Thursday, March 24, 2011

Senate Democratic members to file amended ethics complaint

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Senate Democratic members intend to file an amended ethics complaint in consideration of the supplemental police report released today regarding Sen. Scott Bundgaard and the events of February 25, 2011.

“We intend to file an amended ethics complaint based on the supplemental police report released today that provides additional details of the domestic violence incident involving Senator Bundgaard,” said Senate Assistant Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor. “I would like to have a meeting with the Chair of the Ethics committee prior to submitting a final amended complaint.”

In the supplemental report, the police officers write that Senator Bundgaard refused to take a field sobriety test, despite smelling of alcohol, demanded that he was immune from arrest because he was a state senator, and never mentioned that Ms. Ballard had tried to reach for a gun, a statement in complete contradiction to what Senator Bundgaard told members of the Republican caucus.

“This police report directly contradicts many of the statements that Senator Bundgaard has made describing the domestic violence incident,” said Landrum Taylor. “This report raises some serious ethical questions. Did he violate the law? Did he abuse the legislative immunity from arrest? Was he drinking and driving? Did he lie to either the police or his Senate colleagues? These are all questions that the Senate and the public deserve answers to.”

Sen. Steve Gallardo to celebrate César E. Chávez Day with student groups

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – The life and legacy of César E. Chávez will be celebrated at multiple events during the next week in honor of the upcoming César Chávez Day, which is officially celebrated on March 31.

Sen. Steve Gallardo will be speaking at several student events in order to honor the legacy of Chávez.

“César Chávez was an Arizonan who dedicated his life to working for social justice and dignity for workers across the nation,” said Sen. Steve Gallardo. “We continue to learn from the legacy that Chávez left us. In honor of Chávez on his holiday, we should recall this message of the critical nature of social justice and education and make this message part of each of our daily lives. It is in educating ourselves, becoming part of a community and becoming engaged in the political process that we are able to create social change that will lift our entire community. This is the American way.”

Events:

Trevor Browne High School M.E.Ch.A. César Chávez Celebration
Friday, March 25 from 9 – 11 a.m.

Glendale Community College, M.E.Ch.A. César Chávez Celebration
Thursday, March 31 at noon

Phoenix Community College, M.E.Ch.A. César Chávez Celebration
Friday, April 8 at noon

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Senate Republicans pass budget that decimates education, healthcare

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Senate Republicans voted today to decimate education by cutting more than $500 million dollars in vital funding from all levels of Arizona’s educational systems, kicking 280,000 people off of healthcare and shifting costs to counties.

“The Senate Republican budget passed today demonstrates that education and jobs are not priorities of Republican Legislators,” said Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. “This budget proposal cuts higher education this year more than in the previous four years combined, putting Arizona companies and students at a disadvantage when compared to competitors in any state, let alone worldwide.

The Senate Appropriations Committee met for seven hours deliberating the bills on Wednesday. The budget was only released to the public on Tuesday evening.

“The public had no time to review this proposal, had no input in the process and had no time to prepare for the devastating effect this will have on Arizonans,” said Senate Assistant Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor. “Arizonans want us to fix the economy and create jobs. This budget kills jobs and will prolong our economic strife.”

Senate Democrats offered amendments to lessen the devastating cuts to education and Arizona’s families, but the Republicans rejected all amendments.

“This budget is filled with unconstitutional provisions that only help lawyers and wastes taxpayer dollars,” said Senate Minority Whip Paula Aboud. “I cannot imagine prospective employers who may be considering a move to Arizona looking at this budget and believing that moving here is a good business decision.  The Republicans should be ashamed.”

The budget cuts 280,000 low income people off AHCCCS coverage and also requires the counties to help pay off state debt at a time when counties and cities are struggling to balance their own budgets.

Total cuts in the Senate Republican budget proposal:
K-12 Education                                 $242 million
Universities                                        $235 million
Community Colleges                          $63 million
Department of Economic Security      $97 million
Department of Health Services           $20 million

The Senate Republican budget also includes an additional $55 million cost shift to counties for prisoners.

