Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Arpaio again shows his contempt for victims, public safety

Sen. Steve Gallardo

State Capitol, Phoenix – Sheriff Joe Arpaio is once again demonstrating his contempt for crime victims and the public he is sworn to protect by traveling through Iowa with Texas Gov. Rick Perry instead of addressing the over 400 neglected sex-crime investigations and leadership failures by his office.
Arpaio's decision to spend this week grabbing more of the national spotlight for himself shows his utter disregard for the recent high-profile failures of his office:
  • On December 23rd, Federal Judge Murray Snow set the grounds for a class action lawsuit against Maricopa County with his ruling that the Sheriff’s Office engaged in racial profiling.
  • On December 16th, Gulf War veteran Ernest Atencio was tasered in a Maricopa County jail, left unconscious and not breathing in a cell, and died five days later after being removed from life support.
  • On December 15th, the U.S. Department of Justice accused the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office of unconstitutional policing, discrimination of inmates and a systemic culture of disregard for basic legal rights.
  • A 2008 East Valley Tribune Pulitzer Prize-winning series and a December 4th Associated Press report revealed the failure of the Sheriff’s Office to adequately investigate more than 400 sex-crime cases between 2005 and 2007.
  • In October, Arpaio testified in the Andrew Thomas disciplinary hearing that he was unaware of the rampant corruption of his office and immediate subordinates, stating, “I was confused then. I’m confused now.”
“With all of these pending matters, why is Sheriff Arpaio in Iowa campaigning for Gov. Perry when he should be working to meet the Department of Justice’s January 4th deadline? He is risking the loss of millions in federal assistance for the sake of serving his ego and a presidential candidate." said Sen. Gallardo.
"It is easier for Arpaio to continue to pretend that he is the victim of a "sneak attack" by the federal government instead of making true changes in his office that will protect the citizens of Arizona.
"I call on Arpaio to immediately return to his duties and deal with a sheriff's office that is in disarray, or step down and let a law enforcement professional come in and straighten things out."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Legislature must quickly enact meaningful ethics reform

Senate Minority Leader David Schapira

December 21, 2011

State Capitol, Phoenix – Senate Minority Leader David Schapira released the following statement regarding Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s Fiesta Bowl investigation:
"The public deserves to know that the actions of their elected officials are transparent and responsive to their concerns, not those of special interests," said Sen. Schapira.
"The Legislature should pay close attention to the Maricopa County Attorney's findings and his recommendations for reform. I plan to introduce legislation to enact meaningful ethics reform and urge my colleagues to offer bipartisan support. It must be a priority for the upcoming session."

Monday, December 19, 2011

No more easy rides for domestic violence offenders

Sen. Steve Gallardo
December 19, 2011

State Capitol, Phoenix – Senator Steve Gallardo introduced Senate Bill 1027 to enact tougher penalties for domestic violence offenders, including fines that would fund services that help victims of domestic violence.

Currently, a person who is convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence can be sentenced to counseling alone. Sen. Gallardo’s bill would increase penalties to include:
  • Mandatory completion of a domestic violence offender treatment program at a DHS-approved facility. Offenders would be required to pay for the cost of their treatment.
  • Mandatory supervised probation.
  • Mandatory sentencing to not less than 48 consecutive hours in jail. Offenders would not be eligible for probation or suspension of sentence unless the entire 48 hours is served.
  • Mandatory fine of not less than $50. Funds collected from offenders would be placed in the state’s existing Domestic Violence Shelter Fund, which provides financial assistance to shelters for victims of domestic violence through contracts for shelter services.
These harsher penalties would be expanded to apply to those who plead guilty or no contest.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Even more startling is the fact that in Arizona one or more children witness a domestic violence incident every 44 minutes. It’s important to realize that this behavior can be triggered by alcoholism, drug abuse or, especially in these difficult times, the added stress of joblessness and financial instability.

Early intervention, such as treatment and supervised probation is key for first-time offenders of domestic violence. The 2007 study “System Alert: Arizona’s Criminal Justice Response to Domestic Violence” from ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy reported:
“A frequent criticism voiced especially by lower-court professionals was the dearth of supervised probation for misdemeanor DV offenders. A number of practitioners cited this lack as a key reason for recidivism, arguing that early intervention with lower-level offenders offers a greater chance for success in preventing an escalation of violence.”
“Right now in Arizona, someone who beats their dog can face harsher punishment than someone who beats their girlfriend. This legislation sends a strong message to those who engage in domestic violence. Arizonans won’t put up with that behavior, but we will help domestic violence victims escape abusive situations,” said Sen. Gallardo.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Time to consider ending taxpayer-funded political party presidential preference elections

Sen. Steve Gallardo

December 9, 2011

The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
Arizona Govemor
Executive Tower
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Dear Governor Brewer:

It is time to look at eliminating the presidential preference election in Arizona. The preference election costs taxpayers millions of dollars for what is really a political party function. Moreover, about one third of registered voters in Arizona, those who are independent, cannot even participate yet must still help pay the bill.

