ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
2019 LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP
By Ron Johnson
Arizona Catholic Conference
On May 28th, the Arizona Legislature adjourned sine die after spending 134 days in session. In total, more than 1,300 pieces of legislation were introduced with just over 300 of them set to become law.
Fortunately, some very significant bills supported by the Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC) were passed into law, while the most problematic bills failed.
Arizona has had great success in recent years with respect to pro-life legislation which has made us a national leader in this movement. Following the recent elections last year, however, much of the effort this year has been made to protect these gains.
Numerous attempts were made to repeal virtually every pro-life and rights of conscience law already in statute. These many bills proposed to eliminate parental and informed consent for abortions; as well as remove protections for religious employers who do not want to be forced to pay for abortions and contraceptives; and curtail freedoms for pharmacies and health care providers not wanting to participate in the taking of innocent human life.
Several bills were also once again introduced to legalize assisted suicide in Arizona. Fortunately, however, legislative leadership continued to make sure that none of these bills received a hearing so that they all failed to pass.
Perhaps the most extreme of the hostile measures this year was HB 2696, which attempted to remove Arizona’s protections for babies born alive after failed abortions. The ACC was proud to be amongst those leading the testimony against this harmful bill which was defeated by a 0-8 vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
While all of the problematic life bills failed, a pro-life victory was gained with the passage of HB 2122, which requires parental notification before a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order is placed on a minor child. Additionally, the ACC is grateful for a measure (SB 1314) that was signed into law to somewhat reduce the scope of the death penalty in Arizona by eliminating three of these aggravating factors.
School Choice Successes
Arizona is often referred to as the national leader in school choice because of our numerous laws helping parents choose the education that best fits the needs of their children. Without these programs, many low-income students would be unable to go to the schools they are currently attending and several of our Catholic schools would have to close.
This year there were numerous attempts made to weaken or harm these school choice programs, but none of them were successful.
Two school choice bills that the ACC supported, however, were passed into law. These measures included SB 1485, which allows the corporate tuition tax credit program to continue to grow and SB 1349 which clarifies that Arizona parents using 529 savings accounts for their children can use these earnings to pay for K-12 tuition as well as for college.
Vulnerable Populations Protected
The ACC was particularly grateful that Arizona will now include a partial income tax deduction for people who use the standardized deduction on their state income taxes and make contributions to charities and churches (HB 2757). With the overwhelming majority of people now falling into this category, this law will hopefully be an important incentive for charitable giving and mitigate some of the expected difficulties for charities from recent changes to the tax laws.
Finally, we were disappointed that an effort (SB 1217) failed to provide Arizona high school graduates, including undocumented immigrants, with a break on college tuition. Specifically, this bill would have allowed for these students to be charged tuition at a rate higher than in-state tuition, but lower than out-of-state tuition. Despite this setback, however, we were pleased that no harmful immigration measures moved forward this year.
The Arizona Catholic Conference is grateful to all the elected officials and groups we worked with this past legislative session to have such success. We are also grateful for your assistance in responding to Action Alerts, and your prayers.
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