Tag Archives: arizona legislature

medical.research

Medical miracle girl raises funds for TGen

Shelby Valint, the 12-year-old Phoenix girl whose sequenced genome led her from a wheelchair to walking, is raising funds for the non-profit Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The “Shelby Valint Inspiration Fundraiser” will generate needed research dollars for TGen’s Center for Rare Childhood Disorders (C4RCD). It was research through this innovative unit at TGen that helped enable Shelby to go from a wheelchair to walking.

“TGen has done so much for me,” Shelby said. “Now, I want to do something for TGen so they can continue to help other children like me with rare medical disorders.”

The fundraiser is being organized by Shelby’s mother, Renee Valint, and by one of Shelby’s 7th Grade teachers, Tracy Livingston, whose husband – the Honorable Rep. David Livingston – is a freshman member of the Arizona House of Representatives, representing the north Valley’s District 22.

“In October, TGen launched their Center for Rare Childhood Disorders, which is helping parents in Arizona find answers and treatment for their children,” said Rep. Livingston, who has invited Gov. Jan Brewer and members of the Arizona Legislature to the fundraiser at the home of Shelby’s parents, Renee and Scott Valint – 1-5 p.m. April 6 at 1517 E. Red Range Way, about a mile south of Carefree Highway, just east of 14th Street.

“In my recent tour of TGen’s facilities, I saw first-hand the cutting-edge research, tools and technology being used to help children like Shelby,” Rep. Livingston said. “My wife, Tracy … has personally seen Shelby’s amazing transformation.”

By sequencing, or spelling out, the nearly 3 billion letters in Shelby’s DNA, TGen researchers found a gene that prevented Shelby from producing sufficient amounts of a brain chemical called dopamine, which is needed for balance and muscle control.

Using a combination of drugs usually given to older persons for treatment of Parkinson’s disease, Shelby was able within several weeks to abandon her wheelchair. She was able to more easily walk, talk, eat and even breathe, generally restoring her to a normal functioning child.

“Before TGen’s discovery, we had been through an enormous amount of despair with all the doctor visits and tests, and I had watched helplessly as Shelby was poked and prodded with a heart-wrenching number of needles and IVs,” Renee Valint said. “Shelby’s newfound ability to walk and talk, and generally lead a normal life, is a testament to the unwavering dedication to helping patients exhibited by the scientists at TGen.”

To see Shelby’s amazing transformation from a girl who was unable to walk, talk and eat to a girl who dances across the room, watch this recent story from CBS 5 News.

 

86801847

Arizona lawmakers graded ‘C’ for openness

A national pro-transparency group says the Arizona Legislature isn’t doing a great job of sharing information with the public.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit group Sunlight Foundation released transparency report cards on Monday for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The group analyzed legislative websites to determine how readily legislative information is publicly available. Grades were determined according to completeness, timeliness, ease of electronic access, machine readability, use of commonly owned standards and permanence.

Arizona received a “C” grade. The group determined Arizona’s legislative website was difficult to use.

Eight states received an “A” grade, while six states received an “F.”

The Sunlight Foundation says it should be easy to access bills, votes and lawmaker contacts.

86801847

Arizona lawmakers graded 'C' for openness

A national pro-transparency group says the Arizona Legislature isn’t doing a great job of sharing information with the public.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit group Sunlight Foundation released transparency report cards on Monday for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The group analyzed legislative websites to determine how readily legislative information is publicly available. Grades were determined according to completeness, timeliness, ease of electronic access, machine readability, use of commonly owned standards and permanence.

Arizona received a “C” grade. The group determined Arizona’s legislative website was difficult to use.

Eight states received an “A” grade, while six states received an “F.”

The Sunlight Foundation says it should be easy to access bills, votes and lawmaker contacts.

graffiti

Graffiti offenders' parents may have to pay up

Phoenix residents want the Arizona Legislature to take new steps to combat graffiti, including some that could yank driver licenses of juvenile offenders and hit the wallets of their parents.

