Arizona

School Choice Bills Move Forward

School Choice Bills Move Forward

Both the House and Senate moved forward this week with significant school choice legislation.  In particular, the House passed a bill (HB 2581) to increase the tuition tax credit limits from $500 to $750 for individuals and from $1,000 to $1,500 for married couples.  Additionally, this legislation would make other helpful improvements to current law including an expansion of those eligible to make a donation under the corporate tuition tax credit.
Meanwhile, an identical tuition tax credit bill (SB 1312) has been moving through the Senate and received preliminary approval by the Senate Committee of the Whole this week.  SB 1312 is expected to receive a formal Senate floor vote in the near future.
Additional good news occurred this week when the Senate gave formal approval to bills that would create a marital preference for adoptions (SB 1188) and expand religious protections for professional employees (SB 1288).   Both bills now move to the House for further consideration.
Finally, it should be noted that the Senate Committee of the Whole gave preliminary approval this week to legislation (SB 1265) that would prohibit tax credits for donations made to organizations performing or referring for abortions.  We are very grateful to the hundreds of people that responded to our Action Alert on this bill and expect a final Senate vote on SB 1265 soon.

ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE LEGISLATIVE UPDATE


 The Arizona House of Representatives gave formal approval to two significant pro-life bills this week.  The first measure (HB 2416) would require that women be offered the chance to view an ultrasound of their unborn baby before an abortion is performed.  HB 2416 was passed by a 40-18 margin and continues to move forward.
 
The other significant pro-life bill approved by the House this week was a proposal (HB 2384) to eliminate tax credits for people making donations to abortion providers.   Presently, the full Senate is close to considering an identical measure (SB 1265).  If you have not already done so, please go to www.azcatholicconference.org and follow the “Action Alert” to encourage your state senator to vote yes on this important bill.
 
With regard to pro-life legislation, it should also be noted that both the House and the Senate approved resolutions (HCR 2034 and SCR 1017) this week recognizing the great work done by crisis pregnancy centers in Arizona.  It was very nice that a large contingent of crisis pregnancy center representatives were on hand to witness these votes and be recognized by their elected officials.
 
A positive family related bill (SB 1188), meanwhile, received tentative approval on the Senate floor this week.  In particular, SB 1188 would create a preference for married couples in adoptions, assuming all other factors were equal.  A formal third read vote will hopefully come soon.
 
Finally, there has been no movement this week on the problematic immigration bills relating to birthright citizenship (SB 1308 and SB 1309); hospital admissions (SB 1405); and the immigration omnibus (SB 1611).   These bills are likely to reach the floor eventually, but many do not expect them to do so until the budget is completed.

HELP STOP FUNDING TO ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDING ABORTIONS



Take Action!

Please Support SB 1265

 
The Arizona Senate will soon vote on important pro-life legislation (SB 1265) that will prohibit people contributing to organizations providing, referring, or promoting abortions from being eligible to receive a tax credit for these donations. 
The public policy in Arizona has been to not provide government funding for abortions.  SB 1265 furthers this goal by removing a government created incentive for donations to such organizations.
Recently, the Arizona House just approved identical legislation (HB 2384).  It is expected that SB 1265 will soon reach the Senate Floor, where if it passes will be then sent to the Governor.
Now is the time to let your senator know of your support for this important legislation.  Please take a moment and politely encourage your senator to vote YES on SB 1265!

STATEMENT ON 2011 LEGISLATIVE CONCERNS 

ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE BISHOPS’ 
STATEMENT ON 2011 LEGISLATIVE CONCERNS 
February 22, 2011

  
As Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC), our thoughts and prayers are with all of our elected leaders during these difficult times.   It is not easy to be a public servant, and this responsibility is much more difficult when tough decisions need to be made on important public policy matters impacting people throughout the State of Arizona. 
 
While there are certainly a number of challenges to be faced in this year’s legislative session, we believe that these are times that call for leaders to come forward and demonstrate selfless service.
 
We are most grateful for all of the tremendous leadership and legislative accomplishments that have been achieved in recent years with respect to the protection of unborn human life, religious freedom, marriage, and school choice laws. We look forward to continuing advancement in each of these areas.
 
This year, in fulfilling our responsibility to address the moral dimensions of public policy, we are strongly advocating for several bills for the protection of unborn human life, including bills that would require a woman to be offered a chance to view an ultrasound of her unborn child before an abortion (HB 2416 and SB 1246) and bills aimed at eliminating all government-created funding for organizations performing abortions (HB 2384 and SB 1265).
 
