Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Brewer asked for costs of her reckless lawsuits

Lawmaker asks Governor for costs of lawsuits to defend her “extremist agenda”


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- State Rep. Daniel Patterson (D-Tucson) filed a public records request today with Governor Jan Brewer’s office, asking for an accounting of the taxpayer dollars that have been spent litigating the Governor’s various policy positions and actions.

“This state is in an economic crisis. The Governor’s attention should be focused on creating jobs and the public’s money should be dedicated to schools and kids,” Patterson said.

“In every case below, the Governor and her partisan supporters in the Legislature had ample warning of the cost that would ensue from potential lawsuits. But they moved forward with their reckless and extremist agenda and now it is the taxpayer that is paying the bill,” Patterson said.

A copy of the letter, detailing the specific lawsuits Patterson has asked for information about, is below:

ARIZONA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Representative Daniel Patterson

November 22, 2011

Matthew Benson, Director of Communications
The Office of Governor Janice K. Brewer
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85007

Dear Mr. Benson,

Pursuant to A.R.S. § 39-121 et seq., I am writing to request copies, or the right to examine and make copies, of any and all public records evidencing the costs, including attorneys’ fees, of the following litigation:

1. Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Board v. Brewer, CV-09-0078-SA (Ariz. Supreme Ct.)
2. State of Arizona v. United States, cv-01072-SRB (Ariz. Dist. Ct.)
3. United States v. State of Arizona, cv-01413-NVW (Ariz. Dist. Ct.)
4. Brewer v. Burns, CV-09-0168-SA (Ariz. Supreme Ct.)
5. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission v. Brewer, CV-11-0313-SA (Ariz. Supreme Ct.)
6. Collins v. Brewer, cv-02402-JWS (Ariz. Dist. Ct.)
7. Fogliano v. Betlach, CV2011-010965 (Ariz. Superior Ct.)
8. State of Florida v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 3:10 cv-91 RV/EMT (N.D. Florida)

This request includes, but is not limited to, any and all documents (whether written or electronic, including text messages, emails, phone records, audio, video, CD Rom or any other format) and includes costs for the entire span of the litigation, including appeals (interlocutory or otherwise) and any judgments for damages, including payment of the prevailing party’s attorneys’ fees, as well as any costs for cases associated or consolidated with the above-named cases. Summaries of these costs may be provided in lieu of copies of billing statements in order to minimize any dispute over withholding attorney-client confidential information.

These records are not sought for any commercial purpose, and therefore I do not agree to pay for any costs associated with locating these public records. See A.R.S. § 39-121.03.

Please comply with this request on or before November 28, 2011. See id. § 121.01(D)(1) & (E) (requiring prompt compliance with public records requests). If for any reason you refuse to provide any of the requested public records, pursuant to A.R.S. § 39-121.01(D)(2), please provide an index of the items withheld and the reasons for which you are withholding them.

Sincerely,
Representative Daniel Patterson

Friday, November 04, 2011

UPDATE: AZ Independent Redistricting attacked

Pearce, Brewer & TeaParty legislature drunk with power and out-of-control.

UPDATE, Thu. Nov 17: The Arizona Supreme Court today restored Mathis as Chair of the AIRC and declared her impeachment by Brewer and the Senate was unconstitutional. Also, Senate President Russell Pearce was recalled by voters on Nov 8 and is now out of office.

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- My statements on the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission crisis (Nov 4 & Nov 1):

Representative Daniel Patterson (Tucson): Book hawker Brewer in NYC and the Arizona TeaParty Legislature, drunk with power, earned wide criticism this week due to their illegal power grab and attack against independent redistricting. This is a historic abuse of power without parallel in modern American history.

This week, Republicans turned the Arizona state Legislature into a kangaroo court. Their supermajority illegally removed the independent chair of an independent commission. In their rush to judgment, they did not follow a proper constitutional process, unfairly denying the chairwoman sufficient time to defend herself.

TeaParty politicians know the only way they can stay in power in a closely divided state is to break the law and drag the reputation of an honorable independent citizen volunteer through the mud.

This baseless, unfair vote to impeach a volunteer citizen commissioner was the culmination of nearly a year of bullying and interference. Every honest person in the state agrees that this is not about ‘substantial neglect of duty’ or ‘gross misconduct in office.’ It was about protecting the careers of Republican congressmen like Ben Quayle. These GOP congressmen conspired with the governor to strong-arm state lawmakers to ‘blow up’ this independent commission.

This breathtaking abuse of power came at the expense of good government and fair elections. It trampled over the Constitution and mocked the will of the voters.

Over a decade ago, those voters took redistricting out of the hands of self-interested politicians. But Tuesday, politicians yanked it right back. Overthrowing a voter-driven process is the ultimate partisan overreach.

Republicans control nearly every statewide office, and they hold a a supermajority in the Legislature. But all that power still isn’t enough: They won’t stop until they own the next 10 years of Arizona elections. But the stench from this attack on independent redistricting will trail them into next year's elections where every Arizonan will know what they did to silence the voices of Arizona's growing ranks of independents.

The people of Arizona want competitive districts and fair elections. Arizonans are angry and fighting back against these abuses from reckless Brewer and her mad TeaParty Legislature. (Nov. 4)

(Nov. 1) "This special session is the height of hypocrisy," said Representative Daniel Patterson of Tucson. "It's the partisan incumbent politicians like Brewer, Bennett, Pearce and Tobin pushing for this session who are guilty of all the things they accuse the Independent Redistricting Commission of: no transparency, abuse of power and back room deals designed to keep the public, even other Legislators, in the dark."

Much more on-going coverage of AIRC and AZ politics @RepPatterson & Rep. Daniel R. Patterson page

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I & 200+ state leaders across USA: Pass jobs bill

Hundreds of Legislators From 46 States Tell D.C.: Pass Jobs Bill, Include State Aid
As Senate Considers “Teachers & First Responders Back to Work Act,” 211 State Lawmakers Demand Action on Jobs

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- Hundreds of state lawmakers representing every corner of the nation joined together today to send a single message to Washington, D.C.: pass a meaningful jobs bill, and pass it now.

