Monday, January 24, 2011

Arizona Senate honors fallen Arizonans

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, the Arizona Senate read death resolutions in honor of the Arizonans who died as a result of the horrific assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords during her Congress on Your Corner event on Jan. 8.

“These Arizonans were pillars of their families and communities,” said Senate Minority Whip Paula Aboud (D-28). “Today, the members of the Arizona Senate honor the lives of those we have lost in this senseless attack. We continue to pray for the full recovery of the others who were injured, including Congresswoman Giffords who is now recovering in Houston.”

In part the resolutions read, “This senseless attack has shocked and saddened all Americans and the citizens of Arizona are in mourning. Yet for many, their grief goes deeper than can be imagined as they face the terrible reality of the loss of innocent loved ones.”

“Today, Democrats and Republicans wanted to continue to shed the partisan divide and come together to honor our fellow Arizonans who died in the line of duty -– public service to Arizona,” said Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix (District 15). “We will never forget them and the light they brought to their families, friends and community.”

The resolutions are co-sponsored by every member of the Senate and the full text of the death resolutions may be accessed at the links below.

SR 1003 for Dorwan Stoddard sponsored by Sen. David Schapira:
http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/50leg/1r/bills/sr1003p.htm

SR 1004 for Gabriel Zimmerman sponsored by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema:
http://www.azleg.gov/DocumentsForBill.asp?Bill_Number=SR1004&Session_ID=102

SR 1005 for Phyllis Schneck sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez:
http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/50leg/1r/bills/sr1005p.htm

SR 1006 for Christina Taylor Green sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez:
http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/50leg/1r/bills/sr1006p.htm

SR 1007 for Dorothy Morris sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez:
http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/50leg/1r/bills/sr1007p.htm

SR 1008 for the Honorable Judge John Roll sponsored by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema:
http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/50leg/1r/bills/sr1008p.htm

Friday, January 14, 2011

Democratic lawmakers to hold Brewer accountable

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Democrats on Friday said government needs to be held accountable after Gov. Jan Brewer released another plan rife with massive cuts and a tax increase that undermine our state’s ability to fix its economic woes.


“Gov. Brewer and her plan are not on your side,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said. “Jobs and the economy should be top priorities, but Brewer’s plans have left Arizona in crisis and they continue to do so. Now more than ever, we need to hold government accountable to ‘We the People’.”

Brewer’s plan:
-Increases property taxes on homeowners. Arizonans will see a $62 million increase overall in property taxes.
-Eliminates even more Arizonans from health care. Even though Arizonans repeatedly have passed voter-approved measures to adequately fund health care, Brewer's budget proposal would eliminate health care coverage for 280,000 Arizonans, including 5,200 of the seriously mentally ill. The cuts also disqualify Arizona from receiving $1.1 billion in federal dollars that Arizona taxpayers send to Washington, D.C. In a study commissioned by business leaders, a similar proposal would have resulted in 42,000 jobs lost in the health care sector.
-Does not restore life-saving transplants. Nearly 100 Arizonans’ lives are at stake because they were kicked off of health care and have no access to transplants. Brewer's budget prioritizes funding for state building repair, while the $1.2 million needed for transplants goes unfunded.
-Cuts another whopping $243 million from higher education. Since 2009, Brewer has made the largest cuts to education in state history, failing to solve the deficit and boost Arizona’s economy. Her newest cuts to universities and community colleges, 20 percent cut to their overall budget, disable the infrastructure needed to economically rebound and create incubators for economic sectors that will enable our state to weather future economic downturns through the creation of high-paying jobs.
-Borrowing on the backs of our kids. Brewer's budget also requires the K-12 education system to weather additional cuts of $170 million and will force school districts to loan the state an unprecedented fourth roll-over payment, totaling the state's debt to school districts at $1.2 billion. School districts are forced to borrow funds from the bank and incur the costs of interest to pay their bills while waiting for the state's late payments. Teachers will receive a $5.1 million pay cut.

“Gov. Brewer’s budget proposal is wrought with decisions that jeopardize our long-term economic recovery, eliminates jobs instead of creating them and worsens the educational and health care systems in our state,” said Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. “Our response to the economic crisis is a test of who we are as a people.”

Democrats believe in a government that is on your side:
-Accountability: Democrats believe in accountability — plain and simple. It’s time that government stop working for special interests and start working for ‘We the People.’ We need to hold accountable the system, lobbyists, governor, special interests, those getting special tax treatment, big corporations and tax cheats.
-Balanced, responsible solutions: Democrats believe we need to put Arizona first again by harnessing our natural strengths to build a strong 21st Century economy and create good-paying jobs. That includes making our state a leader in the development of solar power and renewable energy manufacturing.
-Strong future: Democrats know that quality education is both a moral and economic issue — key to both our state’s economic recovery and children’s future. We are fighting to fully fund our schools, ensuring our children have access to all-day Kindergarten and that our public universities and community colleges remain affordable and provide needed job training.
-Strong leadership: Democrats oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants and support tough immigration laws that arrest and deport human smugglers, drug traffickers and crack down on corporations that hire illegal immigrants. We’re fighting to give our hard-pressed local law enforcement agencies the tools they need to keep our families safe. We are pushing for the federal government to finally step up and secure the border.

