Friday, August 28, 2015

Senator Ableser appointed to Nevada education position

Will serve LD26 until end of September 

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXSenator Edward Ableser has accepted a professional opportunity in Nevada and will serve in his seat until September 30th, 2015.

Sen. Ableser
Senator Ableser has been appointed by the Nevada State Superintendent of Public Instruction to be the founding director of the new Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment in the Nevada Department of Education, beginning October 1st.

According to the Nevada Department of Education, in his new position:

"Dr. Ableser will oversee a new office in the Department that is dedicated to providing a safe and respectful learning environment for all Nevada students that is free of bullying and cyberbullying. The office will establish programs and training to prevent, identify and report incidents of bullying and cyberbullying and monitor compliance of school districts with the program. The office will also administer a new grant program that provides funding to place social workers or other licensed mental health care workers in schools."

A long-time advocate for the well-being of Arizona children, Senator Ableser earned his doctorate in Justice and Social Inquiry from ASU and owns a private counseling practice in Tempe.

"It is not an easy decision to leave Tempe and our great state of Arizona, but the opportunity to enter the world of education in a position to help so many children have a learning environment free of fear, while also being closer to family, is one I cannot pass up," said Senator Ableser.

"I am deeply proud of the work my fellow Democrats and I have accomplished over the near decade I've been at the legislature. We have fought for what's right and we've been the voice for those who don't have the power or resources to be heard on their own."

"I'll continue that legacy in my new role, implementing Nevada's honorable commitment to protect its children and their learning environment."

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Private prison safety & costs are too great a risk for AZ

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXSenator Martin Quezada, Senate Democratic Whip and ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement on the cancellation of Management & Training Corporation’s contract to operate the Arizona State Prison Complex-Kingman and the release of Arizona Department of Correction’s investigation into the July riots that occurred there:

Sen. Quezada
“Terminating MTC's contract for the Kingman prison complex was the right thing to do, but many troubling questions remain unanswered,” said Senator Quezada.

“The Department of Corrections has always assured the legislature that they maintain strict oversight of private prisons, yet now they claim ignorance of the many failures detailed in their investigation. They can't have that both ways.

“It's not only time to assess the safety of every private prison in Arizona, as DOC says they will, it is time to assess the effectiveness of DOC's own oversight protocols. And it is long past time that we assess the true cost of private prisons to ensure no more Arizona taxpayer money is wasted in the private prison industry.

“In today's press conference, Governor Ducey said that private prisons are the "least bad alternative." We disagree. Escaped murderers and riots are not a risk we should be willing to take. That is why we are calling for the cancellation of next month's RFP for 1,000 more private prison beds, a full and independent accounting of DOC's private prison oversight capability and a cost/benefit analysis of building and operating our own state-run prisons.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Republican leadership continues to fail AZ schools

Senator Katie Hobbs, Senate Democratic Leader
Senator Steve Farley, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader
Senator Martin Quezada, Senate Democratic Whip
Senator Lupe Contreras, Senate Democratic Whip

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Caucus Leadership released the following statement on failed settlement talks in the K-12 inflation funding lawsuit and Republican legislative leaders’ vague proposal to increase educational funding:

“For years Republican leadership refused to fund education as required by voter initiative, refused to fund education when ordered by the courts and now they refuse to admit they are the problem, not the solution, for our state's educational failings.

“Don't believe the Republican spin; they are not coming to the rescue of Arizona schools. Republicans created the dire situation we are in by prioritizing tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy over the future of Arizona children. Even in the new budget passed this year, Republican leaders failed to fully fund the K-12 inflation funding lawsuit. Yet they gave away millions more in special interest tax cuts.

“With regard to inflation funding lawsuit settlement talks, Governor Ducey says he's "disappointed that has failed." Well, we are too. We are disappointed that Republican leaders refused to negotiate in good faith. We are disappointed they chose to announce a plan hatched behind closed doors with no clear source of funding. And we are deeply disappointed Republican leaders have left our children with struggling schools, overcrowded classrooms, crumbling buildings and a dysfunctional Department of Education.

“It is long past time for the Republican legislative leadership to step up, settle the inflation funding lawsuit and get the money flowing to classrooms throughout Arizona. We call on Senate President Andy Biggs, House Speaker David Gowan and Governor Ducey to end the legal posturing, call a special session and agree to a proposal that will fully fund the lawsuit settlement out of the General Fund budget and in a sustainable manner this school year. The citizens of Arizona are waiting and watching. Don’t let our schoolchildren down once again.”

Monday, August 24, 2015

Federal government must follow judge’s order, promptly release children

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX –Senator Catherine Miranda, chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus, released the following statement in response to Friday evening's decision in Flores v. Lynch by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee that detained immigrant children should be released within five days.

Sen. Miranda
Friday's ruling answered the government's response to Judge Gee's July settlement agreement in the case. In its response, the government claimed conditions in family detention centers had already been improved according to the settlement. Judge Gee found that not to be the case and has given the federal government until October 23rd to implement her ruling.

"We have long known that immigrant families and children have been housed in sub-standard detention centers, both here in Arizona and in other states," said Senator Miranda. "The conditions in which they are being held were seen by state leaders and the media last year in Nogales and universally deemed to be unacceptable and inhumane."

"That 'surge' of immigrants has since subsided and now is the time for the government to accept judge's ruling and adopt policies that improve conditions at detention centers and expedite the release of children to their parents."