In an open letter released today by Progressive States Network, 211 legislators representing 46 states voiced their strong support for the American Jobs Act and warned of “devastating” economic consequences to their states if jobs legislation was not passed by Congress. The lawmakers also urged the inclusion of critical measures to support states in any legislation emerging from Congress – including the $35 billion in aid to states that would create and protect hundreds of thousands of jobs, and which is currently being debated in the U.S. Senate as part of the “Teachers & First Responders Back to Work Act.”

read more

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Reps. to address parents at education institute

I'm a parent and I support education.

UPDATE, Oct 19: Rep. Patterson interview on Arizona education funding (ABC, Tucson)

TUCSON -- Democratic state representatives from Tucson will meet with parents this month to discuss education as part of Voices for Education’s Parent Leadership Institute.

Rep. Daniel Patterson and Rep. Matt Heinz, who represent District 29, will discuss how the legislature affects public education.

Voices for Education’s Parent Leadership Institute
When: Wednesday, Oct. 26, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Where: Holladay Elementary Magnet School, 1110 E. 33rd Street, Tucson

"I'm thankful for this opportunity to talk with parents one on one about how we can work together to improve education in Arizona," Patterson said. "At the legislature, I see the harmful, massive cuts Republicans have made to our kids' schools, and I see those cuts first hand as a parent. Our kids deserve a quality education."

Heinz said if legislators spent more time talking to parents and teachers, Arizona wouldn’t hold the title of last in the nation for education funding.

“Too many state lawmakers are failing to acknowledge our most important asset – our kids and their future,” Heinz said. “We cannot compromise their future by failing to invest and prioritize in their education now. Education will grow our state and attract businesses and jobs. Education is a core Arizona value.”

Voices for Education is a parent-based education advocacy organization that works to improve the educational outcomes of Arizona’s students. For more information go to voicesforeducation.org.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

GOP's Grand Canyon mining push destructive to AZ

The Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA.

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX — Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson (District 29), said he opposes Arizona’s Republican Congressmen’s plan to endanger public safety and health by introducing a bill to allow dangerous uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.

In a press release issued today by Sen. John McCain, Congressman Jeff Flake claimed: “... Arizona’s federal, state, and local officials oppose a moratorium on such mining.”

But Patterson and other Democratic state officials oppose the dangerous mining of uranium, a nonrenewable resource, in Arizona’s wilderness and support tourism jobs and revenue instead.

“Uranium mining has a disastrous history from deadly abandoned sites to dams breached and radioactive waste seeping into aquifers and contaminating water,” Patterson said. “We already know uranium mining isn’t a good idea. It’s a threat to public health and safety as well as to the tourism business in Arizona. Along with other fellow House Democrats, for years I asked the federal government to make sure that our state’s natural wonder, wildlife and beautiful lands that draw millions here from all over the world are protected from those who threaten to destroy it.”

Representative Patterson
is an ecologist and the Ranking Member on the Arizona House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Patterson asks AZ to cooperate for new green jobs

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX — Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson (District 29), has asked Gov. Jan Brewer and Arizona Commerce Authority president and CEO Don Cardon to work with him to develop solar energy and other trade relations with Argentina, an important nation and economy which has opened the door to renewable energy expansion.

Arizona could create more jobs and boost the state's economy by developing a renewable energy relationship with Argentina and thwarting the likelihood of the country's partnering with China.

"Since the establishment of our new Commerce Authority, it is clear that Arizona is placing priority on expanding our business interests across the country and across the globe," Patterson wrote in a October 7 letter to Cardon and Brewer. "China is increasingly targeting projects in countries such as Argentina and Brazil, where China has overtaken the United States as the number-one trade partner. Frankly, China is looking toward the future and we are choosing to continue to do business as usual."

Patterson had the opportunity to meet legislators and economists in Argentina, where they are taking necessary steps to increase renewable energy production.

"With just a small area, we can help power the nation and Arizona with clean solar energy," Patterson said. "These are the kinds of good-paying, green jobs we need right now to move our economy forward instead of letting China run away with it."

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Hunting Eastern Arizona's Blue Range, Unit 27

ALPINE & CLIFTON AZ -- Two photos below of my recent wild turkey hunting and forest health/fire monitoring excursion in Greenlee and Apache Counties, Arizona, one of my favorite places in our beautiful world.

Sportsman Rep. Daniel Patterson on the A-S National Forest.

Rep. Patterson and Sky Jacobs hunting wild turkey.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

US young political leaders bipartisan mission to ARG

Rep. Daniel Patterson (lower right) & ACYPL delegates talk with Aida Ayala, Mayor of Resistencia, Chaco, Argentina. Sept. 13, 2011 Javier Valdez photo

Sept. 19 UPDATE: It was a great trip. For live trip notes & photos, please go to @RepPatterson twitter or Rep. Patterson facebook for Sept. 8-19.

LEGISLATORS, BUSINESS LEADERS CHOSEN FOR ARGENTINA EXCHANGE
Group Will Visit Four Cities, Interact With Prominent Political Leaders

WASHINGTON DC (Sept. 6) – On September 10th, DC-based international education NGO the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) will send a 7-member bipartisan delegation of American political and policy professionals to Argentina.

The delegates, who hail from various political careers both within and outside government, joined the delegation after ACYPL selected them from a pool of nominees. Each one qualified for the program based on their age (25-40), their political involvement, and their travel history (ACYPL ensures that delegates do not travel to countries they have visited previously.)

The exchange aims to educate the delegates about Argentinian national and local governance and politics as well as explore the global issues affecting US-Argentina bilateral relations. During the 10-day program, delegates will examine Argentina’s governance, politics, policymaking, international affairs, and culture. Through interactions with Argentinian government officials, business and community leaders, advocacy experts, scholars, and diplomats, the young leaders will gain a better understanding of Argentina as well as enhance their leadership and public diplomacy skills.

After a brief orientation in Washington, DC, the group will travel to Mendoza, Chaco, Corrientes, and Buenos Aires. During their time in country, the delegates will meet with justice officials, members of Parliament, executives like mayors and governors, cabinet members, journalists, and business leaders. In addition, they will make several cultural stops, learning about the history of Argentina and experiencing its unique landmarks. ACYPL exchanges place a strong emphasis on diversity and bipartisanship.