In holding government accountable, Brewer has rejected options to solve the budget deficit such as:
-Go after tax cheats and uncollected taxes. Arizona has an opportunity to help balance the budget by going after hundreds of millions in uncollected taxes that rule breakers have not paid.
-Close tax loopholes. Nearly $10 billion of outrageous tax loopholes exist in Arizona, and Republicans refuse to close the loopholes that benefit their rich, special interest friends. These loopholes, such as tax-free country club memberships, spa treatments and facelifts and 4-inch pipes are a waste of our tax dollars.

To see Brewer’s irresponsible budget, go to: http://www.ospb.state.az.us/



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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Legislators release bipartisan statement on funeral protest bill

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today, the Arizona Legislature passed and sent to the Governor legislation which creates a 300 foot barrier between picketers and any location where a funeral or burial service is held. Any person who violates the legislation is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

“Today we have joined together to provide some small measure of comfort for families grieving over the loss of a loved one,” said Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-15. “During times of grief, families should be free from harassment or intimidation. This law does the right thing by protecting those families.”

SB 1101, sponsored by Sen. Sinema, was passed in one day with an emergency clause, which makes it effective immediately upon signature of the Governor.

“This is an important moment for Arizona and our nation as we come together to do what is right during a time of grief and mourning,” said House Speaker Kirk Adams, sponsor of the House bill. “Protesting or picketing outside the funeral of an innocent victim is despicable. It's time to bring Arizona in line with the many other states that protect the sensitivities of victims against groups that use fear and hate to denigrate the lives of Americans.”

The Senate version of the legislation is located online at:
http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/50leg/1r/bills/sb1101p.pdf

Monday, January 10, 2011

Senate Minority Leader David Schapira's Opening Day Remarks

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is a friend and colleague to many of us in this room. She sat there, where Michelle Reagan sits today when she served in the Arizona Senate. She held the seat that Paula Aboud now holds. As I said, many of us count Gabby as a friend, but my heart especially goes out to those who have been with her in Tucson in recent days, Paula Aboud and Linda Lopez. Know that you have been in my thoughts and prayers as you were there to console the close friends and family of the Congresswoman and the others injured on Saturday.

In addition to a friendship, Congresswoman Giffords and I share a religious tradition. Part of the tradition is the principle of “Tikkun Olam” or “repairing the world.” As Jews, we are commanded by God to exercise our compassion, our strength and our skills to make the world a better place. This has been my mission as an elected leader, and I know it’s Gabby’s as well.

I want to send thoughts and prayers on behalf of myself, my family and all of us here today to the families of Judge John Roll, Gabe Zimmerman, Dorwin Stoddard, Christina Greene, Dorthy Murray and Phyllis Scheck and to those who are still fighting for their lives in Tucson. Although, we will spend lots of time talking about our friend Gabby today, it is important to recognize that she was not the only victim of this senseless act.

I know that over the last two days and in the coming weeks and months, all of us try to make sense of this tragedy, but it makes no sense. This was an act of a deranged young man. Those of us in this room know how to have political discourse without resorting to violence, but there are those out there who don’t. That’s why it’s incumbent on us as elected leaders in the public eye to maintain civility, to avoid hate-filled labels and to treat each other with respect both away from and in front of TV cameras. If this horrendous act is to teach us anything, it should be that we are all human and all of us are granted certain inalienable rights by our creator.We must treat all people regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, party or immigration status as such.

This morning, I contemplated where I would like to be for the moment of silence asked for by President Obama. I thought about coming here or going to the Democratic Party, but I finally decided that the most important place for me to be was at home with my infant daughter. I held her and hugged her, and thought of the nine year-old girl who tragically lost her life Saturday.

We need to be better, all of us, so this doesn’t happen again.

I ask that as we each deal with this tragedy in our own ways, we all remember the principle of “Tikkun Olam.” The world needs healing, our nation needs healing, our state needs healing. As our friends begin their process of physical healing at hospitals in Tucson, let’s honor them and honor those who lost their lives on Saturday by starting Arizona’s healing today.

Opening Day at the Arizona State Legislature

Senate members taking the oath from Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca Berch White.




Sunday, January 9, 2011

Media Advisory: Postponement of Monday’s Transplant News Conference

NEWS RELEASE
Arizona State Legislature

Senator David Schapira, D-17
Senate Minority Leader (incoming)
Representative Chad Campbell
House Minority Leader (incoming)

January 9, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Advisory: Postponement of Monday’s Transplant News Conference

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix In light of Saturday’s attack on victims in Tucson, Monday’s news conference on transplant coverage scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Arizona State Senate is being postponed until further notice.

“While restoring transplant coverage is still a vital and urgent concern affecting many Arizonans, our thoughts and prayers on Monday will be with Congresswoman Giffords and the others affected by Saturday’s horrific attack,” said incoming Senate Minority Leader David Schapira.