A city task force is proposing legislation that would include mandating full restitution by minors convicted of criminal graffiti damage.

City staff said graffiti has not increased over the past year, but is a consistent problem, the Arizona Republic reported.

Between its own costs and those of major utilities, the city estimates it costs $6 million a year to paint over graffiti, said resident and task force member Ginnie Sumner, a former teacher.

“And police will tell you that graffiti is a gateway to other crimes,” Sumner said. “What we’re interested in doing is helping those who get involved in graffiti learn that there are consequences for their actions.”

Under the restitution proposal, there would be a liability for parents capped at $10,000 if the minor can’t pay.

Also under the proposed legislation, juvenile offenders could have their driver’s license suspended or taken away, and spray paint would need to be locked up in stores.

Under current state law, it is already considered criminal damage to inscribe a message, slogan, sign or symbol on any public or private building, structure or surface, except for the ground, without the owner’s permission.

Penalties vary, ranging from fines and up to four months in jail for damage of $250 or less to fines and up to three years in prison for damage of $10,000 or more. Repeat offenders get tougher penalties.

The Legislature’s 2013 session begins Monday.

graffiti

Graffiti offenders’ parents may have to pay up

Phoenix residents want the Arizona Legislature to take new steps to combat graffiti, including some that could yank driver licenses of juvenile offenders and hit the wallets of their parents.

A city task force is proposing legislation that would include mandating full restitution by minors convicted of criminal graffiti damage.

City staff said graffiti has not increased over the past year, but is a consistent problem, the Arizona Republic reported.

Between its own costs and those of major utilities, the city estimates it costs $6 million a year to paint over graffiti, said resident and task force member Ginnie Sumner, a former teacher.

“And police will tell you that graffiti is a gateway to other crimes,” Sumner said. “What we’re interested in doing is helping those who get involved in graffiti learn that there are consequences for their actions.”

Under the restitution proposal, there would be a liability for parents capped at $10,000 if the minor can’t pay.

Also under the proposed legislation, juvenile offenders could have their driver’s license suspended or taken away, and spray paint would need to be locked up in stores.

Under current state law, it is already considered criminal damage to inscribe a message, slogan, sign or symbol on any public or private building, structure or surface, except for the ground, without the owner’s permission.

Penalties vary, ranging from fines and up to four months in jail for damage of $250 or less to fines and up to three years in prison for damage of $10,000 or more. Repeat offenders get tougher penalties.

The Legislature’s 2013 session begins Monday.

Mayor's Office or FirstStrategic

FirstStrategic Or Mayor’s Office? Mattox Says Gullett Must Choose

FirstStrategic or Mayor’s Office?

Claude Mattox is calling on mayoral candidate Wes Gullet to explain in detail how he intends to fulfill the duties of the mayor’s office while he remains a partner in the lobbying firm, FirstStrategic, that represents clients doing business with the city, neighboring communities and the state government.

During a televised debate sponsored by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce last evening, Gullett said that he intends to maintain a financial interest in FirstStrategic in the event that he is elected mayor.

“Wes needs to tell the voters of Phoenix if he intends to represent them or continue to look out for the interests of the photo-radar companies, billboard companies, utilities, private water companies, developers and the home-building industry his firm has represented over the years,” Mattox said.

Under Gullet’s planned arrangement, he will “take a leave of absence” but maintain his financial stake in the firm. When questioned about the conflicts of interest after Monday night’s televised debate, Gullett called the discussion “much ado about nothing.”

“You can’t take a leave of absence from ethics,” Mattox said. “At a time when lobbying scandals are routine in Washington, and the Fiesta Bowl scandal has ensnared both elected officials and lobbyists at the state capital, do we really want this climate to infiltrate City Hall too? This isn’t just a matter of the fox guarding the hen house. This is the fox having an office and staff in the hen house.”