The state has budgeted $3.4 million for the election. While these funds help reimburse the counties, they cover only a portion of the total costs. The money should be used to create jobs and improve education in Arizona. There are alternatives to the presidential preference election that as a state we should explore.

The Arizona Democratic Party just announced that it will not participate in this year’s presidential preference election to save taxpayers money. The party will instead choose its nominee and convention delegates through party-funded caucuses. A number of states use the caucus system, including Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, Idaho and Maine.

If you believe it is too late for the state to abandon this year’s presidential preference election, we should use the upcoming legislative session to consider a new system after 2012. The political parties in Arizona can decide their preferred candidate for the Presidency in some other fashion. Arizona taxpayers should no longer be asked to foot the bill, especially when more than one million registered voters are left out.

I hope to work with you and other Republican leaders to get this done.

Senator Steve M. Gallardo
District 13

Original letter can be downloaded here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Support Legislative Change to Allow Tribal Governments to Directly Apply for Federal Disaster Aid

Senator Jack Jackson Jr., D-2
December 8, 2011

State Capitol, Phoenix – Senator Jack Jackson Jr. supports the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) call to amend federal law to allow tribal governments to directly apply for federal disaster aid.

In a statement released yesterday, FEMA announced that it supports amending federal law to allow federally recognized tribal governments to make disaster declaration requests directly to the president. Currently, only states – through the governor – can make these requests.

According to the FEMA statement:
“Amending the law would acknowledge the sovereignty of federally recognized tribes and the trust relationship of the United States, and enhance FEMA’s working relationship with tribal governments. Such a change would be another step in fulfilling the promise of a presidential memo issued by President Obama to improve the administration’s support for tribal governments. Such a legislative change to the Stafford Act would allow a tribal government to choose whether to directly request a separate declaration or to receive assistance, as they do presently, under a declaration for a state."
FEMA’s support of this change to the Stafford Act would not lessen the Arizona Division of Emergency Management’s commitment to serving Arizona’s Tribes in time of emergency.
“As we saw in last summer’s devastating floods on the Havasupai Reservation, and having personally observed the Arizona Division of Emergency Management’s recent Vigilant Guard emergency preparedness exercise, the importance of eliminating hurdles to emergency response is crucial,” said Sen. Jackson.
“Eliminating this one step in the process will not only create a stronger relationship between tribal governments and FEMA, but will help ensure quick emergency responses for our isolated tribal communities.”

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Arizona facing challenges on World AIDS Day

Sen. Jack Jackson Jr.
Press Release Senator Jack Jackson Jr., D-2

State Capitol, Phoenix – In observance of today's World AIDS Day, Senator Jack Jackson Jr. recognizes the important efforts of the Arizona Department of Health Services' Office of HIV, STD and Hepatitis Services to bring awareness of HIV/AIDS in Arizona.

The theme for World AIDS Day through 2015 is “Getting to Zero”: zero AIDS-related deaths, zero new HIV infections and zero discrimination.

Senator Jackson, currently a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, and the Office of HIV, STD and Hepatitis Services are collaborating with those who are on the front lines of preventing and treating HIV/AIDS in Arizona, including county health departments, tribal representatives, members of the faith community, healthcare workers and the state Department of Education. Combining the National Strategy on HIV/AIDS and their own expertise, they are coordinating a statewide Arizona HIV/AIDS Plan, with the goal of implementation in 2012.

“The ADHS’ Office of HIV is crucial to preventing the spread of HIV in our communities. This cooperative effort is a significant step toward the global goal of 'Getting to Zero' and their effort is a vital part of Arizona's commitment to conquering this epidemic,” said Sen. Jackson.

For information on World AIDS Day activities across Arizona, go to:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Still waiting on McCain apology for race-baiting remark

Sen. Steve Gallardo
Senator Steve Gallardo, D-13
In an attempt to substantiate his reckless claim during last summer's wildfire season that, "there is substantial evidence that some of these fires are caused by people who have crossed our border illegally," U.S. Sen. John McCain is touting a new GAO report as proving his point.

According to the report, out of 2,126 human-caused fires, only 30 - that's one tenth of one percent - were suspected of being started by undocumented immigrants. We now also know that the Wallow Fire, which McCain was touring when he made the statement, was started by two campers from Tucson.

Senator Steve Gallardo released the following statement in response to Sen. McCain's release of the GAO report:

"I am surprised that Sen. McCain would make hay with this statement because it makes him look foolish. According to this very report, more than 99% of human-caused wildfires were caused by reckless members of our country, and not undocumented persons," said Sen. Gallardo.

"I call on Sen. McCain to apologize to Latino voters in Arizona for using one of the worst disasters in our state's history as an opportunity to race-bait."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Legislative Democrats hope for collaboration with new Senate president

Focus must be on creating jobs, improving schools

State Capitol, Phoenix - Senate Minority Leader David Schapira and House Minority Leader Chad Campbell released the following statements today in response to the selection of Senator Steve Pierce as the new Senate president.

Senate Minority Leader David Schapira:
"I congratulate Senator Pierce and I truly hope that he will work with us to end the partisanship and solve the serious problems that face our state," said Schapira.

