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A recent study examining the representation of blacks in state politics has generated puzzling new statistics and left black political leaders speculating.
CHICAGO -- Immigrant rights activists are outside Wrigley Field, saying the Cubs should move their spring training facility out of Arizona.
Arizona is not going to get its own version of what’s been dubbed “Caylee’s Law,” at least not this year, because of a fight over who gets to run the police force in the polygamous community of Colorado City.
Florida doesn't have an Arizona-style immigration law yet, but mention the possibility and you'll hear a lot of anxious sighs.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The state House passed a bill Thursday that could keep Terri Schiavo alive, less than 24 hours before the severely brain-damaged woman's feeding tube is scheduled to be removed.
PHOENIX - A bill that would have Arizona join at least two other states in making it a crime to use a dead soldier's name or photo for commercial purposes without family permission is headed to Gov. Janet Napolitano.
As Republicans in the Florida Legislature move to implement Arizona-style immigration laws, they need to stop and listen to the practicality and sanity from a member of their own party: Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Adam H. Putnam, a conservative Republican and a member of the state Cabinet.
Republicans are trying to pass two anti-immigration bills, HB 7089 and SB 2040, primarily aimed at Hispanics. The House bill would require police to check the immigration status of a person under criminal investigation if there is "reasonable suspicion" the person might be undocumented. The Senate bill requires police to check the status of inmates and identify those eligible to be deported. Each bill requires employers to check the immigration status of their workers. Although the Senate version is less rigid, business and immigration advocates oppose it.
Putnam, a former state legislator who also spent a decade in Congress, opposes both bills. As a fifth-generation citrus grower and rancher in Polk County and as head of Florida agriculture and consumer services, a multimillion-dollar industry responsible for more than 400,000 jobs, Putnam is a genuine stakeholder in whatever happens with immigration reform.
Because of his credibility, Putnam's concerns about enacting draconian laws in the Sunshine State should not be dismissed or discounted.
"Florida is the capital of the Western Hemisphere," he said a few weeks ago. "We're a destination for investment capital, international tourists, international research and development and from Latin America in particular. We have to be very careful about how we approach this issue."
Putnam argues that Arizona-style laws, which are being challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice, will hurt Florida. "What Arizona did in Arizona is necessarily different than what Florida should do," he said. "They are a border state. And they were attempting to solve problems that are unique to a border state."
Although immigration laws should be overhauled, Putnam said, the overhauling should be done at the federal level, not in individual states and counties. After all, Congress alone has the authority to work with foreign nations on issues involving visas and travel across borders. As a member of Congress, Putnam tried to get his colleagues in Washington to approach immigration comprehensively. Now that he is back in Florida, he is trying to persuade Tallahassee lawmakers to earnestly analyze the negative economic impact of Arizona-style legislation before acting.
Again, Putnam is not a liberal Democrat who is trying to hand over the state to undocumented workers.
Evidence shows that copycat Arizona laws have cost states millions of dollars to implement, and these laws have cost states millions in lost tourism and convention bookings. By one estimate, Arizona lost as much as $140 million as a result of canceled conventions and boycotts.
As far as I can tell, HB 7089 and SB 2040 are anti-Hispanic, which means that they will target most farmworkers. If passed, these bills will bring dangerous racial profiling that will lead to disrupted lives, fear and personal humiliation.
I am certain that Putnam is aware of this ugly side of what is going on in Tallahassee. Coming from a family of ranchers and growers, he is familiar with the handy misconception that migrant workers take jobs from able-bodied Americans eager to stoop and pick and lug for about $8 per hour -- without benefits -- in all weather conditions.
In an attempt to put this misconception to rest, the United Farm Workers union has challenged unemployed Americans to sign up for farm work through a campaign called "Take Our Jobs." The website is www.takeourjobs.org. Not surprisingly, few able-bodied unemployed Americans have signed up for backbreaking farm work.
Still, according to a recent poll, 51 percent of Florida voters, mostly whites, said they want the state to adopt an immigration policy similar to Arizona's. And GOP lawmakers seem eager to give voters what they want.
Putnam has warned that such a policy would drive away seasoned farm hands and create unintended consequences. With time running out for this legislative session, immigration advocates are hoping Republicans will heed Putnam's warnings and follow his advice.
Bill Maxwell is a columnist for the St. Petersburg Times. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rep. Rich Crandall, R-Mesa, has been appointed as vice-chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures' (NCSL) Standing Committee on Education, according to a news release. His one-year term will begin at NCSL's Fall Forum Dec. 9-11 in Phoenix.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and that state's legislature have unconscionably meddled in the case of a severely brain-damaged woman, in a hopeless vegetative state for 13 years, whose husband had finally won the right for her to die peacefully.
