History Made at Capitol – Landmark school choice victory!
In 2011, Arizona was the first state to enact Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) for students with special needs. Through the years, additional groups of students have been added as qualifying for ESAs.
Now, however, Arizona is the first state to expand and make available universal ESAs to all students in public district or charter schools. After marathon debates in both the Arizona Senate and House yesterday, the legislature passed SB 1431 and Governor Ducey already has signed it into law.
Upon passage, SB 1431 sponsor Senator Debbie Lesko stated:
“This next generation of school choice will empower parents and children, not only in Arizona, but throughout the country, for today Arizona once again exerts its leadership as the education innovation catalyst for America. States across the country have followed our lead on school choice and they will now also follow our lead on providing families with true educational freedom.”
ESA eligibility will be phased in over four years, giving parents more choice in their children’s education. Starting with the 2017-2018 school year, students in kindergarten, first, sixth, and ninth grade will be eligible. Read more about the bill as passed here.
I encourage Arizona parents to consider how applying for an ESA might provide the best educational setting for their children. More information on the ESA program is available at azesa.org. When visiting the website, know that it will be updated soon with the new eligibility opportunity and application requirements.
This historic opportunity for all school children came about because of a broad coalition of several allied organizations. CAP is thankful to be an integral part of a strong school choice working group.
The victory also would not have happened without so many of you participating in the electoral process to support candidates who stood yesterday for school choice. Click here to see how your lawmakers voted.
Finally, and most important, thanks be to God.
Justice Neil Gorsuch
In another historic event this week, U.S. Senators had to use the “nuclear option” to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Earlier today, the Senate confirmed Judge Gorsuch by a 54 to 45 vote.
Democrats filibustered yesterday, preventing a vote on President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Republicans countered by using the “nuclear option.” That means Senate President Mitch McConnell changed the rules requiring just 51 votes to end debate instead of the traditional 60 votes needed. Former Senate President Harry Reid first triggered the “nuclear option” in 2013 under President Obama.
Both Arizona Senators, Senator John McCain and Senator Jeff Flake voted in favor of ending the filibuster and to confirm Justice Gorsuch.
Justice Gorsuch will hear some key cases slated for the Supreme Court this year. One of them is a religious freedom case scheduled for April 19th. Our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom represent Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia in that case. Read about it here.
Clearing up misconceptions
The new law requiring doctors to try to save the lives of babies born alive during an abortion attempt is a week old today. Still, the misconceptions continue to be perpetuated. Read my op-ed in the Arizona Republic for clarity on the issue.
Good Friday events
As we prepare for Holy Week and Easter, I encourage you to check out upcoming Good Friday and Easter services. In addition to local church Good Friday observances, here are some citywide events for your consideration.
1) West Valley: Click Here
2) Tucson: Click Here
3) Phoenix: Phoenix Seminary: Good Friday Breakfast, April 14th; 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at the Embassy Suites, 5001 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ. Cost: $450/table of 10 or $50.00 individual seating. Register by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Case for Christ
The movie, A Case for Christ opens in theaters today. Click here for information.