Friday, May 18, 2018

Senate Democrats call for Special Session to enact gun safety measures

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leadership released the following statement after another deadly school shooting occurred today at Santa Fe High School near Houston, Texas:

“We demand that Governor Ducey immediately call the Legislature back into session to adopt comprehensive and effective gun safety legislation that will keep weapons of mass murder out of the hands of dangerous people and provide resources to identify and help troubled individuals,” said Senator Katie Hobbs. “Offering thoughts and prayers for the thousandth time won’t keep our kids safe in their schools, taking action will. Let’s work together like we did on the Opioid Epidemic Act and enact meaningful legislation to protect the people of Arizona, including comprehensive background checks and Severe Threat Orders of Protection that have the teeth to be effective.”

This session Senate Democrats introduced the following gun safety bills. None were allowed a hearing by Senate Republican leadership.

  • SCR1015 would require universal criminal background checks for people buying firearms, closing the so-called "gun show" or "private sale" loophole by requiring a private person selling or transferring a firearm to go through a licensed firearm dealer.
  • SB 1224 would require a person on probation for a domestic-violence offense to hand all their firearms over to a law enforcement agency for the duration of their probation.
  • SB 1348 would ban bump stocks and other devices designed to make semi-automatic weapons fire similarly to fully-automatic weapons.

Additionally, we offered the following amendments to Governor Ducey’s gun lobby-endorsed SB 1519. All were voted down by Senate Republicans.

  • Universal Background Check: Background check at every point of sale
  • Child Access Prevention: Requires firearms to be secured and add penalties for parents who allow access
  • Extreme Risk Protection Orders: GIFFORDS version of the STOP orders
  • Bump Stocks: Ban on bump stocks and other accessories
  • Age to 21: Raises age to all gun sales from 18 to 21
  • Right of ways repeal: Repeals the guns on rights of ways by high schools and universities from 2016
  • Stolen/Theft Reporting: Class 6 Felony for failure to report to police the theft/loss of a firearm
  • SRO/Counselor Menu: Allows SRO appropriation to be requested by schools for counselors
  • Firearm Tax: Sales tax on all gun purchases with 50% of funds directed to a Counselors on Campus Fund and 50% to a Gun Violence Victims Restitution and Assistance Fund.
  • Appropriation for counselors: $5 million appropriation for counselors/social workers in schools
  • Custodian Removal: Under STOP, removes option to give guns to a custodian for safe keeping 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Bowie legislation to make emergency communications accessible to all Arizonans is signed into law

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Sean Bowie (LD-18) released the following statement on the signing into law of his Senate Bill 1296.

The law established by SB 1296 requires state and local governments to ensure communications with persons with disabilities are equal to those without disabilities, including online and emergency communications. As part of this, the law requires those governments have a protocol in place to have licensed American Sign Language interpreters available to translate emergency communications to the public in emergency situations.

Senator Sean Bowie:

“Having access to critical information in an emergency is vitally important, and having a standard in place for professional interpretation and captioning is long overdue. SB 1296 will help make sure that life-saving information is available for all Arizonans. A huge thank you to the stakeholders who worked with me to craft this legislation, which included the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Ability 360, the Arizona Center for Disability Law and the Arizona League of Cities and Towns. I also want to extend thanks to my legislative colleagues for their support and to Governor Ducey for signing this bill into law.”

Sarah Kader, staff attorney with the Arizona Center for Disability Law:

“The Arizona Center for Disability Law applauds the passage of SB 1296 which will improve access to emergency communications for people with disabilities. Given that people with disabilities and especially those who are deaf and hard of hearing have historically been excluded from accessible alerts and instructions during emergencies, this law is an important step towards improved access in the State of Arizona.”

Thursday, May 3, 2018

2018 is the Year of the Teacher

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs (LD-24) released the following statement on the passage of the Fiscal Year 2019 state budget:

"The 2018 legislative session will be known as the year of the teacher. Their passion, their perseverance and their unleashed power is the sole reason we finally passed a budget that begins to give them a long overdue raise and makes a small step toward making our neglected public schools whole.

"The budget passed tonight is nowhere near perfect. It does some good, like sweeping far less of the critical HURF dollars that our state's roads desperately need. It hires back some of the corporate tax auditors fired by Governor Ducey, which had let tax cheats slide and state revenues plummet. But it also spitefully punishes taxpayers who live in Democratic districts, and gives more of Arizonans' hard-earned tax dollars to the dark money benefactor Koch brothers' 'freedom schools' to produce extremist-indoctrinating K-12 curriculum.

"We voted for the good parts of this budget and we voted against the bad parts of this budget, but ultimately we helped get this budget through the legislature and on the governor’s desk so our dedicated teachers can return to their students with the start of a decent raise and a little more money for their classrooms.

"Just a month ago, those in power here were only willing to give Arizona's teachers another one percent bonus. Our teachers deserve all the credit for forcing Governor Ducey and legislative Republicans to finally acknowledge the devastation their policies have done to our kids' schools.

"But make no mistake, there is much more to do to restore the funding that decades of Republican control have taken from Arizona’s public schools. We are not done fighting."