The delegation includes Democrats Monisha Merchant (Senior Director, Product Management, Level 3 Communications), Curtis Johnson (Associate Director of Governmental Affairs, FMCSA, Department of Transportation), and Daniel Patterson (Member, Arizona House of Representatives, Tucson) and Republicans Sara Beth Gregory (Member, Kentucky House of Representatives), Lance Gooden (Member, Texas House of Representatives), and Lisa Stickan (Assistant Prosecutor, Cuyahoga County and Chairman of the Young Republican National Federation). The group will be escorted by ACYPL alumnus Manny Flores (Director of the Division of Banking, Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation).

Since its founding in 1966, the American Council of Young Political Leaders has designed, organized and managed unique international exchange activities for young (age 25-40) political and policy leaders worldwide who are selected based on their current political leadership roles and potential for future achievement. ACYPL programs are designed to promote mutual understanding, respect, and friendship and to cultivate long-lasting relationships among next generation leaders. Each year, with support from the US State Department and a wide range of corporate, labor, foundation and individual partners, conduct exchanges with 25-30 countries around the world. ACYPL has a network of over 7,500 alumni in 100 countries, many whom have risen to positions of national and international prominence, including over 40 current members of the US Congress, 6 current US governors and ambassadors, and cabinet ministers and parliamentarians around the globe. ACYPL news release

Monday, August 29, 2011

Patterson wins 3rd friend of cities & towns award

UPDATE, Sept 2: Rep. Daniel Patterson (4th from right) joins AZLCT President and Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup, Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, Rep. Katie Hobbs and others in receiving awards.

TUCSON -- I'm proud to be awarded again as a 'friend' of Arizona cities and towns this Thursday at the Arizona League of Cities and Towns annual conference here.

I've worked hard to earn this recognition now three years in a row.

The state should help locals, not hurt.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pima Dems: 357 new laws by Rs & nothing for jobs

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- The Republican Arizona Legislature found time to pass 357 new laws (2011) governing our freedom but not a single one of them is meant to create a job.

Most of these laws take effect this week, as they were rammed through the legislature at the end of the session. With Unemployment in Arizona over 9 percent, the Legislature failed to produce a single jobs bill -- not even a bill that claims to address jobs. Meanwhile, the Associated Press ran a story reporting that Arizona's recovery is lagging behind the rest of the country.

Southern Arizona Republican lawmakers Al Melvin, Terri Proud, Vic Williams, David Gowan, Ted Vogt and Frank Antenori were more than willing to go along with extreme Phoenix agendas that have nothing to do with jobs.

“The Far Right Agenda pushed by the Russel Pearce Republicans seems to be anything but creating jobs,” said Pima County Democratic Party Chair Jeff Rogers. “So long as they have a job, they apparently don't see the crisis.”

The Legislature did pass laws to allow guns on campuses, “birther” legislation and spent time contemplating nullification of federal laws. Lawmakers did suggest that denying people unemployment benefits that they are entitled to, would somehow create jobs.

“We can hear the fiddling but they don't notice the flames,” Rogers said. “The Legislature had the audacity to tell the unemployed to simply ‘get a job,’ while cutting off assistance they desperately need and are supposed to get. The Legislature’s extreme agenda does not mesh with mainstream Arizona values.”

- Pima County Democratic Party news release

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Helping realize progress in downtown Tucson

TUCSON -- Rep. Daniel Patterson (2nd from left), Rep. Saldate, Councilwoman Romero & others help break ground July 14 on new bridge near 'A' Mountain, over the Santa Cruz River at Cushing Street, LD29 & 27. The bridge will link light rail, pedestrians, bikes & cars from downtown to the west side, helping southern Arizona's quality of life, transportation, jobs and economy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rep: Uranium ban needed to protect Grand Canyon

People want the Grand Canyon protected

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson (District 29), released the following statement today regarding U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s moratorium extension on uranium mining at the Grand Canyon:

“I applaud Secretary Salazar’s decision to extend the moratorium on uranium mining at Arizona’s natural point of pride, the Grand Canyon. This decision is as a win-win for Arizona to protect our beautiful lands, public safety and tourism for years to come.

“Uranium mining has a disastrous history from deadly abandoned sites to dams breached and radioactive waste seeping into aquifers and contaminating water. We already know uranium mining isn’t a good idea. It’s a threat to public health and safety as well as to the tourism business in Arizona.

“Along with other fellow House Democrats, for years I asked Secretary Salazar to make sure that our state’s natural wonder and beautiful lands that draw millions here from all over the world are protected from those who threaten to destroy it. Today, those people were held accountable.

“Secretary Salazar’s decision is key to our state’s tourism economy and public health, and today, we took one step forward in preserving and conserving the Grand Canyon for generations to come.”

Representative Patterson is an ecologist and the Ranking Member on the Arizona House Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He formerly worked with US Interior agency BLM.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reps hit Brewer & Horne on med marijuana delay

Democrats defending the will of the voters

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- Read this important letter sent Friday:

ARIZONA LEGISLATURE
1700 W. Washington St.
Phoenix AZ 85007

June 10, 2011

To: Jan Brewer, Governor
Tom Horne, Attorney General
Will Humble, Director, AZ Dept. of Health Services

Dear Governor Brewer, Tom Horne and Director Humble:

We are writing to express concern about the delays relating to the implementation of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). Prior to receiving United States Attorney Dennis Burke’s letter, it was our understanding that you were expeditiously working towards implementing the provisions of AMMA. However, since the receipt of US Attorney Burke’s letter, you have pursued legal action which will inevitably result in unnecessary delays.

While we applaud any attempt to comply with federal law, a plain reading of US Attorney Burke’s letter establishes no reason to seek out a judicial opinion on the matter. Prosecution of state employees was never mentioned in the letter, and US Attorney Burke said himself that using his letter as grounds for a lawsuit was “disingenuous”. We sincerely hope that it is not your intent to use a federal suit to delay compliance with a law with which you disagree.

As you know, AMMA expresses the will of the Arizona voters through the voter initiative process. The Department of Health Service’s failure to begin accepting applications for dispensary licenses on June 1st, as required by administrative rule, is without legal authority and is clearly circumventing the will of the voters. A significant amount of time and money has been invested by many of these voters who have rightfully relied on the law’s timely implementation, many of whom are patients who are suffering or physicians who have made significant investments in preparing to dispense such medicine.

