Monday, December 21, 2009

Brewer’s ‘emergency’ meeting too little, too late

Republicans & Brewer have failed Arizona.

by Matt Bunk, Arizona Capitol Times

PHOENIX -- People who watched television news this weekend might be confused into thinking that Monday’s “emergency” meeting of Governor’s Office policy advisers is significant – as if some sort of budget solution will emerge now that the governor has gotten serious.

Those of us who spend more time at the Capitol know it’s a publicity stunt. It’s the kind of PR move initiated by people who know more about lobbying and campaigning than they do about actually communicating with the public and the media.

Read the entire column...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rs unwise cuts close AZ State Parks, lose US funds

Officials say the Brewer/GOP cuts will close all Arizona State Parks in 2010, including Catalina in Tucson.

PHOENIX -- As yet another tumultuous budget special session drew to a close Saturday, House Democrats voted unanimously to oppose a hastily crafted bill of Republican budget cuts that will close Arizona’s State Parks, disqualify the state’s AHCCCS health care program from receiving $20 million in federal matching dollars and further hamper efforts by the state Department of Revenue to collect revenues owed by tax cheats.

“Arizona is facing its worst budget crisis in decades and there is no leadership from the Governor or Republican lawmakers in moving toward a real solution to our state deficit,” said House Democratic Leader Rep. David Lujan (D-Phoenix). “Forty years of failed leadership and bad policy from a Republican-led state legislature has gotten us in this situation and there are no more excuses.”

“We are frustrated by the wrong direction Brewer and the Republicans have taken Arizona and this failed budget process,” said Rep. Daniel Patterson (Tucson-LD29). “It doesn't have to be this way. People want a fair solution that minimizes trying to balance the budget on the backs of kids and services that middle-class families want the state to provide, like quality schools, public saftey and state parks.”

“Today’s legislation, yet again, is full of short-sighted cuts that will cost the state money long-term, not save dollars,” said Democratic Whip Rep. Chad Campbell (D-Phoenix). “State Parks are an economic engine for tourism in this state, generating over $250 million a year. They are worth the $8.5 million investment. Closing state parks is not a solution to the budget crisis.”

“Budget cuts to the Department of Revenue have already resulted in lay-offs of 300 staff and the loss of $220 million in collections and another potential $300 million from tax cheats who owe money and just haven’t paid. The additional cuts in this bill just ties the hands of this agency even more,” said Rep. David Schapira (D-Tempe).

Democrats pointed out that the $193 million package of piece meal cuts and fund sweeps were haphazard and Republicans admitted the fund sweep totals would need to be revised due to old budget information being used to quickly create the budget cut proposal.

“House Democrats want to close loopholes for big corporations and the rich, so they pay their fair share for education, health care, and public safety,” said Rep. Steve Farley (D-Tucson).

“It’s crazy that country club memberships and spa treatments aren’t subject to the sales tax and the Republicans’ plan is to close state parks. And the Republicans want to expand the School Tuition Organization (STO) credit when that program is rife with fraud and abuse and favors the rich,” Campbell said in reference to a recent recommendation by a House study committee to expand the STO credit, which drains $100 million from the state general fund annually. “Governor Brewer and the Republicans are taking Arizona down the wrong track. They have failed our state,” Campbell said.

The budget cut bill passed today will also likely result in salary cuts for state employees who are already struggling to meet the service needs of Arizona’s residents. The budget bill passed today also further cuts the Department of Economic Services (DES) programs. That agency alone has weathered a 35% cut in its state general fund in the past year.

“We are going to look at everything Republicans offer up and continue to ask one question: do they help protect the interest of the middle class or do they cater to special interests and hurt the middle class?” Lujan said. “We will not support the failed ideas that have resulted from forty years of failed leadership from the Republicans in the State Legislature. We will not support a proposal that balances the budget on the backs of the middle class."

- adapted from KVH, AZ House Dems

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2009 getting even more 'special' at AZ Capitol

Some dark days for Arizona.

Sat Dec 19, Fri Dec 18 & Thu Dec 17: Special Session updates @RepPatterson on twitter.

PHOENIX -- The Guv is set to call us back to the Capitol at 9am Thursday morning.

After another year of failures, the Republican Guv and legislative majority bosses will try to rush at least 3 bad budget 'non-solutions':

-- An unwise and flawed sales tax increase.

-- Tampering with voter approved protections.

-- More giant cuts to needed public services.

Brewer, Adams & Burns have Arizona lost on the wrong track. I predict the House Democratic Caucus will not join them or go along quietly.

This will be the 5th special session of the legislature in 2009. I'll keep up the fight for the people and middle-class families of Tucson's LD29 and Arizona, as I have been all year.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wanted: Good housing in Phoenix; Mine safety

Arizona Capitol, west downtown PHX.

Update, Dec 17: I found a good place. Thanks.

PHOENIX -- I'm looking for a decent house, condo, apartment or room to rent somewhere near downtown and the capitol for Jan-June 2010. Furnished a plus.

The upcoming regular legislative session starts Jan 11. Please let me know if you can help. Thanks.

As pro-labor State Representative & advocate, I'm in the Arizona Republic today on mine safety: Penalties vs. mines are often reduced.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Grand Canyon change; Grijalva Fiesta & Toy Drive

More floods will help Arizona's Grand Canyon.

TUCSON -- Some change and progress on the Colorado River today as Obama's Interior Dept. announced a plan to allow for more high flows from Glen Canyon Dam, to help restore riparian areas and beaches in the Grand Canyon. We'll be keeping an eye on this.

Join us this Friday night with US Rep. Raul Grijalva at his Holiday Fiesta and Toy Drive, 8p-12a at the El Casino Ballroom, 437 E 26th St. Bring a toy and/or can of food.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Mining problems harm America from east to west

Giant Morenci open pit mine seen from space, Clifton AZ.

TUCSON -- In the west, EPA announced today a 6.6 million pound increase in toxic pollution in Arizona to 95 million pounds of toxic emissions in 2008. Mining is the biggest source of toxins contaminating Arizona's water and air, including 2.4 million pounds last year from the huge mines near Green Valley.

