Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Arizona political legend Rep. Jack Brown honored

Jack Brown has served in the AZ legislature since 1962.

PHOENIX -- Long time Arizona state legislator Rep. Jack Brown (D-St. Johns) was honored tonight by a big crowd at the AZ Democratic Party's Legislative Salute Dinner.

I am honored and proud to serve with Jack, and I appreciate his leadership, words of wisdom and good advice.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Democrats release fair 2010 AZ budget solution

House Democratic Leader David Lujan.

UPDATE, Sun. 4/5: Lots of people like our budget plan, including the Arizona Daily Star, who editorialized in favor of it today.

PHOENIX -- Today, House Democrats unveiled a comprehensive proposal to balance the state budget and protect children and middle-class families from deep cuts to jobs and education.

The plan, which utilizes every federal stimulus dollar available to Arizona, also includes strategic cuts, common-sense and responsible tax reform and restores funding necessary for middle-class families, our state’s economic engine.

“House Democrats’ plan is a long-term budget solution that ensures the future economic vitality of Arizona,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “Our plan offers common-sense, practical and smart solutions that will get our state’s economy back on track, put people back to work and prepare kids for college and the work force.”

House Democrats’ budget proposal will:
-- Utilize $2.4 billion — the maximum — of the federal stimulus funding available to Arizona in 2010.
-- Clean up government waste by stopping tax giveaways to big corporations and closing corporate tax loopholes.
-- Implement smart, responsible cuts across state government, including in our own House of Representatives Restore necessary funding to education and middle-class families that makes our economy thrive.

“It is key to our economic recovery and stability that we invest in education so that our children are competitive in the global economy,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “House Democrats’ traveled around the state listening to Arizonans’ concerns about deep cuts to the state budget and we developed a comprehensive budget plan that will move Arizona forward to a brighter future.”

House Democrats’ plan saves money in all areas of government by cutting government waste and removing unnecessary policies that don’t work.

“It is time to put Arizonans’ priorities first and stop the giveaways to big corporations,” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “We need to create a revenue system that works for Arizona and protects education funding.”

"Our realistic budget is good for Tucson, southern Arizona and the whole state, and I urge my Republican friends to work with us in support of this responsible and fair plan," said Rep. Daniel Patterson (D-Tucson-LD29).

Accompanying their 2010 budget proposal, House Democrats also debuted their Roadmap for Arizona’s Future and new Web site, StrongerArizona.com, which keeps track of the impact of deep cuts to the 2009 budget and shows House Democrats’ plan for 2010 in comparison to legislative Republicans’ plan.

- adapted from House Dems PIO

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Michigan State Spartans go to Final Four in Detroit

Sparty: Go Green, Go State, beat UConn!

INDIANAPOLIS -- MSU, my alma mater, just beat Louisville convincingly to advance to the Final Four, in Detroit next weekend.

This is MSU's 5th trip to the Final Four in 11 years, the most in nation during that time.

Today is my birthday and this is a great gift. I've been a big MSU fan my whole life.

Did AGFD, FWS & zoo rush to kill Jaguar Macho B?

Rare Jaguar Macho B was trapped twice by AZGFD southwest of Tucson,
then quickly killed at the Phoenix Zoo.

UPDATE, 4/2: More truth is coming out here, including the likelihood AZGFD was intentionally trying to try Macho B in the first place, despite their claims they were not.

TUCSON -- Adding to earlier coverage, reporters Tony Davis and Tim Stellar have an important front-page story in the Star today on the unfolding truth about the capture and death of endangered Arizona Jaguar Macho B at the hands of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

AZGFD seems especially guarded and un-transparent about all this, which raises suspicions. One thing is clear, many big predators captured and collared by AZGFD, often with the permission and cooperation of USFWS in the name of 'research', wind up dead.

USFWS, which for years has fought against protecting Jaguars in the US, has acted similarly irresponsible on this issue. It's clear this reckless agency has not yet seen reforms from the Obama administration or his Interior Sec. Ken Salazar that have much on-the-ground meaning.

Scientists from the University of Arizona seem to be disagreeing with the official spin from the agencies and Phoenix Zoo about the need to euthanize the rare Jaguar.

