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.

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.