"It's time for a new direction. We must use this opportunity to make a fresh start toward focusing on good ideas to get folks back to work and improve our schools so our kids can compete for the jobs of the future."

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell:
"I congratulate and look forward to working with Senator Pierce in his new role as President. Arizona's families are looking for leadership from the legislature to create jobs, rebound our economy and ensure our children have every educational opportunity they deserve,” said Campbell.

“I hope that President Pierce will reject the partisanship and extremism that has been standard operating procedure in the legislature these past few years and work together with all legislators to find solutions to the many challenges facing Arizonans."


Friday, October 28, 2011

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell
Senate Minority Leader David Schapira

Oct. 28, 2011

Contact: Sarah Muench
(602) 926-5848

Aaron Latham
(602) 926-4477 

Tea Party extremists hit new low in attack on IRC citizen volunteers

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – In yet another day of sad and whiny attempts to keep Arizona under Tea Party rule, extremists drunk with power hit a new low today by enlisting the help of their own legislative staff.

A taxpayer-funded partisan staffer testified in the Senate Committee on Redistricting and spread baseless speculation about the Independent Redistricting Commission maps.

“These partisan extremists have launched a full-scale attack on citizen volunteers who are trying to build a fair and competitive Arizona,” said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell. “It is unbelievable the lengths to which they will go because they are afraid of competitive districts that more accurately represent Arizona.”

The staffer testified and made baseless comments that singled out members of certain districts in Arizona implying the maps were drawn specifically for them. This is the latest in a string of blatant attacks from Tea Party elected officials like Gov. Jan Brewer and Congressional and legislative Tea Party lawmakers against the IRC. Just hours before the committee hearing, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge disqualified Tea Party Attorney General Tom Horne from moving forward with his bogus investigation on the IRC due to conflict of interest.

“The fact that they had to use one of their taxpayer-funded staffers to come up with slanderous testimony they've been looking for shows just what a partisan witch hunt this committee has been," said Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. "I'm sick and tired of their attempts to undermine the will of Arizona voters."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Response to Governor Brewer’s letter to IRC members


Arizona State Legislature
1700 W Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007

Senator David Schapira, D-17, Senate Minority Leader
Representative Chad Campbell, D-14, House Minority Leader

October 26, 2011

Statements from
Senate Minority Leader
David Schapira
and House Minority Leader
Chad Campbell

Response to Governor Brewer’s letter to IRC members

State Capitol, Phoenix - Senate Minority Leader David Schapira and House Minority Leader Chad Campbell released the following statements today in response to Governor Jan Brewer’s allegations of misconduct on the part of Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission.

Senate Minority Leader David Schapira:
“This is another instance in the ongoing and orchestrated campaign by Republicans to threaten and intimidate the Independent Redistricting Commission and undermine the will of Arizona voters,” said Schapira.

“The Attorney General, the Republican Legislature and now the Governor are abusing their public offices for partisan gain. The voters told them to butt out, but they won’t take no for an answer.”

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell:
"Like all Arizonans I am sick of the partisan politics and gridlock hurting our state, and now Republicans have begun to launch attacks on voters by trying to sabotage an independent redistricting process with their partisan politics. The entire point of having an independent redistricting commission is to keep politicians' hands out of a fair process for voters in Arizona. But today, and just about weekly, we have seen Republicans sticking their hands where they don't belong," said Campbell.

"Arizona voters don't need to be told what to do by politicians - it should be the other way around - and it is time for fair, competitive districts so we can move forward with a government that works for the people and brings jobs and a stronger economy to Arizona."

Friday, October 21, 2011


Senator David Schapira, D-17, Senate Minority Leader
Representative Chad Campbell, D-14, House Minority Leader
Representative Lynne Pancrazi, D-24
Senator Robert Meza, D-14

October 21, 2011

Republicans work hard to protect jobs: Their own

State Capitol, Phoenix – Democrats in the Arizona Senate and House of Representatives released the following joint statement today on Republicans’ continued attempt to hijack the redistricting process:

Representative Lynne Pancrazi and Senator Robert Meza will not be serving on the Joint Legislative Committee on Redistricting because they believe it is inappropriate to lend the credibility of their participation to a committee whose purpose appears only to be political in nature.

Democrats were never informed about this committee. In fact, President Pearce and Speaker Tobin appointed Sen. Meza and Rep. Pancrazi without consultation from Democratic Leadership, a complete violation of protocol.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell:
“It’s been made abundantly clear here today that this committee is just another partisan game Republicans are playing because they are afraid of well-represented, competitive districts.”

Rep. Lynne Pancrazi:
“Just like all Arizonans, I’m sick and tired of the partisan games where only voters lose. I’m tired of the failures, and I’m tired of getting no results. These lawmakers have hijacked the very process that puts the power in independent hands.

“Last night I went to the redistricting hearing in Maryvale, and tonight I am going to the redistricting hearing in Globe to stand shoulder to shoulder with Arizona voters and express my concerns in the way voters intended this process to succeed.”