This is not the end of this sad story. The truth will come out and those responsible at all levels should be held accountable.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Another good weekend with my people in Tucson

Me at Solar Rock last year.

TUCSON -- I had a good day with friends, family and LD29 constituents.

First I went to the Cesar Chavez March and event, which was great, then to the Pima County Democratic Party Open House with US Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ7) and others, also good, then finally at the fun Solar Rock event.

It was one of those days that reminded me why I love Tucson and why it is the best city in the southwest.

At the Solar Rock concert, I met the organizers of the UA Solar Decathlon Team, and many others.

Pima Rs now complaining about cuts they voted for

Republican Vic Williams spins.

TUCSON -- Legislative Republicans from Pima County continue to whine about harmful budget cuts they voted for, even if indirectly.

Pima County is now losing $3.8M in healthcare funding due to Republican votes to pass a horrid FY09 budget 'fix' in the middle of the night on Jan 30-31. I and all Democrats, and two GOP Senators from Maricopa County voted against these recklessly rushed and unnecessary cuts.

The Star has one-sided coverage today which lacks important perspective from Democrats who voted against the cuts and warned local Republicans about how these cuts would hurt people.

I appreciate the all of the sudden 'concern' of some local GOP legislators, but must question how sincere it is. If my friends Rep. Vic Williams (R-LD26), Sen. Jonathan Paton (R-LD30) and other Republican legislators want to blame someone for the drastic budget cuts now harming Arizona's middle class families, don't blame AHCCCS, just look in the mirror, and at the untrustworthy and callous Republican legislative leadership they've been bowing to.

If local Republicans want a fair and responsible Arizona budget to support, they should join forces with the Democrats.

UPDATE, 3/30: Sen. Paton contacted me saying he also raised concerns on a similar issue in 2005 with cuts under the Napolitano administration.

Friday, March 27, 2009

AZ House Dems release 2010 budget plan Monday

Inside the historic Arizona Capitol.

PHOENIX -- Arizona House Democrats will release their 2010 budget proposal Monday at 10:30am at our regularly scheduled weekly media briefing in House Conference Room 35.

House Democrats will present a common-sense, responsible plan that balances the state’s 2010 budget shortfall.

Watch it live Mon. 10:30am, and more info at StrongerArizona.com

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Go Wildcats, Spartans in NCAA sweet 16 from Indy

Bear down, Arizona!

UPDATE, 3/27: MSU, my alma mater, beat Kansas and will play Sunday in the regional finals for a shot at another Final Four. State's Women's team beat top-seeded Duke this week to advance to the sweet 16. UA had a tough game against Louisville, but I'm proud of them for making the sweet 16 during this tough year.

TUCSON -- More basketball cheering from our house during March madness.

Go Arizona, beat Louisville!

Go Michigan State, beat Kansas!

Both games are Friday PM in Indianapolis.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Former Enron execs push bad bill in AZ House

Past Enron executives want end run around AZ drinking water protection program.

UPDATE, 4/2: Tucson Citizen agrees with me and many others that AZ should protect our water, calling HB2352 'terrible'.

3/31: HB2352 was argued today on the House floor, and AP has some coverage.

3/26, 2:15pm: Victory, at least for today. In the face of common sense Democratic opposition and amendments, the sponsor of HB2352 avoided debate and held the bill today on the floor. It is likely though this bad bill will come back on the House floor as soon as next week.

PHOENIX -- An unwise bill to exempt energy corporations from Arizona's aquifer protection program is scheduled to be considered Thursday on the House floor, and I and others will oppose it.

HB2352 is a Republican bill that would primarily benefit the somewhat mysterious Houston-based Multifuels Corporation, which has at least three former Enron guys in top management, VPs Gil Muhl, Dick Robinson and Jim Homco.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has raised legitimate big concerns and questions about this bill, but has been ordered by the governor to remain officially 'neutral'.

Watching out for Arizona's water and the common good, I and other Democrats on the House Water and Energy Committee also raised strong objections to the bill and voted no on it in committee, but it was rushed out on a party-line vote.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Report: Rosement killing lions, overgrazing forest

Arizona 'Sky Islands' wildlife threatened by mining speculators.

TUCSON -- Canada-based Augusta Resources Corporation (AZC, aka Rosemont Copper) is already harming the scenic Santa Rita Mountains web-of-life.