We also are advocates for efforts related to marriage, including legislation (SB 1188) that would create a mere preference for married couples in matters of adoption. 
 
We want to help families by expanding opportunities for parents to be able to send their children to the school that best fits their needs, and therefore are endorsing legislative enhancements to both the individual and corporate tuition (scholarship) tax credit programs (HB 2581 and SB 1312) to achieve this goal.
 
While there has been significant positive development on the vital issues mentioned above, we have been and continue to be very concerned about legislation related to immigration and, in general, about the tone of dialogue and discourse about immigration.  We are acutely aware that there are no easy answers to the enormous immigration problems facing our country, but it is imperative that the human dignity of all be respected as our nation addresses these problems.
 
Of immediate concern to us is legislation that would require hospitals to check the citizenship of all their patients (SB 1405) and that would require elementary school students to provide proof of their legal status (SB 1611).  Additionally, other bills (SB 1308 and SB 1309) propose to eliminate birthright citizenship for undocumented immigrants. 
 
We strongly believe that these bills, if enacted, would only create more problems for innocent and vulnerable populations in Arizona while creating a distraction from meaningful immigration reform.  After all, it is only through substantive immigration reform at the federal level that these problems can be adequately addressed.
 
Finally, we express our concern about our State’s budget crisis – one of the worst in our nation.  Eliminating the huge deficit requires our elected officials to make difficult choices. As they face these choices, it is important for our elected officials to be vigilant on behalf of the common good and to never forget those who are the most vulnerable and who often do not have a voice during the budget process.
 
The job of an elected official is one that requires great sacrifice and the ability to set aside one’s own needs to focus on those of the community at large and those in most need.  We fervently pray for our leaders during these challenging times, for their families and staff, and for all who are impacted by their important decisions.
                     

Most Rev. James S. Wall                                             Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas              
     Bishop of Gallup                                                          Bishop of Tucson                    
 
                                      

Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted                                                Most Rev. Eduardo A. Nevares
Bishop of Phoenix                                                       Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix

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.
 
 

ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE BISHOPS’ STATEMENT REITERATING OPPOSITION TO THE DEATH PENALTY


REITERATING OPPOSITION TO THE DEATH PENALTY

                 
In light of the increasing possibility that Arizona will soon begin conducting new executions, the Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference want to reiterate our continued opposition to the use of the death penalty.  

Disregard for Human Life


 We oppose the death penalty primarily because its use disregards the dignity of human life and the inherent dignity of each person.
 There is no doubt that the state has an obligation to promote the common good by punishing criminals and preventing the recurrence of crime. Furthermore, those who commit brutal crimes such as murder are certainly deserving of a punishment proportionate to the gravity of their offense. However, we believe that the state should not respond to the violence of brutal crimes with the violence of capital punishment. 
When there are typically means available to punish criminals and protect society from the recurrence of crime (e.g., life in prison without parole), the use of capital punishment is both unnecessary and undesirable. Because these means exist, Pope John Paul II stated that the use of capital punishment should be limited only to extremely rare situations where it is necessary to defend society (Evangelium Vitae, #56).

 

Wrongful Convictions and the Death Penalty 

Besides disregarding human life and the inherent dignity of each person, the use of the death penalty is troubling because in recent decades more than 100 people have been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in our country, only to be later released after DNA or other evidence proved their innocence. Even our own State of Arizona has witnessed innocent people sitting on death row whose lives were spared because of recent breakthroughs in DNA evidence.  
 We are left to wonder how many other innocent people have been wrongfully convicted or even executed.

 

The Sacredness of Life

 Our opposition to the use of the death penalty in today’s society is derived from the continuum of the sacredness of life that our Church teaches. All life – from conception to death – is sacred. State-sanctioned killing, whether by unnecessary use of the death penalty or by the intrinsically evil actions of abortion or euthanasia, violates human life and dignity.

Concern for Victims 


As we state our opposition to capital punishment, we also want to express our compassion for those victimized by brutal crimes as well as their families. The pain and suffering experienced by these families is enormous and must never be forgotten. We pray for their healing in a very special way.  

Conclusion

 

The use of the death penalty in today’s society not only disregards human life and the inherent dignity of each person, but it is also unnecessary to protect the public and is prone to serious flaws. 
                          