Senate Minority Leader David Schapira:
“Instead of working together to find new and practical solutions for out-of-work Arizonans, Republicans are only working to protect their own jobs - and they should be ashamed of themselves.”


Monday, October 17, 2011

Bachmann visit highlights Congress’ failure to act on immigration reform

October 17, 2011

State Capitol, Phoenix - Today, Republican Presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann is meeting with Republicans of the Arizona Legislature about illegal immigration at the state Capitol.

"Congress has failed to act on real immigration reform for decades," said Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. “Instead of meeting with Arizona Republican legislators as part of her presidential campaign, perhaps Bachmann should go back to Congress and actually do something about it.”

As immigration across our international borders is a federal responsibility, many of the immigration policies produced in Arizona fail to pass the constitutional test - in addition to being ineffective and counter-productive.

It is not surprising that Bachmann is finding a receptive audience at the Arizona Capitol, given the out-of-touch policies of the Republicans at the Legislature, such as:
  • Creating a Tea Party license plate (SB1402)
  • Proposing a "birther bill" (HB2177)
  • Selling the state Capitol to big banks
  • Naming an official state gun (SB1610)
  • Proposing unconstitutional birth-right citizenship bills (SB1308, SB1309)
  • Allowing guns on college campuses (SB1467)
  • Forming a state militia (SB1495)
  • Giving away $538 million in tax cuts to big business with no guarantee of job creation (HB2001)
  • Denying unemployment insurance to struggling Arizonans - keeping $3 million a week out of the Arizona economy (AZ Republic, 6/13/11)
  • Kicking 280,000 men, women and children off of AHCCCS - blocking more than $1 billion from entering Arizona's struggling economy (SB1001)
"It's only fitting that an out-of-touch presidential candidate would seek the counsel of these out-of-touch Republican legislators. While Democrats fight to protect hard-working Arizonans and their families, these legislators continue to arrogantly push their agenda on behalf of special interests," said Schapira.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

U.S. Defense Department recognizes Sinema for military and veterans bills


Aug. 23, 2011

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix (District 15) has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense for her leadership on military and veterans’ issues during 2011.
Sinema worked hard this legislative session to pass the following military and veterans bills and resolution:

• SB 1458: Makes it easier and less costly for military families who routinely move by transferring their professional certification or license to Arizona more easily.

• SB 1283: Protects parents who receive temporary orders or deployment from the Armed Forces in child custody cases while they are away and fighting for our country.

• HB 2410 (substituted for SB 1223): Grants in-state tuition for honorably discharged veterans without requiring them to wait for one year's residence in Arizona.

• SB 1224 (amended onto SB 1373): Exempts spouses and unemancipated minors from being disqualified from unemployment benefits if they are changing locations with a member of the Armed Services under orders.

• SCM 1003 urges the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense to assist members or veterans of the armed forces who have been exposed to depleted uranium. The U.S. military uses depleted uranium, a radioactive heavy metal, in several of its armor-piercing munitions because its extreme density and its ability to penetrate targets make it an effective weapon. But when these munitions penetrate a hard target, it breaks into fragments and fine particles that ignite easily, and it produces dust particles that can be inhaled or ingested.

All of Sinema’s bills were signed into law and the resolution was sent to Congress.

“Our troops risk their lives every day to keep us safe,” Sinema said. “These common-sense bills protect service families and help them succeed. We also owe it to our veterans to make sure they receive fair treatment when they return from duty.”

The U.S. Department of Defense recognized Sinema specifically for her efforts on SB 1283 and SB 1458.

“Please accept our appreciation and that of the service members and families residing in your state for your dedicated effort towards improving their quality of life,” said Edward Kringer, director of State Liaison and Educational Opportunity in the Office of the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense.

Contact: Mary Peralta

(602) 926-5058

Monday, July 11, 2011

Senator’s mishandling of weapon highlights need for Senate ban, ethics inquiry

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – According to a story on gun culture first published in Sunday’s Arizona Republic, State Senator Lori Klein pointed her loaded .380 Ruger at a reporter while in the Senate building during an interview. The story specifically points out that the gun does not have a safety and that the laser sight was pointed at the reporter’s chest.

“The number one responsibility of a gun owner is gun safety,” said State Senator Steve Gallardo. “It is unconscionable that a state senator would knowingly aim a loaded gun at another human being. This exhibit of irresponsible gun ownership is how gun deaths and accidents happen.”

Senate President Russell Pearce specifically allows Senate members to carry weapons into the Senate building. Klein previously took a loaded weapon into the House of Representatives.   

“I call on President Pearce to ban all firearms in the State Senate,” said Gallardo. “Pearce is the one allowing Lori Klein special privileges to carry her loaded gun in the Senate. The Senate ethics committee should seriously look at this situation before someone gets killed.” 

Arizona’s gun laws have become more lax over the years including allowing guns in bars and attempts to allow guns in schools.

