Legislative Update

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A weekly update of legislative news with a reporter from the Arizona Capitol Times.

Ted Simons: The governor breaks out her veto stamp for a couple of bills, with university officials hoping she does the same to legislation that allows guns on campus streets and sidewalks. Here with our weekly legislative update is "The Arizona Capitol Times" reporter Luige Del Puerto. Good to see you again, thanks for joining us.

Luige Del Puerto: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Let's start with the veto of the private school tax credit, the expansion of that program. Was that a surprise?

Luige Del Puerto: It was a big surprise. Governor Jan Brewer was expected to support and she had in the past and even in her veto letter she had said she's always been and remains very supportive of school choice and the program is, of course, a prime example of that. But in her veto letter she said basically that expanding it at this point unbalances the budget.

Ted Simons: Inappropriate, she said, to immediately put the fiscal year 2012 budget in jeopardy?

Luige Del Puerto: That's correct. The thinking behind the governor's veto is that the tax credits, by potentially -- they may be a tax credit but a hit to the general fund and she's concerned by expanding this program, it would hit the general fund more. This time, when they did those cuts to education and healthcare and other programs.

Ted Simons: But she's ok with the scholarships for special needs children, correct?

Luige Del Puerto: And she's always said that she's ok with that - she's always been amenable to that. I was speaking with Senator Steve Yarbrough this morning and this is actually not his bill but he's been identified with the STO-related legislation and said they'll try and salvage this legislation and pass or send the governor another one without those provisions she, you know, expressly disliked and Mr. Yarbrough said he might include in the legislation a provision in this bill that would allow individuals to claim more for contributions that they make to SDLs.

Ted Simons: Another veto, the so-called religious liberty bill. Protects against losing your license over religious beliefs. Surprise there?

Luige Del Puerto: It was. The governor has always supported socially conservative legislation. In this case, the governor felt that the language of the bill was too broad. Basically says you cannot revoke or suspend the license of a professional based on his or her religious expression. The governor felt that that's too broad, that might be used to basically hide or be used to protect someone even if that person had committed something harmful to someone else. It was surprising because the governor has always shown support for these types of measures.

Ted Simons: Police officials weren't happy because they would not be able to control what's happening in Colorado City when police officers don't prosecute or look after polygamous sex a and b those nosing around up there.

Luige Del Puerto: You can't go after the folks that don't -- you know, uphold the law because under this legislation, they can claim it's part of their religion.

Ted Simons: Alright we do have the birther bill seemingly being reborn and the senate says, ok. Let's move it to the house.

Luige Del Puerto: The senate did move the birther bill out of the senate and it's up to the house whether to approve the changes that the senate made. They want to make it clear that this bill is starkly different from when it was first introduced. Most of it is controversial and in this bill, you don't have to prove or -- you don't have to submit a statement saying your parents are -- both of your parents are American citizens at the time of your birth. They also amended the bill so you can show other forms of -- other documents, other than a long form birth certificate to prove you're a natural-born American citizen. SO it has been significantly watered down.

Ted Simons: Is it watered down to the point why bother? Is that what the critics are saying?

Luige Del Puerto: The critics are saying those concerns they had raised, like some may not have a birth certificate, those concerns have been addressed through amendments made in the senate and they think at the fundamental level the bill is flawed and they think the bill is flawed because it's asking presidential candidates to provide proof more than what's in the U.S. constitution. They think the state doesn't have the authority to do that.

Ted Simons: Quickly, what do you think the house will do? What's the word regarding the house response and the governor, what she's likely to do?

Luige Del Puerto: As far as the governor, we don't know how she's going to treat this one. But we're assuming it will have enough support in the house to pass. Now that it's passed out of the senate, it will be probably more pressure for the house to do something about it. I'm assuming they'll get enough support to pass the legislation. I think it's crucial that some of those members that balked at the birthright legislation before, if you recall, some of the amendments added and changes made into this bill, they made a -- the bill workable.

Ted Simons: Before we let you go, it sounds like all of these immigration bills, such talk and consternation with Russell Pearce and John Kavanagh, pushing these things -- no more push.

Luige Del Puerto: For this year. John Kavanagh spoke with members of the senate who voted against the immigration bills and they basically said I think it's better if we wait until next year and given the very little time they probably have left in this legislative session, it's -- it's an admission they can't get consensus do something about it this late.

Ted Simons: All right. Good stuff, Luige, thanks for joining us.

Luige Del Puerto: Thank you.

Luige Del Puerto:Arizona Capitol Times;

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