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)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Senate fails to include disclosures in student tuition organization tax credit bill

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – The Senate failed to amend a bill which extends the tax credit deadline for student tuition organizations (STOs), to include disclosures while in Committee of the Whole on Thursday.

SB 1274 extends the deadline for student tuition organizations for individuals to be eligible for existing income tax credits to the deadline for filing the applicable income tax return, which is April 15. Republicans, with few exceptions, voted against each amendment.

Jointly, Sen. Debbie McCune Davis and Sen. Ken Cheuvront offered six floor amendments to the bill.

“The amendments I offered were largely drawn from investigations by two Arizona newspapers, which pointed out the lack of information available about STO programs,” said McCune Davis referring to investigations by the East Valley Tribune and Arizona Republic, which were published in the summer of 2009. “STOs redirect money away from public schools. If STOs have value, the advocates should be willing to allow the public to have that information.”

“We should know whether the student tuition organization program is a net benefit or net cost to the state,” said Cheuvront. “Requiring private schools that receive scholarships or tuition grants to provide this data will help us determine whether the program is a cost or benefit to the state.”

McCune Davis Floor Amendment #1
Specifies that the individual income tax credit for STO contributions is not allowed if the contribution is directed to the benefit of any specific student.

McCune Davis Floor Amendment #2
· Adds requirements for STOs that receive dollars from the individual income tax credit use a certain amount of contributions each year to provide scholarships or tuition grants, and limits scholarships or tuition grants to pupils that meet income requirements.
· Requires STOs to use 90 percent of contributions annually to provide scholarships or tuition grants.
· Limits the scholarships provided with that money to students whose family income does not exceed 185 percent of the income required to qualify for free or reduced price lunches and who either:
· Attended a public school full-time for the first 100 days of the school year and transferred from a public school to a private school.
· Enroll in a private school kindergarten program.
· Received a scholarship or tuition grant in the previous year if the student continues to attend a qualifying school.

McCune Davis Floor Amendment #3
· Caps the amount of an educational scholarship or tuition grant for a single year at $4,700 for grades K-8 and $6,000 for grades 9-12.
· Requires the department of revenue to annually adjust the allowable amount for inflation according to rules adopted by the department.

McCune Davis Floor Amendment #4
· Requires STOs to provide monies awarded for scholarships or tuition grants directly to the school that the student will attend.
· Requires a school that receives monies on behalf of students for scholarships or tuition grants to report the following to the department of revenue:
· The total amount received from school tuition organizations for scholarships and grants.
· The number of pupils enrolled at the school receiving a scholarship or grant.
· The number of pupils enrolled at the school receiving a scholarship or grant from more than one school tuition organization.
· The tuition that the school charges for one full academic year.
· Prohibits a school that does not comply with the reporting requirements from receiving monies from a STO.

McCune Davis Floor Amendment #5
· Requires STOs to report the name of each officer of the STO and member of the organization’s board of directors and the amount of compensation paid by the STO to each officer and director the previous calendar year to the department of revenue.
· Allows the department of revenue, subject to rules adopted by the department and after notice to the STO and an opportunity for a hearing, to disallow individual income tax credits for contributions to an organization that provides excessive compensation to its officers or directors according to regulations prescribed for tax exempt non-profit status in the federal internal revenue code.

Cheuvront Floor Amendment #1
· Requires private school students who receive scholarships or tuition grants to be given a unique identifier in the Student Accountability Information System (SAIS) beginning July 1, 2011.
· Requires private schools that have students who receive scholarships or tuition grants to begin reporting student-level data to the department of education beginning July 1, 2011, except for data related to assessments that those students are not required to complete.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Statement from Sen. Albert Hale regarding Native American practices bill

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – A bill to regulate the use of traditional Native American practices off of Indian Nation lands will not be heard Thursday, Feb. 11 by the Senate Committee on Government Institutions at the request of Sen. Hale, the sponsor of the bill.

"I asked to have the bill held at the request of the Diné Medicine Men Association. After a lengthy discussion with the Association it appears that they still have significant questions about the bill. I explained to the Association that the bill intends to direct the Arizona Department of Health Services, in conjunction with the Arizona Commission on Indian Affairs, to develop rules to regulate the off-reservation practice of Native American traditional ceremonies by non-Indians or others, and did not apply to ceremonial practices on Indian reservations.

“The state does not have jurisdiction to regulate or apply its laws on Indian reservations. I further assured them that an amendment was to be considered to make clarifications. The amendment would clarify that the bill did not apply to ceremonies performed by enrolled members of an Indian tribe for another enrolled member on or off Indian Nation lands.