The speculative mining investors have taken control of public lands grazing allotments on the Coronado National Forest. Augusta is reportedly killing Mountain Lions and overgrazing the land there, a likely sign of the company's true disrespect for the environment and your American public lands.

Below is new info from a concerned public employee.

'I was on FS Road 163 on the east side of the Santa Ritas in the Thurber Allotment. After you turn onto FR 163 from the Gardner Canyon Road there is an area that is really hammered by cattle where they tend to hang in large groups. Camped in this area was a group of people... They were hired by the permittees to kill a mountain lion that is allegedly predating cattle on the allotment. This allotment, as well as 3 others is permitted to the Rosemont Mine. This is not a struggling rancher trying to make a living but a huge multi-million dollar corporation who is taking over that end of the mountains.'

Monday, March 23, 2009

$100M still owed from Alaska Exxon Valdez oil spill

Sarah Palin: 'Drill, baby, drill!'

WASHINGTON -- As the 20th anniversary of the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill dawns tomorrow, the federal and state governments have yet to collect all that the oil company agreed to pay. A final $92 million claim for harm to wildlife, habitat and subsistence users filed in 2006 has languished ever since.

In 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez spilled over 11 million gallons of crude oil on the Alaska coast, causing an estimated $15 billion in damages. The 1991 settlement following the guilty plea by Exxon Corporation (now ExxonMobil) provided for $900 million in payments, a $25 million criminal fine and $100 million in restitution. The plea agreement also called for added payment of up to $100 million for unanticipated damages unknown at the time of the settlement. On August 31, 2006, the federal and state governments jointly submitted a demand for ExxonMobil to pay $92 million, together with a restoration plan.

After submission of what was called the "reopener" claim, ExxonMobil had 90 days to pay or respond. Yet the claim sat unsatisfied, as neither the Bush nor the Palin administrations took any action to collect.

read more

- from PEER.org

Other coverage, 3/24: ENS

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Weekend with LD29 constituents on the south side

Me, State Rep. Daniel Patterson.

TUCSON -- I'm keeping busy as State Representative both at the Capitol and in my district working to help people and solve problems.

Today, my daughter and I participated in an open house celebration at Holladay School in the South Park neighborhood.

The Arizona district 29 team held our second successful town hall this afternoon, with a full crowd and many good questions, concerns and discussions, especially on education.

Friday morning, I spoke at a rally of grandparents and others concerned about state cuts to aid for kids and families. In the afternoon, I had meetings with constituents to listen and try to help solve their problems.

The Cronkite News Service has published my new lawmaker profile.

Other coverage of our town hall meeting.

Americans outraged at abusive AZ Sheriff Arpaio

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has to go.

TUCSON -- To the thousands of people across the nation and world concerned about human rights who are emailing me and other Arizona lawmakers, I say 'thanks' for your efforts. My family and I share your outrage and have opposed abusive Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R-Maricopa County AZ) for many years.

I hail from Tucson and Pima County, in southern Arizona and actually on the border, where we have voted for a more fair and respected Sheriff who has not used Arpaio-type tactics against immigrants or others.

I will continue to resist Arpaio, but the primary responsibility to 'do something' about him lies with the people of Maricopa County (Phoenix-Mesa-Tempe-Glendale), who should vote him out in the next election, if he is not removed from office first for human rights or other violations.

The feds, including Obama's Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, should cut off Arpaio from immigration enforcement agreements, due to his proven abuses. The feds should also fully investigate the rogue Sheriff and deal with findings in an appropriate strong manner.

The Phoenix New Times has important coverage on Arpaio on-going.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fast break from politics to back UA, ASU, MSU bball

Coach Tom Izzo and the Spartans ready for another run toward the Final Four in Detroit.

UPDATE, 3/21: All three of my teams here won in the 1st round.

TUCSON -- Although I'm working in my district 29 on economic, healthcare and environmental issues today, and town hall meeting Saturday, this blog takes a fast break from politics to support the Arizona Wildcats, Arizona State Sun Devils and my alma mater Michigan State Spartans in the NCAA basketball tournament.

ASU plays Temple at 11:45am, and UA plays Utah at 4pm, both in Miami.

Michigan State plays Robert Morris at 6:50pm in Minneapolis.