Also today from PEER on mining problems in the east: One of the worst mining disasters in American history resulted in a paltry $5,500 fine and could recur on hundreds of similarly vulnerable sites across the country. Yet a newly released Labor Department Inspector General report on the nation’s largest coal slurry spill answers few questions while providing backhanded support for a whistleblower’s charges that the Bush administration hamstrung the official investigation and subsequent enforcement, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

What many have called the biggest environmental catastrophe in the southeastern U.S. took place on October 11, 2000 when a huge coal slurry impoundment atop an underground mine broke through to the shafts below and punched out the side of the mountain. More than 300 million gallons of toxic waste (a release larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill) poisoned 100 miles of waterways killing all marine life and most of the wildlife in Martin County, Kentucky.

Read the full news release and view documents. Follow RepPatterson on twitter.

- adapted from PEER.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sierrita Mtns.; AZ Leg. Forum Dec 7 in Tucson 29

Sierrita Mtns., a lower Sky Island range in SoAZ.

TUCSON -- I've been very busy with State Rep. duties, work, family and hunt, so have been away some. Please read some of my recent quick updates and links from the Arizona Legislature and PEER on twitter.

Please visit our Legislative Advocacy Forum on Monday Dec 7 with me and other lawmakers and experts; 6:30-8p at the Eckstrom-Columbus branch library, 4350 E. 22nd St., Tucson, in my LD29.

The Sierrita Mountains southwest of Tucson are rather nice, we were pleased to find over the last week, especially on the north side with grass, many big oaks, junipers, mesquite and saguaros. But there were also too many cows and some severe overgrazing in some areas on your AZ State Lands.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gone hunting

White tailed deer (male).

TUCSON -- We had a good Thanksgiving.

I'm gone hunting early Fri AM on our annual Arizona fall deer hunt.

Go Arizona, beat ASU Saturday in football. Bear Down, Wildcats!

Monday, November 23, 2009

AZ legislature finishes 4th special session of 2009

Tough days at the Capitol.

UPDATE, Nov 25: Arizona Daily Star agrees with me: locals best for Tucson's Rio Nuevo board.

UPDATE: House Democratic news release: GOP votes to cut millions more from schoolchildren, families during crisis.

PHOENIX -- The AZ House and Senate today finished the special session, featuring $300M more in cuts to schools and services to poor and disabled people.

The latest big cuts to kids and families were supported by all Rs. All Ds opposed due to the one-sided unfair nature of the cuts and failure to consider fair ways to raise needed new revenue. I spoke strongly on the House floor against the GOP's latest big cuts to schools.

Two bills passed with bipartisan support, one to repeal a flawed law passed earlier this year, and another to 'fix' agency budgets and fund Science Foundation Arizona.

The agency fix bill also had an unrelated section to remove local control of appointments to Tucson's Rio Nuevo board and give control to Gov Jan Brewer, Speaker Kirk Adams and President Bob Burns, all Maricopa County Republicans. Nearly half the Rio Nuevo board won't even have to live in Tucson. I voted 'yes' on this bill because of the other supportable provisions, but I opposed and spoke against state infringement on Tucson's local control. I'm not thrilled about all that has happened with Rio Nuevo over the last decade, but I support keeping control within Tucson's business, neighborhood and government communities.

See more of today's details @RepPatterson on twitter.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Congress must ensure unemployment benefits deal

People in unemployment line at DES office in Tucson.

TUCSON -- I've asked our US Reps from SoAZ to ensure Arizonans will qualify fully for needed extended unemployment benefits.

From Phoenix NBC 12 News, Nov 19:
The jobless benefits extension that Congress passed and the president signed more than two weeks ago was supposed to be a lifeline for tens of thousands of unemployed people in Arizona.

But state and national experts on jobless benefits say that emergency extension doesn't go nearly as far as promised. At this writing, none of the more than 65,000 people in Arizona eligible for the 20-week extension will get it.


Apparently, many members of Congress never realized the law expires before all 20 weeks of extended benefits can be used.
Read the full story.

I'm hopeful and confident Congress will fix this soon as people desperately need this help during a bad economy and continued job losses.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AZ House Dems urge balanced budget plan

AZ House Dems continue to push for real solutions.

Thu. Nov 19: Updates @RepPatterson on twitter and facebook.

PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Glendale) isn’t making good on her promise to protect education and the most vulnerable during the special session, but House Democrats said they will.

Brewer has joined ideological Republican lawmakers in cutting their way out of the state budget mess instead of working in a bipartisan way with Democrats on a comprehensive approach using common-sense solutions.

“It’s disappointing to see that Gov. Brewer has given up on her promise to protect education, families and the most vulnerable,” House Democratic Leader David Lujan said Wednesday at a press conference. “Our state’s fiscal crisis is bigger than just cuts and we all need to work together toward a realistic, comprehensive solution for a stronger Arizona.”

In an attempt to fix part of the budget, Brewer plans to work with Republican lawmakers to implement cuts to children’s classrooms, middle-class families and the most vulnerable. In the special session bills, Republicans plan to cut $144 million from K-12 education and about $155 million from DES.

A comprehensive approach includes using common-sense ideas, such as generating revenue when needed and cutting where it’s necessary; it is unnecessary to make deep cuts to things like education, which will build a strong economic future for our state.

For example, lawmakers could choose to restore staff and funding to the Department of Revenue to collect millions in unpaid taxes owed to the state or broaden the sales tax base for a more stable revenue system. The state could also securitize the lottery and tobacco settlement, which could generate up to $1.4 billion without raising taxes.

- adapted from House Dems PIO

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leg. special session starts Tue; down on the border

Arizona House of Representatives building, Phoenix.

TUCSON -- I'll be at the Capitol in Phoenix as part of the 4th AZ legislature special session of 2009 starting Tuesday. We need some fair bipartisan agreements for the common good, but I'm not optimistic the GOP majority or governor will start to work with us.

Follow me on twitter or facebook for the quickest updates from the special session.

I find the situation at the Capitol very frustrating and totally unacceptable. I will keep on working for solutions and change, but 2010 could continue to be rough overall for the public interest.

I am happy to report our 2010 re-election campaign is going well. Big thanks to all my great constituents and other supporters.

Finally, something better to report. I was in the desert & mountains today investigating gov't agencies, public land, border & wildlife issues southwest of Tucson. Saw lots of great birds, 13 deer and a cute javelina family.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Considering AZ legislative special session & beyond

Arizona State Capitol, PHX

TUCSON -- As I'm considering the likely Nov 18 legislative special session and the bills we'll probably vote on -- agency 'fix', Science Foundation AZ $18.5M funding, $500M 'cut only' budget change -- I also think of the frustrating bad situation we're now stuck in.

