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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State Lawmakers Advance Repeal of Election-Overhaul Law

Posted By on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Dan Desrochers of the Arizona-Sonora News Service delivers an update from this morning's House Judiciary Committee meeting, where a bill to repeal last year's election overhaul passed on a party line vote. (We've got more details about the bill in this week's print edition.)

Things got heated in the House Judiciary Committee today.

The committee heard a bill to repeal HB 2305, an omnibus elections reform bill that would make it a crime for political operatives to collect and turn in early ballots, make it easier to remove voters from the permanent early-voter list, make it harder for third-party candidates to get on the ballot and create new barriers for getting an initiative on the ballot.

Rep. Farnsworth (R-12) started the meeting on the defensive, with an on the record claim that he will not try to reintroduce the bill in parts.

“I have no knowledge of any concerted effort to break this bill apart and start running them through,” Farnsworth said.

However, his statement was hardly a promise to let the bill die after it’s repealed.

“It doesn’t mean it won’t happen, doesn’t mean individuals won’t sponsor pieces, I still believe very firmly that there are pieces in here that have to be addressed.”

That was a major issue for people who came to talk in opposition to the bill. While they supported the reform in principle, they couldn’t trust that the legislature still wouldn’t try to pass the bill.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

AZ Legislature: Highlights From Week 2

Posted By on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Daniel Desrochers of the Arizona-Sonora New Service rounds up highlights from the second week at the Arizona Legislature:

On Tuesday morning, John Arnold, director of the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting, presented Brewer’s budget to a joint House and Senate Appropriations Committee. Rep. Chad Campbell [D-24] grilled Arnold about a provision to have K-12 public-school students pay a $15 fee to get a broadband connection, whether or not their school already has one. Sen. Rick Murphy, [R-21st], of Peoria, also demurred: “Why should the taxpayers in Peoria have to pay twice, when they already, on their own, brought their schools up to this level?”

Tuesday also was “Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day.” Terry Rambler, chairman of the San Carlos Apache tribe, spoke about the environment and the looming water crisis: “I am left asking, how come water is not a priority for this legislature and for Gov. Brewer?”

Meanwhile, in the House, Rep. Victoria Steele [D-9th] introduced a bill to ban texting while driving. The fine: $50 for a driver texting; $200 if a driver gets in an accident while texting. “They’re behind the wheel of a two-ton machine going 45 to 75 miles an hour and they’re texting. Their eyes are not on the road; their mind is not on the road,” Steele said. The Governors Highway Safety Association says that 41 states and the District of Columbia have already banned texting while driving.

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