Go Wildcats! Go Green! Go Sun Devils!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Motives exposed on AZ school contracts bill

State Senator Rebecca Rios.

UPDATE, 3/19, 3:15pm: Teachers and education were protected today by me and AZ Legislative Democrats, who unified to defeat bad HB2630.

PHOENIX -- A bill that would give school districts and governing boards until June 15 to renew contracts with teachers in reality hurts teachers and students and gives Republican lawmakers more time to delay the massive cuts they intend to make to K-12 education.

The current contract deadline is April 15, and Republicans argue that the bill (HB2630) would give schools more time to see how much funding is cut from K-12 education in the 2010 budget before they decided to renew teacher contracts. But that is far from reality.

“We would like to shed some light and transparency on the real purpose for this bill,” said Senate Assistant Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios. “It’s unfortunate that Republican lawmakers want to cut the time it takes for teachers to find new jobs while they implement more deep cuts to education.”

However, the $900 million in cuts Republican lawmakers intend to make in the 2010 budget to K-12 education are not necessary and neither is the bill.

“We have $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars coming to Arizona just for education,” House Assistant Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema said. “There is no need to make another cut to education in this state; therefore, more time to notify teachers isn’t needed.”

House Democrats told Republican colleagues in January that the original deep cuts to the 2009 budget were unnecessary and federal stimulus dollars were days away. They still cut anyway, and thousands of families decided whether to quit their jobs or leave their children home alone when they learned their child care would be cut off.

“If legislative Republicans would heed their promise of transparency and openness with the public and discuss their budget options, school districts and teachers wouldn’t be faced with these decisions or this bill,” Sinema said.

“This is an opportunity for Republican lawmakers to show leadership and work with Demorats in offering some reassurance that education funding will be preserved at least at current levels,” Rios said.

- from Legislative Dems PIOs

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dems to Gov: Give public info on stimulus funds

What exactly is Gov. Brewer doing on the stimulus?

UPDATE, 3/18: Brewer follows advice from me and House Dems by taking step in the right direction with azrecovery.gov

PHOENIX -- House Democrats are calling on Gov. Jan Brewer during 'Sunshine Week' to be open and transparent with the public regarding their federal stimulus money.

Brewer, who sent a letter dated March 5 to President Obama requesting federal stimulus funding, never made the letter public, despite House Democrats publicly urging Brewer to send the letter. The public first was able to view the letter today via The Arizona Guardian Web site (or email me if you want it).

“When will Arizonans know where, when and how the federal stimulus dollars are being used?” said Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix (District 15). “Arizona’s children and families are looking for leadership during this economic crisis — they don’t want to be left in the dark during these gloomy times.”

Arizona will receive about $4 billion in federal stimulus funding, most of which will first land on Brewer’s desk. But Brewer still has not said publicly where she will spend the funds. Arizona children and families desperately are waiting to see how these funds will affect them and their economic security.

For example, the state’s Children’s Rehabilitative Services, which provides health coverage to children with a chronic illness or disability, will lose funding on Friday, but could be re-funded by federal stimulus dollars. Children who use this program suffer from life-threatening illnesses such as Congenital Heart Anomalies, Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis and Sickle Cell Anemia.

The federal stimulus package could streamline Arizona’s unemployment insurance and make it more efficient and helpful to Arizona’s middle-class families who recently have been laid off.

“Is the governor going to request simple, legislative action to qualify for the $132 million in stimulus money that can be used to bolster our own unemployment benefits when Arizonans need them the most?” said Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix (District 15).

Arizona hasn’t set up a Web site, chosen staff to articulate the federal stimulus funding for Arizona to the public or discussed any policy decisions as other states have to keep their citizens informed.

“Arizonans deserve to know where their tax dollars are being spent,”
said Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14). “Elected leaders always should be held accountable by the public, especially in a time of economic crisis."

"People are hurting in this bad economy, and appropriate clear and rapid use of Arizona's stimulus money is important,"
said Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson (District 29). "Right now there is a lack of leadership and communication from the governor's office, and that must change. The House Democrats and I continue to be ready and willing to work with everyone in pursuit of the common good."

- adapted from House Dems PIO.