My friend veteran lawmaker AZ Rep. David Bradley (Tucson-LD28) has an important recent op-ed,
'State leaders must act fast to avoid Titanic-like disaster,' we should all read and consider.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tucson thanks veterans for service and sacrifice

Veterans Day Parade in Tucson.

TUCSON -- Thank you, veterans & families!

We'll be at Tucson Veterans Day events to respect & honor vets who've served and sacrificed in the armed forces.

As a State Representative who serves on the Arizona House Military Affairs Committee and represents all of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, I'm proud the parade and concert at the VA are both in my district 29.

Similar to Earth Day, everyday should be Veterans Day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nov 10 remember Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck

WHITEFISH BAY MI -- I was born & raised in the Great Lakes and I remember the giant storm of Nov 10, 1975, and the wreck of ship Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior, 29 sailors dead.

Monday, November 09, 2009

America's Mexico Wall 20 years after Berlin's falls

America's Mexico Wall

TUCSON -- I remember the historic days when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. I was 18. It was great.

America and the world are celebrating the fall of the wall 20 years ago.

But in recent years the US has built an ugly, hostile and destructive wall on the Mexican border, which blocks just about every animal except homo sapiens.

Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!

EPA orders experts to remove private climate video

Obama's EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered two of its experts to remove a video they posted on YouTube about problems with climate change legislation backed by the Obama administration or face "disciplinary action", according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The couple had received clearance for posting the video but EPA took issue with its content following publication of an op-ed piece by the two in The Washington Post on October 31.

The video, entitled "The Huge Mistake", is by Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, two EPA enforcement attorneys speaking as private citizens. The video explains why the cap & trade plan endorsed by President Obama will not accomplish its goals, let alone effectively curb climate change.

"EPA is abusing ethics rules to gag two conscientious employees who have every right to speak out as citizens,"
stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, who has re-posted the original video and its script. "EPA reversed itself because someone in headquarters had a tantrum about their Washington Post essay."

Williams and Zabel, who are married to each other, go to great lengths in the video and other writings to provide disclaimers affirming that their views are personal and do not represent the agency. However, EPA now objects to them even referring to their on-the-job experience as the basis for their views.

"How is government supposed to be transparent when public servants are forbidden from discussing the nature of their work?"
asked Ruch. "EPA and every other federal agency should have simple, clear guidelines so that government workers can express themselves freely without political prior restraints."

In August, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson issued an all-employee statement saying the agency will operate as if in a "fishbowl" but left ambiguous whether and how employees may publish papers or communicate with Congress and the media. By contrast, a few agencies such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have dispensed with any pre-approval of employees' unofficial expressions, as long as they are accompanied by a short disclaimer.

- adapted from PEER

Friday, November 06, 2009

Follow RepPatterson on twitter and facebook

Get news & views also on twitter.

TUCSON -- As I have busy days sometimes I release more information faster on twitter and facebook.

The latest: RepPatterson Sounds likely 4th special session of 09 @ AZ Legislature Nov 18. Not sure I support suspending rules & rushing Rs unfair budget 'fix'.

I won't be neglecting this blog, but you may want to also 'follow' or 'friend' me for quicker news & views sometimes. Thanks for visiting and hope you have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Celebrating 11/4 historic date of change election

President Obama & Rep. Patterson, Arizona, Feb 09.

TUCSON -- This evening my family and I celebrated 11/4, the anniversary of my election to the Arizona State House, and also of Barack Obama as US President 1 year ago in 2008. We had a good party about it in LD29 at the good Dr. Laura's house.

Thanks to the many people who have already supported our 2010 election campaign. If you have not already, we kindly ask for your help. We still have some room in the special early donors club.

Please send $140 max to: Daniel Patterson for AZ, POB 172, Tucson AZ 85702. Any US citizen may donate.

Thanks,
Rep. Daniel Patterson

Rs may rush 4th special session to cut $500M more

How will Speaker Adams try to run special session?

PHOENIX -- Word is getting around that Gov. Jan Brewer (R) will likely call legislators back for a 4th special session of the 49th Arizona Legislature on or around Nov 17.

A Republican legislator told me today the majority leadership's deal with Brewer will likely pursue about $500M+ in big new mid-year budget cuts, primarily aimed at schools and DES. They may also ask lawmakers to agree to waive legislative rules, and rush a full vote on complicated large budget cuts in one day, instead of the required three days.

I'm not sure I'll support waiving the rules, unless perhaps it is negotiated as part of a fair bipartisan budget deal with the Rs. A bipartisan agreement is what Arizona needs, but frustratingly, it seems unlikely right now since GOP lawmakers are still going it alone and not working with Dems, even after 10 months of their failed unilateral strategy.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

GOP's one-sided ad hoc committees harm Arizona

Freshman GOP Sen. Sylvia 'the earth is only 6000 years old' Allen is busy on bad ad hoc committees.

PHOENIX -- Arizona's legislative Republicans, who currently control and mismanage the agenda at the legislature, have formed several 'ad hoc committees' during the off season at the Capitol. These West Washington Street dwellers don't seem to spend much time in their districts talking with people about problems, or hold other jobs outside the legislature like real citizen lawmakers.

Most, if not all, of these ad hoc 'committees' are stacked with less experienced politicians, industry insiders and bureaucrats looking to drive a particular hostile agenda they couldn't move in the regular legislative session, and collect more money in mileage and per diem.

One of the worst is the so-called 'energy and water development' ad hoc committee, chaired by Sen. Al Melvin (R-LD26) and Rep. Dave Gowan (R-LD30). No disrespect intended to anyone, but neither of these Republicans has energy or water policy expertise or serves on relevant real legislative water and energy committees, nor does anyone hand picked by GOP leaders for this ad hoc committee. Lawmakers with energy and water expertise are not invited or consulted. Instead of dealing with pressing energy issues, Melvin's group has mostly discussed how taxpayers should further subsidize the hugely expensive and risky nuclear industry.

The Republican-run ad hoc 'mining regulations' committee, chaired by Sen. Sylvia '6000 year old earth' Allen (R-LD5), seems focused on trying to shovel more taxpayer subsidies and loopholes to big mining corporations, many of them foreign-owned, and won't even mention the well established broad public concerns about the history of pollution, ripoffs and conflicts with mining in Arizona.

Fair and balanced, these ad hoc committees are not.

