca Rios introduced SB 1001, legislation stating that legislators cannot accept the daily per diem if the bill is passed.

“Senate Democrats contend that given our state’s dire economic condition it is irresponsible for Republicans to convene this costly, partisan special session to fix their own legislative mistakes,” said Sen. Rebecca Rios, Assistant Democratic Leader.

“We believe that the fiscally responsible action is to not provide this additional pay to members and have introduced legislation stating so,” said Sen. Linda Lopez, Senate Democratic Whip.

Note: This is a corrected version.
The Legislature receives the same amount of per diem whether it is in Regular Session or in Special Session. The only change in per diem rates is that it is lowered once the legislature is in session for 120 continuous days.

The bill text states that the legislators will not receive per diem, but this only takes effect if the bill is passed and signed by the Governor.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sen. Aguirre named Legislative Advocate of the Year

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Sen. Amanda Aguirre was awarded the Legislative Advocate of the Year award at the Second Arizona Recycling Coalition/American Public Works Association (AzRC/APWA) conference on August 3, in Phoenix.

“An increasing population means that we have to be extra vigilant in order to protect our natural resources,” said Aguirre. “With the help of hundreds of volunteers, we have cleaned up tons of illegally dumped waste and have created an education curriculum on recycling education for 10,000 elementary school students.”

Along with receiving the award, Aguirre will be speaking about the International Alliance Project ‘No Contamine/ Don’t Trash the Border” of which she is the project leader. The organization is a joint effort to educate border communities in Yuma County and San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico about the importance of recycling, conservation, personal responsibility and illegal dumping prevention. It engages public, private, state, federal and tribal organizations to develop a clearinghouse of recycling center resources. The organization sponsors clean-up campaigns in target areas that are highly impacted by illegal dumping on both sides of the border.

A statement from the Arizona Recycling Coalition reads:
“This award recognizes Senator Aguirre's work promoting recycling and sustainability in the State of Arizona. Sustainability is in essence the idea that everything is interconnected. The Senator’s work and leadership with No Contamine La Frontera, the international alliance between Arizona and Mexico has shown tremendous stewardship of our land by cleaning up illegal dump sites and recycling and reusing when possible. The Senator has established various partnerships to help clean our borders. This has created a renewed sense of pride among the communities who live and work in the area; as well as teach the importance of taking care of the land and recycling.”

At the Senate, Aguirre is a member of the Natural Resources, Infrastructure and Public Debt committee and is a previous member of the Natural Resources and Rural Affairs committee.

The Arizona Recycling Coalition (AzRC) is a non-profit organization of professionals and citizens pledged to promoting recycling efforts in the public sector and in business communities throughout Arizona. AzRC provides strong leadership on waste reduction issues and promotes the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle ethic through education and membership involvement in the state.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Senate Democratic Leader Statement on SB 1070 Injunction

“For months, Senate Democrats have stated that SB 1070 only creates divisions within our communities, redirects local law enforcement and opens the doors to racial profiling,” said Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia, Senate Democratic Leader. “The injunction of portions of SB 1070 will allow the country to refocus on comprehensive solutions to immigration instead of creating thousands of unworkable standards.”

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sen. Richard Miranda to speak at LULAC National Convention on SB 1070

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Sen. Richard Miranda (D-Phoenix) will be a speaker at the 81st Annual League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) National Convention and Exposition on Friday, July 16, in Albuquerque, N.M. Miranda will be speaking on a panel at 2:30 p.m. entitled “Unite Arizona: The Campaign Against SB 1070.”

“We need to focus on creating real and workable reform, not just mean-spirited legislation that comes at the cost of civil rights and breaking community relations with police,” said Miranda, Co-Chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus. “Proponents of the bill continue to spread false statements about the bill and what is required of law enforcement. It is time to set the record straight.”

Founded in 1929, LULAC is a national organization dedicated to issues such as civil rights, civic participation, economic empowerment, education, housing and immigration.

More information about the LULAC convention is on the Internet at: http://www.lulac.net/events/convention10.html

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

DES notice to the disabled woefully inadequate

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Despite the Department of Economic Security's awareness that devastating increases in cost of care would be coming since March 18 when the Governor signed legislation, the department only sent out notification to clients in residential programs on June 15. The cuts take effect today, July 1.

HB 2011 passed during the 7th Special Session reduced the amount of money a client can retain from thirty percent to twelve percent. This change results in passing on costs to disabled clients.

“The lack of notification to the disabled is shameful,” said Sen. Linda Lopez, Senate Democratic Whip. “The department has known for months that these changes were coming and the decent action would have been to notify the clients, many on fixed incomes, immediately that these cost increases were coming.”

The Legislature already cut all services except residential to these disabled individuals, and now has reduced the portion of their federal benefits not withheld from 30% to 12%, which will not even cover their medications.

Lopez was contacted by Ronald Schultz, the legal guardian of his fifty-year old adult son who lives in a group home resulting from a hit and run accident when he was 16. Schultz received a letter from the department on June 18 dated June 15 stating that the costs of room and board were increasing from 70 percent to 88 percent on July 1.

