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.
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.
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!
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
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
|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
ARIZONA ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS' STATEMENT ON
|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.|
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
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
|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|
Take Action Now!
| || |
ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
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.
|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
ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
|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
|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. |
ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
The Eighth Annual Catholic Schools Rally will be held on the Senate lawn on Wednesday, February 3
|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)