The truth is the legislature is very divided, with Representatives and Senators for millions of Arizonans trying to do the right thing for the common good. The problem is an arrogant and badly out-of-touch GOP majority that only listens to itself and empowers its more extreme members, shutting out everyone else and the broad public interest.

The good people of Arizona are best served when both sides of the legislature try to work together, and I the Democrats have been trying, but closed-minded Republicans are not listening and our great state is suffering because of it.

Let's hope nothing real emerges from these bad one-sided ad hoc committees of 2009.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Brewer continues to brown down AZ Gov's office

Brewer sounds like Palin: 'Drill, baby, drill!'

FLAGSTAFF AZ -- Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Glendale) continued her anti-conservation record today with opposition to protecting the Grand Canyon National Park region from uranium mining.

Many Arizona lawmakers want Grand Canyon area public lands protected and are supporting US Interior Dept. and other proposals for permanent conservation. C'mon, Governor, work with us to guard the symbol of our great state, the Grand Canyon, which is also a huge environmental and economic benefit to Arizona and America.

Shaun McKinnon of the Republic covers the latest on his water blog.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Grijalva fights for stronger House healthcare bill

Rep. Grijalva stands strong for the common good.

TUCSON -- In a curt, terse letter delivered yesterday, public option champion, and progressive caucus co-chair US Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ7) says he wants to see some major changes to the House's health care bill--reflected in a so-called manager's amendment--before it comes to the floor.
  • Americans in every state in the nation must be able to take advantage of the benefits of the bill; thus the bill shall explicitly state that the public option must be available without any triggers or opt-out provisions.
  • If the Secretary is forced to negotiate provider reimbursement rates in the public plan, a ceiling shall be determined and set for such rates.
  • The bill shall fully repeal the McCarran Ferguson Act for health and medical malpractice insurance, as oppose to merely amending the Act.

Included with the letter is bill text for a stronger public option than the one in the bill that was unveiled yesterday. Grijalva is asking for a floor vote on that amendment, but Pelosi has been pretty clear that she doesn't want to bring it up.

Go, Raul!

- adapted from TPM

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lawmakers want Grand Canyon U mining withdrawl

Protect the Grand Canyon and Colorado River.

FLAGSTAFF AZ -- I and many other Arizona legislators sent this comment letter to BLM and other federal officials this week about the uranium mining controversy near the Grand Canyon. Read it here.

To: Jim Kenna, BLM AZ State Director, Phoenix; Scott Florence, BLM AZ Strip District Manager, St. George UT

We are writing to support the withdrawal of approximately one million acres of public lands near the Grand Canyon from mining activities, including both Bureau of Land Management lands and national forests.

The Grand Canyon National Park is one of America’s most precious and amazing parks. We want to ensure that this breathtaking park is preserved in pristine condition and are concerned that uranium mining in the area may significantly degrade the park’s natural state. There could be potential contamination of water in the Grand Canyon region, including Grand Canyon seeps, springs and the Colorado River, which supplies water to tens of millions of people throughout the southwest. We would appreciate a thorough analysis of impacts on all waters in the region when you evaluate this proposed withdrawal in an Environmental Impact Statement.

An analysis of potential short-term, long-term and cumulative environmental impacts of uranium exploration and mining on groundwater and the connections to surface water in and around the Grand Canyon could provide not only the environmental community, but also the Native American communities, answers to many of their concerns. This would be especially important to the various hydrologists and hydrogeologists who have expressed concerns about uranium mining and its potential impact on area water resources.

Thank you for carefully considering our comments as you move forward with developing the Environmental Impact Statement. We strongly support protecting these lands from mining activities.

Sincerely,

Arizona State Representative Daniel Patterson, District 29; Arizona State Representative Tom Chabin, District 2; Arizona State Representative Christopher Clark Deschene, District 2; Arizona State Representative Rae Waters, District 20; Arizona State Representative Patricia Fleming, District 25; Arizona State Representative Nancy Young Wright, District 26; Arizona State Representative Phil Lopes, District 27; Arizona State Representative Steve Farley, District 28; Arizona State Senator Albert Hale, District 2; Arizona State Senator Meg Burton Cahill, District 17

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

EPA hiding protests of radiation exposure plan

Obama's EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not come clean on its plan to dramatically raise permissible radioactive release levels, according to a lawsuit filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The new draft standards have been promulgated in secrecy despite sharp controversy about allowing public exposure to radiation levels vastly higher than those EPA had previously deemed unacceptably dangerous.

The plan to markedly relax radiation standards was signed off on in the final days of the Bush administration, suspended by the new Obama administration prior to its publication. Obama EPA appointees are now weighing its fate. On June 11, 2009, PEER submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act for all of the comments submitted by EPA and other federal and state agency officials to the EPA Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (ORIA) as it prepared its updated Protective Action Guides, which govern radiation protection decisions following releases from accidents or attacks. PEER had received verbal reports that both internal and external reviewers registered grave concerns about the radical relaxation of radiation exposure limits being proposed.

ORIA has yet to produce a single document requested by PEER, months beyond the response deadlines mandated under the Freedom of Information Act. On October 16, 2009, EPA’s Office of General Counsel directed ORIA to comply but conceded that the only way to enforce its order would be in court. ORIA had not met previous self-announced timelines for delivery of documents or promises to provide records on a rolling basis, as they had been cleared for release. Today, PEER filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Washington, D.C. to compel production.

“President Obama directed all agencies to act in a transparent way by placing important documents in the public domain in a timely fashion,”
said PEER Counsel Christine Erickson who drafted the complaint. “Avoiding embarrassment is not a legal basis for deception or delay.”

The radiation guides are protocols for responding to radiological incidents ranging from nuclear power-plant accidents to transportation spills to “dirty” bombs. They would significantly increase allowable public exposure to radioactivity in drinking water, including a nearly 1000-fold increase in strontium-90, a 3000 to 100,000-fold hike for iodine-131, and an almost 25,000 increase for nickel-63. The new radiation guidance would also allow long-term cleanup standards thousands of times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted, permitting doses to the public that EPA itself estimates would cause a cancer in as much as every fourth person exposed. These relaxations of radiation protection requirements are favored by the nuclear industry and allies in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Energy Department.

“EPA has bypassed open dialogue on how much radiation the public will be allowed to receive in the event of a release, and is now suppressing evidence of internal dissent on these controversial proposals,”
stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that congressional leaders, such as Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), have been expressing concerns about EPA’s intentions. “Who knew that EPA had a Doctor Strangelove wing?”