“I renew my call for common sense legislation dealing with firearms and the closing of Arizona’s gun show loophole,” said Gallardo. “The Arizona Legislature has the obligation to make certain Arizonans are responsible gun owners while at the same time protecting Second Amendment rights.” 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sinema: ‘Grand Canyon uranium mining ban necessary for business, residents’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix (District 15) released the following statement today after U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the extension of the moratorium on new uranium mining around the Grand Canyon:

“I was one of the many elected officials, community and business leaders across Arizona and nationwide who asked Secretary Salazar to protect our beloved Grand Canyon, a key resource for Arizona’s tourism and long-term economic survival. I applaud Secretary Salazar’s courageous decision today to extend the moratorium on new uranium mining around the Grand Canyon.

“Secretary Salazar has taken a bold and significant step today to protect the pride of Arizona, and the nation: our Grand Canyon. By extending the moratorium on new uranium mining around the
canyon for another 20 years, the Secretary has not only heard the concerns of downstream water users, including my constituents, but also the concerns of tourism-dependent small business owners and communities across the state that could not afford the risk.

“Today, the Secretary has demonstrated that we can protect the very best of our heritage, our water supplies and our economy.”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sinema to meet with President Obama, White House officials

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix (District 15) will meet with President Obama Friday at the White House at a reception honoring the Young Elected Officials Network.

Sinema, a founding member of the organization, was named last year as one of TIME magazine’s nationwide list of top 40 Rising Political Stars (See:

“I am honored to be a guest at the White House and to be able to talk to the President about issues that concern Arizonans,” Sinema said. “Our state is facing some tough challenges, just like our nation, and it’s important to work together to meet our goals for a strong Arizona future.”

Prior to talking with the President, Sinema will meet with senior White House officials to discuss housing, immigration reform, innovation, energy and the economy. She will then meet the President at 3:45 p.m. ET at the White House, East Room.

Schapira to discuss education with President Obama, officials at White House

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, will meet with President Obama and senior administration officials at the White House to discuss state and national education issues on Friday, June 17.

Schapira will join a small group of young leaders from People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network (YEO) who were invited to provide input to the administration on critical issues facing state and local governments.

“I appreciate the opportunity to meet with the President and his aides to discuss the state of education in Arizona and the need for reform on the national level,” Schapira said. “In order to secure a bright future for our state and our nation, we must work together to rebuild and reform our education system so our kids can be competitive in the international economy.”

Schapira has been a member of the YEO Network since his election in 2006 at the age of 26. Schapira, now 31, is the youngest member of the Arizona Senate.

The YEO Network, a project of People For the American Way Foundation, provides support and training for over 600 state, county and city young elected officials from all 50 states.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Statement from Sen. Steve Gallardo on Ethnic Studies report

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, Superintendent John Huppenthal released a report which claims that the Tucson Unified School District ethnic studies program violates state law.

“The release of this report culminates a multi-year effort by Superintendent John Huppenthal and Attorney General Tom Horne to ban the Tucson Unified School District ethnic studies program before either stepped foot into a classroom,” said Sen. Steve Gallardo. “Here is a program that focuses on quality education and achieving academic success, yet the state education chief is against it?”

HB 2281 (A.R.S. 15-112), signed into law in 2010, 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.

“The legislation is so broad and vague that a ban of this program denies students their first amendment right of having open academic discussions,” said Gallardo. “What is the definition of resentment?”

A violation of the statute would result in the withholding of ten percent of state education aid from the district.

“HB2281 is a politically motivated overreach of local control that was never about helping students to better themselves academically or about historical accuracy,” said Gallardo. “It is unconscionable that the state spent an estimated $170,000 on this audit, especially at a time when school districts are forced to lay off teachers due to budget cuts.”

Monday, June 13, 2011

Republicans hit Arizona where it hurts, dismiss session without UI fix

Republicans hit Arizona where it hurts, dismiss session without UI fix
Lawmakers take home pay while cutting off jobless aid to 45,000 Arizonans

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX GOP lawmakers made it harder Monday for unemployed Arizonans to search for jobs by cutting off their unemployment during the recession and closing out a special session with no action.

Both Gov. Jan Brewer and Democratic lawmakers supported making the simple change to state law, allowing 45,000 unemployed Arizonans to receive jobless aid already appropriated by the federal government. But Republicans refused and failed to act, making the job search and putting food on the table harder for middle-class Arizona families.

“Everyone wanted to make this fix — the governor wanted this, Democrats wanted this and Arizonans wanted it to help the unemployed during this worldwide recession, not hold them hostage to partisan politics,” said Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley. “Everyone but Republicans, who made a conscious decision to cut off $3.5 million per week coming into our state’s economy. It is absolutely outrageous and it’s time to hold Republicans accountable.”

Republican lawmakers, who have supermajorities in both chambers (more than enough to pass the fix on their own), had opportunities to make a simple change in state law so nearly 45,000 Arizonans can continue to receive jobless benefits while they search for work — Democrats asked them to make the change in March during the regular session but they refused. And last week, Gov. Jan Brewer called a special session just to make the fix, but on Friday, the first day of the session, Republicans again refused, missing a deadline. They even rejected a bill Democrats introduced using Brewer’s own bill language.

