Survivors speak as January 8th Memorial bill moves through Arizona House

Survivors speak as January 8th Memorial bill moves through Arizona House

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson's January 8th Shooting Memorial is one step closer to getting state funding.

House Bill 2436 passed 49-11 in the Arizona House Thursday, Feb 23.

Tucson's Republican Rep. Todd Clodfelter is behind the legislation. His office said the bill was reviewed at the caucus level Thursday morning and was accepted, and that at least one member spoke in strong support.

An Arizona House committee had already advanced the legislation Wednesday, Feb. 22, voting 12-0 to send HB2436 to the full House. It would give state funding for a memorial honoring the victims and survivors of the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting that targeted former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.

Mary Reed is a survivor of that attack, saying she was shot three times while protecting her 17-year-old daughter. She considers the legislature's move to be a sign of love.

"The state acknowledging and working with us to create this memorial says, 'We're here for you, and it was important, and it was tragic, and that we will walk with you on the path of healing and remembering,'" Reed said.

Crystal Kasnoff, Executive Director of the January 8th Memorial Foundation, explained the bill would allocate $2.5 million over five years in a matching program. The foundation estimates the cost of construction for the planned memorial would be about $5 million. It's designed to be an open, public memorial site at El Presidio Park in downtown Tucson, near the old courthouse.

Everything the foundation has collected as of now has been private funds, Kasnoff said. They have more than $1 million currently committed to the construction fund, and will need to raise about $1.5 million additionally through donations.

"We have done very well, but it's been a process," Kasnoff said.

Pat Maisch, who said she helped wrestle the magazines away from the shooter, is hopeful the state government would not shy away from this opportunity.

"I hope that our state government would want to be recognized, as opposed to not being recognized there. It's a part of the state's history now, so why not?" Maisch said.

Kasnoff said she is also hopeful that pending legislation at the federal level would grant them status as a national memorial. By doing so, it would give them naming rights as a national memorial and a listing with the National Park Service.

Jared Lee Loughner killed six and injured Giffords and 12 others in the 2011 shooting. He was sentenced to life in prison.

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