It is our sincere hope that you will revisit your decision to halt dispensary applications and immediately move toward implementing the law. Any action to the contrary is in clear violation of the Arizona State Constitution and will be adjudicated as such at the unfair expense of the taxpayer.

Sincerely,
Representative Daniel Patterson
District 29

Representative Matt Heinz
District 29

Representative Catherine Miranda
District 16

Representative Bruce Wheeler
District 28

Representative Macario Saldate
District 27

Representative Sally Ann Gonzales
District 27

Representative Lela Alston
District 15

Representative Ruben Gallego
District 16

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Cuts, politics cripple AZ air pollution enforcement

Maricopa County: Bad air, dirty politics

CUTBACKS CRIPPLE ARIZONA AIR POLLUTION ENFORCEMENT. Despite Looming EPA Sanctions, County Signals Corporate Kid Glove Treatment

PHOENIX -- Even as it faces federal sanctions for noncompliance with air quality standards, Maricopa County is laying off so many inspectors and other staff that it will no longer routinely issue fines for air pollution violations, according to an Air Quality Department (MCAQD) email posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). This internal email was forwarded by the MCAQD Director to an unofficial advisory committee with representatives from industry, including the state Chamber of Commerce, contractors and gravel mines, among others.

With nearly 4 million people, Maricopa County is the biggest in Arizona and one of the largest counties in the U.S., including the megalopolis of metro Phoenix, with a bigger population than 23 states. In a May 27, 2011 email, MCAQD Director William (Bill) Wiley told his kitchen cabinet of corporate, government and non-profit advisors:

“Below is an email, I sent to County Air Quality employees yesterday. It has been a challenging time and we have now reduced our staff by over 20 positions this year. With the reductions in previous years we are now down over 100 positions in 2 years.”

The loss of 100 positions would be a nearly 50% reduction in the MCADQ workforce which was listed as 156 employees earlier this year before the latest layoff. In his email to employees, Wiley ordered them to avoid taking enforcement action against polluters except as a last resort:

“Moving forward, we will shift our focus to creating a culture of Compliance Assurance. Compliance Assurance focuses on increasing the percentage of facilities operating in compliance by utilizing a variety of approaches. This may include outreach, business assistance, training, targeted inspections as well as enforcement. Enforcement should be both potent and effective but used as a final option when other efforts have failed.”

“Director Wiley might as well have told Arizona’s biggest polluters that his department has declared a permanent enforcement holiday,” stated Southwest PEER Director Daniel Patterson, noting that industry could save substantial sums if it did not have to follow increasingly strict air quality controls to protect public health. “How do you encourage clean air compliance when there is no penalty for cheating?”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found Maricopa County in violation of Clean Air Act standards. If MCAQD does not reduce pollution emissions it can face escalating sanctions, such as denial of federal transportation funding.

Wiley’s “heads up” was delivered to an unofficial advisory committee comprised of several industry lobbyists and attorneys which meets every month in the MCAQD building but the meetings are not publicly noticed or open to the public. Making outside scrutiny more difficult, agency management even moved the meetings from the 5th floor to the 8th floor in the MCAQD office building so as to hold them in space rented by a private firm. In February, a local group requested an investigation from the Attorney General into alleged state Open Meeting law violations but the Attorney General declined to take action.

“Even if this arrangement is not illegal, this sort of clubby, closed door dealing on matters affecting public health and quality of life is bad practice,” added Patterson. “Industry insiders should not be privy to information about departmental enforcement that is not available to everybody.”

Link to documents, etc.

Chance to fix AZ jobless aid better late than never

Back to Capitol Friday

UPDATE, Mon. Jun 13: House Democrats: ‘Shame on GOP for failing to fix jobless aid’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- House Democrats, who urged Gov. Jan Brewer and Republican lawmakers in April to make a fix to jobless aid, say they fully support a special session that’s better late than never to help middle-class Arizonans.

“Unfortunately, a special session wasn’t necessary to make this fix,” said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell. “We notified Gov. Brewer and Republicans about this back in April and urged them to make the one-word fix while we were on the House floor in the middle of the night.”

House Democrats even provided an avenue to make the fix by proposing to amend HB 2619 to include the fix. But Republicans refused.

“We aren’t sure what changed their minds between now and then,” said House Minority Whip Anna Tovar. “We’re just happy to help struggling Arizona families continue to put food on the table while they search for jobs and help local businesses by bringing $3.5 million a week to our economy.”

If Republicans, who control all of state government, fail to make the fix, 15,000 unemployed Arizonans could lose jobless aid at the end of this week and nearly 30,000 by the end of the year.

"Arizonans need a legislature that's on their side for a better quality of life, but too many majority Republicans have been badly out-of-touch," said Rep. Daniel Patterson of Tucson, a member of the House Employment and Regulatory Affairs Committee. "Families need a hand now in this tough economy and helping people out of work helps us all."

“It’s about time,” Campbell said. “We hope that Republicans finally will listen to us and now the governor and do what is right. Otherwise, we know that Arizonans will hold them accountable.”

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

NM Gov Martinez, NMDGF encouraged on wolves

Citing Decreasing Predations on Livestock, Conservation Groups Ask Governor to Continue State Support of Wild Wolves. New Mexico Gov. Martinez and Appointees to Consider Policy on Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves at Meeting Thursday.

LAS CRUCES -- A new analysis by conservation groups finds that the number of wolf depredations on livestock in the Southwest decreased in 2008, 2009 and 2010 after authorities made clear that no more wolves would be removed from the wild for depredations. The analysis was part of a letter sent to New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez this week asking her to continue state support for endangered Mexican gray wolves in the wild.

In the previous five years, 2003 through 2007, depredations had increased each year during the same span that federal agents shot or trapped increasing numbers of wolves in retaliation. The removals ended, at least temporarily, because they harmed the population of endangered Mexican gray wolves along the New Mexico/Arizona border and prevented its growth. Last year only 50 Mexican wolves, including two breeding pairs, could be counted in the wild.

Thirteen national and New Mexico conservation organizations cited this encouraging trend in requesting that Gov. Martinez and her appointees: (1) continue to support the successful preventive measures that have keep stock losses to a minimum (just nine deaths due to wolves in all of New Mexico and Arizona last year); (2) maintain state opposition to removing wolves from the wild; (3) resume state support for additional releases of wolves into New Mexico; and also (4) oppose premature congressional removal of Mexican wolves from the endangered species list just as scientists are developing, for the first time, criteria for recovery and subsequent state and tribal authority and management of the Mexican wolf.