Monday, March 16, 2009

US and Mexico fight NAFTA battle on trucks, tariffs

Ban of Mexican trucks on US roads sparks NAFTA scrap.

TUCSON -- Mexico slapped tariffs on 90 American agricultural and manufactured exports on Monday in retaliation for Washington's move to block Mexican trucks from using U.S. highways.

Mexican Economy Minister Gerardo Ruiz said about $2.4 billion worth of exports from 40 U.S. states would be affected and that his government would soon publish a list of them.

more from Reuters...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Family and I in St. Patrick's Day parade downtown

Go green!

TUCSON -- My family and I enjoyed riding in a convertible in the annual St. Patrick's Day parade today, through south downtown to Armory Park in district 29.

We rolled with the Tucson Roller Derby, and it was fun to wave, smile and yell 'go green!' with thousands of people along the route.

It was a good turnout on a nice spring day. We also had fun seeing everyone at the celebration in the park.

UPDATE, 3:12pm: Speaking of 'go green', my alma mater Michigan State gets the #2 seed in the NCAA tournament midwest region, and will play Friday in Minneapolis. Arizona also gets lucky to be in and will play in Miami on Friday.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Brewer must do more for AZ's fair share of stimulus

Lack of leadership has Arizona so far not fully benefiting from stimulus.

TUCSON -- Arizona is being short-changed in federal stimulus help, therefore Governor Jan Brewer (R) should go after more of it, especially some of the $555M in unemployment benefits Texas is rejecting.

Brewer so far has not been aggressive or clear in pursuing Arizona's fair share of needed stimulus money to help people and create jobs during this very bad economy.

The House Democrats and I continue to encourage the governor to act now, and offer our help.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Forest Service sacrificing AZ area to 'wreck'reation

Forest Service too permissive on off-road 'wreck'reation.

TUCSON -- The Coronado National Forest is seeking public input on a plan to manage off-road vehicles and protect the fragile southwestern desert near Tucson. This plan is a first step toward better protecting the “sky islands” of southern Arizona from damage caused by decades of unrestricted off-road vehicle use.

The Santa Catalina Ranger District is the first of the five ranger districts to release its plan to the public, and the District Ranger's plan is weak.

According to the Forest Service, there are more than 260 miles of open roads in the Santa Catalinas and more than 30 miles of “non-system” roads and trails. Non-system roads and trails are often the result of illegal off-road travel.

Despite big and growing problems with off-road vehicle damage and crime, especially in the fragile and scenic Reddington Pass wildlife corridor, only a single mile of road would be closed under this plan.

The sky islands of southern Arizona are incredibly diverse, ranging from Sonoran desert to alpine forest. Taking a trip up Mt. Lemmon from Tucson is like taking a trip from Mexico to Canada. The sky islands are also surrounded by rapidly growing communities in southern Arizona, with increasing numbers of people crowding into ever disappearing wild places.

The Forest Service is conducting Travel Management on all forests in the country, following a 2005 federal rule that ends decades of unregulated cross-country, off-road driving on public lands. The rule stems from a 1972 presidential order that recognized the significant damage caused by off-road vehicle use and the need to protect public lands for future generations of quiet recreational users, wildlife, and watersheds.

The plan, known as a “Proposed Action,” was posted on the Coronado National Forest Web site on Wednesday, March 11. The plan does not include information about the Coronado’s wildlife, waters, or non-motorized recreation opportunities. The Forest will host an open-house meeting on March 26, 2009, from 5:00 p.m. through 7:30 p.m., at the Udall Regional Center, 7200 E. Tanque Verde Road, in Tucson. Comments are due by April 15, 2009.

The Santa Catalina Ranger District includes Mt. Lemmon, Sabino Canyon, and the Rincon Mountains east of Tucson.

- adapted from CBD

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Emergency AZ budget 'fix' could've been avoided

Rep. Patterson helping Tucson kids.

PHOENIX -- Emergency legislation to backfill deep cuts that would have left thousands of families without child care by Friday could be avoided by accounting for federal stimulus dollars in the 2009 budget, House Democrats have said since January.

While thousands of families were deciding whether to quit their jobs or leave their children home alone, House Democrats shook their heads after having told Republican colleagues in January that the original deep cuts to the 2009 budget were unnecessary and federal stimulus dollars were days away.