View other supporting documents...

- from PEER

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Senior US official former Marine quits Afghanistan

Children in war-torn Afghanistan.

WASHINGTON -- Matthew Hoh, the senior state department official in Afghanistan's Zabul province, said in a resignation letter just released that he had "lost understanding of, and confidence in, the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan".

Hoh, a former Marine Corps captain who fought in Iraq, also turned down a senior staff-level job at the US embassy in Kabul after he gave in his resignation.

He was then called to Washington to meet Richard Holbrooke, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"We took his letter very seriously, because he was a good officer," Holbrooke said.

Read more...

- adapted from Al Jazeera

Monday, October 26, 2009

Davis-Monthan AFB AZ going solar in a big way

Soaring Heights Community on DMAFB, Tucson.

TUCSON -- Good news. Utilities, developers, the US Air Force and others are working to create the largest distributed, community-wide solar power system in the lower 48 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, within my district 29.

The 81,000 solar panel system will help our economy, environment and energy security.

Read more (news release)...

Friday, October 23, 2009

AZ budget gap at $2B, need fair creative deal

5-way bipartisan AZ budget deal needed at Capitol.

PHOENIX -- The state's deficit for the current fiscal year 2010 has grown to at least $2B, due to the failure of the legislative majority and governor to reach a budget agreement. This is reckless and unacceptable.

I remain ready to help solve it, but are Gov. Brewer & the GOP majority? Arizona needs new revenue, but it should be fair to middle/working class and poor people, and more sales tax hikes are not. We cannot afford more tax cuts right now. Maybe prison spending should be cut more? How about legalizing and taxing cannabis through a secure permit system? This would likely raise hundreds of millions annually from willing taxpayers.

One indicator of the problem is out-of-touch House Republicans increased the legislative budget this year, while forcing massive harmful cuts to everyone else. I and other House Democrats objected to this.

I await credible word and details on a likely deal between legislative leadership, including Dems, and the Gov. Until then the needed worthwhile special session seems distant.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Join health insurance reform town hall Oct 29

Will Congress get it done right?

TUCSON -- Please join me and Reps Sinema & Fleming on a Tele-Town Hall for an update on health insurance reform efforts, Oct 29, 5-6p.

RSVP by noon Oct 28 to azhealthreform@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shakeup in AZ Gov's office may help budget deal

Will Eileen Klein help AZ get a fair budget deal?

PHOENIX -- In a long-overdue staff shakeup, Governor Jan Brewer today announced the promotion of Eileen Klein to Chief of Staff, replacing Kevin Tyne, seen by many at the Capitol as ineffective. Klein currently serves as Deputy Chief of Staff for Finance and Director of the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting.

This change could help jump start the failed Arizona budget process, especially if Klein is willing to truly listen and work with Democrats for a fair budget, which Tyne largely refused. I hope she does, for the good of the state, but it remains to be seen.

Prior to joining the Brewer Administration, Eileen Klein was Chief Operating Officer for Arizona Physicians IPA by UnitedHealthcare, a $1 billion health insurance corporation. Ms. Klein also served for three years as Vice President of State Affairs, representing all UnitedHealthcare lines of business in government relations and public policy in Arizona, Utah and Idaho. During that time, Ms. Klein served as an executive committee member of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Eileen Klein spent over twelve years in state government in Arizona and Florida. She was the Director of Policy for the Arizona House of Representatives, where she served as chief adviser to the majority leadership. In that role, she oversaw the development of the state’s $10 billion budget and was responsible for directing policy staff in advancing major legislative initiatives and state government reforms. During her tenure, Ms. Klein served four House Speakers. Klein’s legislative experience also includes work at the Office of the Auditor General, where she performed audits to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of state programs.

The transition process will begin immediately, and Mr. Tyne and Ms. Klein will work closely over the next three weeks in transition.

- adapted from AZ Gov office

Monday, October 19, 2009

US Education Sec. Duncan visits S. Tucson school

Secretary Duncan with the President.

SOUTH TUCSON -- I spoke today with Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education, at an event hosted by US Rep. Raul Grijalva at TUSD's Ochoa School in my LD29. I and other community leaders worked hard last year just to keep Ochoa open.

I told Secretary Duncan that Arizona is having big struggles with education and proper funding and we welcome any support the US government can provide. He said "I know and that's why we are here." We'll see what may come out of this. As a State Representative with a daughter and thousands of constituent students in public schools I am concerned and doing all I can to help education in Arizona.

“I am pleased to welcome Secretary Duncan to Tucson to discuss the many important education issues facing the Southern Arizona community,” said Rep. Grijalva. “This is a key opportunity for us to discuss our thoughts with him on going forward with elementary and secondary education reauthorization. Here in Southern Arizona, we are particularly interested in English language learners and teacher quality, among other issues. The people of the Seventh District have a lot to say about quality education, and this is an important chance to have their voices heard.”

The meeting also included the superintendents of Amphi, Flowing Wells, Sunnyside and Tucson Unified school districts, and more than 10 other officials from elementary through higher education institutions.

Thanks, Rep. Grijalva, for bringing key decision-makers to Tucson to listen, learn and help.

Vote YES on Props. 401 & 402 for stronger education funding in Tucson.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rs plan 15% more AZ cuts, ignore high foreclosures

Still bad and Republican lawmakers haven't helped at the Capitol.

BREAKING: State of Arizona details proposed new 15% cuts to departments, universities, etc. due to Gov. Brewer & Republicans failure to pass fair budget. See also: AZRepublic; AZDailyStar Better budget options at StrongerArizona.com.

TUCSON -- Pima County continues to be hit hard by home foreclosures with 1480 last month.

It's unacceptable out-of-touch GOP state legislators haven't cooperated to hear or help pass my HB2601, and other Democratic sponsored bills that would offer people relief.

HB2601, which will be re-introduced in January 2010, would:

· Grant immediate (60 day) relief to residential homeowners, who are in foreclosure and in danger of losing their home.

· The bill requires the owner to submit a signed, sworn and notarized affidavit to the trustee in order to postpone a sale.

· During the postponement period, the owner is granted the opportunity to negotiate a revised payment of the loan.

· Additionally, it encourages the lender and owner to make efforts to arrive at revised loan terms.

· If the owner makes timely monthly payments under this scenario, the sale may be postponed for up to one year; otherwise the sale can be rescheduled by the trustee.

