Wednesday, March 30, 2016

FDA label update negates the need for SB1324

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement regarding the updated Food and Drug Administration labeling of mifepristone:

Sen. Hobbs
"The drug label that SB1324 would require Arizona doctors to follow was written based on a regimen developed in the 1990s. Almost two decades of evidence-based practice and research since then has demonstrated the safety of mifepristone's use beyond the old label's restrictions," said Senator Katie Hobbs.

"The ultra-conservative group Center for Arizona Policy claims this bill is needed simply for the safety of women. If that is truly the case, they should call for the veto of this bill. But the group that has forced upon Arizona numerous bills attacking women's rights, not to mention the international embarrassment of 2014's right-to-discriminate SB1062, won't do that because their true intention is to deny the rights of women and their doctors to make the best medical decisions for themselves.

"I urge Governor Ducey to veto this bill because politicians should not require Arizona's medical professionals to practice 20th Century medicine in the 21st Century, forcing them to violate their Hippocratic Oath by putting what's best for their patient second to the ideological tyranny of conservative extremists."

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

AZ Agribusiness & Equine Center HS sets standard we should achieve for every student in our state

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Last week the Arizona Agribusiness & Equine Center Early College High School at South Mountain, located in LD27, was named a "Top School" by the Education Equality Index in closing the academic achievement gap.

According to the Education Equality Index:
The Education Equality Index score is calculated by identifying the percentage of students from low-income families that reach proficiency averaged across every subject/grade, and comparing it to the percentage of all students across a given state that reach proficiency averaged across every subject/grade.
Schools classified as “Top Schools” are those with small or nonexistent achievement gaps that serve a student population where at least 51 percent of students are from low-income families as measured by the free or reduced price lunch (FRL) program. 51 percent FRL is the national average school concentration of students from low-income families.
Sen. Miranda
"I am extremely proud that LD27's own Arizona Agribusiness & Equine Center Early College High School at South Mountain has been labeled a "Top School" in closing the achievement gap by the Education Equality Index," said Senator Miranda. "For nearly two decades the teachers and staff at AAEC have taught their diverse students to not only achieve academically, but also the importance of giving back to their community.

"But one achieving school does not solve the systemic challenges facing our public and charter schools in Arizona. The Education Equality Index gives Phoenix a score of 41.7 out of 100, and 43 for the state as a whole. It classifies a score below 49.9 as a 'Large Achievement Gap' - their next-to-lowest score. This is unacceptable and avoidable. We must address the teacher retention crisis in our state and we must sufficiently fund our schools in a sustainable and equitable way.

"I look forward to the day when we can say that every school in Arizona provides equal opportunity to all of our students, no matter where they live or how much money their family earns."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Yesterday’s voter disenfranchisement inexcusable, avoidable

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXSenator Martin Quezada released the following statement on the handling of yesterday’s presidential preference election in Maricopa County:
Sen. Quezada
Senator Quezada introduced the four bills this session that would have alleviated the issues of multiple hour waits to vote and independent voter confusion. None were given a hearing by the majority party.
  • SB1027 (presidential preference election; independent voters) Would have opened up the presidential preference to Independent voters. Included an emergency clause so it would apply to yesterday’s vote.
  • SB1028 (early voting centers; extended hours) Would have extended early voting center hours and required them to be open the two weekends preceding Election Day and the Monday before Election Day.
  • SB1031 (voting centers; on-campus voting) Would have mandated on-campus polling locations for universities and community colleges and in-person absentee voting for out-of-state voters. The number of polling places would be one for every 10,000 students enrolled, up to six polling locations.
  • SB1032 (election procedures; workers; precincts; provisionals) Would have mandated a maximum allowable wait time for voting of 30 minutes and create mechanisms to ensure less wait time, such as a secondary line for those voting provisionally. Also provided that the officer in charge of the precinct must determine what measures need to be taken to ensure wait times do not exceed the 30 minutes, including but not limited to: bilingual poll workers, more polling places or creating secondary lines. Voters who initially went to the wrong polling place would be provided a type of ‘front of the line pass’ for their correct polling place.
“Traveling across the West Valley yesterday, I saw only one polling place for my entire legislative district and none in neighboring district 30, both of which are heavily minority and Democratic. This disgraceful situation was allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court decision to gut the Voting Rights Act, with formal support from our previous Republican attorney general,” said Senator Quezada.