“Republicans’ drastic and draconian cuts to education maximize the harm caused to students, children, middle-class families and our state’s economic future,”
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema said in a House Democrats press release on Jan. 29. “And the most important part: these cuts are completely unnecessary.”

Only days remained for the federal stimulus package to become available to Arizona during the 2009 budget fix in late January. House Democrats also offered amendments in the early morning hours of the budget debate on Jan. 30 to include federal stimulus funding in the budget package, but House Republicans voted it down.

“This emergency budget revision and wave of panic that thousands of Arizona families had to endure could have been avoided by working in a bipartisan way and adopting one of the original Democratic options in the 2009 budget fix back in January,” said Rep. David Lujan, House Democratic Leader. “We warned Republicans of this in their original budget cuts that they rushed to the floor in the middle of the night. Now they are playing ‘erase and correct’ on this shameful error.”

House Democrats also offered alternative and responsible budget solutions to the 2009 shortfall, alternatives that would have protected the state’s middle-class families and education system. The proposal accounted for the federal stimulus dollars Republicans used to right their wrong today. It was hailed as common sense, prudent and practical.

But Republicans chose to ignore Democrats’ proposal in favor of making deep unnecessary cuts that gravely affected child care, child abuse cases, health care and education.

“I hate to say it, but we told them so,” said Rep. Chad Campbell, House Democratic Whip. “It’s unfortunate that so many programs were cut and so many people had to make life-changing decisions when all of that could have been avoided."

"I was glad to vote today to help restore support for some at-risk children.
I'm also glad I was part of offering a smarter solution in January, which should've been followed. Under our fair plan, the cuts we backfilled today would not have happened in the first place," said Rep. Daniel Patterson of Tucson's district 29. "All of this harmful budget chaos would not be happening if more Republicans would 'walk the talk' and work with Democrats."

Without the key votes of House Democrats today, the bill would have failed and funding would not have been restored.

- adapted from House Dems PIO

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

First House vote today absent of economic relief

Arizonans looking for work at a job fair last month. Republicans' out-of-touch priorities are not helping the economy.

PHOENIX -- Arizona is facing one of the largest budget deficits in state history, but the first bills to reach the House floor for a vote this regular legislative session have nothing to do with state economic recovery.

Representatives will go to the floor today to debate two anti-choice bills, a tax credit bill for private schools, bills that deregulate businesses and a postcard to Congress, all introduced by Republicans, all wrong priorities for the state.

“While the Arizona’s fiscal crisis is looming, the House Republicans are spending taxpayer dollars on issues that won't help middle class families at all,” said Rep. David Lujan, House Democratic leader. “Arizona families have two top priorities – jobs and education – and those are the right priorities to get our state’s economy back on track and to move Arizona forward.”

With only 23 days left to request and use federal stimulus funding that would offset the state budget deficit, Gov. Jan Brewer immediately should request the funds allocated by President Obama and available to our state that specifically would create jobs and fund education, House Democrats say. If Brewer does not accept the funds, the legislature can act.

To receive federal stimulus funds, governors have 45 days to certify that they will first, "request and use" funds and second, use them to create jobs and promote economic growth. If a governor does not accept funds allocated to his or her state before that window expires, the state's legislature then has the option of certifying those two conditions itself.

“The people of our state haven’t seen this type of economic crisis in their lifetimes, and they are looking for answers,” Lujan said. “It’s our job to make sure we do that.”

- from House Dems PIO

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bipartisan support on anti-fraud False Claims Act

Patterson showing effective leadership at Capitol.

UPDATE, 3/11: For fiscal responsibility, to protect the taxpayer and to help fight fraud in Arizona, Rep. Adam Driggs (R-Phoenix) needs to withdraw HB2595 from his committee, judiciary, where it was double assigned, so it can move to the House floor and all members may consider. We are working on this.

PHOENIX -- The House Democratic Caucus featured my Arizona False Claims Act bill (HB2595) as the main topic of our weekly Monday morning press conference.

I'm proud this common sense bill for taxpayer protection and fiscal responsibility has attracted bipartisan support and passed out of the House Commerce Committee last week.

Now, for the common good, legislative leaders should make sure it gets a chance for full consideration on the House floor.