“As my son’s legal guardian I understand very, very well and I am very, very furious that they would even try to do something like this,” said Schultz. “My son, after everything is said and done if this is going to happen, will have $83.28 to deal with each and every month. Unfortunately, he has medication that doesn’t get covered completely.”

“Politics do not belong in any situation where it involves individuals who are disabled or children who cannot speak up for themselves,” said Schultz. “Politics has a place in our society, but in our society it is for the good and not for special interests.”

The legislation was part of the budget package passed on March 11 by the legislature, sent to the Governor on March 15 and signed on March 18.

“The governor and her departments have been talking about other legislation for months before the enactment dates so there is no excuse that people were given two weeks notice,” said Lopez. “This is just yet another example of her failed leadership and political posturing.”

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sen. Richard Miranda to speak at NALEO National Conference on SB 1070

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Sen. Richard Miranda (D-Phoenix) will be a speaker at the 27th Annual National Association for Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) Conference during the National Leadership Luncheon on Saturday, June 26 in Denver.

“This is a great opportunity to speak with my fellow Latino elected officials on the divisive immigration bills passed by the Arizona Legislature, SB 1070 and amendments by HB 2162,” said Sen. Richard Miranda. “We need to focus on how to stop anti-immigrant and anti-civil rights legislation from making it through our statehouses.”

Over 81% of registered Latino voters in Arizona oppose SB 1070 and 85% of registered Latino voters in Arizona believe that SB 1070 will lead to Latinos who are legal immigrants or U.S. citizens to getting stopped or questioned by police. (Latino Decisions & National Council of La Raza, May 6, 2010)

“We need real reform. SB 1070 is nothing, but mean-spirited legislation that will lead to racial profiling, break established community relations with police and come at the cost of the civil rights of American citizens,” said Miranda.

Miranda is also the Co-Chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus.

Founded in 1976, NALEO is a non-partisan association of more than 6,000 Latino officials in the United States. NALEO is on the Internet at: http://www.naleo.org/

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sen. Aguirre issues statement on border conference

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – On May 24, Senator Amanda Aguirre led a Bi-National Conference with federal senators from Mexico and elected border officials from Arizona at the City Hall in Nogales to ensure continued dialogue between the two countries, which have deteriorated since the signing of SB 1070.

Since then, several media reports have inaccurately described what occurred at the meeting and what the outcomes of the meetings were.

First, Mexican officials agreed to provide additional funding support for additional security at the Southern border in order to help fight violence and stop human and drug traffickers.

Second, convincing Mexico not to boycott Arizona was a very significant outcome and will help protect the economies of border communities in Arizona that are dependent on cross border commerce. Last week, the Secretary of External Relations Patricia Espinosa Cantellano made a statement that Mexico will not boycott Arizona because of the law. Senator Aguirre was instrumental in making this happen.

Third, the joint resolution drafted by the group requests that if SB 1070 goes into effect that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights determine whether human rights violations have been committed. This request is not to the United Nations or the Inter-American Court, which has been incorrectly reported. Sending a joint resolution to the IACHR is also not the equivalent of filing a lawsuit.

The participants also agreed that the continued goal of the two countries should be to combat narco-traffickers, human traffickers, organized crime and illegal importation of arms into Mexico.

“This meeting was essential to continuing an open dialogue so that Mexico will help step up and fight illegal immigration from the southern border,” said Aguirre.

“The simple fact is that this legislation does nothing to address border violence, and it lessens long-standing cooperation between communities and law enforcement,” said Aguirre. “As elected officials, we need to focus our efforts on real measures that directly confront the problems at the border. This legislation does nothing for that effort.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sen. Aguirre leads Bi-National Conference on SB 1070, Continued Dialogue with Mexico

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – On Monday, May 24, Senator Amanda Aguirre (D-24), along with Senator Emma Larios Gaxiola from Sonora, Mexico, led a Bi-National Conference at the City Hall in Nogales to ensure continued dialogue between the two countries.

A special delegation of Mexican legislators, including federal senators from throughout the country, attended to discuss the implications and potential impacts of SB 1070, Arizona’s immigration law that is set to take effect on July 29, 2010.

Joining Aguirre from the Arizona legislature were Senators Manny Alvarez, Linda Lopez and Jorge Luis Garcia. Mayors and elected representatives from Santa Cruz County, the City of Douglas, the City of San Luis, the City of Nogales and the City of Somerton also participated.

“The ramifications of this destructive legislation are already being felt in our economy and our relationship of cooperation with Mexico has been threatened. We held this meeting to continue the dialogue between the two countries and sister states, Arizona and Sonora, which has recently deteriorated due to the signing of SB 1070,” said Aguirre.

The discussion included commercial and economic impacts, civil rights and civil liberty impacts, and lawsuits filed.

Aguirre encouraged the Senators of Mexico not to make a formal declaration of boycott against Arizona. On Tuesday, the Secretary of External Relations Patricia Espinosa Cantellano made a statement that Mexico will not boycott Arizona because of the law.