Most Rev. James S. Wall                                            Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted
      Bishop of Gallup                                                         Bishop of Phoenix
                                    
Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas                                     Most Rev. Eduardo A. Nevares
      Bishop of Tucson                                                        Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix

ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE BISHOPS’ STATEMENT

ACC 2010 Voter's Guide Online Now!

www.azcatholicconference.org.
The Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC) has just released its 2010 Voter's Guide for the upcoming Primary Election online at

ARIZONA ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS' STATEMENT ON U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE SUSAN BOLTON'S RULING ON SB 1070

We, the Roman Catholic Bishops in Arizona, commend Judge Susan Bolton for enjoining some of the
more problematic provisions of SB 1070.
 
We hope that reaction to her ruling will be expressed only in peaceful and legal ways.
 
As Bishops in our respective dioceses, we know that in practically every parish there are families that
have been living with the fear and anxiety generated by SB 1070 that they might be torn apart. The
situation of these families might be that one parent is a citizen and that the other is not in our country
legally. Or, the situation might be that some children in the family are citizens and that a brother or sister
is not here legally.
 
Our hearts go out to these families. We know them to be good people who work hard and who contribute
to the economy and to the quality of life of their communities.
 
We will continue our advocacy against the provisions of SB 1070 and will monitor the implementation of
the provisions allowed by the ruling.
 
We will continue to advocate for comprehensive reform of our nation's immigration laws.
 
Our advocacy is predicated on our beliefs that:

ARIZONA ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS' STATEMENT ON
U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE SUSAN BOLTON'S RULING ON SB 1070
JULY 28, 2010
 

Illegal immigration is bad for our nation. It is not good for us to not know who is entering ourcountry.
  • Our international borders need to be secured and we need to be protected from drug smuggling,weapons smuggling, human trafficking and violence.
  • There must be a process - but not amnesty - for persons who have entered our country illegally to pursue legal status. This process must have proportionate consequences for the act of illegal entry, consequences that would include fines, learning English, and going to the "back of the line" to seek citizenship.
  • Our nation needs a program that would allow needed workers to enter the country legally. This program must include protection of worker rights.
  • The tragic consequences of the failure of our nation's political leadership to enact reform of our
    immigration system have included the deaths of thousands of people.
     
    Migrants - women, men, children in desperate circumstances - have died trying to enter our country. U.S.
    citizens have died because of crimes committed by drug smugglers, people smugglers and weapons
    smugglers.
     
    We pray for those who have died and for their grieving families.
     
    And we pray that our senators and representatives will put aside their partisan divisions and go to work
    immediately to fix the broken immigration system.
     
    Most Rev. James S. Wall
    Bishop of Gallup
    Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted
    Bishop of Phoenix
    Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas
    Bishop of Tucson
    Most Rev. Eduardo A. Nevares
    Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix

    Down to the Wire

    th of the following year (SB 1274) and receive a tax credit for the prior year. 
     
    This new law will greatly help people who are unsure of how much taxable liability they have until they start working on their taxes.  At a time when overall contributions are declining due to the poor economy, this bill should provide much needed assistance that will enable needy children to attend the school that best fits their needs.
     
    When the legislative session is finally over and Governor Brewer has acted on all the bills on her desk we will put out a final wrap-up.  In the meantime, we are grateful for your support and prayers on all of these matters.
    The Arizona Legislature is in what appears to be the final days of the legislative session.  With the finish line in sight, we would like to thank all of the people who have taken time to write their elected officials on matters of importance to the Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC).  Your support is greatly appreciated.
     
    The passage last week of SB 1070 was certainly a disappointment.  Your e-mails and continued advocacy, however, were greatly appreciated and actually helped to make some improvements to a problematic bill.
     
    While the ACC is disappointed that SB 1070 was passed and signed into law, we are also grateful for some huge legislative victories that were recently won as well.
     
    In particular, Arizona is now the first state in the nation to opt out of the federal health care plan with regard to abortion coverage in our new health care exchange.  The ACC was instrumental in making sure this amendment was drafted and adopted onto another bill that was initiated by the Center for Arizona Policy prohibiting governments from offering abortion insurance coverage to their employees (SB 1305).
     
    More very good news also came late yesterday when Governor Brewer signed into law legislation that will allow people to make contributions to school tuition organizations until April 15

    Please Ask Governor Brewer to Veto SB 1070



    Please Ask Governor Brewer to Veto SB 1070

    Take Action!

    Take Action Now!