OTHER COVERAGE: Howie Fischer in East Valley Tribune and Arizona Daily Star. The Arizona False Claims Act is also featured in today's Arizona Republic on the politics page (B2), and is being covered today on NPR stations in Arizona.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Voting no on unwise HB2235, AZGFD commission

House MAPS committee members, vote no on HB2235.

UPDATE, 3/11: Victory! (at least for now). Chairman Jerry Weiers (R-Glendale) has pulled this bill from the agenda today, meaning it is likely dead this year.

PHOENIX -- As an Arizona hunter, I'll be voting no on the unneeded and unwise HB2235 Wednesday in the AZ House Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee (MAPS). I support the current Arizona Game and Fish Commission appointment process that has worked well to protect the public interest for 80 years.

HB 2235 is proposed legislation that would amend an existing law concerning the qualifications and appointment process for Game and Fish Commission membership. The Commission voted unanimously at its meeting on Jan. 23 to oppose this bill and voted unanimously on Feb. 23 to oppose proposed language that might amendment the bill.

Some of the provisions of the bill, if it were to pass as originally written, are that all future Commission members would be required to have a continuous recorded registration with the same political party or as an independent for at least 5 years immediately preceding the appointment, must have also held a valid hunting or combination hunting and fishing license for at least 5 years immediately preceding the appointment, and must have been an Arizona resident for at least 10 years. (It should be noted that this bill sets a more restrictive residency standard than exists for Legislators or for most other elected officials in Arizona, including Governor). The original draft legislation would also require that all applications for appointment to the Commission be available for public inspection not later than the second week in December.

The Commission’s reasons for opposing the bill were articulated in an e-mail communication sent out to constituents on Jan. 26. They included:

As originally written, the bill would prevent an individual from being an eligible applicant who had been a long time-purchaser of a hunting license but, for any reason, missed purchasing a license during the five years prior to becoming a candidate. This would prevent anyone serving as a Commissioner who was unable to purchase a license due to economic or health reasons, family circumstances, or being out of state for a period of time, such as a member of the U.S. military who might be deployed overseas.

The draft legislation would prevent the Governor from making an appointment except from candidates that submitted applications prior to the second week in December. If the Governor didn’t call for applications until after the second week in December, or if a current Commissioner was unable to continue serving their term and resigned, the Governor would be unable to appoint a new Commissioner until the following December.

No specific skills, knowledge or qualifications are required of an individual who has purchased a hunting or combination hunting and fishing license that aren’t already required by the existing statute. The current law states that Commission members be “well informed on the subjects of wildlife and requirements for its conservation”.

Although the Commission is aware that some amendments may be proposed to this bill, the Commission hasn’t seen anything that would warrant changing a system that has worked well for the interests of Arizona’s wildlife and its citizens for 80 years. The Commission understands the critical role sportsmen play in funding wildlife conservation. It also believes that Arizona’s wildlife belongs to all its citizens, each of whom has a responsibility to help fund conservation. This bill would be overly restrictive in who could be eligible to serve as a Commissioner (the standard would be more restrictive than currently exists for most public offices in Arizona), and would unnecessarily change a long-standing system.

As a proud conservation-minded Arizona hunter, I'm voting no on HB2235 and I urge other MAPS committee members to please join me.

- adapted from AZGFD Commission

Friday, March 06, 2009

2nd Patterson sponsored AZ energy bill passes

Solar power offers hope for AZ jobs and economy.

PHOENIX -- House Democrats Nancy Young Wright (Tucson), Chris Deschene (Window Rock) and I helped pass bipartisan HB2337 yesterday in the Water and Energy Committee.

HB2337 establishes energy efficiency goals for residential and commercial construction, schools and state buildings, and allows state agencies and school districts to enter into energy performance and renewable energy power purchase contracts and utilize the savings realized from these contracts. Additionally, HB2337 includes stipulations for the implementation of the contracts and includes reporting requirements.

This is the second energy bill I helped sponsor that has passed, the first being HB2336.

I'll be a featured speaker today at the opening ceremony of the big Energy and Sustainability EXPO9 in Tucson, sponsored by the Pima Association of Governments.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Capitol blog: rally for schools, HB2595, UA hearing

Mar 5 at UA will be the 9th legislative Dems budget hearing, and 7 more are planned.