The governor’s New Mexico State Game Commission may make changes to wolf policy at tomorrow’s game commission meeting in Las Cruces.

“New Mexico has a critical role in Mexican wolf survival,” said Daniel Patterson, Ecologist and Southwest Director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “We encourage Gov. Martinez to follow facts and continue state leadership to keep wolves in the wild.”

“The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has helped keep the Mexican wolf from extinction over the past three-and-a-half years by prevailing on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not to remove any more wolves from the wild,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The data show that when government removal of wolves ceased, depredations went down as well. That may be because livestock owners, who are reimbursed for losses to wolves, have greater incentive to prevent losses through practicing sound animal husbandry when the possibility of wolf removal is taken off the table.”

Successful measures used to promote coexistence include moving calving operations away from wolf den sites and disposing of the carcasses of livestock that die of non-wolf causes such as disease, accidents, birthing complications, poisonous weeds or starvation. Carcasses can be rendered inedible through lime and other means, thereby preventing wolves from being attracted to areas of vulnerable stock.

The conservationists’ letter to the governor concludes: “Your leadership can help ensure the survival and recovery of the Mexican gray wolf, and thereby also improve the health of the entire vast and wild Gila ecosystem — which would in turn benefit our own species, now and for future generations.”

Monday, June 06, 2011

Arizona source for informed views on forest fires

TUCSON -- Follow me @RepPatterson on twitter and/or facebook for Arizona wildfire news and views.

Today:
Daniel R. Patterson
»
Daniel R. Patterson
»
Daniel R. Patterson
»
Daniel R. Patterson
»
Daniel R. Patterson
»
Daniel R. Patterson
»
Daniel R. Patterson
9 hours ago

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Who's fighting for AZ's middle-class? Democrats

Callous, reckless, out-of-touch AZ GOP

by Rep. Daniel Patterson

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- State government in Arizona in the past three years has made massive cuts to education, given away our money to big corporations, chose to do nothing about foreclosures and hasn’t created a single job.

That toughens the hardship of Arizona’s middle-class families struggling to put food on the table.

But this year, Republicans, who control all of state government, went even further to harm middle-class police officers, firefighters and teachers.

These public safety officers and educators keep our families safe and prepare our kids for the worldwide economy.

Yet because of a few bad apples at the top of the tree, Republicans decided to use a chainsaw to destroy it altogether.

First, let’s be clear: Certain bad actors did scam our state pension system. Take for example, a Phoenix Isaac School District superintendent, who reportedly was allowed to retire, get a pension, then return to work the next day and get the same salary, thus getting both a pension and a salary, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. This happened at the same time the district planned to lay off employees.

We can’t ignore the problem — this is happening.

We also can’t punish police officers and firefighters who risk their lives for us, or teachers who impact our children’s lives because of the malfeasance of a few bad actors.

They are middle-class families who are also struggling to put food on the table.

Yet when Republican lawmakers saw their chance to make life harder for our public safety officers and teachers — middle-class Arizonans — they went for it.

Now the new pension law will do the following to police, firefighters, correctional officers and teachers:

• Make it difficult to recruit and retain public safety officers and protect family members’ when an officer is injured or killed in the line of duty.

• Not allow for a cost of living adjustment for approximately 15 years for employees in the state retirement system, including teachers. The adjustment is currently used to offset increasing health care costs because public safety officers don’t qualify for Medicare or receive social security.

• Require law enforcement personnel to work five years longer before being eligible to retire.

• Increase the amount that public safety officers and teachers are required to contribute from their salary, reducing their take-home pay.

The new law also violates the will of the voters because it trumps a voter-approved initiative, making it unconstitutional.

According to Article 29 of our state Constitution, membership in a public retirement system is a contractual relationship, and public retirement benefits shall not be diminished or impaired, which was approved by voters in 1998.

Requiring employees to pay more into their retirement and receive reduced benefits in the long term violates the state Constitution.

The crafters of this anti-constitutional legislation claimed, falsely, that our retirement systems are on the verge of collapse. Other states across the country did have problems with their pension systems, and some states even had to pay pension benefits out of their general fund.

But Arizona is a different story; our four state pension systems are stable, and the average pension payout is less than extravagant. In fact, teachers receive an average pension of $19,000.

The largest state retirement system, the Arizona State Retirement System, which includes state, county, city employees and teachers, has $27 billion in assets, which is more than three times the entire state budget. The average pension payout to a retiree is $19,840.10 per year.

The next largest fund is the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, which includes firefighters and police officers which has net assets of $6.63 billion, and the average pension payout is approximately $36,000 per year. But unlike members in the state system, the public safety system members don’t pay into or receive social security or Medicare benefits. Therefore, they pay for their own health care out of their own pension benefits.

The Corrections Officers Retirement Plan has net assets of $683.2 million, with an average pension payout of $25,499 per year.

The smallest plan is the Elected Officials Retirement Plan, which has net assets of $326.16 million, with an average pension payout of $45,768 per year.

Numbers don’t lie. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that these funds are stable. There was no need for the desperate, last-minute and sweeping legislation aimed at “fixing” a stable system instead of going after the few bad actors.

There was no need to punish middle-class police officers, firefighters and teachers that we rely on every day. It’s not uncommon for police officers to sacrifice their lives in order to protect our way of life here in Arizona. This is not how our state will recruit and retain the best and brightest to serve our communities.

We should be fixing the problem at the top, not penalizing our teachers who receive a less-than-mediocre pension because of the bad acts of just a few.

It doesn’t mean we should cut benefits to the widows of police officers who gave their lives protecting our citizens.

But that’s exactly what Republicans did.