The act is temporary.

More on Arizona's foreclosure crisis.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Excelling Tucson school kids open garden market

Borton kids grow in the school garden.

TUCSON -- TUSD’s Borton Primary Magnet Elementary School (PreK-2nd grade), on the south side in LD29, is proud to open the student-run A Fine, Fine Market today in the Bicycle Room at 10am. I'll be there.

This unique program recently garnered national attention on the Rachel Ray Show because the first and second graders plant, grow, and harvest the organic produce they sell. The elementary students compost matter that would otherwise be trash and they use it to improve the soil quality in their gardens. The students also care for the school’s egg-laying chickens. At the beginning of the year, the students apply for jobs at the market and they practice their math skills while selling their healthy produce. Borton students also recognize the importance of the larger community so they donate produce to the local food bank. The school garden was funded in large part by a grant from the Western Growers Association in association with the University of Arizona.

State Representatives Daniel Patterson and Matt Heinz will attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony, as well as State Senator Linda Lopez. Congressman Grijalva’s Deputy District Director Clara Ortiz will also be in attendance. Other elected officials have been invited and may attend, including Governor Brewer's Southern Arizona Director Tim Bee and Mayor Bob Walkup.

Borton students will be on hand to answer any questions customers might have about their store and about food groups. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, market managers will gladly take customers and well-wishers on a tour of the school garden and chicken coop. Light refreshments will be served.

Features and Departments:
• Organic Market Produce
• Pint-sized Green Thumb Experts
• Sit-down eating area just west of the market
• Smiley Service; the typical market employee is missing a few front teeth.

Teacher Molly Reed applied for and received the Western Growers Association Grant. She built the chicken coop and garden with the help of Borton parents and other volunteers.

The Market philosophy is personal service. You will not see any automated grocery checkout aisles. Free smiles for the first 100,000 customers to come through the doors on October 15th!

View list of programs and awards received by Tucson's “Excelling” Borton Public School.

- adapted from Kristie Rabago.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brewer backs big coal utilities, using CAP for cover

Same old Brewer, same old pollution.

PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Glendale) is unwisely fighting against upgrading an old Salt River Project/Arizona Public Service/Tucson Electric Power coal plant near Page AZ. She is opposing pollution equipment upgrades to help improve air quality over the Grand Canyon and Colorado Plateau.

Brewer, who is not known for being a friend to Arizona's environment, claims cleaning up the dirty old coal plant would harm the Central Arizona Project (CAP), which gets power from it to pump water from the lower Colorado River uphill to Phoenix, Pinal County and Tucson.

Her CAP worry claim is suspect because this summer Brewer signed legislation to raid $14M in CAP water banking funds, forcing CAP to sue her and State Treasurer Dean Martin (R-Phoenix).

Looks like Brewer is really fighting for dirty coal and big utility corporations then trying to allege CAP concerns as political cover. Her stated CAP concern rings hollow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

UA clean energy house aims to win solar decathlon

Building the 'seed pod' solar house at UA.

TUCSON -- The University of Arizona's solar house is included in a New York Times article on a clean energy housing effort being shown now on the National Mall in Washington DC.

Good job, UA students and AzRise. Hope we win the solar decathlon!

Monday, October 12, 2009

RIP Harriet Allen: desert defender, friend, veteran

Harriet's Desert Protective Council helps guard Anza Borrego and other desert gems.

SAN DIEGO -- A great leader has passed, Harriet Allen. She was a friend, desert defender and veteran. Over the years we worked together I learned a lot from her.

Harriet Allen will be missed by many and her spirit will live on in the desert wildlands she helped protect.

Read Harriet's obituary from the Los Angeles Times.

BLM should consider renaming a desert wilderness area after her in San Diego or Imperial County or anywhere in the California Desert Conservation Area.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama prize? New US wild horse & burro plan

Feral burros in Mojave Desert.

TUCSON -- We had a good trip to the US Air Force Goldwater Range. Nice days in the desert.

Congrats to President Obama on Nobel peace prize, but is he the most deserving person in world?

I'm quoted in the Arizona Daily Star today along with US Rep. Grijalva on a new fed wild horse & burro plan: A Tucson environmentalist who comes down in the middle on this question is state Rep. Daniel Patterson, a Democrat who is also Southwest director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. "There are big problems that wild horses and burros can do to native wildlife, but the big question is how do you deal with them? On one side some people say gun them down, others say do nothing. I believe they should be humanely managed."

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Bombs away with Air Force; VOTE Tucson election

DM-based A-10 over Goldwater Range.

TUCSON -- As an Arizona State Representative serving on the House Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee, I'll be with US Air Force Thu & Fri touring the Goldwater Range and watching live fire training. Bombs away! My district 29 includes Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

Early voting starts Thu Oct 8 in the local election. VOTE Fimbres, Uhlich and Trasoff for City Council. No on 200. Yes on 401 & 402 for kids and schools.

BLM staff conspired with DC lobbyists on land deal

Caught! BLM's Elena Daly in DC (left).

TUCSON -- In a national update from the New York Times on an issue long-ago covered by this blog, the US Interior Department Inspector General has found that US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff in Washington conspired with lobbyists during the final months of the Bush administration.

As an ecologist who formerly worked with BLM, I always supported making the NLCS permanent, but the slimy way it was pushed by some BLM staff and DC-insider lobbyists was wrong.

"Our investigative efforts revealed that communication between NLCS and certain NGOs in these circumstances gave the appearance of federal employees being less than objective and created the potential for conflicts of interest or violations of law," the IG report states. "We also uncovered a general disregard for establishing and maintaining boundaries among the various entities."

A disturbing part of the inappropriate relationship between the bureaucrats and lobbyists was their efforts to remove 7 million acres of Sonoran and Mojave Deserts habitat in the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) from the BLM's National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS). This fed-lobbyist anti-conservation push was very likely part of a bad political deal with Interior/BLM political appointees and US Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA).

President Obama's BLM Director Bob Abbey should make sure this doesn't happen again and take a hard look at making sure NLCS has the right leadership.

Director Abbey should personally also investigate California BLM to ensure the CDCA is being managed as NLCS, consistent with the direction of the US Senate. Long-time BLM mismanagement of the scenic and fragile CDCA remains a big problem today.