The participants asserted that the continued goal should be to combat narco-traffickers, human traffickers, organized crime and illegal importation of arms into Mexico.

“As a senator from a border county, the simple fact is that this legislation does nothing to address border violence, and it lessens long-standing cooperation between communities and law enforcement. It also opens the door to abuses of civil liberties and racial profiling of U.S. Citizens,” said Aguirre.

The outcome of the meeting was to draft a concurrent resolution signed by each attendee that will be sent to the United Nations and the Organization of American States – Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Part of the resolution states, “The participants of the Bi-National Conference of Legislators reiterate the ties of friendship that unite our two countries, particularly the states of Sonora and Arizona, and emphasize the importance of establishing and emphasizing bridges to promote dialogue between our countries. Faced with the promulgation of the law, we reiterate our total rejection of the criminalization of immigration and the application of the law based on racial profiling as indicated by law SB 1070.”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

SB 1070

We've had a number of requests for where to find the latest version of SB 1070. The Arizona Legislature's website has on the main page a copy of SB 1070 with the changes made to it by HB 2162. This is the most useful version if you are trying to read the two in context with one another.

http://www.azleg.gov/alispdfs/council/SB1070-HB2162.PDF

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sen. Aguirre’s bill to aid nurses signed into law

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Amanda Aguirre that helps assure the continuity of care for court-ordered evaluated patients was signed into law.

Under current law, once a patient of a certified psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner is ordered into treatment by the court, that practitioner can no longer evaluate the patient already under their care.

“By making this change, we can better assure the continuity of care for court-ordered evaluated patients by allowing continued evaluation by certified psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioners,” said Sen. Aguirre.

SB 1182 was brought to Sen. Aguirre by the Arizona Nurses Association (AzNA) as a correction of state statutes to reflect the role of practitioners in the mental health system.

Joyce Benjamin, AzNA Executive Director said, “the support for this bill is further evidence of the importance of advanced practice nurses in our healthcare system.”

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sen. Aguirre: Fire District Dissolution Process to Include Property Owners

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Amanda Aguirre that modifies the dissolution process of a fire district to include property owners was signed into law.

The bill was brought to Sen. Aguirre by constituents in the legislative district who were concerned that the current process for dissolution did not include those whose property would be affected. A number of the property owners are part year residents and were excluded from the process.

“When a fire district is established, the process includes property owners in Arizona, but when a district is dissolved the process does not include property owners,” said Sen. Aguirre. “With SB 1253, the dissolution process mirrors the process for creating a fire district. It is only logical that the property owners in a district should also be included.”

Current law requires a three-stop process that includes a majority of the qualified electors, majority of property owners and the property owners with a majority of the property value. Dissolving a district only requires ten percent of the qualified electors to sign a petition and with the approval of the majority of the voters a district may be dissolved.

As required by SB 1253, a petition must be signed by the majority of the property owners and the property owners with a majority of the value in order to dissolve a district.

The legislation is effective as of July 29, 2010.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bill to create Arizona Commission of African-American Affairs signed into law

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – A bill creating the Arizona Commission of African-American Affairs sponsored by Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor was signed into law.

“This is a proud day for the African-American community in Arizona, which has a long-standing history of contributions to the state,” said Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor. “Making the Commission permanent ensures that the work of the Commission thus far will be continued long into the future.”
The African-American affairs commission was created in 2007 by Executive Order. Each year, the Commission holds African-American Legislative Days at the Capitol for the community to come together to discuss policy on education, economic development and health care.

SB 1174 enters the Commission into state law and requires the Commission to hold an annual African-American Legislative day on the second Thursday and Friday of February.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Rep. Driggs refuses to lift the statute of limitations for victims of child abuse

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Despite pleas from sexual assault victims, Rep. Adam Driggs (R-11) has killed his own bill that included an amendment that would have allowed victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue those responsible for the abuse.

HB 2699 was amended in the Senate to include SB 1292 sponsored by Senator Amanda Aguirre (D-24) that eliminates the civil statute of limitation for a child sex abuse victim to sue the person or entity that perpetrated the abuse or negligently allowed it to happen. SB 1292 is known as the Arizona's Childhood Sexual Abuse Prevention Act among the child abuse prevention advocate community at the state and national level.

“There was no legitimate reason to kill this bill,” said Aguirre. “The bill ensures that only those defendants that are responsible for allowing the sexual abuse to occur will be held accountable and subject to civil suit. This is an important protection, because the bill is only designed to hold the sexual abusers, and those entities that enabled the abuse to occur, accountable for their actions.”

“Killing this bill only protects pedophiles and insurance companies. That is not who we should be fighting for as legislators. Childhood sexual abuse victims should have their day in court and the abusers should be held accountable,” said Aguirre.

The bill, with the amendment, passed the Senate unanimously by a vote of 28-0. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary committee on Feb. 22 as SB 1292 with a bipartisan and unanimous vote of 7-0.

To move to a final vote, Rep. Driggs (R-11) only needed to concur with the changes approved by the entire Senate.