The bills are numbered SB 1612 to SB 1624 and are located online at: http://www.azleg.gov/Bills.asp?FirstBill=SB1601&LastBill=SB1650  

Report from Sen. Jack Jackson Jr. and Rep. Albert Hale on the Native American Caucus meeting

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – “Last year was the highest recorded year of border crossing deaths within the Tohono O’odham Nation at 125—and there have already been five deaths in 2011. This, along with the $6 million spent in the last three years with border-related activity, has caused us great concern,” remarked Isidro Lopez, vice chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Lopez was one of four presenters discussing immigration issues at the Native American Caucus.

The Native American Caucus is held at the State Capitol every other Wednesday. “The intent of the Caucus is to keep legislative members informed of policy issues impacting Native American constituents,” stated Sen. Jack Jackson Jr. (LD-2). Rep. Albert Hale (LD-2) concurred by saying, “When I arrived at the legislature I realized how many of our members were unaware of issues surrounding Native people in Arizona. The Caucus provides an opportunity to exchange ideas and to educate others on issues impacting Native Americans in Arizona.” The Caucus is open to all legislators and is hosted by Sen. Jack Jackson, Jr. and Reps. Tom Chabin (LD-2), Sally Gonzales (LD-27), Albert Hale.

Immigration was the focus of the March 2 Caucus meeting. Presenters included Isidro Lopez (Tohono O’odham), Jose Matus (Yaqui), Tupac Enrique Acosta (Tonatierra), Sheriff Joseph Dedman, Jr., (Navajo) of Apache County and Shannon Rivers (Akimel O’odham) of the Gila River Indian Community.

One of the most compelling discussions was illegal immigration impacts on Tohono O’odham Nation, a Nation that straddles the Arizona and Mexico border. Lopez elaborated by saying, “Illegal trafficking on the Nation has resulted in its destruction and has negatively affected the plant life and wildlife in our region. We have collected nearly 150 tons of trash in the past six years, as well as thousands of bicycles, more than 75 vehicles, and over 350 gas cans.” He continued, “We have been greatly impacted by illegal border activity, including apprehensions, narcotics seizures, trash clean-up, immigrant deaths, and others.”

Jose Matus, Yaqui Ceremonial Leader, presented another perspective to the Caucus. “Over the past 80 years we (Yaqui members) have been able to travel our historic route to participate in ceremonies. Now, with the issues along the border, our members who reside in Mexico are detained. At times their ceremonial items are taken. Others are not able to cross the border and unable to participate in their own practices with their families.” Matus expressed concern that issues along the border will continue to impact the Yaqui people negatively and urged that their unique status be considered by the legislature.

With a more global perspective, Tupac Enrique Acosta addressed issues of human rights and provided current information from Tonatierra which, is based in central Phoenix and operates the Nahuacalli, Embassy of Indigenous Peoples. “Unless we pursue just evaluation of the immigration issue within a historical perspective…the issue will only be manipulated to the eventual destruction of our self determination as communities, nations and pueblos, and Confederacies of Nations and Pueblos.”

Shannon Rivers (Akimel O’odham) of Gila River Indian Community expressed his concern about how the restriction on mobility impacts cultural, traditional and spiritual practices of the O’odham Community. He stated, “The bills submitted (within the state legislature) show a rise of human rights violations…issues of sovereignty must be addressed at all levels – tribal, state, and international levels.”

Apache County Sheriff Joseph Dedman, Jr., talked about the impact immigration legislation has with law enforcement. “We are bound by the law…realizing that many Native people, especially elders, do not possess or carry identification. This places a deputy in a precarious situation when he knows the elder is a member of a Tribe, but without proper identification this person may be taken into custody.”

Thus far, immigration bills have not addressed the impact to Native Americans. Proposed legislations do not recognize tribal issued identification documents (enrollment cards, passports, census numbers, etc.). Accommodation for participation in religious ceremonies and family events is also lacking. At the same time, migration across the border has desecrated sacred sites with litter and huge amounts of trash strewn across the land. “When considering immigration reform these are all very important factors that need to be brought to the forefront,” expressed Sen. Jackson. “Without well thought out comprehensive reform, the indigenous people of this land will suffer.”

“Too often, legislations are enacted without consideration of Indian Nations’ unique situations and the impact on Indian Nations,” stated Rep. Hale. “Discussion of legislations concerning immigration is a prime example of this lack of consideration. Any comprehensive immigration legislation must address the situation of Indian Nations such as the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Yaqui Indian Nation and their peoples. These are people who did not cross the border but the border crossed them. They have family and relatives on the Mexico side of the border. Open travel across the border for family and ceremonial purposes must be accommodated in any and all immigration legislation.”