Gullett’s determination to maintain his financial interest in his lobbying firm should he be elected raises numerous possible scenarios and an almost incalculable number of questions. Among them include:

  • As mayor, will Gullett need to abstain from every vote, involving building codes, development standards, and even planned residential development, because FirstStrategic represents the home-building industry?
  • How can Gullett obtain cooperation and secure regional agreements on transportation and economic development issues with the mayors of neighboring communities while FirstStrategic is lobbying and protecting the interest of clients in those same communities?
  • With Gullett sitting in the mayor’s office on the 11th floor of City Hall and still getting a paycheck from his lobbying firm, how will city staff and council be able to objectively address issues brought to them by other FirstStrategic partners and their lobbying clients?
  • How will Gullett manage to work with the Arizona Legislature and forcefully represent the interest of Phoenix residents while his lobbying firm is representing special interest at the Capitol?

 

“It’s an old adage, but so true: you cannot serve two masters,” Mattox said. “Wes needs to tell the people of Phoenix that should he be elected mayor, he will be fully committed to represent them, and not his special interest clients.”

Immigration

We Need Immigration Reform, Not Immigration Hype

SB 1070. It has been a few months since it passed, making Arizona the focus of so much national attention. As I have listened to Arizona, the entire country, and even some international Latina singers debate the issue, I have found ironies on both sides.

First, on the pro-SB 1070 side: Republicans (especially Arizona Republicans in state government) hate federal mandates being imposed on states. It’s a fundamental belief in conservative circles that we should have fewer unfunded mandates and more local control. Republican-sponsored SB 1070 flies in the face of these principles. Here’s one way to look at it. The Arizona Legislature was so frustrated that the federal government wasn’t stepping up and dealing with illegal immigration that it passed a law MANDATING that local jurisdictions had to do it. The state didn’t offer cities and counties any money to accomplish this, nor did the state step forward and offer its own resources, such as the National Guard. Local governing bodies were not just told that they could enforce immigration laws but also that they had to, or they could be sued. By any definition, this is an unfunded mandate that supersedes local control. Chalk it up to the ends justifying the means.

On the anti-SB 1070 side, I was surprised at how out of touch opponents were with the average Arizonan’s view on the issue. Polls started reporting that 70 percent of Arizonans supported the new law even in the face of national criticism and boycotts. Most opponents to SB 1070 chalked this up to bad polling and inaccurate data. Everybody must have gotten it wrong though, because those numbers have pretty much held up for the last few months. In fact, a number of other states report similar support, and we can expect more states passing this type of legislation. People are frustrated.

I have to admit, I wasn’t too fond of SB 1070 when it passed. But one morning while watching CNN, President Obama helped me to become frustrated. In light of his opposition to Arizona’s new law and the understanding that the federal government was negligent in dealing with the issue, he claimed that U.S. immigration policy was not a pressing current national priority. This was just after SB 1070 passed! What I heard him saying was, “Ask not what your country can do for you. And don’t ask what you can do for your country either!”

Then there is the question of why the federal government has never protested when other local jurisdictions in America have declared themselves “safe-harbor” areas for illegal immigrants. It seems they are establishing national immigration policy in the opposite direction, and yet, the federal government has failed to protest these policies or voice any public opposition.

I don’t believe that SB 1070 is really worth the national hype it has received. The courts have struck down the portion that local jurisdictions opposed most. If the courts hadn’t, would this really have been the solution to the illegal immigration problem in our country? It seems we need to establish a stronger, more practical border policy before much of any immigration policy reform is going to help.

construction companies

Construction Companies Can Be Exposed To Lawsuits When Assisting The Government During An Emergency

Imagine that you own a construction company and one of your employees comes in and tells you that the two largest buildings in town have collapsed. You receive a phone call a few days later from a government official who informs you that the police and fire department need your construction company to send heavy equipment and demolition crews to the site of the collapsed buildings to help remove large pieces of debris in order to save people’s lives.