What is the Aguirre Amendment to HB 2699?
The amendment eliminates the civil statute of limitation for a child sex abuse victim to bring a cause of action against the person or entity that perpetrated the abuse or negligently allowed it to happen.

The bill also creates a one-year "window" of time that allows adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to bring an action against the persons who abused them. Many child sexual abuse cases are not prosecuted; this bill creates a tool for many victims to hold the perpetrator accountable in civil court. The “window” applies to those survivors whose civil statute of limitations has already expired and who have not already sued the persons who abused them.

What is the current civil statute of limitations and how does this bill change that law?
Under current Arizona law, to sue a sexual abuser of a child, an adult survivor of that childhood sexual abuse must file that lawsuit by the time he or she turns the age of 20. The reason for this is that Arizona has a 2-year statute of limitations, but the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the child reaches the age of 18.

How does Arizona law compare with other states?
Arizona has one of the most restrictive civil statutes of limitation in the nation for victims of child sex abuse. 44 other states offer some type special provision for victims of childhood sexual abuse.

What about criminal prosecution?
Less than 10% percent of child molesters are prosecuted. Most victims of childhood sexual abuse are too young or confused to realize that they are being harmed by an abuser, and most child sex offenders successfully intimidate witnesses, threaten victims, destroy evidence, and otherwise prevent victims from disclosing the abuse.

Why should there be no statute of limitations?
Many adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are not able to file a lawsuit during the time period currently allowed by law. Childhood sexual abuse is by its very nature secret. The abuse is often the end result of a grooming process through which the perpetrator pressures the victim to keep the abuse secret or carefully selects victims whom the perpetrator believes will not tell others about the abuse. Injuries caused by childhood sexual abuse include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, debilitating depression and suicide attempts. Sometimes these symptoms do not develop until the victim is an adult. Because of these injuries, and the threats and intimidation that often accompany them, many victims are unable to file a lawsuit during the time allowed.

Why is this bill important?
The amendment to the bill is important because it exposes sexual predators and holds them accountable for the harm they have caused. When sex offenders are not held accountable for their behavior, they are more likely to continue to sexually abuse other children; the freedom to continue abusing results in more assaults on children and more victims.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sen. Aguirre's bill creating Autism Task Force signed into law


STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Amanda Aguirre that creates the Autism Spectrum Disorder Task Force was signed into law.

“With the increasing number of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, it is vital that we are able to coordinate the services available so that parents and providers will have access to it,” said Sen. Amanda Aguirre. “We still do not know the cause of autism spectrum disorders, but with coordinated research we can help families and caregivers in their fight.”

“This bill will bring together the right people to take a critical look at our state service system—as well as successful service systems in other states—to recommend more supportive and fiscally responsible practices for supporting families affected by autism,” said Dr. Daniel Openden, Vice President, Clinical Services Director for the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center. “If our state service system can become more coordinated and supportive of families, and direct resources towards effective services, there is no question that many more individuals with autism in Arizona can learn to talk, socially interact, participate in the community, be employed, live independently and lead meaningful lives as Arizona citizens.”

SB 1181, which creates the task force, will:

- Review the coordination of services provided by state agencies, schools and organizations relating to the treatment of persons with autism spectrum disorder, including resources available to the families and other caregivers of persons with autism spectrum disorder.

- Identify problems and recommend solutions regarding the availability of services to persons with autism spectrum disorder and their families and caregivers and the efficient delivery and coordination of those services.

- Identify current funding sources for services provided to persons with autism spectrum disorder and determine if there are additional available federal or other funding sources that are not being used.

- Identify and recommend opportunities for the sharing of resources of services to persons with autism spectrum disorder, including partnerships between the public and private sectors.

- Identify evidence-based treatments and best practices for autism spectrum disorder.

- Identify state models and service systems for persons with autism spectrum disorder.

Aguirre is a long-time supporter of autism research. In 2008, Aguirre also sponsored “Steven’s Law,” which requires insurance companies to cover autism services.

Today, one in every 150 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers from Disease Control 2007 data. This definition includes Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Governor chooses politics over civil rights

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, Governor Brewer signed SB 1070 (NOW; safe neighborhoods; immigration; law enforcement). This legislation will criminalize all immigrants, infringe on free speech, encourage racial profiling and lead to enormous costs, into the millions, at a time Arizona cannot afford unfunded mandates.

“Governor Brewer showed the world that she is more willing to put her own reelection bid ahead of vetoing a mean-spirited piece of legislation that targets racial minorities,” said Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia. “It is hypocritical of Brewer to have stood in front of two large Latino functions and say that she would do what she believes was right for Arizona. Eroding our economic recovery and marginalizing communities does the exact opposite of what is right.”

“At a time when the Governor should be uniting Arizonans, instead she is adding to the animosity surrounding the immigration issue,” said Sen. Richard Miranda. “Immigration reform must occur, but it needs to occur starting with the federal level and not at the expense of civil rights of American citizens,” said Sen. Richard Miranda.

