Monday, February 17, 2014

McCune Davis Fights Windmills on House Floor

Posted By on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 4:11 PM

There was a small display of political resilience on the house floor today when the Committee of the Whole heard HB 2537.

The bill would allow pawnbrokers to charge five percent higher interest rates and would eliminate interest for military members who are deployed while forcing pawnbrokers to hold goods for 60 days after a military member returns from active duty service.

Two amendments were introduced, one by Rep. Sonny Borelli (R-Lake Havasu) and one by Rep. Debbie McCune Davis (D-Phoenix).

First, McCune Davis spoke out against Borelli’s amendment, which would change language from active duty service to deployed, saying that it would strip away protections from military families. His amendment passed anyways.

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The Week (at the Capitol) Feb. 10-14

Posted By on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 3:38 PM

On Monday, the House Committee on Education heard a bill that would fund ninth graders who were enrolled in a Joint Technical Education District. Rep. Ethan Orr (R-Tucson) is the primary sponsor; fellow Tucson Rep. Victoria Steele (D-Tucson) signed on with him.

JTEDs were created in 1990 so students could pursue vocational, technical and career-oriented classes that don’t typically require an advanced degree. The program, which is in place in 13 districts, has decreased the dropout rates in those districts. Orr said: “I believe the reason is because it’s a very effective teaching model for some students. You allow kids to do project-based education, to put their hands on the material, which is why they have such a high graduation rate.”

The bill passed through the committee 8-1. “I’d love to see JTEDs be able to go down to the middle schools and the junior highs. I think it’s the best dropout prevention program that we have,” said Rep. Doris Goodale (R-Kingman).


The Senate Committee of Judiciary considered the repeal of 2305, the omnibus elections bill that was pushed through the Legislature at the end of the session last year. The House version passed through the House Committee of the Judiciary last week and passed through the Committee of the Whole on Thursday. The debate in the Senate committee, similar to that in the House, divided along party line. Many speakers who came to oppose the bill. The bill passed along party lines 6-3.

Sen. Judy Burges (R-Sun City West) proposed a bill that would prohibit female genital mutilation. Twenty states have already passed laws against female genital mutilation and 12 have made it a felony to perform such mutilation on a minor. The bill passed 8-1 through the committee, with Senator Steve Gallardo as the only opponent. Federal law has banned female genital mutilation in the United States since 1996, as a crime punishable by five years in prison.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

The Week (At the Capitol) Feb. 3-7

Posted By on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 9:59 AM

The cluck of chickens and the howl of wolves:

The Committee of Government and Environment was a zoo of sorts on Monday. The Homegrown Freedom Act, a bill that would allow residents to raise fowl in their backyards, was brought to committee. … “Fowl” encompasses any bird that is raised for the purpose of consumption: chickens, quail, even geese could be raised in backyards, should it pass.

“There are many suburban families who would love to have their children have the opportunity to really find out where eggs come from and how animals really live in our society,” Sen. David Farnsworth (R-16) said.
The bill allows towns to prohibit male fowl, because they make more noise, and enables towns to limit the number of fowl that can be raised. “Many of us moved to the big city and lost the flavor of the hometown freedom that we once had,” said Farnsworth. …The bill passed unanimously.


Bills that would allow the Arizona Department of Agriculture and livestock operators to lawfully kill Mexican gray wolves that have been documented in the act of killing livestock; appropriations of $250,000 to the Department of Law in litigation expenses relating to the expansion of the Mexican wolf recovery program; and a resolution that would express the legislature’s support for focusing future introduction of the wolf in New Mexico and northern Mexico — all were heard in the Committee of Government and Environment.

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

AZ Legislature hits send on revenge porn bill

Posted By on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 12:18 PM

A bill that would make revenge porn a felony in Arizona passed through the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

The bill would prohibit people from sharing or publishing photographs and videotapes of people in the nude or engaged in sexual acts without the subject’s written consent.

Rep. J.D. Mesnard (R-17) was inspired to propose the legislation after reading the news and seeing that California had taken up the issue in their legislature. He did a little digging and saw that while only New Jersey, California and Alaska have passed specific legislation, many states had taken up the cause.

“We’ve read these stories of people who have taken pictures and have posted them online. People have committed suicide, they’ve been just mortified,” Mesnard said.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Report: State Needs "Laser Focus" on Kids

Posted By on Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 5:30 PM

After its appointment on Dec. 2, Gov. Jan Brewer’s CARE Team released its first report detailing its progress over the last two months. Here are a few main takeaways:

— 6,554 cases had been designated as “not assigned.”

— 100 percent of those cases are now assigned to a caseworker; 60 percent of them are being actively worked.

— Workers have removed more than 400 children because of safety concerns.

— Cases designated as “not assigned” were a result of “systemic failure, a lack of accountability and transparency and bad decision-making.”

— The agency currently sees about 10,000 hours of new case work come in each week; the agency employs enough full-time employees to cover less than 8,000 hours of new case work per week.

— Team suggests the creation of an agency that is “laser-focused” on ensuring child safety, which would report directly to the governor.