Daniel Patterson, a Democrat, represents District 29 in the Arizona House of Representatives. District 29 includes parts of Tucson and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

as published in the Arizona Capitol Times, May 27, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

USFWS goes off-road on stressed AZ border refuge

Tuggle hasn't checked reckless manager Slone

OVERSTRESSED AZ BORDER REFUGE INVITES IN OFF-ROAD VEHICLES No Field Damage Monitoring as Refuge Fired Volunteers for Expressing Concerns

TUCSON -- A volatile, fragile national wildlife refuge on the US-Mexico border has thrown open its doors to motorized recreation, according to an official federal announcement Thursday. The sudden move portends major visitor safety risks as well as profound ecological damage in the Sonoran Desert wilderness, contends Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The US Fish & Wildlife Service's (USFWS) Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, between Ajo and Yuma, Arizona, is ground zero for U.S. operations combating illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Despite the fact that 90% of the 860,000 acre refuge is designated wilderness, it is extensively patrolled by federal agents, most all of them in motorized vehicles. The new refuge policy allows off-road vehicle (ORV) traffic only on designated roads but the refuge has no means to enforce this limitation.

“Encouraging off-road recreation in one of the most sensitive and dangerous places in the country is reckless and foolish,” stated PEER Southwest Director and Ecologist Daniel Patterson. “The refuge manager clearly does not fully grasp the safety and environmental issues in the Sonoran Desert border region.”

Besides visitor safety concerns, PEER points to big environmental problems, including –
  • Recently, the refuge stopped doing damage impact surveys because it fired the volunteers who, for the past eight years, had hiked the rugged refuge to inventory scarring from off-road vehicles (ORVs) going overland;
  • The refuge manager, Sid Slone (formerly of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management), fired the refuge volunteers this February for expressing concerns about allowing ORVs onto Cabeza Prieta. After he received a Freedom of Information Act request, he also forbade certain individuals he believed were behind the FOIA from coming into the refuge office beyond the public information desk; and
  • The refuge already has 8,000 documented miles of off-road tracks, mainly from border patrols leaving refuge roadways, according to previous surveys, although there may be as many as 24,000 miles of illegal trails cutting through the refuge.
“Purging valuable, experienced volunteers because they voiced concern for damage to refuge lands and wildlife is just plain bad management and is counterproductive to meeting the refuge conservation mission,” Patterson added, noting that without the ORV damage surveys, the refuge will have little ability to assess the impacts of its new policy. “The refuge is not staffed to enforce requirements that off-roaders keep their vehicles on the roads and do not take off cross-country, harming security and habitat.”

A 2007 PEER survey of federal rangers in the Southwest reflected a broad consensus that ORVs are already by far the top law enforcement problem in the region.

More info & links.

- adapted from PEER

Friday, May 13, 2011

My wrap from 50th AZ Legislature, 1st reg. session


Arizona House of Representatives
Rep. Daniel Patterson (Tucson-LD29)

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- Dear Friends, The first year of the 50th Legislature began in January on a somber note, two days after the mass shooting in Tucson, where six people were killed, including U.S. District Judge John Roll and a young girl, and 13 others were wounded including our U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. One hundred days later the Legislative session ended and will be remembered for controversial Republican bills like the birther bill, the guns on campus bill, huge tax breaks to big corporations and deep cuts to our education and health-care system. Budget cuts will result in more crowded classrooms, higher college tuition, overwhelmed emergency rooms and understaffed public-safety systems. I am writing you this letter because I believe in transparency and that it is my responsibility to inform you of the outcomes of this legislative session.

This legislative session was an ongoing attack on the environment. Fortunately, the most outrageous bills died in the House after being voted out of the Senate. We were able to defeat bills that hinder native fish recovery and another bill that would have weakened Arizona’s voice in the transmission line siting process. I am honored to inform you that I received an A+ on this 2011 Environmental Report Card of the Arizona Legislature and Governor publicized by the Sierra Club. “A+” means that I voted pro-environment 100 percent of the time and did not miss any of the votes on bills scored. In addition, it recognizes a consistent support for environmental protection and good public policy, the strong opposition to a budget that further harms our State Park System, a bill to open up park expansion lands to mining, and several bad messages to Congress, including one objecting to protection of Grand Canyon area lands from mining. Please know I am committed to fighting for you and your priorities.

Now more than ever we must focus on growing our economy and protecting middle-class families. Gov. Jan Brewer and Republicans made their priorities clear by repeatedly giving tax breaks to their special interest friends and the rich, while middle-class families are forced to pay shoulder the burden. I believe in balanced, responsible solutions, and I will continue to fight for you. I will continue to fight to harness our natural strengths to build a strong 21st Century economy and create good-paying jobs. That includes making our state a leader in the development of solar power and renewable energy manufacturing – which not only reduces our reliance on dirty coal and foreign oil, but helps create good-paying jobs right here in Arizona.

Three people died in six months while waiting for transplant funding to be restored and I am happy to inform you that Democrats fought hard to restore transplant funding for nearly 100 Arizonans until at least 2013. But more work remains ahead of us. The Republican-approved budget cut 280,000 people off of health care and will result in 45,000 lost jobs. We must provide essential services for the most vulnerable which include a world-class education for our children.

I know that quality education is both a moral and economic issue that is key to both our state’s economic recovery and children’s future. Republicans approved massive educa­tion cuts (the budget cut $200 million from state universities, $73 million from community colleges and $180 million from K-12 education), which will increase class sizes, cut salaries for thousands of teachers and eliminate critical programs that help students get ahead in the worldwide economy. We need to prioritize our children’s future by protecting school funding. Right now Arizona spends less on our students than almost any other state in the country. I will continue to fight to rebuild the infrastructure needed to economically rebound and create incubators for economic sectors like biosciences and renewable energy through universities and community colleges that will enable our state to weather future economic down­turns through the creation of high-paying jobs.

Furthermore, Republicans introduced bills that would require hospitals to check the legal status of a patient; would deny citizenship to children; would require K-12 schools and universities to check citizenship of students; would ban undocumented immigrants from buying a vehicle; and would ban undocumented immigrants from public housing. Such irresponsible immigration bills would only hurt our state economy, do nothing to address Arizona’s real immigration problems and fail to give our hard-pressed local law enforcement agencies the tools they need to keep our families safe. I believe in adopting comprehensive reform to address immigration problems in Arizona and I am proud that Democrats held Republicans accountable for irresponsible bills that failed to address Arizona’s real immigration problems.

Now more than ever, we need to hold government accountable to We the People. That’s why I am committed to serving you and holding Republicans, who control all of state government, accountable for their actions. We believe government should be honest and effective, and that we should have a right to know how our money is spent so that we can have a better quality of life and a strong future.