     
     

    ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
    ACTION ALERT (04/19/10)
     
    Ask Governor Brewer to Veto SB 1070
     

    SB 1070 is a problematic anti-immigrant bill that will soon reach Governor Brewer's desk.  While finding meaningful solutions to immigration issues is a worthwhile endeavor, SB 1070 raises many serious concerns and could have a potentially negative impact on our great state.
     
    SB 1070 is not a legitimate solution to solving serious crimes at the border, or anywhere else, and actually may inadvertently reduce public safety.  The reason for this concern is based on testimony that occurred during legislative debate where it was noted that SB1070 may compel local police, far removed from the border, to ignore more serious crimes because of language requiring that they enforce federal immigration laws to the "full extent permitted by federal law."
     
    Additionally, SB 1070 has been improved so that it is at least up to the police officer's discretion as to whether crime victims and witnesses will be turned over on immigration charges.  It would be much better, however, if victims and witnesses could come forward knowing for certain that they will not be deported.
     
    If people are at all afraid to come forward and report serious crime, public safety is threatened in all of our communities. 
     
    Finally, SB 1070 makes Arizona the first state in the nation to create its own crime for people who are merely present in the country without proper paperwork.  The status of this new crime goes from a high misdemeanor for a first offense to a felony for a second offense.
     
    Supporters of this bill claim that the provision would be narrowly enforced so that it would allow local police to hold onto undocumented immigrants who are suspects in crimes.  The reality, however, is that the bill itself does not limit the enforcement of this provision to these situations.
     
    This bill could make felons, not only out of dangerous criminals (as is warranted), but also the many undocumented immigrants who have come to this country at a very young age and have no familiarity with any other country but the United States.  These children may have a mother and a father one of whom is a citizen and the other of whom would now be considered a criminal.
     
    For the reasons above, and others, please take a minute to respectfully ask Governor Brewer to vote no on SB 1070 by following the "Take Action" link and then following the very easy instructions.

    School Choice and Pro-Life Bills Advance

    st until April 15th of the following year.  Such a change would help people who do not know how much taxable liability they have until they start preparing their tax returns the following year.
     
    While the House was approving these school choice measures, the Senate gave formal approval on Third Read to three pro-life bills this week.
     
    These bills would propose to do the following: 1) prohibit government entities in Arizona from offering abortion coverage in the insurance plans of their employees (SB 1305); 2) ban research that results in the destruction of human embryos (SB 1307); and 3) outlaw the sale of human eggs for the purposes of human cloning (SB 1306).
     
    Next week figures to be a busy week and may include a great deal of work on the budget and possibly other matters.  Please make sure that all of your friends are signed up to receive these updates so that they can stay informed.

    The House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to three positive school choice measures yesterday. 
     
    Included among these bills were measures to increase transparency and accountability with both the individual (HB 2664) and corporate (HB 2663) tuition tax credits.  Additionally, another slight improvement was made with the individual credit by indexing the maximum allowable credit so that it increases with inflation.
     
    As if these bills were not enough, the third school choice bill to get preliminary approval yesterday (HB 2496) would extend the deadline for making contributions to the individual tuition tax credit from December 31

    ACC Takes Defensive Action on Several Bills


    LEGISLATIVE UPDATE (02/26/10)
     
    ACC Takes Defensive Action on Several Bills\
     

    This week was the last week for bills to receive committee hearings in their house of origin.  Consequently, there was a flurry of activity as sponsors attempted to get their measures heard so that they could stay alive.
     
    Fortunately, the Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC) can report that its efforts to defeat extremely problematic measures relating to both assisted suicide (SB 1298) and the provision of morning after pills (HB 2737) were successful when they were both denied a hearing.
     
    Other problematic bills, however, did receive committee hearings, including a bill (HB 2597) that would have put a sunset on all tax credits.  Following testimony from the ACC opposing the bill because of its impact on both the tuition tax credits and the charitable organization tax credit, the House Ways and Means Committee defeated the bill.
     
    Meanwhile, yet another bill of concern (HB 2632) was heard in the House Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee.  HB 2632 is a parallel measure to SB 1070 (which has passed the Senate) and pertains to local police enforcing immigration laws.
     
    The ACC testified in opposition to this bill primarily out of concerns for public safety and the fact that crime victims and witnesses who are in the country unlawfully may not come forward and report crimes unless they have clear assurances that they will not be deported for doing so.  Although the bill was significantly improved by an amendment, concerns remain over public safety and the creation of a new crime of criminal trespass for those merely present in the country unlawfully.
     
    Despite all of the defensive action taken on bills this week, there was also positive movement to report on bills supported by the ACC.  The most significant development in this regard was the passage by the full House of a measure (HB 2148) to provide a preference for married couples in public adoptions.
     