“The eyes of the world are on Arizona,” said Rep. Ben Miranda “The costs in human and economic terms will be felt for a generation, if not more. The idea that SB 1070 will secure borders and insure safe neighborhoods is ludicrous and unsupported.”

Friday morning, President Barack Obama stated that this legislation “undermines basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.

We absolutely agree with the President’s statements.

“The Arizona State Legislative Latino Caucus joins all national groups, organizations and elected officials to ask for immediate action from the Obama Administration to negate the impact of SB 1070 and push for comprehensive immigration reform,” stated Rep. Ben Miranda.


Selected provisions in the bill:

· Requires an officer to make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person where reasonable suspicion exists that a person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States. The bill is silent on what constitutes “legitimate contact” or “reasonable suspicion.”

· Allows any legal resident of this state to sue any official or agency of the state or political subdivision that adopts a policy or practice that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law. Permits a civil penalty between $1,000 and $5,000 per day that such a policy exists and allows the court to reward costs and attorney fees to the prevailing side.

Specifies that people who transport, attempt to transport, conceal, harbor, or attempt to conceal or harbor a person who enters the United States in violation of the law are guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1000.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sen. Aboud Invites Public to Tucson Town Halls

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Sen. Paula Aboud (D-28) invites the public to three town halls on Saturday, April 24 in Tucson, Ariz.

“I look forward to hearing from constituents regarding their concerns and sharing information with them regarding the activities at the legislature,” said Aboud.

10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Eckstrom-Columbus Library, 4350 E. 22nd Street, Tucson, Ariz.

1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Himmel Park Library, 1035 N Treat Ave., Tucson, Ariz.

3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Murphy-Wilmot Library, 320 S. Wilmot Rd., Tucson, Ariz.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Republicans pass hostile immigration bill

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, Republicans voted to pass an immigration bill that does not address the true immigration problems Arizona currently faces.

“SB 1070 is exactly why the federal government must act on immigration reform,” said Garcia. “We cannot have states creating a jigsaw puzzle of immigration laws. This bill opens the doors to racial profiling with the provision that allows an officer to ask for citizenship papers from someone who only looks illegal.”

“This bill does not solve our immigration problems and only exacerbates the state’s fiscal crisis by increasing incarceration costs and law enforcement training costs,” said Rios. “SB 1070 is an unfunded mandate to our police departments by turning police officers into ICE agents and opening departments to lawsuits allowed by this bill.”

“Point blank, Arizona needs to stop passing laws that make legitimate businesses not want to come here,” said Lopez. “We need to target the illegitimate businesses that are easing the tide of illegal immigration just as we saw ICE do last week.”

Over the weekend, numerous editorial boards and columnists blasted the hostility of the bill and compared the bill to California’s unconstitutional Proposition 187 of 1994, which caused national outrage.

Some headlines from over the weekend:

· Arizona Republic, Robert Robb: Illegal-immigration bill isn’t solution
· East Valley Tribune, Mike Sakal: Police unions: Immigration bill taxes officers
· The New York Times, Editorial: Arizona Goes Over the Edge
· The Los Angeles Times, Editorial: A hostile Arizona: The state's harsh anti-immigration bill goes too far. What's needed is national reform.
· San Jose Mercury News, Ruben Navarrette: Where’s the Arizona I once knew?

Selected provisions in the bill:

· Requires an officer to make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person where reasonable suspicion exists that a person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States. The bill is silent on what constitutes “legitimate contact” or “reasonable suspicion.”

· Allows any legal resident of this state to sue any official or agency of the state or political subdivision that adopts a policy or practice that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law. Permits a civil penalty between $1,000 and $5,000 per day that such a policy exists and allows the court to reward costs and attorney fees to the prevailing side.

Specifies that people who transport, attempt to transport, conceal, harbor, or attempt to conceal or harbor a person who enters the United States in violation of the law are guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1000.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bill to Allow P.O. Box Use on Petition Signatures Forms Passes House Committee

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, a bill sponsored by Sen. Albert Hale that allows a post office box address to be used on petition signature forms passed the House Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support by a vote of 7-0.

“With the passage of SB 1422, we move closer to changing the Arizona election law and use of post office boxes on Arizona state election nomination petitions,” said Hale. “The bill is intended to allow the use of a post office box address when voters sign nominating petitions circulated by candidates for state election offices.”

The bill contains provisions that will require the voter signing the petition to verify that their physical address remains the same since last registered. This is to safeguard against possible fraud.

“Under current law, use of a post office box address is presumed valid,” said Hale. “However, the presumption goes away when challenged in court.”

Under current law, some county recorders do not count a signature when the address only shows a post office box. The bill will require county recorders to check signatures that have only a post office box and verify that the person signing is actually registered.

“The purpose is to make sure that voters are not disenfranchised,” said Hale. “Especially voters in rural areas and on Indian reservations where there are not street addresses.”

The bill now awaits a hearing in the House Rules Committee.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Arizona Legislature Honors Navajo Code Talkers

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – On April 1, the Arizona State Senate unanimously passed House Concurrent Resolution 2026, which recognizes and honors the contributions of the Navajo Code Talkers to American history and military success during World War II. The House of Representatives unanimously passed the same HCR on March 31.

