Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tea Party legislators doing the dirty work for extreme right-wing lobbyists

Sen. Schapira
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX - Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, today calls for Tea Party Republican legislators to stop doing the dirty work for the ultra-conservative lobbying cartel of The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), The Goldwater Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“Arizonans are looking for pragmatic and realistic solutions to fix the economy. Meanwhile, Tea Party Republicans are carrying the water for a group of lobbyists pushing an extreme agenda,” said Sen. Schapira. “Russell Pearce may be out of the legislature, but his spirit lives on in the bills being pushed by Tea Party legislators on behalf the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), The Goldwater Institute and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council).”

Lobbyists from these organizations are drafting legislation behind closed doors and killing good bills by stalling them in the process as they wield undue influence among Republican legislators. One of these legislators confessed on the Senate floor that he didn’t know who had drafted his own bill.

“Cathi Herrod from the Center for Arizona Policy has been a particularly egregious offender this session. From killing an anti-bullying bill that had bipartisan support, to peddling a bill that would require a woman to explain to her boss why she needs birth control, this unelected lobbyist is pushing an agenda that is radically out of touch with Arizona voters,” said Sen. Schapira. “It’s time for these unelected influence-peddlers to release their strangle-hold on our state, and it’s time for voters to reject the Tea Party legislators who advance their radical agenda.”

The agenda being pushed by these three groups has been highlighted by a series of anti-union bills (SB1487, SB1484, SB1486), the contraception bill (HB2625) and Cathi Herrod’s actions that killed an anti-bullying bill that had bipartisan support (SB1462). The unelected lobbyists from these groups have been largely responsible for the legislature’s action on each of these bills – and the death of bills that would help Arizona’s families.

“This ideological crusade by Tea Party legislators on behalf of these extremist groups is keeping us from getting real work done for the people of Arizona.,” said Sen. Schapira. “Arizonans need their elected representatives to find real solutions that protect their kids’ education, help them get back to work and get our economy back on track. We were elected to represent them, not a few deep-pocketed special interest lobbyists.”

Arizona Democrats defend women against attacks on right to privacy, health care

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Arizona House and Senate Democrats joined together in opposition to legislation designed to limit access to contraception and health care, invade privacy rights and jeopardize women’s employment.
Legislators spoke about HB 2625, which would require women to “prove” that they aren’t using birth control as contraception and allows employers to fire women for using contraception.

“Women should not be forced to disclose private medical information to anyone and they certainly should not have to fear losing their jobs if their employers do not approve of their medical decisions.” Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix (District 15), said. “This legislation is another example of how Tea Party lawmakers are too extreme and focused on their rigid ideology, instead of working to create jobs and improve education.”

Other bills Democratic legislators oppose include:
  • HB 2800 – This bill which keeps Planned Parenthood from providing some health care and family planning services, including cancer screenings, via AHCCCS and Title X.
  • HB 2036 – If this becomes law; it would criminalize doctors who perform abortions after 20 weeks with little exception for medical emergencies.
"Last week Governor Brewer said this bill was a Democratic ploy, but she's wrong. This is not a Democratic issue, this is not a Republican issue, this is a women’s issue and as a woman, the governor should know the difference," said Sen.. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson (District 29). "What a woman does with her body should be determined by herself, her family and her physician, not by Rush Limbaugh Republicans in the Legislature."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tea Party senators endorse bill allowing deceptive debt collection practices

Will expose Arizona consumers to scams

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Tea Party members of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee yesterday voted to approve a bill that would allow known deceptive debt collectors to prey on Arizona consumers. After HB2664 initially failed to pass the Senate committee, supporters apparently convinced Republican senators into re-voting to pass the bill.

This bill would make it easier for debt collectors like Midland Funding, LLC of Delaware and its sister corporation, Midland Credit Management of Kansas to take advantage of Arizonans. Midland has already filed thousands of cases against Arizona consumers in Arizona courts.