“No responsible calculation could assume 60 polling places to be adequate for Maricopa County. At a minimum, there should have been a contingency plan to handle higher turnout. Instead, Maricopa Recorder Helen Purcell told a Fox 10 reporter it was the fault of "the voters who got in line."

“Purcell also blamed Independent voters who are banned by state law from voting in presidential preference elections. This isn't the first time we've seen election officials complain that voter confusion causes delays at the polls, yet it is their job to properly educate voters.

“Governor Ducey properly stated this morning that waiting for hours to vote is unacceptable and Independents should be allowed to vote. That's easy to say in the face of voter outrage, but he and his fellow Republican legislators ignored the opportunity to prevent this from happening in the first place with my bill, SB1027, to allow Independent voters to participate in yesterday's election.

“I also had bills to make voting easier for Arizonans, not harder, but those, too, were ignored while Republicans advanced bills that strengthen dark money's influence in our elections and turn citizens into felons for helping others vote.

“We learned some valuable lessons yesterday at the expense of suppressing many votes. One lesson is we must ensure there are enough polling places so everyone who wants to vote can do so conveniently. The other lesson is this - the concerted Republican effort to suppress minority, Democratic and Independent must and will be fought both in the courts and on Election Day.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

AZ’s business, community leaders must defend our image, economy from damaging anti-immigrant bill

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Catherine Miranda released the following statement on anti-immigrant bill SB1377 (sentence enhancements; unlawful presence; release), which will be heard in the House Military Affairs and Public Safety committee at 9 a.m. tomorrow in HHR5.

Sen. Miranda
"In the six years since SB1070 devastated Arizona's reputation, damaged our economy and violated the trust of Hispanics, we have managed to heal that self-inflicted wound through the hard work of our business and community leaders. But moving its way through the Legislature is a new bill that would rip open that wound, announce to the world that our state doesn't welcome immigrants and undermine efforts to improve relations with Mexico - our largest trading partner," said Senator Miranda.

"SB1377 would force Arizona judges to ignore their best judgement and give mandatory increased sentences to any undocumented immigrant convicted of a crime. It would also cost taxpayers their hard-earned dollars to cover the additional cost of the longer sentence, which would have to be served in state facilities instead of being transferred to federal facilities halfway through their sentence as is current practice.

"It is my sincere hope that the community and business leaders who have worked so hard to repair Arizona's image in the wake of SB1070 will speak out against SB1377 and defend our state's reputation as a business and tourist destination that welcomes everyone."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Restoring KidsCare can’t wait

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement urging Senate President Andy Biggs to allow HB 2309 (children's health insurance program) to be considered in the Senate:

For six years, enrollment in our state's KidsCare health insurance program has been frozen and tens of thousands of Arizona children from low-income working families have been denied quality, affordable health care. But beginning in October 2015 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services now pays 100 percent of state costs through the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) through at least FY 2017 and likely through September 2019.

This is not a hand-out program. Participating families share the cost through required monthly payments. In fact, CHIP programs help stimulate businesses and our economy. A Harvard Business School study found that CHIP families have a 23 percent higher rate of self employment and a 31 percent higher rate of business ownership.

HB 2309, which would restore KidsCare, passed out of the House with an overwhelming bipartisan majority a week ago and awaits first read and assignment to committee in the Senate. Next week is the last week to hear bills in committee.
Sen. Hobbs

"Restoring KidsCare would help an estimated 30,000-40,000 kids get health care at absolutely no cost to the state and would infuse more than $75 million of our hard-earned federal tax dollars into our economy. And if the federal government ever decided to end their fiscal support of this program, state law would automatically limit or freeze enrollment to protect the state budget," said Senator Hobbs.

"Arizona has the nation's third highest percentage of uninsured children at almost 160,000. We should restore this program for the children and families who could see their futures change for the better, and we should restore it because it's simply the right thing to do."