Not named in the Times article, but in my view also problem lobbyists here are Kevin Mack of the Wilderness Society, who still works with BLM on NLCS issues, and Chris Soderstrom of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The offending parties here with BLM and the DC groups should apologize, try to make amends, and focus on working with all conservation interests toward full support of the entire NLCS.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

State leaders push DC for health insurance reform

In control: President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Reid and House Speaker Pelosi.

WASHINGTON -- A group representing state legislators across the country announced today that 1057 state legislators from all fifty states, including me as an Arizona State Representative from Tucson, have signed letters to Congress asking for real health reform, including a public health insurance option, strong affordability protections, and shared responsibility among individuals, employers and government for health care costs.

State legislative leaders, along with mayors from around the country, will be coming to Washington next week to bring this message of state support for reform to Capitol Hill and the White House.

“State legislators have been on the front lines of health care reform for decades,” said Texas Representative Garnet Coleman, co-chair of Progressive States Network, “Most proposed elements of federal reform are based on ideas already debated and in many cases enacted in the states. So state legislators know what is needed to make reform work.”

In addition to these letters showing broad-based state legislator support for reform, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in August voted to support federal health care reform, including a public health insurance option. The vote at the annual NCSL conference was overwhelming, with representatives of 38 states supporting the resolution. As Iowa State Senator Jack Hatch (Des Moines), who introduced the amendment, said at the time, “We sent a very clear message to people dragging their feet in Washington: the time to act on health reform is now. We need a public health insurance option to make sure working families and small businesses are free to choose the best health care available at a price they can afford.”

“Talk radio and television may generate a lot of noise,”
said Nathan Newman, PSN’s executive director, “but the over 1000 legislators in all fifty states supporting affordable, quality health care for all Americans, including a public insurance option, reflects the voices of communities across our nation. These legislators are asking to fix a broken health care system and improve both individual lives and the economic competitiveness of our nation.”

The list of 1057 legislators supporting reform reflects 943 legislators signing a letter to Congress and President Obama sponsored by Progressive States Network itself, along with two separate letters from legislators in the states of Connecticut (92 additional names) and New Mexico (25 additional names) reflecting advocacy of similar reforms.

Read the letter with all signers, along with links to the New Mexico and Connecticut letters.

- adapted from PSN

Friday, October 02, 2009

Northern Arizona fall family weekend of bliss

It doesn't get much better than fall at Grand Canyon AZ.

TUCSON -- Looks like we're headed to the Grand Canyon for the weekend. The PBS National Parks series is getting to me. Should be wonderful there in October.

I will also be speaking Monday in Flagstaff at the 10th Biennial Conference of Research on the Colorado Plateau.

Follow me at RepPatterson on twitter for other news & views updates.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Congress hearing Utah Red Rock wilderness bill Thu

Congress should protect Utah wilderness.

WASHINGTON -- Good news. My Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ7) chairs the important and influential US House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, and tomorrow his subcommittee will hear HR1925, America's Red Rock Wilderness Act, to protect scenic and fragile public lands in southern Utah as wilderness.

Read more about the bill from Robert Redford.

Also visit the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

AZ #2 on prison/cops spending, near last on schools

Callous Republicans harm AZ.

TUCSON -- New US Census data released today shows Arizona's harmful GOP-run legislature has put us at #2 for the most spending on prisons and police, but near the bottom for our support of education.

We get what we pay for.

This is totally unacceptable, and as a concerned State Representative I am committed for the long-haul for better support of our children, schools and collective future.

For breaking news & views and other tidbits, please follow RepPatterson on twitter.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

US State Dept moves against rogue border agency

Bush man Bill Ruth still in charge at rogue USIBWC, but has abruptly departed on personal leave.

EL PASO -- In an update on a story first covered here last month, the US State Dept has swooped down on rogue border agency United States Section, International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC), after my org PEER exposed abuses & fraud.

Ruth's gross mismanagement has put the people and environment of Nogales, Arizona and the Santa Cruz River particularly at risk.

Monday, September 28, 2009

2010 re-election campaign progress; still time

Follow RepPatterson on twitter.

TUCSON -- My friends, I'm happy to report our fundraising efforts for my 2010 LD29 re-election campaign have started strong.

Big thanks to everyone who has already supported. If you haven't already, there is still time and we ask for your help.

Donate $140 max to Daniel Patterson for AZ, POB 172, Tucson AZ 85702. Thanks!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Stimulating colleges; Tucson jobs; LD29 healthcare

Dr. Roy Flores (left) is President of Pima Community College.

TUCSON -- In addition to helping build a new veterans home here, US stimulus funds have just been released by the state to help community colleges in Arizona. Pima Community College will receive $4.5M as a part of $9M distributed to colleges statewide.

The state still has $19M in fed stimulus money to grant to colleges.

This is public money well spent to invest in our future as a society, to help our economy and quality of life.

In a brief update on State Rep work, today I toured and helped open a huge new product distribution center in LD29 of southeast Tucson, which brings hundreds of decent jobs with benefits.

I also joined my district teammates on a tour and discussion at the new El Rio southeast side health clinic, at Golf Links and Kolb near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Nice facility and the El Rio staff does a good job for people. El Rio is one of the largest and best community health clinic systems in the nation.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Budget delay is reckless new precedent for Arizona

PHOENIX -- Read here my new column as published today in the capitol media.

Arizona Guardian -- Sep 23 09

Budget? What budget? GOP plan still doesn't cut it (subscription)

by Rep. Daniel Patterson

Soon it will be three months since the state’s budget deadline has passed and Arizona still doesn’t have a budget or much of an economy. Some of us have been trying all year to help, but unfortunately, Arizona families probably won’t see this problem resolved soon.

Republican lawmakers and Gov. Jan Brewer still are at a standoff with each other and refuse to work in a bipartisan way to finally seal the deal. For eight months, Democrats asked Brewer multiple times to be included in crafting a bipartisan budget, but she and Republicans refused.

In an attempt to reach a bipartisan compromise after Brewer called bipartisan talks at the eleventh hour, Democratic leadership offered significant tough compromises, which can be found at strongerarizona.com.

But Brewer and majority Republicans refused to take even one step toward bipartisanship. Arizonans just wanted a full budget so our state's economy could begin the road to recovery, but it's the end of summer, and Brewer and Republicans still didn't get the job done.

The legislature has one specific constitutional duty — to pass a budget — and this year, the GOP-run legislature has failed. This lack of leadership at the helm is frustrating and disappointing, and it only drives Arizona’s troubled economy into a deeper hole.