West Virginia’s attorney general filed suit just last week against Midland “for using false affidavits when obtaining default judgments against West Virginia consumers and for failing to include information required by law when suing a consumer in magistrate or circuit court for an alleged debt.”

The lobbying of senators was carried out by Richard Reed, who claimed to represent the Arizona Creditor Bar Association, although he is not a registered lobbyist.

A complaint against Mr. Reed has been filed with the Secretary of State’s Office by Representative Debbie McCune Davis. In her complaint Rep. McCune Davis claims that Mr. Reed testified in support of HB2664 before the House Banking and Insurance Committee as a representative of the Arizona Creditors Bar Association and that he materially misrepresented the provisions in the bill.

Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, Senate Banking and Insurance Committee member:
“This special interest bill is irresponsible because it would legalize deceptive debt collection scams against hard-working Arizonans. Adding to that offense is the behavior we witnessed in yesterday’s committee hearing by supporters of this bill and the capitulation of Republican senators,” said Sen. Schapira. “I don’t know if some deal was made to pass this bill, but I can guarantee it’s no deal for Arizona consumers.”

Sen. Robert Meza, Senate Banking and Insurance Committee Member:
“As elected officials we are supposed to be the voice of Arizonans, representing and protecting their interests,” said Sen. Meza. “It’s painfully clear that Arizona’s Republican senators are not listening to their constituents.”

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sen. Aboud’s job training for unemployed bill moves to the House

Would create “Return to Work” program

Sen. Aboud
State Capitol, Phoenix – Senate Minority Whip Paula Aboud released the following statement on today’s passage of her bill SB1388 by the Senate. The bill now moves on to the House.

SB1388 would create a voluntary “Return to Work” program that would provide a structured, supervised training opportunity, through participating employers, to individuals collecting unemployment benefits. For up to six weeks and 32 hours per week, unemployment claimants who choose to participate will receive unpaid on-the-job training while continuing to receive unemployment benefits. Claimants must still meet all federal requirements to qualify for receiving unemployment benefits while participating in this program.

The Return to Work program is modeled after successful programs in New Hampshire and Georgia.

“This Return to Work program would provide a valuable resource for those who are willing to put in extra effort to improve their job skills and get a foot in the door, especially those who have been out of work for some time and are losing their competitiveness to recently unemployed workers,” said Sen. Aboud. “It also helps small business owners, many of whom have told me they struggle with the cost of training unskilled workers.

“This is truly a win-win situation for Arizonans looking for work and our recovering economy. Folks looking for work can update their experience, employers can train prospective employees and hopefully more people can get back to work full-time,” said Sen. Aboud.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Are Tea Party legislators taking job creation seriously?

Tea Party legislators are too busy attacking Arizona workers in pursuit of their ideological agenda to care about helping struggling Arizonans and our economy.

Watch the report from KPHO CBS5 in Phoenix:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Senator Gallardo honored as “State Senator of the Year”

Will receive award from Arizona Pipe Trades Local 469 this Saturday

Sen. Gallardo

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Steve Gallardo has been selected as the Pipe Trades 2011 State Senator of the Year by Arizona Pipe Trades Local 469.

In their words, Sen. Gallardo was chosen because he, “stood up for the issues that matter most to Pipe Trades members and their partner contractors: creating jobs, protecting the right of workers to organize and supporting the working families who are struggling in these tough economic times.”

Pipe Trades Local 469 has over 2,000 members who work everywhere from the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station to small businesses and homes. Sen. Gallardo will be presented with the award during their annual Pin Ceremony on March 10th.
“It is a great honor to be recognized by Local 469, but even more so during a time when Arizona workers’ rights are under attack by Tea Party legislators at the Capitol,” said Sen. Gallardo. “Now more than ever, I am proud to stand with hard-working Arizonans as we work together on what really matters to Arizonans and their families – better schools for our kids, jobs for those out of work and a strong economic recovery.”

