ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE LEGISLATIVE UPDATE (02/18/11

 This was the last week for bills to have committee hearings in their house of origin. Consequently, problematic legislation proposing to curtail rights of conscience for health care providers, eliminate tuition tax credits, and facilitate assisted suicide all did not receive hearings and can pretty much be deemed dead at this point in time.
 
The only committees exempted from this week’s deadlines are the Appropriations Committees which get a one week extension. This fact is important because the Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear legislation next week to deny birthright citizenship to undocumented immigrants (SB 1308 and SB 1309) as well as a proposal (SB 1405) to compel hospitals to check the immigration status of all their patients and turn over to federal authorities those who do not prove their lawful presence.   All of these bills were opposed by the Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC) and failed to pass in their original committee.
 
While the ACC has had a great deal of success so far in blocking the passage of problematic bills, we also continued to move forward this week on a number of positive pieces of legislation as well.
 
With respect to pro-life issues, legislation to deny tax credits for donations to nonprofit organizations performing or referring for abortions (HB 2384) was approved by the House Health Committee on Wednesday. An identical bill (SB 1265), meanwhile, is moving through the Senate and should be ready for a floor vote in the near future.
 
Similarly, positive school choice legislation also advanced this week when the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday approved legislation (HB 2581) to increase the maximum allowable individual tuition tax credit for single people to $750 and for married people to $1,500. This bill, along with its counterpart (SB 1312), would also expand the potential donor pool for the corporate tuition tax credit and greatly help Catholic schools in other ways as well.