ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
2022 LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP
After spending 166 days in session, the Arizona Legislature adjourned sine die on June 25th. In total, over 2,000 pieces of legislation were introduced with over 300 of them now set to become law.
Several significant bills supported by the Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC) were thankfully passed into law, while the most problematic bills again failed to pass.
The ACC was particularly pleased to initiate new legislation sponsored by Rep. Quang Nguyen (HB 2449) that will increase access for sick and dying patients wanting to receive the sacraments, especially the Anointing of the Sick. HB 2449 builds upon legislation from last year which increased clergy access to hospital patients of all faiths by expanding similar accommodations to other places people die such as care facilities and hospice.
We remain grateful for the dedicated health care providers who have done so much to assist people in need over the course of the pandemic. After all, patients typically need both great care for their bodies as well as for their souls.
Because Governor Doug Ducey has signed HB 2449 into law, this legislation will not only be important to many of the sick and dying, but it will also provide peace of mind to the surviving relatives.
Unfortunately, legislation hostile to religious liberty was once again introduced this year to pierce the seal of Confession (SB 1155). Priests, with no exceptions, are forbidden from disclosing sins learned while administering the sacrament of Confession. Accordingly, the ACC is pleased that this legislation was once again defeated this year.
With the historic victory in the United States Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, Arizona is now positioned to have its pre-Roe statute come into effect banning abortion from conception. Litigation has already begun to be filed, but we expect to ultimately prevail.
Prior to the recent Supreme Court ruling, a significant pro-life victory was achieved with the passage of SB 1164, which was sponsored by Senator Nancy Barto and created a 15-week ban on abortions. SB 1164, however, explicitly yields to Arizona’s pre-Roe statute that is still on the books and protects life from the moment of conception.
In preparing for a world with greater protections for preborn life, the ACC also successfully worked to substantially increase state funding in the budget for pregnant women who are homeless or otherwise vulnerable through money going to the Family Health Pilot Project and Maggie’s Place.
Similarly, we are glad that more efforts to support adoption and foster care were approved. Specifically, SB 1399, which was sponsored by Senator Sine Kerr, helps protect faith-based organizations providing foster care and adoption from being discriminated against by the government.
Additionally, successful efforts were made in the budget to provide a $300 per month stipend for each foster care child placed with a relative caretaker.
Finally, the ACC initiated successful legislation sponsored by Rep. Ben Toma (HB 2693) to increase the charitable and foster care organization tax credits in perpetuity by indexing them to inflation. These credits are a substantial help to nonprofit organizations including pregnancy resource centers, soup kitchens, and other agencies who help the poor with many valuable resources.
Protections from Predatory Lending
A particularly problematic bill relating to predatory lending (SB 1236) was introduced this session to increase the amount of most consumer loans by 50 percent. The ACC was proud to be a part of helping to defeat this bill and making sure that no other similarly harmful legislation was passed.
Even though voters overwhelmingly outlawed payday loans in Arizona several years ago, predatory lending remains a significant problem for vulnerable populations that still requires attention.
Effort to Remove Immigration Ballot Measure Fails
Last year the Arizona Legislature approved a resolution supported by the ACC to let voters decide this fall whether certain undocumented immigrants who graduated from Arizona high schools would be eligible to receive in-state college tuition at our state universities like their peers.
Apparently not satisfied with allowing voters the opportunity to decide this matter, however, another resolution (SCR 1004) was introduced this session to remove it from the ballot. The ACC is grateful that SCR 1004 failed and looks forward to continuing to advocate so that this ballot measure is approved by voters and becomes law.
Historic School Choice Win!
Arizona remains the national leader in school choice opportunities through its laws enabling many parents to send their children to the school that best fits their needs. On the final night of the legislative session, a historic victory was achieved by passing legislation (HB 2853) to create eligibility for all students in the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program.
Ultimately, HB 2853 was passed in part because an additional $1 billion was also put into public schools. The ACC believes that quality public and private schools are necessary for meaningful school choice and is grateful that Rep. Ben Toma sponsored this legislation and that it was signed by Governor Doug Ducey.
It is also worth noting that the existing tuition tax credit programs which have provided help to students for decades still remain in place.
The general effective date for bills passed, including HB 2853, is September 24th.
The Arizona Catholic Conference is grateful to all the elected officials and groups we worked with this past legislative session to continue our numerous accomplishments. We are also appreciative for your support, and especially your prayers.