“I am glad that the state of Arizona continues to recognize and honor the Navajo Code Talkers,” said Hale. “Through such recognition all Native Americans and their substantial contributions to American history, past and present, are recognized and honored.”

“I am grateful for and proud of the Navajo Code Talkers,” said Hale. “While their numbers have diminished, their contributions will long be remembered and honored. Peace and honor to the Navajo Code Talkers.”

On March 31, three of the Navajo Code Talkers joined the Senate in celebration along with their wives, descendents, staff and members of the Navajo Code Talkers Association.

Keith Little, 87, is originally from Tonalea, Ariz. He served with the 4th Marine Division and currently serves as the President of the Navajo Code Talkers Association and as the President of the Navajo Code Talkers Foundation. On the passage of the HCR, Little said, "Thank you! Please tell Mr. Hale 'Ahe'hee' I'm very enthused that the resolution has passed."

Samuel Tso, 87, is from Lukachukai, Ariz. He is the Vice President of the Navajo Code Talkers Association and a board member of the Navajo Code Talkers Foundation.

Alfred Peaches, 84, is from Winslow, Ariz. He is a board member of the Navajo Code Talkers Foundation.

It is nearly 70 years since the Navajo Code Talkers took their place in history. They were sworn to secrecy for over two decades and did not receive a heroes’ welcome upon their return home.

Rep. Chris Deschene is the primary House sponsor of the bill and Sen. Hale is a primary sponsor of the bill.

HB 2699 Now Includes Aguirre Sexual Abuses Bill Language

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, the State Senate voted to amend a bill regarding child prostitution to include an amendment sponsored by Sen. Amanda Aguirre, which includes the language from SB 1292 regarding sexual abuse victims.
The Aguirre amendment eliminates the civil statute of limitation for a child sex abuse victim to bring a cause of action against the person or entity that perpetrated the abuse or negligently allowed it to happen. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary committee on Feb. 22 by a bipartisan and unanimous vote of 7-0.

“This is right thing to do! The legislators voting in favor of including this amendment have put children's safety first,” said Aguirre. “No one should destroy precious lives.”

The Senate voted 18-10 to include the Aguirre amendment to HB 2699 in the Senate Committee of the Whole.

The amendment creates a one-year "window" of time that allows adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to bring an action against the persons who abused them. Many child sexual abuse cases are not prosecuted; this amendment creates a tool for many victims to hold the perpetrator accountable in civil court. The “window” applies to those survivors whose civil statute of limitations has already expired and who have not already sued the persons who abused them.

The Aguirre amendment is important because it exposes sexual predators and holds them accountable for the harm they have caused. When sex offenders are not held accountable for their behavior, they are more likely to continue to sexually abuse other children; the freedom to continue abusing results in more assaults on children and more victims.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

District 29 Legislators Invite Public to Tucson Town Hall

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Sen. Linda Lopez, Rep. Matt Heinz and Rep. Daniel Patterson invite the public to a town hall on Saturday, April 3 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Santa Rosa Learning Library, 1075 South 10th Avenue, Tucson, Ariz. This will be the 6th legislative district 29 town hall over the past year.

Where: Santa Rosa Learning Library, 1075 South 10th Avenue, Tucson, Ariz.
When: Saturday, April 3, 2010 from 2 to 4 p.m.


“Since our last district town hall, the Governor and legislative Republicans passed a budget that makes extreme cuts to education and healthcare,” said Lopez. “This forum is especially critical for sharing information about how these cuts will impact the district and for hearing from constituents on how they may have already been impacted.”

“We are at a critical time in our state's history and all of us, including Tucsonans, will have to bear the burden of Republicans' wrong-track budget cuts to jobs, education and health care,” Patterson said. "I look forward to hearing from the people I represent and taking their concerns back to the Capitol.”

“I want to make sure southern Arizona voices are heard at the state legislature,” said Heinz. “It is incredibly important that we hear your ideas to help get our state back on the right track.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sexual Offenders Need to be Held Accountable

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, Senator Amanda Aguirre called on legislative Republicans to hear SB 1292, a measure regarding civil actions brought by persons subjected to sexual offenses as a minor, in the Senate Rules committee.
“Our laws do not adequately protect child abuse victims,” said Aguirre. “We have an opportunity to amend our laws to allow abusers be brought to justice. Not making these changes allows offenders to continue the cycle of abuse.”

SB 1292 eliminates the civil statute of limitation for a child sex abuse victim to bring a cause of action against the person or entity that perpetrated the abuse or negligently allowed it to happen. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary committee on Feb. 22 by a bipartisan and unanimous vote of 7-0.

“I have made numerous attempts to work with President Bob Burns and the insurance industry, but their decision is to hold this bill and not allow victims to hold predators accountable for their actions in a civil court within a reasonable amount of time,” said Aguirre.

The bill also creates a one-year "window" of time that allows adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to bring an action against the persons who abused them. Many child sexual abuse cases are not prosecuted; this bill creates a tool for many victims to hold the perpetrator accountable in civil court. The “window” applies to those survivors whose civil statute of limitations has already expired and who have not already sued the persons who abused them.

