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Lawmaker apologizes to single mom

A Mesa legislator apologized Friday to a constituent for telling her to get a husband when she asked him to change a law that cuts off child-care benefits for single parents finishing college.

Liz Heron met with Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Mesa, to help with an amendment to HB2620, which contains additional funding for child care. Benefits are cut off now when students achieve 54 credit hours, Heron said in a Jan. 22 letter to Anderson."I would consider revisiting the issue of your marriage failure and perhaps take some classes in parenting," Anderson wrote back on Feb. 9. "Ultimately, your children need and deserve a full-time father and perhaps you could also solve your financial trouble by remarrying."

After about 50 telephone calls from citizens and another 50 from the news media, Anderson wrote a letter of apology Friday. He had misunderstood her finances and assumed she was ineligible for public assistance, Anderson said.

"I did not in any way mean to suggest that you remarry solely for the purpose of obtaining a second income for your family," Anderson wrote. "I never meant to recommend that you remarry your divorced husband, and did not mean to imply that your parenting skills were in any way lacking."

Heron, a nursing student and mother of three, accepted the apology.

"I'm glad to see that he's considering more funding for child care," she said. "That's what this was all about."

But she said she would not again vote for Anderson, as she did in 1996.

"I knew next to nothing about him, except for the `R' after his name," she said. "That's my fault."

Anderson acknowledged that his apology letter was "a little more carefully drafted than the first one."

In fact, it closed with "Best wishes to you, your three children, and your dog, Freckles."