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.