UPDATE, 3/6: We had a strong turnout last night at UA, and stayed late listening to Arizonans' concerns about education, help for seniors and people with disabilities, medical cannabis, health insurance, small business, early childhood programs and other issues. Thanks, everyone, for participating.

PHOENIX -- Quick update from the capital city.

I'm happy to report my anti-fraud Arizona False Claims Act (HB2595) passed out of committee today. I thank members for their support of this common sense public interest bill.

GOP Rep. Doug Quelland's Bikes Safe Yield Act (HB2479), which I was supporting, went down in committee, but all Democrats on the committee supported it.

Thousands of education advocates protested powerfully today in favor of stronger state support for schools. Governor Jan Brewer is showing a lack of leadership so far, and did not present a solid plan today to help Arizona's economy, jobs or education.

The pro-business Southern Arizona Leadership Council did show courageous leadership by coming out in opposition to HB2073, the proposed permanent repeal of the state education equalization assessment. If the legislature simply does nothing on the issue this year at least $258M in much needed revenue will be gained for schools.

Thurs. eve House and Senate Dems continue our statewide budget hearings tour with a stop to listen at the University of Arizona in Tucson, 6:30-9pm. I'll be there.

More budget hearings across Arizona are upcoming: Nogales: Friday, March 13th, 2009, 4–6:00 p.m. City of Nogales Council Chambers, 777 N. Grand Ave., Nogales.

Also planned: Maryvale/West Phoenix (3/18/09); Ahwatukee/Chandler (3/25/09); ASU West Campus/Northwest Valley (3/30/09); Ajo (4/06/09); Anthem (4/07/09); and in Mesa (4/16/09). Details will be released as they are available.

For more information, contact: Cynthia Aragon, 602-926-3591 or caragon(at)azleg.gov

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Putting a face on Arizona's harmful budget cuts

Arizonans protest draconian budget cuts.

PHOENIX -- Thousands of Arizonans, especially many with disabilities, are now suffering directly due to FY09 state budget cuts rammed through by Republicans in the middle of the night on Jan 30-31.

Veteran Arizona political reporter Bud Foster of KOLD 13 in Tucson had this issue as the top story last night on the news, 'Putting a face on Arizona's budget cuts,' (click to read and view video) featuring Tucson's district 29 Democratic Representatives Daniel Patterson and Matt Heinz.

We both voted against the harsh cuts, and will continue to lead the way with the House Democrats with options for a fair balanced FY10 budget that would protect Arizonans most at-risk.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Working two good bills in AZ House this week

Making the law at the AZ Capitol.

PHOENIX -- Along with my many other duties, I'm working especially hard on two bills this week.

HB2595, the anti-fraud Arizona False Claims Act, and HB2479, the Bikes Safe Yield Act.

Both bills make sense for the common good, and I urge my colleagues to support.

Just caught and collared Jaguar now dead in AZ

Arizona loses an endangered Jaguar.

TUCSON -- Sad news. Rare arizona borderlands Jaguar Macho B is dead after having been recently trapped by the AZ Game and Fish Dept. and fitted with a GPS collar. It is reported the Jaguar had kidney problems.

Sometimes, trapping and collaring wildlife turns out to not be the right thing to do. The research can be valuable, but it can cause severe stress to animals. This is not the first time a collared big predator has ended up dead in Arizona.

AZGFD and US Fish and Wildlife Service may have had little to no choice, but should've at least let Macho B back in to his wild habitat to die naturally. The old big cat deserved at least that much.

OTHER COVERAGE, 3/3: AZ Daily Star

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Why a 'cap and trade' pollution plan won't work

Efficiency, conservation, a carbon/pollution assessment and distributed generation of clean energy are the best ways to cut our carbon footprint, not 'cap and trade'.

TUCSON -- I am an ecologist who's worked my entire adult life in the environment and energy sector.

I'm also a supporter of President Obama, but his proposed cap-and-trade plan for reducing greenhouse gases will not cut pollution quickly enough to prevent devastating global warming climate change, according to an expert analysis recently released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The broad political support for cap-and-trade scheme is rooted in its biggest flaw – that an incremental approach designed to keep prices for carbon-based energy low will be insufficient to accomplish a quick shift in energy sources.