“It is disappointing that after four days of the legislature being in session and collecting per diem we have done nothing to create jobs or to help Arizona’s jobless,” said Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, who introduced a bill to waive the “per diem” pay this session. “While legislators got a bonus this week for doing nothing, many of Arizona’s jobless will go empty-handed.”  

But state lawmakers will take home cash for doing absolutely nothing — they earn $35 per diem if they live in Maricopa County and $60 per diem for living outside of Maricopa County. The amount collected per diem in this session by out-of-county representatives — $240 — is more than one week of unemployment insurance payment.

In April, 9.4 percent of Phoenix’s workers were unemployed. In Yuma County alone, the unemployment rate is three times higher. The fix would keep nearly $3.5 million a week flowing into the Arizona economy.

Even Brewer said this in a press release Friday: “…you don’t balance the federal budget by turning your back on Arizonans in their time of need. That’s not principled fiscal conservatism. It’s just cruel…get to work. The people of Arizona, your constituents, are counting on it.”

But Republican lawmakers failed.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hopi Code Talkers to be honored at ceremony

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Hopi Code Talkers will be honored in a ceremony on Monday, May 23 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Hopi Veterans’ Memorial Center, SR 264, Mile Post 375.5, Kykotsmovi, Ariz.

Sen. Jack Jackson, Jr. will speak about Senate Concurrent Resolution 1009, which he sponsored, that honors the substantial contributions of the Hopi Code Talkers for their assistance in the battles of Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. It was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives and was sent to Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s office.

“For years, the contributions of the ten Hopi Code Talkers were secret,” said Jackson. “This resolution is recognition by the state of Arizona of the sacrifices the Hopi Code Talkers made for our freedom. It is our obligation to pass on this knowledge to future generations. The resolution calls for the commemoration of the historical contributions of the Hopi and other Native American code talkers by schools and civic groups and I will work to make that possible.”

Speakers include Sen. Jack Jackson, Jr., Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, John Dudas, Northern Regional Manager, Arizona Department of Veteran’s Services, Hopi Chairman LeRoy R. Shingoitewa, Hopi Vice Chairman Herman Honanie, VaNiesha Honani, U.S. Navy veteran and granddaughter of Code Talker Perry Honani, Sr., Clifford Qotsaquahu, a U.S. Army veteran and Bruce Talawyma, U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

There are no living Hopi Code Talkers. In lieu, families of the Hopi Code Talkers will be honored and recognized.

Hopi Code Talkers who served in the United States Army include: Franklin Shupla, Warren Koiyaquaptewa, Frank Chapella, Travis Yaiva, Charles Lomakema, Percival Navenma, Perry Honani, Sr. and Floyd Dann, Sr. Hopi Code Talkers who served in the United States Army Air Corps include Rex Pooyouma and Orville Wadsworth.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Democratic lawmakers win Phoenix Pride award

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Three Democratic lawmakers will be honored for their support of the Phoenix lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Reps. Lela Alston and Katie Hobbs, all Phoenix lawmakers from District 15, have been selected for a 2011 Phoenix Pride Community Spirit Award.

“This is such a great honor and I am proud to represent the Phoenix LGBTQ community,” Alston said. “I will continue to fight for equality right here in Arizona and the rights for all people in the pursuit of happiness.”

Hobbs will give the keynote address at the Third Annual Pride Award Gala on June 11.

“As state legislators, this is who we work for — our constituents — no matter their race, religion, creed or sexual orientation,” Hobbs said. “I am fulfilled every day to know that the community I represent is out there working just as hard as I am to make a difference in our state.”

All three lawmakers have a long history of working with Phoenix’s gay community. As the chair of Arizona Together, Sinema and her organization became the first group in the country to defeat a same-sex marriage ban on the ballot.

“This award means so much to me, because it shows that working together is key in ensuring justice and fairness for all,” Sinema said. “I want to thank Phoenix Pride for bringing awareness to LGBTQ issues and I look forward to working together toward making sure all Arizonans have equal rights.”

For more information on Phoenix Pride, please visit

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Community march on the anniversary of SB 1070

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Arizona State Senator Steve Gallardo, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and community leaders are coordinating a community breakfast and march on the one year anniversary of the signing of SB 1070 this Saturday, April 23.

The community breakfast will begin at 8 a.m. at El Portal Restaurant at 117 West Grant Street, Phoenix, Ariz.

At 10 a.m., marchers will gather at César Chávez Plaza at 200 West Jefferson Street. The march to the State Capitol will begin at 10:45 a.m.

“SB 1070 has been a black eye on Arizona for the past year,” said Sen. Steve Gallardo. “SB 1070 continues to drag down Arizona’s economy in addition to the hundreds of millions already lost in tourism dollars. I am calling on Gov. Brewer and the Republican leadership to do what is right for Arizona’s economy and repeal this unconstitutional legislation to remove Arizona from the costly legal battle and the negative light that came with it.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Statement from Sen. Jack Jackson Jr. - Increase in tuition tax credits hurts public school students

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, legislative Republicans voted to increase tuition tax credits for private corporations despite a recent veto by Gov. Brewer on a like measure.