“The DinĂ© Medicine Men Association were opposed to the bill in its present form and wanted further discussion of the bill. I understand and appreciate the fear that these regulations may open the door to state regulations of Native American ceremonies. Pursuant to the Association's request, I request the bill to be held and it was subsequently removed."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Senate Committee Approves Bill to Require Current and Accurate Information on Property Affidavits

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, the Senate Commerce Economic and Development Committee passed SB 1302 unanimously with a vote of 8-0.

Current law requires an affidavit of value to be filed as part of a property transaction. SB 1302 requires current and accurate ownership information on all property. Knowingly failing to do so will be considered deceptive practice and can be prosecuted as consumer fraud.

“The people who do not file complete and accurate affidavits are those who do not want to be accountable for that property,” said Sen. Debbie McCune Davis. “This bill creates an obligation to declare the accurate owner of a property. If you want that transaction to be valid, then the information included in the transaction should be valid.”

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sen. Burton Cahill Statement Regarding SCR 1038

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Sen. Meg Burton Cahill (D-Tempe), today sided against fellow Democrat Ken Cheuvront (D-Phoenix), voting against his bill to tie Legislative salaries to state employee salaries.

“Reducing legislative salaries along with state employee pay not only creates a disincentive to serve, it creates an automatic conflict for every member voting on budget cuts,” Burton Cahill said. “Moreover, legislative salaries must be high enough so that anyone can serve and still support themselves. By cutting salaries, we discourage working-class people from running, including women and minorities. This just creates a larger disconnect between lawmakers and their constituents. The gravity of the decisions we are making today require that the best and brightest from all walks of life in Arizona seek public office, and we must compensate them accordingly.”

SCR 1038, introduced by Sen. Cheuvront, would automatically reduce Legislators’ salaries if a state employee pay cut is enacted. It passed the government committee with a 5-2 vote.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Democratic Statement on STO Contribution Deadline Extension

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee voted to extend the deadline for student tuition organizations in order for individuals to be eligible for existing income tax credits to the deadline for filing the applicable income tax return, including any extensions. This takes the date past April 15.

“We cannot keep creating loopholes to subsidize private and religious schools while proposals to cut public education still exist,” said Democratic Whip Sen. Linda Lopez.

“Especially during an economic crisis this is fiscally irresponsible,” said Sen. Paula Aboud. “We have an obligation to fund our public schools and this takes money out of the general fund.”

“We should be consistent for our state and this is not a consistent or efficient way to run our government,” said Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor.

SB 1274 passed the Education Accountability and Reform Committee by 4-3 with all three Democrats voting no.

Pay Cuts Should be Equitable

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Sen. Ken Cheuvront introduced a ballot initiative to reduce legislator salaries when state employee salaries are reduced.

The language will be in a strike everything amendment to SCR 1038, which is also in Sen. Cheuvront’s name.

“It is important that the state legislature lives as it legislates,” said Sen. Ken Cheuvront. “If we are requiring state employees to take a pay cut, we should be expected us to tighten our belts and decrease our pay proportionally.”

When passed, the initiative will appear on the next general election ballot.

The Senate Government Institutions committee is meeting on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 10:30 a.m. in Senate Hearing Room 1. Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia will offer the strike-everything amendment in committee.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Statement on Tax Referral Committee Vote

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, Sen. Albert Hale and Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor joined with four Republicans on the Senate Natural Resources, Infrastructure and Public Debt committee to vote for a sales tax referral to the ballot.

“We are looking for solutions to this difficult state deficit we are facing and I believe it is up to the voters to decide whether raising taxes is the path they would like to take,” said Sen. Albert Hale.

“Arizonans in my district are asking for more revenue to help address this situation," said Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor. “Voting for the referral will send this option to my district so that voters can make that choice.”

The ballot referral calls for a statewide special election on May 18, 2010, for voters to decide on a three-year temporary raise in the Transaction Privilege Tax and Use Tax. The referral stipulates that the net revenues will be devoted two-third to public primary and secondary education and one-third for health and human services and public safety purposes.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sen. McCune Davis files bills regarding lobbyists

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, Sen. Debbie McCune Davis (D-14) filed a bill penalizing dishonest lobbying practices and a second bill to require lobbyists to reveal the dollar amount of their lobbying contract.

SB 1361 suspends a lobbyist’s registration for three years if convicted of knowingly providing false information regarding legislative or administrative actions and is classified a class 1 misdemeanor.

“Lawmakers depend on lobbyists for accurate information regarding legislation. Lobbyists are paid to come to the Capitol to state facts, not for deception for clients who cannot be represented honestly,” said McCune Davis. “I hope this measure serves as a disincentive to accepting large fees from disreputable clients,” added McCune Davis.

SB 1360 requires lobbyists to disclose the amount of their lobbying contract. Other states, such as Texas, already require disclosure.

“If a lobbyist is paid by an industry to come to the legislature, the public has a right to know the weight of the influence being expended at the legislature by that industry or interest,” McCune Davis said.


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