Some large construction companies in New York were faced with that exact situation after the Sept. 11 attacks. The construction companies that helped clean up the World Trade Center disaster site were responsible for removing one-and-a-half-million tons of debris that covered many city blocks. Before long, the workers who were removing the debris started getting sick, as did police officers and firefighters who were stationed at the disaster site. Many of them have filed lawsuits against numerous entities, including the construction companies that were called upon to help with the debris removal effort.

The construction companies failed in a recent attempt to dismiss the lawsuits on grounds that they were immune from liability because they responded to an emergency situation.

Any business that decides to help in an emergency must protect itself, or face the legal consequences of the almost inevitable mistakes and accidents that will happen. With careful planning and prudent oversight, you can protect your business from lawsuits related to its help in an emergency or disaster situation in the state of Arizona.
Arizona’s immunity statute

The statute A.R.S. § 26-314(A) provides immunity for the state of Arizona and its political subdivisions (i.e., counties, cities and other local governments) for the actions or inactions of its “emergency workers.” The statute states that “emergency workers” shall have the same immunities as agents of the state of Arizona and its political subdivisions performing similar work. The term “emergency worker” is defined in part as “any person who is … an officer, agent, or employee of this state or a political subdivision of this state and who is called on to perform or support emergency management activities or perform emergency management functions.” Therefore, the only way to be sure your business is immune from lawsuits related to its assistance to the state or city government in a disaster or emergency situation is to wait until the government “calls on” your business to provide help.

Your business must always operate as an “agent” of the government to be considered an “emergency worker” and maintain its immunity. Your business will be considered an agent of the government if the government has the right to control the conduct of your business as it performs its work. Thus, you should determine who is in charge of the emergency site, and you should offer assistance to that person. You should seek detailed instructions from the person in charge and make sure it is clear that your business is operating under that person’s authority.

Should your business enter into a contract with the government to perform emergency services, then the rules change significantly. The provisions of the statute would still apply; however, a business that enters into a contract with the government would be considered an independent contractor. An independent contractor is an “agent” only if the government instructs the independent contractor on “what to do, not how to do it.” Therefore, when your business enters into a contract to help the government in an emergency situation, you must make sure the contract provides your business with control over the process and/or methods that it uses to do its work.

Of course, the Arizona Legislature can amend the statute to include immunity for any business entity that renders assistance during an emergency. If businesses were provided with clear protection under the statute, there would be no need for them to worry about being an “agent” of the government, and it would persuade more businesses to render assistance to the government in an emergency.

Michael Bidwill Arizona Cardinals

Q&A: Michael Bidwill, President, Arizona Cardinals

During these difficult economic times, how vital is an organization such as the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) to the local economy?
GPEC is vitally important because it is the only regional organization focused exclusively on bringing new business to Greater Phoenix. Because GPEC works closely with companies considering expansion to the region, they know what companies need to make business decisions and gain insight into what steps the state can take to better compete with our Mountain West competitor states.

What can the Valley do to better position itself to succeed once the recession is over?
Diversify our economy and work with public sector leaders to create sensible, new programs that bring high-wage industries to Arizona. During the last decade of the real estate explosion, Arizona was one of the leading job-producing states. Over the last two years, we have fallen to 49th in terms of new job creation. Business as usual will not work. Now is the time to change our metrics and compete for other industries to migrate to Arizona.

Arizona and Greater Phoenix routinely lose projects to less desirable locations because of aggressive relocation programs in other states. GPEC has developed modest, fiscally responsible programs, such as the Quality Jobs Through Renewable Industries program, for the Arizona Legislature to consider. GPEC has vetted these programs with decision-makers in the renewable energy industry. Senior executives within these industries have told us this program would put Arizona in a more competitive position to win projects. GPEC also had Elliott D. Pollack and Company conduct a third-party review of our program to confirm its fiscal impact.

We need to immediately work with the state to develop and implement new programs that make our region more competitive.