Instead of helping to create more jobs, the state is laying off hard-working people trying to support middle-class families. Instead of jump-starting economic recovery, Arizona has taken a u-turn into further debt. Instead of investing in education, Arizona is now ranked last nationwide in education funding. Instead of working with Democrats, Brewer and Republicans unwisely decided to go it alone and failed. The entire state is suffering due the inability of Republicans, who control the legislature and governor's office, to agree and finish a balanced budget.

We are at greater economic risk with no budget in place and it is irresponsible to let this continue to drag on. Some state agencies will be in danger of losing their funding by October; we can’t be sure which ones yet.

People are already suffering from some of the cuts. Brewer chose to sign a Republican budget that eliminates KidsCare Parents, or health care for 10,000 Arizona parents. Brewer also chose to sign a budget that eliminates domestic partner benefits for state employees, which will eliminate these benefits for about 800 families.

The current budget also preempts local control of cities and removes protections and notice requirements for teachers subject to layoffs created by budget deficits.

All of this Republicans passed and Brewer signed when Arizonans need these services the most – in tough economic times. With her vetoes and lack of a long-term, stable revenue plan, Brewer also left the state $1 billion out of balance. The Republicans’ budget relies heavily on “iffy” maneuvers like selling state buildings and privatizing prisons.

The “funny” money is not guaranteed to come close to solving the state deficit. Brewer signed some of the bad budget bills, but even that and the plan she was willing to support both leave a long-term deficit.

The problem still is not solved; therefore, the deficit still remains. Amazingly, there is still time to work on a bipartisan budget for a stronger Arizona. As an independently minded, fiscally responsible Democratic state representative, I remain ready and willing to do the hard work to balance Arizona's budget in a fair way for Arizona families.

Republican lawmakers’ and Brewer’s eight-month delay without a balanced budget in place is a reckless new precedent for Arizona. It is a guaranteed economic mess for the future, but it’s better late than never to correct the problem.

For more information on a comprehensive, more responsible budget solution, please visit strongerarizona.com.

Rep. Daniel Patterson of Tucson is a Democrat representing District 29.

AZ lawmakers urge caution on Grand Canyon mine

Working to protect the Grand Canyon region from uranium mining pollution.

FLAGSTAFF AZ -- Arizona lawmakers weighed in Wednesday to federal officials in support of a new study that would assess if it is safe to operate a uranium mine near the Grand Canyon.

Environmental consequences of the Arizona 1 uranium mine have not been assessed since 1988 —more than 20 years ago — and operating the mine could mean contaminating the water and air, sabotaging the reintroduction of the California condor and making extinct already endangered fish species. Toxins from uranium mining also have caused public health dangers including cancer and kidney damage.

“Interior Secretary Salazar made a wise move to put a hold on new mining claims and carefully study the environmental harm uranium mining could have on the Grand Canyon region and people downstream,” said Rep. Daniel Patterson, an ecologist and member of the House Water and Energy Committee. “We are troubled by Gov. Brewer's reckless rush to direct ADEQ to hand out uranium mining permits, and the effects these actions will have on public health, water and the environment.”

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, following Brewer’s direction to speed up the regulatory process, this month issued permits to Denison Mines Corporation Arizona 1 mine before a new federal study to determine the safety of operating a mine there could be completed. Several environmental groups also have said they intend to file a lawsuit if a study is not completed.

The study, or an Environmental Impact Statement, provides detailed information of significant environmental impacts and the reasonable alternatives that would avoid or minimize adverse impacts or enhance the quality of the human environment. The study is used by federal officials to plan actions and make decisions.

“If there is a question of danger to public health and harming families’ quality of life, I think we definitely need some answers before the mine begins and we end up spending millions on its possible devastating effects,” said Rep. Nancy Young Wright.

“The communities of Northern Arizona have legitimate concerns for their safety and the potential dangers of operating a uranium mine so close to home,” said Rep. Tom Chabin, of Flagstaff and northern Arizona. “It is incredibly important to study how these potentially harmful effects of uranium mining can have on Northern Arizona families’ health and livelihood.”

Lawmakers letter to feds available on request.

In support of choice and smarter state priorities

Rep. Barto and other anti-choice activists fight for fetuses, but usually don't vote to support children or parents.

UPDATE, 5p Sep 29: Court blocks key part of new abortion law.

TUCSON -- I am active today in the Arizona media in support of women's freedom of choice and smarter legislative priorities.

The controversy relates to anti-choice legislation passed this year by Rep. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix-LD7) and other social radicals at the Capitol, and signed in to law by Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Glendale).

Arizona Daily Wildcat: Law could limit access to Plan B

A new Arizona law could reduce the availability of emergency contraception medication for women on campus and in the community.

The law, signed in July and set to take effect Sept. 30, will set up a series of policies that... critics say will cause women undue stress and complicate an already delicate issue.

...Democratic Rep. Daniel Patterson, who represents downtown (south) and southeast Tucson, says the law will change things. Pharmacy employees have a professional obligation to provide medications like Plan B, regardless of their beliefs, he says.

“If you have a problem providing some kind of legally approved, FDA approved medication, then you’re in the wrong profession,”
he said.

The legislative majority’s focus on social issues during the economic crisis is an out-of-touch priority, he said.

“(The legislature) can pass a bill to attack women’s rights for reproductive choices, but we can’t get a budget done,”
Patterson said. “It’s totally unacceptable.”

On Sept. 14 Planned Parenthood Arizona sued the state over the law, citing what its Chief Operating Officer Patti Caldwell called “legislators stepping in to medical procedures, which is certainly not their area of expertise.”

Religious studies senior and Women’s Resource Center official Malia Uhatafe said state-mandated restrictions do more harm than good.

“It’s ridiculous,”
she said. “It’s taking away our freedom of choice.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tucson Veterans Home OKd; will serve 120+ vets

The new vets home will be built near the VA in LD29 south of downtown.

Sep 24: Arizona Daily Star editorial; ASU Cronkite News Service. Sep 25: Yuma Sun

TUCSON -- I'm proud to announce, as a pro-veteran lawmaker and member of the Arizona House Military Affairs Committee, the Tucson Veterans Home was approved today by Arizona's Joint Committee on Capital Review.

The $29M veterans home in LD29 near the VA hospital will serve and house 120-200 needy veterans in southern Arizona.


The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expedited a federal grant essential to project approval. Arizona received funding from the federal VA for 65% of the new construction cost of the facility.