Sen. Jack Jackson Jr. stated, “Increasing student tuition tax credits is a drain on General Fund dollars which are used to fund our public schools.”

A 2009 investigative report by the East Valley Tribune showed that tuition tax credits primarily help students from wealthy families who already attend private schools.

“Today, Republicans continued to pander to special interests instead of working to improve public schools where the majority of Arizona's students are educated,” said Jackson. “I question the logic of sending similar legislation to the Governor despite her recent veto.”

A conference committee amendment to SB 1186 expands student the tuition tax credit. The bill will need to be final read by the Senate prior to being sent to the Governor.

Monday, April 18, 2011

More guns on higher education campuses is not the solution

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1467, which would have allowed guns on community college and university campuses.

Sen. Steve Gallardo released the following statement:

“Having additional guns on a university campus is not the solution to making our campuses safer. The Arizona Legislature needs to address the accessibility of firearms. We should do everything we can to make sure that the bad guys are not in possession of firearms.

The solution to campus security is locks on all the classroom doors, a proper alert and messaging system, a process by which faculty or staff can direct a student to the proper mental health authorities if needed and finally closing the gun show loophole. These are the ways that we should be addressing gun safety on campuses, not with more guns on campuses.”

Death Resolution read for Lloyd Oliver, one of the original Navajo Code Talkers

Today, Sen. Jack Jackson Jr. read Senate Resolution 1013 in honor of Lloyd Oliver, one of the original Navajo Code Talkers. Mr. Oliver's granddaughters Cecilia and Danielle Oliver were present at the Senate for the reading.


Lloyd Oliver, one of the original Navajo Code Talkers, died on March 16, 2011 at the age of eighty-eight.

Lloyd Oliver was born in Shiprock, New Mexico on April 23, 1923 into Bit'ahnii (Folded Arms Clan), born for Kinlichíi'nii (Red House Clan). His chei was Naakaii Dine'é (Mexican People Clan) and his nálí was Tódích'íi'nii (Bitter Water Clan). He graduated from Shiprock Agricultural High School in 1941 and enlisted in the United States Marines a year later at the age of nineteen. He became one of the first of the original group of twenty-nine men who became known as the Navajo Code Talkers, an elite group of Native American men who used their knowledge of the unique Navajo language to create an unbreakable military code during World War II. Lloyd Oliver served his country with distinction as a code talker, scout and sniper, and in 1945, he was discharged from the Marines with the rank of corporal.

Lloyd Oliver eventually moved to Phoenix where he learned silver and metal smithing and went on to become a successful jewelry maker. He continued making and selling his distinctive designs until he was well into his seventies.

The heroism and dedication of the Navajo Code Talkers remained unknown and unacknowledged by the public until their work was declassified decades later. Lloyd Oliver and the other original Code Talkers were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their tremendous bravery and patriotism. With Lloyd Oliver's death, there remains just one living member of the original twenty-nine Navajo Code Talkers.

Industrious, kind and humble in all of his endeavors, Lloyd Oliver will be greatly missed by his wife, Lucille, five children, six stepchildren, nineteen grandchildren and twenty-five great-grandchildren.


Be it resolved by the Senate of the State of Arizona:

That the Members of the Senate express regret at the passing of Lloyd Oliver and extend their deepest condolences to his surviving family members.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Republicans ignore independents in Arizona, but will still use their money

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, Sen. Steve Gallardo offered an amendment to allow independents to vote in party primaries and an amendment that would require political parties to pay for their respective presidential preference elections, a measure that would save the General Fund $5 million.

“Republicans confirmed today that they do not value the opinion of independents in Arizona and that they intend to continue using taxpayer money from independents, but not allow them to vote,” said Sen. Steve Gallardo (D-13). “Requiring parties to pay for their own presidential preference election is fiscally conservative.”

The Gallardo #1 proposed amendment requires each political party represented on the presidential preference election ballot to pay their share of the costs of the presidential preference primary. Currently, the estimated $5 million to fund the costs comes from the General Fund.

The Gallardo #2 proposed floor amendment authorizes independent voters or voters who are registered with a party that is not eligible for representation on the ballot to vote in the next presidential preference election. It also allows a party that is represented on the ballot to prohibit independent voters from voting in that party's primary by filing a written notice with the Secretary of State's office at least 85 days before the presidential preference election.

The amendments were proposed to HB2177, legislation requiring presidential candidates to prove citizenship. Both amendments failed.

Bill granting in-state tuition for veterans sent to governor

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today, the Arizona Senate unanimously passed and sent to the Governor legislation which grants in-state student status to any person who was honorably discharged from the United Stated Armed Forces.

HB 2410, sponsored by state Rep. Ted Vogt, R-Tucson (District 30), grants in-state tuition status to honorably discharged veterans without requiring them to wait for one year’s residence in Arizona.

“Our veterans have given the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and to protect our freedoms,” said Representative Vogt, an Air Force veteran. “This is one effort to demonstrate to them that Arizona honors their sacrifice and is prepared to give them access to the best educational opportunities we can.”