    There are no committee hearings scheduled for next week as both the House and Senate focus their energies on the budget.  Nonetheless, it is expected that both chambers will take action on a number of bills that are ready for the floor. 

    ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE

    Bill Filing Deadline Arrives

    th of the following year.
     
    The House Health and Human Services Committee, meanwhile, approved bills that would improve the reporting of abortion statistics (HB 2649) and extend the waiting period for divorces from 60 days to 180 days (HB 2650).
     
    On a less positive note, the Senate tentatively approved SB 1070 on Thursday relating to local police enforcement of immigration laws and the creation of new trespass crimes.  SB 1070 was amended, however, to slightly improve some of the problematic provisions so that police may not be required to report crime victims and witnesses who are undocumented immigrants.  It is expected that the Senate will have a formal vote on this measure next week.
     
    Next week is also slated to have much more action on a number of pro-life, pro-family, and pro- school choice bills in both the Senate and the House.
     
    The filing deadline for bills in both the Senate and the House has now passed with a total of 1,382 measures being introduced.  Even though new bills can no longer be introduced, various proposals can still come into being by virtue of strike-everything amendments and other tactics.  In reality, these tactics mean that nothing is really over until the legislative session ends.
     
    For its part, the Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC) will continue to monitor all of the bills and amendments for their potential impact on the interests of the Catholic Church throughout the entire session.
     
    With regard to the highlights of legislative activity this week, the House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation (HB 2664) to provide more transparency and accountability to the individual tuition tax credit.  Additionally, the Senate gave tentative approval to a bill (SB 1274) that would allow taxpayers to make contributions to school tuition organizations up until April 15

    ACTION ALERT

     
    Under SB 1070, all local police officers would be required to investigate the immigration status of anyone with whom they make "legitimate contact" and have a "reasonable suspicion" that they may be present in the country unlawfully.  Under such a policy, victims of crimes and witnesses are much less likely to report crimes because of a legitimate fear that they will be deported.
     
    Other areas of concern with SB 1070 include language that may compel law enforcement agencies to ignore more pressing criminal matters in favor of doing a much larger amount of immigration enforcement.  Local police are facing potential budget cuts and need discretion as to how to best focus their efforts in protecting the public.
     
    Finally, it is worth noting that SB 1070 creates a crime of trespass for all undocumented immigrants.  A second trespass offense is then elevated to a felony.  Many undocumented immigrants were brought to this country at a very early age and are here through no fault of their own.  SB 1070 will treat these people as criminals, even if they have committed no other crime.
     
    For the reasons above, and others, please take a minute to respectfully ask your Senator to vote no on SB 1070 by following the "Take Action" link and then following the very easy instructions.
     
    SB 1070 is a problematic anti-immigrant bill that will soon reach the floor of the Arizona Senate.  While finding meaningful solutions to immigration issues is not easy, there are some efforts that may unintentionally have a negative impact on public safety.  Such is the case with SB 1070.

    Big Week for Catholic Schools


    LEGISLATIVE UPDATE (02/04/10)
     
    Big Week for Catholic Schools
     

    The Catholic Schools Rally was a huge success at the Capitol yesterday.  Despite predictions of rain, the weather was perfect and the large crowd of Catholic students, teachers, and parents were treated to a great day of fun and learning. 
     
    The rally was not the only thing happening at the Capitol this week, however, as movement occurred on some very positive pieces of legislation relating to school choice.  In particular, the Senate Education Committee yesterday approved legislation that would allow donors to wait until April 15

    th of the following year to make their tuition tax credit contributions.
     
    Additionally, it was announced that two important bills relating to tuition tax credits (HB 2663 and HB 2664) will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee next Monday at 2:00 p.m..  Both of these bills are meaningful efforts that will improve an already beneficial tax credit program by providing additional transparency and accountability.   HB 2664 also would increase the tuition tax credit limits to $750 for individuals and $1,500 for married couples.
     
    Other positive news came this week when the House Health and Human Services Committee approved a measure (HB 2148) that would provide a preference for married couples in public adoptions.  A similar measure failed to pass in the Senate a few years ago, but there is more optimism for this year's bill.
     
    Finally, there was not much movement on immigration bills this week, but SB 1070 is an anti-immigrant measure that may make it to the Senate Floor next week.  There are many concerns with SB 1070, including the fact that it likely would deter crime victims and witnesses from coming forward out of a fear of being reported to immigration authorities.  The bill also creates a felony trespass crime for those who are merely present in the country unlawfully.
     