SB 1292 is important because it exposes sexual predators and holds them accountable for the harm they have caused. When sex offenders are not held accountable for their behavior, they are more likely to continue to sexually abuse other children; the freedom to continue abusing results in more assaults on children and more victims.

Support the Arizona Childhood Sexual Abuse Prevention Act SB 1292

What is SB 1292?
SB1292 eliminates the civil statute of limitation for a child sex abuse victim to bring a cause of action against the person or entity that perpetrated the abuse or negligently allowed it to happen.

The bill also creates a one-year "window" of time that allows adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to bring an action against the persons who abused them. Many child sexual abuse cases are not prosecuted; this bill creates a tool for many victims to hold the perpetrator accountable in civil court. The “window” applies to those survivors whose civil statute of limitations has already expired and who have not already sued the persons who abused them.

What is the current civil statute of limitations and how does this bill change that law?
Under current Arizona law, to sue a sexual abuser of a child, an adult survivor of that childhood sexual abuse must file that lawsuit by the time he or she turns the age of 20. The reason for this is that Arizona has a 2-year statute of limitations, but the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the child reaches the age of 18.

How does Arizona law compare with other states?
Arizona has one of the most restrictive civil statutes of limitation in the nation for victims of child sex abuse. 44 other states offer some type special provision for victims of childhood sexual abuse.

What about criminal prosecution?
Less than 10% percent of child molesters are prosecuted. Most victims of childhood sexual abuse are too young or confused to realize that they are being harmed by an abuser, and most child sex offenders successfully intimidate witnesses, threaten victims, destroy evidence, and otherwise prevent victims from disclosing the abuse.

Why should there be no statute of limitations?
Many adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are not able to file a lawsuit during the time period currently allowed by law. Childhood sexual abuse is by its very nature secret. The abuse is often the end result of a grooming process through which the perpetrator pressures the victim to keep the abuse secret or carefully selects victims whom the perpetrator believes will not tell others about the abuse. Injuries caused by childhood sexual abuse include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, debilitating depression and suicide attempts. Sometimes these symptoms do not develop until the victim is an adult. Because of these injuries, and the threats and intimidation that often accompany them, many victims are unable to file a lawsuit during the time allowed.

Why is this bill important?
SB 1292 is important because it exposes sexual predators and holds them accountable for the harm they have caused. When sex offenders are not held accountable for their behavior, they are more likely to continue to sexually abuse other children; the freedom to continue abusing results in more assaults on children and more victims.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Democrats vote against dangerous Republican budget in Senate Appropriations Committee

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, Senate Democrats voted against the dangerous Republican budget heard today in the Senate Appropriations committee.

“Today, this is a sad day for the state of Arizona after hearing all of the people who have come to the Senate to testify. This budget makes cuts to working families and the future of Arizona. We are turning our ears away from their pleas,” said Aguirre. “This budget contains extreme healthcare and public safety cuts and shifts enormous costs to counties. We are shortchanging our future by eliminating programs that help create a viable workforce. I cannot vote for this budget.”

“Throughout the day we consistently heard from members of the community that this budget will make an enormous impact on Arizonans,” said Aboud. “This budget will cost the state hundreds of thousands of jobs and add years to the economic recovery in Arizona. While other states are coming out of the recession, this budget proposal will cause us to sink deeper into a recession. We’ve balanced this budget sheet, but we are also devastating our state. This is a sad day for Arizonans.”

Among the many devastating cuts, the Republican budget cuts 310,000 people from AHCCCS, the state’s Medicaid program, 47,000 children from KidsCare, eliminates funding for all-day Kindergarten, cuts state employee pay and closes the Department of Juvenile Corrections.

SB 1001, the main budget bill, passed committee 6-2 with all of Republicans voting yes and Democrats voting no.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

In case you missed it: Democrats Hold Rally in Support of State Employees

Check this video out -- Democrats Hold Rally in Support of State Employees

Republicans vote to allow guns on university and community college campuses

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, Sen. Linda Lopez offered an amendment during the Senate’s Committee of the Whole to exclude universities and community colleges from SB 1168, a bill that expands the restrictions on the ability of political subdivisions to regulate the transfer, possession, storage, licensing or registration of firearms or ammunition.

“To those of you who vote for this bill without my amendment to exclude community college campuses, please know that you will not be able to claim that you did not know that this bill allows guns on university and college campuses,” said Lopez. “This bill is a back door way to allow guns on university and college campuses. Neither the universities or community colleges want guns on their campuses.”

The amendment failed to be adopted to the bill. The bill, as it stands, allows guns on university and college campuses. It still needs a “Third Read” vote to pass the Senate and move to the House.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

State Employee Rally Sponsored by Legislators

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Legislators are holding a rally in support of state employees on Thursday, March 4, 2010, from noon to 1 p.m. on the Senate Lawn.

When: Thursday, March 4, 2010
Time: Noon - 1 p.m.
Where: Senate Lawn, 1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, Ariz.