I am appalled that my mother who is 88 years old, born in New England and recently moved to Arizona, has been denied registration to vote. She went to the motor vehicle office with her Florida voter registration, Florida state issued picture ID (she is blind and does not drive) and social security card. She was denied and told she must produce a birth certificate, which she does not have.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The speaker of Florida's House of Representatives said Friday he is stepping down temporarily to deal with a probe into his hiring by a state college for which he obtained millions of dollars in funding.
Every week of the year has been designated by somebody as National Something Week, designed to bring public attention to issues and causes.
The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority must tread carefully when it considers a request from Glendale to fund two-thirds of a new baseball stadium that would be the spring training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox.
I wholeheartedly support Senate Bill 1393, which is sponsored by Senator Sylvia Allen of Snowflake. The bill, which Sen. Allen calls the “Freedom to Breathe Act,” says the EPA and the federal government in general do not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gases in Arizona. In reactions to a Feb. 1 story in the East Valley Tribune on the bill, most people seem to think this legislation is an attack on environmentalism. However, the bill does not outlaw legislation that regulates greenhouse gases. It merely asserts any regulation should come from the state Legislature and not from federal bureaucracies. This puts control of Arizona’s environment more in the hands of the people of Arizona.
Special education is an essential component of our public schools intended to ensure every child, including those with learning disabilities, is provided with instruction commensurate with his or her abilities. But special education too often is prone to fiscal neglect and outright misuse.
Earlier this month the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation, one of America’s leading champions of expanding school choice through vouchers, graded Arizona as A- for our scholarship tax credit that helps thousands of children attend private and parochial schools.
Bill Richardson, guest commentary
The Arizona Supreme Court last week heard arguments in a case that will decide the validity of two of Arizona's most promising education programs. The programs allow parents of disabled and foster-care children to choose the best schools for their children.
Arizona’s lawmakers have failed to craft legislation needed to keep the Chicago Cubs in Mesa, opening the door for Florida to lure baseball’s most-attended spring training program.
SOCIAL PROMOTION: Retain students
If a problem is surfacing, fixing it before it becomes even worse is the best thing to do. Retaining illiterate third graders before they graduate high school and being a burden to society is a smart idea. Here are two reasons why.
It greatly increases a student’s ability to read and write. Florida is proof of this. Before holding back illiterate third graders, nearly half of Florida’s young students could not read at grade level. As a result of retaining them, fourth graders in Florida now test above the national average in reading.
According to Jeb Bush, Chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, retaining illiterate third graders can enhance their ability to read and write independently and confidently at the end of the third grade. Speaking with experience, if I were held back at third grade and completed it again, relearning and mastering the reading skills I learned would have drastically helped me through school. Holding back third graders who have made mistakes can help students understand them and learn from them so it doesn’t happen again.
Passing the proposed law that retains illiterate third graders who cannot read at grade level is a smart idea. It stops small problems from getting bigger and it enhances the chances of a successful future. So do the kids a favor and pass the proposed law. A successful future is not worth temporary satisfaction.
Iann Gongora, Dobson High School sophmore
Revise current policy to focus on literacy
In our shrinking world of shared knowledge and digital wiring, reading is as important as ever. Jobs require more and more education and being illiterate impedes the chance for a good life. For third graders who fall far below the standards, Arizona’s legislature has proposed a bill to help give them a better chance. This bill revises the current law to create a “gateway” for them; pass the test and get promoted, fail and you are retained from graduating. The bill has some good ideas but there are some flaws.
Trouble first starts with the idea of such a huge decision decided on a single test. We are talking about third graders. Children that young have trouble concentrating. Plus, imagine a student who cannot read but has a streak of luck and guesses himself into the next grade while a child who can read has poor test-taking skills and fails.
Second is stated perfectly in Colleen Stump’s article: “How will your child feel about being retained? Will she (or he) be more motivated to learn and try, or will she (or he) be embarrassed and further withdraw from learning?” The existing version of the proposed bill does not account for those students who could not adapt to socio-emotional adjustments in self-esteem and peer relationships and jeopardizes them.
Both the bill and our present-day law have promise, but certain things need to be changed. What we should try first is revising the current policy since there are still places to amend with things like producing more programs to focus on illiterate students. When the current law cannot be improved, then we should focus on such a bill to overhaul the system.
Juliana Bennett, Dobson High School sophomore
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SOCIAL PROMOTION: Retain students
California’s Legislature — in the midst of taming a state budget deficit that could eat Arizona’s fiscal woes for lunch, and with a new governor trying to restore fiscal restraint to state finances — did not shortchange its people’s right to know while trying to cut costs.
Mesa is confident the state's lawmakers will support a bill to fund a new Chicago Cubs training facility by tapping into tourism dollars and Cactus League ticket sales.
Only six states are adequately prepared to distribute vaccines and antidotes if bioterrorism strikes.
I was delighted to read the new USDA guidelines requiring schools to serve meals with twice as many fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and no meat for breakfast. The guidelines were mandated by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act signed by President Obama in December of 2010 and will go into effect with the next school year.