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Senator Jack C. Jackson, Jr. statement on Senate passage of SB1483

State Capitol, Phoenix – Senator Jack C. Jackson, Jr. released the following statement on today’s passing of SB1483 (shared revenue; Navajo technical college) by the Senate as a whole. It now moves on to the House of Representatives.

Sen. Jack C. Jackson, Jr.
“The Navajo Technical College is a critical resource for the citizens of my district and the Navajo Nation, especially given the region’s lack of economic and job opportunities,” said Sen. Jackson.

“Since opening its two Arizona campuses beginning in 2006, Navajo Technical College has shown retention and graduation rates that far exceed the national average. Its students are entering the workforce with high-demand skills like computer science and engineering. This bill directs much needed funds to help Navajo Technical College continue and expand its successful mission of education to even more members of our community.”

Navajo Technical College Facts

  • 1979- the Navajo Skills Center was established to meet the growing demand for higher education.
  • 1985- the Skills Center became the Crown Point Institute of Technology in Crown Point, NM, when the Center started to offer Associate Degrees.
  • 2005- the College changed it’s name to Navajo Technical College (NTC) in part because of it’s expansion of educational services, including Bachelor Degrees on the Navajo Nation.
  • 2006- NTC opened an instructional site in Chinle, AZ.
  • NTC is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, North Central Association for Colleges and Schools.
  • NTC was recently recognized as one of the top 120 colleges in the United States by the Aspen Institute College Excellent Program. For this distinction, community colleges must demonstrate high standards for learning, college completion without delay, and successful training grounds for jobs that pay competitive wages.
  • As a top forming college, NTC provides technical education, vocational programs, and courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  • NTC now offers a Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineer and recently applied to the Higher Learning Commission for permission to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Natural Resources.

Enrollment, Retention and Graduation
Since 2006, NTC has provided classes out of temporary buildings and Chinle High School and currently serves 436 students. As one of the most successful minority institutions of higher learning in the United States, NTC student retention rate exceeds 65% every year and has an overall graduation rate of 81%.
Job Placement
Out of 191 graduates from last year, 47% or 90 were placed in jobs and 42 students are continuing their education. 58 students didn’t respond to survey. Although NTC has a Job Placement Counselor on staff, collecting data or tracking students is a challenge due to the poor infrastructure needs of the area (no internet, poor telephones, etc.).

Tea Party Senate rolls out red carpet for reputed racist and anti-Semite

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – This morning Tea Party Senator Sylvia Allen invited reputed racist and anti-Semite Glenn Spencer to present to the Senate Border Security, Federalism and States’ Sovereignty Committee, of which she is chair. Senator Allen is President Pro-Tem of the Senate.

Glenn Spencer is the founder of the American Border Patrol. The Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League and numerous news sources have reported extensively on his racist and anti-Semitic activities.

After Senator Allen expressed her strong support for Spencer and refused to cancel his presentation, committee members Senator Steve Gallardo and Senator Robert Meza registered their objections and left the committee meeting in protest before Spencer’s presentation.

Sen. Steve Gallardo, Senate Border Security, Federalism and States’ Sovereignty Committee Member:
“It’s truly disgusting that Senate Tea Party leaders have such disrespect for Hispanics, Jews, and other Americans. I might have expected this from former Senate President Russell Pearce, but not current President Steve Pierce,” said Sen. Gallardo.

Sen. Robert Meza, Senate Border Security, Federalism and States’ Sovereignty Committee Member:
“It’s inappropriate behavior on the part of Senator Allen and we, the diverse people of Arizona, should not enable hate-mongers to be the voice of our state,” said Sen. Meza.

Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira:
“I think it’s outrageous that the Senate Tea Party Leadership have welcomed to the people’s Capitol someone notorious for spreading intolerance and hate,” said Sen. Schapira. “Senator Allen could have chosen anyone to present to her committee, but she selected and defended Glenn Spencer. She should be standing against his narrow-minded view of the world, not supporting it.”