What is Going on at the State Capitol?

In a flurry of activity this week at the Arizona Capitol, lawmakers resurrected protections for children and moved pro-life, pro-educational freedom, and pro-religious freedom bills. Here is what happened:

Child protections salvaged

After a disappointing defeat in committee last week (read details here), the Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed an amended version of SB 1138 in an effort to protect children from the irreversible consequences of gender surgeries. Originally, Senator Warren Peterson’s SB 1138 was an attempt to protect minors from the damaging effects of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and gender surgeries. Senator Tyler Pace would support a prohibition only on irreversible gender surgeries. The bill still faces a full Senate vote.

Passed out of the Senate

Two great victories out of the Senate this week; one for life and one for parental rights.

  1. The full Senate passed Senator Nancy Barto’s SB 1164, which limits abortion after 15-weeks gestation. Currently, some abortion clinics are advertising abortions up to just under 24 weeks. If the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dobbs case upholds Mississippi’s 15 week ban, Arizona would already have the law on the books.
  2. The Senate also passed Senator Paul Boyer’s SB 1657, an educational freedom bill that would increase eligibility for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) to a variety of students, including children of military veterans, first responders and healthcare workers, low income students, and more. It also makes updates to the scholarship tax credit program and establishes a “student empowerment fund” to fund students in districts spending more per pupil than college tuition at an Arizona public university or spending in excess of the approved constitutional expenditure limit.

Both bills now head to the House for consideration.

Passed out of the House

The Arizona House passed legislation that would protect parental rights and religious freedom.

  1. In response to the widespread and passionate voices from parents upset over what is being taught in some public schools, Representative Steve Kaiser sponsored HCR 2001, a referendum that would refer to the November ballot a prohibition on Critical Race Theory (CRT) type instruction. After heated debate on the House floor, the resolution passed by a partly line vote of 31-28-1.
  2. The House also passed HB 2449, which expands on a law passed last session by adding hospice and other health care facilities to hospitals that are now obligated to allow clergy visitation during a public health emergency like the pandemic if they allow any other visits. Representative Quang Nguyen sponsored the bill affirming patients do not lose their religious rights during a pandemic. The bill passed overwhelmingly with a vote of 57-2-1.

Both bills now head to the Senate for consideration.

Looking ahead

A number of other CAP – supported bills could be heard on the House or Senate floor next week, including:

HB 2161 – Clarifies existing parental rights laws and ensures parents see any surveys before they are given to students.

HB 2507 – Deems churches and other religious organizations essential services and ensures they are treated as such during a public emergency like the pandemic.

SB 1138 – Prohibits irreversible gender surgeries for minors.

SB 1211 – Ensures parents have easy access to educational curriculum.

HB 2659 – Protects Arizonans with disabilities from discrimination when needing an organ transplant.

SB1399 – Protects faith-based foster and adoption agencies from religious discrimination.

The following week, committee hearings begin again. This is when bills that originated in the House and passed face the same process in the Senate, beginning with the first hurdle of getting out of a particular committee. Likewise, bills that originated in the Senate and passed will be heard in committees in the House.

So, we still have a long way to go, but these commonsense, pro-life, pro-family, pro-religious freedom bills and others are almost halfway through the long legislative process.

ICYMI

  • Read here about the pro-abortion industry’s attempt to dehumanize pregnancy.
  • Read here about the growing effort to promote the transgender movement under the guise of protecting women.
  • Read here about surprising statistics about cohabitation, marriage, and divorce.

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