###


Media Advisory: Postponement of Monday’s Latino State of the State

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – The previously scheduled Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus Latino State of the State for Monday, January 10 at 10 a.m. at the Arizona State Senate will be rescheduled at a later date.

Sens. Richard Miranda and Linda Lopez released the following statement:

“Monday, on the opening day of our legislative session, our focus will be on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the Arizonans affected by Saturday’s horrible tragedy. Many of us in the Latino Caucus worked with Congresswoman Giffords while she was in the state legislature and know firsthand her true compassion and strength. We continue to send our thoughts and prayers to her and to those who were injured in the attack for their recoveries and to the families of those who perished. The Latino State of the State will be rescheduled at a later date.”

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Senate leaders release joint statement on shootings in Tucson

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The following is a joint statement from Senate President Russell Pearce and Senate Minority Leader David Schapira on the attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the Arizonans attending her “Congress on Your Corner” event in Tucson:

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Congresswoman Giffords and those attending her event in Tucson who were attacked this morning. This is such a senseless tragedy and tough to comprehend. Elected leaders should have the ability to speak their minds and stand up for their constituents without threat of physical violence. Please join us in prayer for Congresswoman Giffords and the others who have lost or are fighting for their lives.”


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Republican statewide officials hold schoolchildren hostage over ethnic studies

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – The actions of Attorney General Tom Horne and Superintendent John Huppenthal are nothing more than political opportunism against Arizona’s schoolchildren when there are more pressing state issues like protecting the education budget, fighting for the rights of our children and protecting vulnerable citizens in these difficult times.

“What we are seeing here is political bullying by elected officials holding schoolchildren and a Tucson school district hostage by withholding education dollars as ransom,” said Tucson Senator Paula Aboud, incoming Senate Minority Whip.

Immediately before leaving office as Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Horne (and newly elected Superintendent John Huppenthal) targeted TUSD and students by threatening to withhold education funds from the school district as a retaliatory action towards the THS students who committed an act of disobedience towards the Superintendent. This attempt, along with Senate President Russell Pearce’s attack on minority children’s status as legal citizens, is nothing more than political bullying by Arizona’s Republican officials.

“The attempts are mean-spirited,” said Senator Paula Aboud, a graduate of TUSD and Tucson High School, both of which are targets of this outrageous attempt to punish Tucson. “Even new Superintendent of Instruction John Huppenthal is joining in the attacks on Arizona’s schoolchildren, which is exactly the opposite role of a school superintendent whose job is to assist students in furthering their education.”

“During the Senate hearing on the ethnic studies bill, Superintendent Tom Horne did not provide one shred of evidence against Tucson Unified School District’s ethnic studies program,” said Aboud. “These actions by Republicans are outrageous!”

For several years, TUSD and over 20 educators have upheld the ethnic studies program as a success to Aboud. Neither statewide official has offered evidence to the contrary. Instead, Horne pushed to change state law without ever stepping foot into a TUSD ethnic studies classroom.

ARS 15-112 (HB 2281) bans school districts or charter schools from including in instruction any of the following:

1. Promote the overthrow of the United States government.

2. Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.

3. Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.

4. Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

Another AHCCCS patient dies awaiting transplant

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, University Medical Center in Tucson has confirmed that a UMC patient, who was awaiting a transplant, but was refused the life saving procedure because of Republican budget cuts, has died.

“It’s time to put politics aside and restore the transplant funding,” said incoming Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. “Gov. Brewer and the Republican leadership at the legislature need to join us and take immediate action to fix their mistake. Failure to restore this funding is a death sentence for people who have committed no crimes.”

There are now up to 96 living patients who are depending on Brewer and legislative Republicans to join Democratic lawmakers and make the right decision to restore coverage. Multiple doctors and transplantation associations have released data showing that transplantation in cases like those of the Arizona patients saves lives.

Senator-Elect Schapira has already introduced Senate Bill 1001 this legislative session to restore transplant coverage that only costs the state $1.2 million. The legislative session begins January 10.

Dr. Rainer Gruessner, University of Arizona Surgery Department Chairman, first reported the patient’s death in a news report with KOLD News 13 in Tucson Tuesday evening.

Legislative leaders misplacing priorities

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Just days before the legislative session is set to begin, Republican legislators held a press conference in Washington, D.C. to announce their plans to set-off another costly legal fight on immigration policy.

“Today’s press conference signaled the intention of Republican legislators to continue to focus on misplaced priorities instead of rebuilding our economy,” said incoming Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. “I’d like to know why the House Appropriations Chairman chose to be outside of Arizona five days before the legislative session in the midst of Arizona’s worst fiscal situation in history.”

Sen. Ron Gould and Rep. John Kavanagh both attended the press conference called to unveil their unconstitutional proposal to end birthright citizenship by unilaterally creating a new citizenship class.

In June, a Pew survey showed a majority of Americans opposed ending birthright citizenship by a 56-41 margin. Pew reports that this remains virtually unchanged from a similar survey in 2006.

“The citizens of Arizona are calling on the legislature to get our economy back on track, facilitate job creation and get our fiscal house in order,” said Schapira. “These state leaders have misplaced their priorities and are distracting from the more important issues facing our state.”