The effort was bipartisan. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix (District 15) sponsored SB 1223, an identical bill.

“This bill will recruit veterans to live and finish their education here in Arizona,” said Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix (District 15). “It will bring revenue and talent to our state to build a strong future, and it shows that Arizona values the contributions that veterans make to our state and country.”

HB 2410 was substituted for SB 1223 that was passed by the Senate on February 23.

“It was my please to work on this bill,” said State Rep. Ruben Gallego, also a sponsor of 2410 and a Marine veteran. “It’s the least we can do to honor the sacrifice of veterans. I hope to work on a bipartisan basis to pass more legislation to benefit our veterans in the future.”

Upon the Governor’s signature, the bill is effective beginning in the Fall 2011 semester.

The legislation is located online at:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lack of transparency, rushed budget results in mistakes

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – The Republican budget sent to the Governor April 1 contains an error that will require the Legislature to suspend the rules and recall the bill from the Governor.

SB 1621, the criminal justice budget reconciliation bill, contains an amendment that was never considered. The incorrect version of the bill was voted on by the full House and Senate on April 1.

“Mistakes happen when a budget is rushed through the Legislature and considered in the middle of the night without transparency,” said Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. “This is just another example of how the Republican Leadership hurries bills through the Legislature without accountability and an opportunity for adequate public input. This process is a disservice to the citizens of the state of Arizona.”

The Legislature will recall SB 1621 from the Governor and suspend the rules to allow the Senate and House of Representatives to vote on the intended version of the bill.

Friday, April 1, 2011

GOP budget breaks promises to Arizonans

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Legislative Republicans shoved a budget through the Senate and House that kills jobs, massively cuts education and kicks hundreds of thousands of people off of health care. Unfortunately, the attack on middle class Arizonans in this budget is very real.

“The Republican budget is devastating to Arizona’s economic recovery and confirms that Legislative Republicans do not prioritize education or Arizona’s families,” said Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. “Republicans blatantly ignore the cumulative effect of the hundreds of millions of dollars they have cut over the past several years. And despite their claims otherwise, there is no funding in this budget to restore transplant coverage that could save the lives of nearly 100 Arizonans.”

The Republican budget:
• Cuts $511 million, a higher cut than any proposal to date, from AHCCCS and results in an additional $1.2 billion loss in federal matching dollars.

• Cuts up to 280,000 people from health care coverage.

• Cuts $183 million from K-12 education in addition to the $600 million cut in the last four years.

• Cuts $198 million from universities in addition to the over $200 million cut in the last four years.

• Cuts $73 million from community colleges in addition to the over $50 million cut in the last four years.

• Cuts the Department of Economic Security by $50 million.

• Cuts 13,000 children from receiving daycare services.

• Cuts the Department of Health Services by $53 million.

“The message Legislative Republicans send in this budget is that they do not care about the middle class,” said Senate Assistant Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor. “This budget will make college unaffordable for many students and will result in tax increases for all homeowners.”

When the bills were deliberated in the Senate, Senate Democrats offered solutions to lessen the devastating cuts to education and Arizona’s families, but the Republicans voted against all of the amendments.

“This is the dawn of a dark chapter in Arizona’s history,” said Senate Minority Whip Paula Aboud. “We should be helping Arizonans to survive this economic crisis, but instead this budget cuts the lifeline to our vulnerable citizens and our fragile education system. The Republican message to Arizonans is ‘do more with less’, but instead they are asking Arizonans to do more with practically nothing.”

The bills are numbered SB 1612 to SB 1624 and are located online at:

The budget now goes to the Governor, who is expected to sign it.

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.”


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:  

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:

The ADL Report “Border Disputes: Armed Vigilantes in Arizona” is located at:

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:

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:

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:

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?”

Friday, February 25, 2011

Virginia Tech survivor, Sen. Gallardo to speak against guns on campus

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – A survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre, Sen. Steve Gallardo, the Brady Campaign and Arizonans for Gun Safety will host a tour promoting gun safety and speaking against legislation to allow guns on higher education campuses.

Each event will feature Colin Goddard, a survivor of the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech massacre that left 32 dead and 17 injured, and a screening of Living for 32, a 45-minute documentary recounting the tragic events and Goddard’s courageous journey of renewal and hope.

March 1, 2011
Arizona State Capitol, Senate Hearing Room 1
11:30 a.m. Press Conference
12 p.m. Living for 32 screening
University of Arizona, Gallagher Theatre
7 p.m. Living for 32 screening with panel discussion to follow

March 2, 2011
Glendale Community College, Performing Arts Center
2 p.m. Living for 32 screening
Arizona State University, Carson Ballroom, Old Main, Tempe Campus
7 p.m. Living for 32 screening with panel discussion to follow

The Brady Campaign is the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence. The Brady Campaign, working with its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.

Arizonans for Gun Safety (AzGS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing gun deaths and injuries in Arizona. AzGS is partnering with the Brady Campaign on the Living for 32 events.