“It is time that the Arizona Legislature realizes that state employees are more than just FTEs,” said Cheuvront, referring to the acronym for full-time equivalent generally used to describe a state employee. “They are hard working, tax paying individuals who want to maintain their employment like other Arizonans. State employees should not be ignored when legislators discuss job creation and job maintenance.”

Cheuvront has sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 1038 that, subject to voter approval, reduces legislative salaries by the same percentage that state employee’s salaries are reduced.

“At a time when legislators are asking our state employees to make substantial sacrifices and take pay cuts, legislators should also be willing to make those same sacrifices themselves,” said Cheuvront.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Arizona to Receive TARP Funds for Foreclosure Aid

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix –Arizona and four other states with high foreclosure rates will receive federal Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds, according to an announcement today by President Barack Obama while at a town hall in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In the federal program, state housing departments in Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada will share $1.5 billion toward foreclosure aid.
“We have seen many of Arizona’s families and neighborhoods damaged as one of the states with the highest incidence of foreclosures,” said McCune Davis. “I am grateful that President Obama will be directing additional dollars to help Arizona’s families overcome the current economic crisis. We should be doing more to help prevent even more families from going through financial devastation.”

In Arizona, foreclosures have risen 567% between the Third Quarter of 2006 and the Third Quarter of 2009, according to the Center for Responsible Lending. The Center forecasts that an additional 451,590 foreclosures will arise between 2009-2012. (http://www.responsiblelending.org/mortgage-lending/tools-resources/factsheets/arizona.html)

More information on the Help for the Hardest-Hit Housing Markets can be located on the White House’s press release at:
(http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/help-hardest-hit-housing-markets)

Arizona State Senate - Schedule for February 22 through February 26, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

1:00 p.m. Floor

Upon Adj. of Floor Rules

1:30 p.m. Committee on Judiciary
Committee on Natural Resources, Infrastructure and Public Debt

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

9:00 a.m. Republican Caucus

10:00 a.m. Democratic Caucus

1:00 p.m. Floor

1:30 p.m. Committee on Appropriations
Committee on Commerce and Economic Development

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

9:00 a.m. Committee on Healthcare and Medical Liability Reform
Committee on Public Safety and Human Services

1:00 p.m. Floor

1:30 p.m. Committee on Education Accountability and Reform
Committee on Finance
Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs

Thursday, February 25, 2010

10:00 a.m. Committee on Government Institutions (note time change)

1:00 p.m. Floor (COW & Third Read)


Friday, February 26, 2010

This schedule is subject to change. Please listen to the floor for committee and floor time announcements. In addition, during various parts of session, COW and Third Read may occur at any floor session. Please watch for floor calendars.]

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bill amended to require proof of citizenship to buy or transfer guns at firearm shows

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Senate Democrats successfully amended SB 1102 to require proof of citizenship for the purchase or transfer of a firearm at a firearms show for exhibitors that do not require a background check.

Sen. Ken Cheuvront’s amendment requires the presentation one of the same documents a person must show in order to vote. A violation of this section is a Class 4 felony.

“As the violence at our border continues to escalate, it is important that we only allow law abiding American citizens to purchase guns in Arizona,” said Cheuvront. “A recent GAO report found that 90 percent of firearms used by the drug cartels were purchased in the United States. As lawmakers, we need to make sure that the mass killings that are taking place in Mexico do not spill over to Arizona.”

The list includes:
1) An Arizona driver license or non-operating identification license issued after October 1, 1996,
2) A legible photocopy of a birth certificate that verifies citizenship and supporting legal documentation, including a marriage certificate, if the name on the birth certificate is not the same as the person’s legal name
3) A legible copy of pertinent pages of a U.S. Passport identifying the person
4) U.S. naturalization documents
5) The person’s Bureau of Indian Affairs Card Number of Tribal Treaty Card Number
6) A legible photocopy of a driver license or non-operating identification license from another state within the U.S. if the license indicates that the person has provided satisfactory proof of citizenship or
7) A legible photocopy of a Tribal Certificate of Indian Blood or Tribal or Bureau of Indian Affairs Affidavit of Birth

The amendment occurred during the Senate’s Committee of the Whole, which is a preliminary approval of the bill. The bill awaits a formal Senate vote.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Senator Amanda Aguirre recognizes Yuma artist at Arizona Senate

















STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – State Sen. Amanda Aguirre recognized Yuma artist Herve Saliou during floor session at the Senate on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010.

Saliou is a French artist who currently resides in Yuma who recently contributed his artistic work to the “History of Arizona” monument located in Felicity, Calif. at the Museum of Granite.
“I would like to extend my thanks to Mr. Herve Saliou for his contributions to the monument in celebration of the state of Arizona,” said Aguirre. “It was an honor to announce his contributions from the floor of the State Senate.”

Pictured: Mayor of Felicity, Calif., Jacque Andres Istel, Sen. Amanda Aguirre, Mr. Herve Saliou and Rep. Lynne Pancrazi. (Photo: Senate Staff)