— Suggests better coordination between the Office of Child welfare Investigations and law enforcement to improve the efficiency of the agency’s hotline, which currently abandons 26 percent of the calls it receives.

— Suggests the creation of a “rigorous inspections bureau” to maintain quality assurance.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Battling for Vocational Ed Bucks

Posted By on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 3:00 PM

A bill set to be heard by the House Education Committee today aims to return funding to Arizona’s Joint Technical Education Districts, which lost $30 million statewide in 2011, preventing freshmen from attending JTED classes.

District 9 Rep. Ethan Orr tells The Range he's sponsoring House Bill 2176 because JTEDs have had helped students develop solid job skills and finish school. JTED students, who can take courses that train them to be nurses, computer programmers, graphic designers, auto mechanics, plumbers and other trades, have a 90 percent graduation rate.

“I think technical and project-based education for some students is exactly what they need,” Orr said. “I’m a big believer in JTEDs.”

Tina Norton, JTED’s chief operating officer and assistant superintendent, echoed Orr’s sentiment, adding that it’s important to enroll students early in their high school careers, when students are more likely to drop out.

“Having that influence on them earlier to catch them is important because if we don’t have them into their sophomore year, many kids may have already dropped out, so we’ve lost the ability to impact those kids,” Norton said.

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Friday, January 31, 2014

How Do You Fix CPS?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 2:00 PM

A community forum on the state of Arizona child care on Thursday night was met with an outpouring of concerns from Tucson residents, who urged lawmakers to fix access to resources under the state’s Child Protective Services umbrella.

Residents filled the ballroom at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, leaving few open seats and not enough time to hear from everyone.

At the event, jointly hosted by the Children’s Action Alliance and Child & Family Resources and other sponsors, organizers aimed to emphasize the need for preventative services so that CPS would be a last resort. David Higuera, the Children’s Action Alliance Southern Arizona office director, said that funding these preventative programs should be a priority.

“I think the biggest goal for tonight is that the legislature and the governor hear the community when we say loudly and clearly that we think the state can and should be doing more to prevent kids from ever reaching the point where CPS ever needs to get involved,” Higuera said. “To help families succeed, to help families stay healthy and strong.”

The event began with an opening statement from District 16 Rep. Leah Landrum Taylor, who mentioned the progress that’s been made since Gov. Jan Brewer implemented her CARE team commissioned to investigate CPS and address the roughly 6,500 cases that the department has overlooked. The collaboration from law enforcement in municipalities across the state and other organizations, Landrum said, made their effort a success that needs to continue.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

State Pol to Arizona: You Oughta Be in Pictures (Once More)

Posted By on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 6:34 PM

PHOENIX — Sen. Carlyle Begay (D-7) stood up at the Senate Committee on Commerce, Energy and Military this week and defended his bill, SB 1098. He listed 10 reasons why Arizona needs a state film office.

The reasons must have been persuasive because after he spoke, the committee unanimously passed the bill.

That’s just the first of many battles for Begay as he tries to get his film office bill passed. The bill would create a Governors Office of Film and Media as an agency that would promote filmmaking in Arizona, and coordinate with other agencies to assist in production. The bill was triple-assigned to committee, meaning that Begay will have to repeat his speech at least twice more. But if the bill makes it into the budget, then Arizona will have a state film office again after six years without one.

Speaking of movies made in Arizona, Begay knows the scene. He grew up on the Navajo reservation, the site of Monument Valley at the northeast corner of Arizona and southeastern Utah, the vast sweep of desert, mesa and buttes that was a spectacular setting for many great Western films, including “The Searchers,” a 1956 movie that depicts John Wayne as a Civil War veteran attempting to find his niece, who is with an Indian tribe.

“My grandparents, my parents would always watch a lot of westerns, and were very proud of that being something that was filmed in our backyard,” Begay said.

All over the world, Arizona is known for western movies that used the state’s magnificent scenery as their locales. Many people who have never set foot in Arizona know what the state looks like, thanks to movies like “Fort Apache,” (1948) and “Stagecoach” (1939), and the famous cowboy actors like Clint Eastwood and John Wayne, and directors like John Ford.

“We were the location for the western when it was in its heyday, from the 1930s through the 70s, I would say,” said Sherri Hall, the director of the Tucson Film Office, which would work with a state office if one is reestablished. “We had actors walking the streets of Tucson, staying at the Arizona Inn, and working down in Santa Cruz County.”

Cities and tribes throughout Arizona have film offices, but there is no central entity to handle the calls when filmmakers aren’t sure where in Arizona they might want to shoot. Without a central agency, many filmmakers assume that Arizona isn’t serious about moviemaking.

“Without a film office, production companies looking to shoot in Arizona do not see us as being open for business,” Hall said, “They don’t think we have the resources that they need. If we’re not professional enough to have a film office, why should they waste their time in Arizona?”

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Bernadette Peters

One of Broadway's brightest stars, Bernadette Peters has dazzled audiences and critics with her performances on stage… More

@ UA Centennial Hall Sat., Jan. 21, 8 p.m. 1020 E. University Blvd.

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