Senate Democratic members call for cancellation of hate group presentation

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, Sen. Steve Gallardo and Sen. Robert Meza, the Senate Democratic members of the Border Security, Federalism and States Sovereignty Committee, sent a letter to Chairperson Sen. Sylvia Allen requesting that she cancel the scheduled March 17, 2011, presentation by Glenn Spencer.

The letter from Sen. Steve Gallardo and Sen. Robert Meza states, “As President of the American Border Patrol, Mr. Spencer represents the extreme fringe of the anti-immigration movement. Both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have documented Mr. Spencer’s openly racist and anti-Semitic actions and remarks (See attached articles).”

The letter goes on to state, “We all agree that our country needs to address illegal immigration and border security issues. However, as policy makers, in order to solve these problems we need an unbiased, reasoned analysis of the problem based on verifiable facts and information. Mr. Spencer clearly does not meet his criteria.”

The Anti-Defamation League calls the organization an anti-Hispanic hate group and includes a profile of the American Border Patrol in the report “Border Disputes: Armed Vigilantes in Arizona.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s profile on Spencer details numerous run-ins with the law including weapons violations and triggering a border security alert after crossing into Mexican airspace illegally, which required the escort of two F-16s from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

The Southern Poverty Law Center profile on Spencer is located at:
http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/profiles/glenn-spencer

The ADL Report “Border Disputes: Armed Vigilantes in Arizona” is located at:
http://www.adl.org/extremism/arizona/arizonaborder.pdf

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Senate Republican budget devastates Arizona’s economic recovery

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Late Tuesday, Senate Republicans released a budget proposal that decimates education by cutting more than a half-billion dollars in vital funding from all levels of Arizona’s educational systems. The Senate Appropriations committee will hear the budget bills Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. in Senate Hearing Room 109.


“The Senate Republicans are balancing Arizona’s budget on the backs of our children,” said Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. “This budget further devastates education at all levels by cutting more than $500 million from educational systems that have already taken severe cuts over the last few years. Implementing this budget will cement Arizona’s place as dead last in the country for educational spending.”

The Senate Republican spreadsheet misleads its readers to hide the full amount of cuts they are making. Rather than showing the total amount of cuts they are proposing, they only provide the amount they intend to cut on top of the Governor’s proposed cuts, which also severely impacts education and healthcare.

“We are throwing our healthcare industry and universities into chaos and shifting costs to struggling Arizonans,” said Sen. Paula Aboud, Senate Minority Whip and Ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations committee. “This budget will eliminate tens of thousands of jobs, raise tuition on all our students and eliminate healthcare for hundreds of thousands of people.”

Proposed total cuts in the Senate Republican budget proposal:
K-12 Education $242 million
Universities $235 million
Community Colleges $63 million
Department of Economic Security $97 million
Department of Health Services $20 million

The Senate Republican budget also includes an additional $55 million cost shift to counties for prisoners.

The bills are numbered SB 1612 to SB 1624 and are located online at:
http://www.azleg.gov/Bills.asp?FirstBill=SB1601&LastBill=SB1650

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Media Advisory: Sen. Steve Gallardo to march with students

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Sen. Steve Gallardo will join students from Carl Hayden High School to march to the State Capitol on Wednesday, March 9 at 3:30 p.m. to protest SB1611, the immigration omnibus bill. The group will gather at the the high school football field at 3:30 p.m. and proceed to the Capitol.


“Republicans have proved yet again that their priorities are not jobs, education or health care,” said Sen. Steve Gallardo. “There will not be any halt by the Republican Majority to the immigration legislation to work on the budget like they proclaimed last week. Instead, we are seeing a laundry list of legislation that is full of distractions from the real business of Arizona.”

The students will be leaving after completion of the school day and are working in conjunction with law enforcement and the school district to march safely to the Capitol.