I have been and will continue to be a watchdog for you. We can do better on this front and we simply must. How we work together and what we do will have a lasting impact on all of us. Let’s finally get schools funded and make sure our frail and elderly get the care they need. Let’s protect the middle class, foster real job development, promote real economic growth, increase our states competitiveness to strengthen our economy and shine a light on government. And let’s do it in a dignified and respectful manner.

I am here to serve and represent you. Please know your participation and input is crucially important to me and it will help me serve you and our community better. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you ever have any questions, concerns or suggestions.

You may also want to follow me at twitter.com/RepPatterson and facebook.com/RepPatterson.

Respectfully,
Representative Daniel Patterson (Tucson-LD29)

Arizona House of Representatives, State Capitol
Committees: Ranking Member, Energy and Natural Resources; Employment and Regulatory Affairs
602.926.5342 Capitol
520.398.6000 Tucson
azleg.gov

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fed plan risks AZ border security & wildlife refuge

Click image for larger map

TUCSON -- Letter below I just sent to US Fish & Wildlife Service about a bad plan that would harm border security and wildlife in a large part of Pima & Yuma County.

Representative Daniel R. Patterson, Tucson-LD29
Ranking Member, Energy and Natural Resources Committee
House of Representatives, State Capitol, Phoenix AZ USA
602.926.5342 Capitol | 520.398.6000 Tucson | dpatterson@azleg.gov

May 12, 2011

Sid Slone, Refuge Manager
Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge
1611 N. 2nd Ave.
Ajo AZ 85321

RE: Issuing Permits for off-road vehicles in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

Mr. Slone, It has come to my attention that the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge will soon begin issuing permits to allow off-road vehicles (ORVs) access to the refuge. I am concerned about the propriety of this decision given the extensive impacts associated with increased illegal smuggling and Border Patrol activities on the refuge.

In addition, ORVs have a significant negative impact on wildlife, especially pronghorn, desert tortoise, big game and habitat, and there is a high likelihood of ORV users choosing to drive off-route which would have significant negative impacts on the archeological resources the refuge is intended to protect.

Please address the following questions today:
1. How is allowing ORVs on the refuge consistent with the goals of the refuge, which are to ensure wildlife and conservation come first in management of the refuge and that administration of the refuge contributes to the conservation and ecological integrity of the refuge?
2. How will allowing ORVs on the refuge ensure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is preserving the Wilderness character of the refuge lands?
3. How has the refuge monitored motor vehicle use in the refuge to date?
4. How many citations have been issued for illegal off-road use in the refuge since 2007?
5. How many miles of illegal roads and trails are currently on the ground, including roads and trails in the Wilderness area of the refuge? Please provide a map.
6. What are the Luke Air Force Base/Barry M. Goldwater Range, BLM, NPS and AZGFD positions on allowing ORV use on the refuge and how was their input solicited?
7. What is the Department of Homeland Security’s position on allowing ORV use on the refuge and how was their input solicited?
8. What would be your signing policy?
9. Would it be routes/roads closed unless signed open?

Because the refuge apparently intends to begin issuing permits for ORVs soon, a prompt response is necessary and requested.

Sincerely,
/s/Rep. Daniel R. Patterson

cc:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Ben Tuggle
ABQ NM

Carol Torrez
NEPA Coordinator
NWRS Division of Planning, Southwest Regional Office
P.O. Box 1306 Albuquerque NM 87103

Monday, May 09, 2011

EPA halts monitoring Fukushima nuke fallout












US EPA HALTS HEIGHTENED MONITORING OF FUKUSHIMA FALLOUT

No New Milk, Rain or Drinking Water Sampling for another Three Months

SAN FRANCISCO -- Although the Japanese nuclear reactor disaster is still unfolding with no end in sight, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has cut its radiation monitoring back to pre-tsunami levels, according to a statement posted on the agency website last week. As a result, stepped-up testing of precipitation, drinking water and milk has ended, with EPA saying that the next round of sampling “will take place in approximately three months.”

Read the rest from PEER.org

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

A mean & not-so-green AZ legislative session, 2011

Why do Al Melvin & AZ Rs hate the environment?

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- Despite their best efforts, Arizona Republican legislators did not do nearly as much damage as they intended this session. Of course, saying that “it could have been worse” just lets them off the hook for a variety of truly awful actions, many of which will be resurrected next year. They did almost nothing to advance environmental protection, either.

“Arizona is this amazing place with truly incredible natural wonders – from Grand Canyon to Petrified Forest to Saguaro national parks, not to mention our remarkable state park system that safeguards Kartchner Caverns, Homolovi Ruins, and the Tonto Natural Bridge,” said Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter. “Why are our ‘leaders’ proposing to mortgage this wonderful natural capital just to advantage one business or industry or to serve some personal perceived slight? It is our health, the state’s biological diversity, and the future of Arizona’s children that are most at risk.”

It was again a highly partisan session, but the worst aspects of it were the abuse of power by those in leadership. From banning individuals from buildings and news conferences to limiting media access to suspending the rules at a drop of the hat, it was pretty outrageous. The budget was probably the best example of a body run amok. Only 30 hours after the Senate dropped its budget bills, they passed. The House then jammed through significant amendments to those budget bills in less than 24 hours. The Committee Hearings were not noticed properly, the bills and amendments were not posted properly, and, in the end, the legislators sent the governor budget bills that they had not read properly and that contained considerable errors. There was no opportunity for the larger public to participate.

“Not unlike last year’s budget, the budget passed for Fiscal Year 2012 was a mean budget with regards to environmental programs,” said Bahr. “In an attempt to put a nail in the coffin of our state parks, the legislature siphoned away even more dollars from them, forcing them to again turn to park closures and creating a huge cash-flow problem that could affect paying rent, meeting payroll, or paying for operations.”

The good news is that some of the most outlandish bills died in the Arizona House after being voted out of the Senate with overwhelming majorities. The “License to Pollute” measures both failed to get a hearing in the House. The House also defeated a bill to hinder native fish recovery and another that would have weakened Arizona’s voice in the transmission line siting process.

There was a ray of hope at the Capitol contained in a bill to provide some additional mechanisms for dealing with particulate pollution. While it certainly helped that the federal Clean Air Act is a strong law, lawmakers are working with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Maricopa County, the Maricopa Association of Governments, and various stakeholders to develop a plan that really cleans up our air. There is cautious optimism on that effort.