What are some of the initiatives and goals you have planned this year for GPEC, and how will you go about achieving those goals?
In addition to solar and renewable energy, GPEC has three other strategies that we feel are meaningful generators of new business. We continue to work aggressively on a foreign direct investment program, as the United States is still an attractive environment to invest in for international companies. Next, in working with many of our public sector leaders, we are actively seeking to locate companies to Greater Phoenix from neighboring states with higher operating costs of doing business. Lastly, health care in Arizona is an untapped resource. In fact, Arizonans routinely seek health care outside of the state valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. We need to work with the health care industry to determine the needs not currently being met in Arizona and look to those opportunities for economic growth.

How did you first become involved in GPEC and how have your own professional experiences prepared you for your current role?
The Arizona Cardinals have long been stakeholders of GPEC, as we believed in its important work. I had no personal involvement until Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs asked me to serve on the GPEC board three years ago. I was honored to join and realized quickly how critical this organization is to helping our local economy grow, especially during this downturn and with the state’s budget cuts to the Arizona Department of Commerce.

You’ve seen first hand how important professional sports are to the local and regional economy. How can the Valley capitalize more on that in the future?
Sports are important to Arizona and we need to support what we have now. But, again, we need to focus on diversifying our economy. Like a personal stock portfolio, we cannot become “over-weighted” in any single sector. We have all the teams we need, but it will be important to attract events with significant economic impacts and exposure like the Super Bowl in the future. Our regional success will depend largely on creating a diverse and vibrant economy around many new industries and we can’t look to real estate or sports to take us out of this downturn.

Tanya Wheeler is president and CEO of the Arizona Bankers Association.

Arizona Bankers Association Continues To Advocate For The Banking Industry

One thing that hasn’t changed at the Arizona Bankers Association since it was founded 105 years ago is its dedication as an advocate for the banking industry. The cornerstone of the association has always been advocacy of bank-related issues with elected officials, state legislators, members of Congress and regulators at the state and federal levels.

“It’s the most significant service we offer,” says Tanya Wheeless, president and CEO of the ABA. “We serve as a clearinghouse when those decision-makers are considering new legislation or regulations. We can weigh in on behalf of the industry on anything that might have an impact on banking. And we do it with a single voice. That’s why we started and that’s what we still believe in.”

The association’s Grassroots Advocacy Resource Center focuses on communicating with state and federal lawmakers and arranging meetings between bankers and local legislators and in Washington with members of the Arizona congressional delegation.

“When we need to communicate on a bill,” Wheeless says, “we provide our members with contact information. Nearly 1,000 letters from Arizona bankers were sent to our congressional delegation opposing a farm credit bill earlier this year, and we were successful. It didn’t pass.”

But the association doesn’t overdo its use of the grassroots program.

“We only pull the trigger when we need to, when it’s really an important issue,” she says.

Wheeless characterizes banking as being different from other businesses.

“They compete viciously in the market, but they all offer basically the same products and services,” she says. “Where banks set themselves apart is in customer service and convenience. Even though they are great competitors, they recognize that when it comes to laws and regulations, we’re all in it together. A law that’s bad for one bank is bad for the bank next door.”

By the same token, a good law helps all banks. For example, the Arizona Legislature passed a bill this year that requires loan officers to be licensed and to undergo continuing education. Sponsored by Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, a Chandler Republican, the measure was supported by the Bankers Association and the Arizona Mortgage Brokers Association.

“It passed in the final hours,” Wheeless says. “Mortgage brokers were largely unregulated. They had to have a license, but little could be done to revoke a license and communicate problems to others — like don’t hire this person. This law provides that they have the same oversight and training that banks have to provide. There was a time when you had people doing mortgages in Starbucks. They had passed a test, and that was all they knew about the mortgage industry.”

The bill was a good way to provide some uniformity in education and licensing requirements, regardless of who the employer is, Wheeless says.

In collaboration with the governor’s office this year, the association produced 50,000 cards containing resource information for people feeling financial pressures, Wheeless says. Printed in English and Spanish, the cards were distributed through grocery stores, nonprofits and social service agencies.