The Carl Hayden High School is located at 3333 W. Roosevelt, Phoenix, Ariz.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

News Release from Sen. Aboud and Sen. Lopez: Senate Republicans refuse to hold their own accountable

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, the Senate Republican Caucus met in a closed caucus to discuss whether Sen. Scott Bundgaard should remain as the number two Senate Republican. After ninety minutes of discussion, the Republican Caucus adjourned without even a vote.

“Sen. Bundgaard should do the right thing and step down,” said Senate Minority Whip Paula Aboud. “His actions continue to distract the legislature from critical issues like the budget, health care and education.”

Yesterday, several members of the Senate Democratic Caucus called for Sen. Bundgaard to step down as the Senate Majority Leader and for an Ethics Committee investigation over Sen. Bundgaard’s potential domestic violence assault charge. Subsequently, several Republicans called for him to step down from leadership and for an ethics investigation as well.

“It is disappointing that the Republican Caucus continues to refuse to take action on this issue,” said Sen. Linda Lopez. “We need to remove the cloud that is hanging over the Senate and focus on fixing the Arizona economy and creating jobs.”

Friday, March 4, 2011

Divisive legislation puts our students in danger

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Students from several area high schools have walked out of class and are currently walking toward the Arizona State Capitol. The students are protesting SB 1611, the immigration omnibus that makes numerous substantive changes to immigration law.

“This state legislature continues to introduce divisive legislation and now our students are scared, threatened and are taking desperate actions by walking out of class to march to the State Capitol,” said Sen. Steve Gallardo. “SB1611 is unconstitutional and is nothing, but politicking.”

SB1611 was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on February 23 and has not been heard by the full Senate.

“The Republican majority is wasting the voters’ time with out-of-touch legislation that is not the priority of Arizonans who want quality education, work and health care for their families,” said Gallardo. “This legislation does nothing, but scare our children and put them in dangerous situations.”

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New survey shows overwhelming support for background checks for gun purchases

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – A new survey shows 83 percent of Arizonans support background checks in order to purchase guns, including those purchased at a gun show.

“Arizonans want people to go through background checks before purchasing guns and by refusing to close the gun show loophole, the Republican majority in the legislature just confirmed how out of touch they are with Arizonans,” said Sen. Steve Gallardo. “Arizonans believe we have done too little at the state level to tighten gun laws and want common sense gun reforms to help make our communities safer.”

Other proposals supported in the survey include 92 percent to require reporting of lost or stolen guns, 91 percent to require federal agencies to share information and 85 percent to ban those on terrorist watch list from guns.

The survey of 600 Arizonans was commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and conducted by American Viewpoint, a firm with an extensive history of Republican clients. The poll was conducted between Feb.16-21 and has a 4% margin of error.

The full survey may be accessed at:
http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/downloads/pdf/poll_slides_2011.pdf

Thursday afternoon, the Republican members of the Senate voted to pass SB1201, the Firearms Omnibus, that will further loosen Arizona’s gun laws and, among other changes, also allow concealed weapons in public facilities. The vote was 21-9 with all Democrats voting against the measure.

A fact sheet on SB 1201 may be accessed on the legislative website at:
http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/50leg/1r/summary/s.1201jud_caucus-floor.doc.htm

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Senator Jack Jackson, Jr. opposes Grand Canyon uranium mining memorial

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, the Arizona Senate passed Senate Concurrent Memorial 1007 with all Democrats voting to oppose the measure. SCM 1007 is a “postcard” to Congress which urges the Secretary of the United States Department of Interior to refrain from withdrawing Arizona lands near the Grand Canyon from new mining claims and exploration.

“Native American tribes and local jurisdictions have worked tirelessly to protect the Grand Canyon area from further uranium mining,” said Sen. Jack Jackson Jr. “We know and we have seen the ill effects that come from uranium mining disasters. To claim in an official government memorial that there are no known detrimental effects of mining uranium is completely false and offensive to those of us who continue to suffer from the ill effects of uranium mining and those of us who would have to live with a waiting catastrophe in our backyard.”
SCM 1007 has no effect on law, but serves as an official message to the Secretary of the United States Department of Interior, the Secretary of Energy, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management and the Chief of the United States Forest Service.

“As a Senator from a district that includes the Grand Canyon, I strongly oppose this factually incorrect measure,” said Jackson. “As of today, the Department of Justice has approved $1.6 billion from the Radiation Exposure Compensation System. How can you say there is not any effect?”