    For more information on these bills, and many others, please make sure that you are signed up to receive these free updates at
    www.azcatholicconference.org.

    ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE

    ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

    rd from noon until 1:00 p.m.  You are encouraged to join the Catholic Bishops, Governor Jan Brewer, and nearly 1,000 students, teachers, and parents who will be on hand to show our support for Catholic Schools and school choice legislation.

     
    Also, next week the Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC) will make their annual trip to the State Capitol.  As part of these meetings, they will meet privately with Governor Brewer along with key legislators as part of an effort to build relationships and discuss important issues facing our State.
     
    Most of the discussion at the Legislature remains around the roughly $5 billion deficit that exists for the remainder of this fiscal year and the one to follow.  Additionally, there are a number of other issues relating to pro-life matters, pro-family issues, school choice, immigration, and other important topics that are going to receive a lot more attention in the coming weeks and months.
     
    Please make sure that you are signed up to continue receiving important updates and action alerts on all of these matters by going to

    www.azcatholicconference.org.  In the meantime, I hope to see you at the rally!

    The Eighth Annual Catholic Schools Rally will be held on the Senate lawn on Wednesday, February 3

    House Committee Makes Recommendations on Scholarship Program

    http://www.ctso-tucson.org/ or the Catholic Tuition Organization of the Diocese of Phoenix http://www.catholictuition.org/ and make your dollar for dollar tax credit contribution today.
     
    Thank you!
    On Thursday, a special House committee agreed to 22 recommendations designed to increase accountability and transparency, while also increasing savings to the state.
     
    It should be noted that the vast majority of the proposals were unanimously agreed to by all legislative members on the panel and that an entire package of recommendations were approved on a bipartisan vote of 4-1.
     
    Among the most meaningful recommendations adopted was a proposal to expressly prohibit donations for specific students that involve swaps between taxpayers.  Additionally, school tuition organizations would also face new requirements relating to auditing, certification, the consideration of financial need when granting scholarships, and reporting the amount of scholarships provided to children in need.
     
    The House committee also recognized that tuition tax credits are saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year by keeping students in private schools.  Accordingly, the final package of adopted recommendations included a suggestion to increase the current tax credit limits of $500 for individuals and $1,000 for married couples to $750 and $1,500.
     
    The Arizona Catholic Conference looks forward to continuing to work with legislators and others to make a great program even better during the next legislative session. 
     
    In the meantime, please remember to make your tuition tax credit contributions if you have not already done so.
     
    On behalf of the many needy children struggling to stay in the school of their choice, I strongly encourage you to visit the websites for either the Catholic Tuition Support Organization (Diocese of Tucson)

    ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE UPDATE  (9/29/09)


     

    The first round in defending Arizona's new abortion laws was fought in both federal and state courts today.
     
    While the federal court issued a 23 page opinion denying the abortion industry's request for a preliminary injunction, the state court issued a short minute entry that effectively blocked the immediate implementation of many of the provisions contained in the new abortion laws.
     
    At this point in time the good news is that the state ban on partial birth abortions has not been challenged and will now become law, along with new statutory provisions codifying the procedures a minor must follow in order to obtain a judicial bypass for an abortion.
     
    The state court injunction, however, blocks implementation of important provisions that would prohibit non-physicians from performing surgical abortions as well as the enhancements to Arizona's rights of conscience statute that were initiated by the Arizona Catholic Conference.
     
    It appears that the 24 hour waiting period requirement before a woman can obtain an abortion will still become effective, but the state court's preliminary injunction sets aside the provision that the woman actually sees a doctor 24 hours before the procedure and receives the informed consent orally and in person.
     
    Additionally, the new parental consent language requiring notarized signatures was set aside until the Secretary of State can meet certain standards set out by the court.
     
    Despite the setbacks today, the litigation surrounding Arizona's new abortion laws is far from over and will continue for years to come.  Accordingly, the Arizona Catholic Conference will continue to closely monitor these developments and take whatever actions are necessary to defend these important laws protecting women, children and the civil rights of health care workers.
     
    We are especially grateful to the Alliance Defense Fund, the Center for Arizona Policy and the Bioethics Defense Fund for working very closely with us in these efforts and assisting us in our efforts to intervene in both cases.
     
    As important developments occur, we will keep you posted.  In the meantime, your prayers and support are always appreciated.
     

    Round One