Overall, though, there was little about the 50th Legislature’s First Regular Session to write home about when it comes to protecting our environment, our communities, and our future.

This year, 39 House members and 21 senators, all Republicans, received failing grades and did not break even with a zero. On a positive note, one senator and seven representatives, including Rep. Daniel Patterson of Tucson, earned an “A+,” which means they voted 100 percent pro-environment and also did not miss a vote on the key bills we scored. Five senators and nine House members received an “A.” Governor Jan Brewer once again earned an “F.”

Senators were graded using 17 votes and House members 14 votes. Governor Brewer was graded on 8 bills. Everyone was graded on a curve, although no curve would be great enough to address how poorly many legislators did. The bills focused on a number of issues, including the budget, public involvement in transmission line siting, native fish recovery, Mexican gray wolf protections, and air and water quality, among many other issues.

The best news of the session is that it was relatively short and adjourned in 100 days (or 101, if you count the early morning hours of April 20th).

The Sierra Club Environmental Report Card is available here.

- adapted from SC

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Patterson helps open new UA Tech Park solar plant

TUCSON -- A new solar power plant opened at 9am today at the University of Arizona’s Tech Park, producing enough energy to power more than 500 area homes.

Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson (District 29) is congratulating Amonix solar company and UA for their new plant that will offset more than 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year and consume no water during production.

“In Tucson, we are taking a step to put Arizona first again by harnessing our natural strengths to build a strong 21st Century economy,” said Patterson, an ecologist and ranking member of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “That includes making our state a leader in the development of solar power and renewable energy manufacturing — which not only reduces our reliance on coal and foreign oil, but helps create good-paying jobs right here in Arizona that can’t be exported across the border, or overseas to China.”

The new solar power plant will be a centerpiece to the university’s Tech Park on Tucson's southeast side. Amonix’s system is the first of a series of privately owned, utility-scale solar power projects that are being developed in the Tucson area. Amonix is a recognized leader in designing and manufacturing concentrated photovoltaic solar power systems that require no water in power production, use land better, and produce more energy per acre than any other solar technology.

Arizona Rep. Daniel Patterson's comments at the solar plant’s power activation event today in Tucson:

Hello and welcome. Thanks to all of you for being here today.

Hi I'm Rep. Daniel Patterson. I represent District 29 right here in Tucson. I'm an ecologist and I serve as Ranking Member on the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Today is a very important day.

Today we are taking a step to put Arizona first again by harnessing our natural strengths to build a strong 21st Century economy and create good-paying jobs. That includes making our state a leader in the development of solar power and renewable energy manufacturing — which not only reduces our reliance on coal and foreign oil, but helps create good-paying jobs right here in Arizona that can’t be exported across the border, or overseas to China.

Concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) is one of the newest forms of solar energy technology on the market today. CPV systems use optics to concentrate a large amount of sunlight onto a small area of solar photovoltaic materials to generate electricity. Unlike traditional, more conventional flat panel systems, CPV systems are often much less expensive to produce, because the concentration allows for the production of a much smaller area of solar cells.

Concentrated Photovoltaics (CPV) has long been touted as the next level in the evolution of solar photovoltaics technology. Thanks to its unique combination of high efficiency cells, optic elements and precise tracking, CPV is able to produce more energy at a lower cost.

We're looking at 2MW of clean solar power, that will power 500 homes a year and use no water in the power production.

Tucson is leading on embracing the future of renewable energy and making it a reality.

I want to praise Amonix, University of Arizona's Science and Technology Park, and Tucson Electric Power for creating a unique partnership that brings scientific innovation and economical benefits to the city of Tucson and their citizens.


Thank you!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

AZ legislative session dominated by GOP nonsense

Dark ages at the Capitol

by Rep. Daniel Patterson

TUCSON -- Southern Arizonans have discussed seceding from Arizona for some time now, and after this legislative session I can see why.

Just take a look at the focus of the supermajority of Republican lawmakers this year:

• Declare an official state gun (passed).

• Birther bill, requiring presidential candidates to prove their citizenship (vetoed).

• Allow guns on college campuses (vetoed).

• Stop health care for 280,000 people, flood our emergency rooms and leave people on the streets (passed).

• Make food-stamp cards bright orange (failed).

• Eliminate health care for 5,000 seriously mentally ill (passed).

The list goes on and kept going through the middle of the session's last night, when controversial bills were debated. As most Arizonans slept, politicians were engaged in hours of debate over naming an official state firearm.

Never mind that federal unemployment benefits would expire for 20,000 families without a simple one-word, cost-free change in state law. Republican lawmakers were too busy. And now that they failed to act, our state's economy will lose $4.5 million a week from those families who are spending money to put food on the table while they look for jobs.

This legislative session has been government waste at its finest, and Republicans are the ones making the mess.

Just look at the corporate-bailout package Republicans call a "jobs bill." This bill gave away corporate tax breaks to giant, out-of-state retailers that didn't use it to create a single job here in Arizona.

Meanwhile, for three years, including this year, Republicans soundly rejected plans to deal with foreclosures. Arizona ranks second in the nation. Politicians in control in state government have done nothing at all to help middle-class families struggling to avoid foreclosure.

But they chose to continue with their massive cuts to our kids' classrooms, which repel business from setting up shop in Arizona. Even former Intel chief executive and board chairman Craig Barrett warned that "cutbacks don't bode well" for the quality education essential to attracting companies like his. It's bad for business, period.

Republican lawmakers, including many who represent Southern Arizona, voted to shift part of the burden of the state budget onto counties like Pima, requiring city and county donations to state government.

Another Southern Arizona lawmaker, Sen. Al Melvin, R-SaddleBrooke, sponsored a bill that would have allowed special interests to bypass a state power-line-siting committee and rush to build lines over rural counties and conservation areas. Fortunately the bill failed.

This is the kind of nonsense we are dealing with at the state Capitol, and Southern Arizonans shouldn't have to put up with it. This isn't the Arizona we know and love.

We need state government to work for "We the People" again. Majority lawmakers need to take a balanced approach that funds schools and creates jobs.

Most importantly, we need accountability in government.

Daniel Patterson is a Democrat who represents District 29.

- printed in April 26, 2011 Arizona Daily Star