Governor Brewer: VETO HB2281 - Don't Raise Our Property Taxes!

Click here to send a message to Governor Brewer

The Arizona State Senate and House of Representatives voted to raise your property taxes statewide by $2.1M in order to give a tax handout to religious groups who lease property.  

Groups including the Faithful Word Baptist Church of Tempe, a hate group that has earned "church" status for tax exemptions.

House Bill 2281, currently on the Governor's desk, is not the kind of legislation that will galvanize opposition the way the virulently regressive SB 1062 did.  But make no mistake: HB 2281 is yet another way for far-right lawmakers to curry favor with Cathi Herrod’s Center for Arizona Policy and the narrow, fundamentalist interests it represents. 
 
The CAP-written bill is little more than taxpayer-funded giveaway to religious institutions – groups that are already free from most taxes – in the guise of a banal revision to Arizona’s property tax laws.  If passed, HB 2281 would re-classify properties leased to religious organizations in a way that would cost the state $2.1 million. 
 
That $2.1 million could be used to fund our malnourished public education programs, provide job training in a state that suffers an 8.2 percent unemployment rate, or support frustratingly anemic solar programs in the sunniest state in the US.
 
But none of those options – small investments that will pay huge dividends – would mollify zealots like CAP.  So the legislature will continue bowing to special interests that represent a tiny sliver of the state’s otherwise moderate population.
 

Legislative Update

The religious-right wing of the Arizona legislature like to quietly push bills through that will benefit their agenda in several ways.  What we've found is that when we are LOUD about these bills, sometimes the bill dies.  

Check out what happened this week in what we're calling the "Trinity of Religious Handouts":

 

Handout #1-   HB2281: Expanding Religious Privilege in Tax Law 

 

You've heard us talk about it and we're not giving up until this bill dies.  What this Center for Arizona Policy bill does is pick winners and losers in property tax code.   

The winners: Churches.  

 

The losers: Everyone else.  To the tune of $2.1M.  That's the amount that JLBC estimates of property tax revenue that will be shifted to other property owners if this bill passes.  Read the fiscal note here.

 

While this bill is not currently moving, it could easily move next week.  Keep up the pressure and stay loud on this bill (see our "Action Alert" section below to take action).

 

Handout #2: SB1303: Giving a Property Tax Break to Grand Canyon University, a Christian-based Private College

 

Thanks to the LOUD attention to this bill, it died in Rules committee on Wednesday!

 

Media attention:

HB2565: Statement by Secular Coalition for Arizona

Secular Coalition for Arizona
Testimony of Zenaido Quintana, Chair
Before Senate Judiciary Committee
On HB 2565, Manslaughter Definition Expansion

Thank you. Mr. Chairman and distinguished Committee members
I am Zenaido Quintana, and I am here in the capacity of Chair of the Secular Coalition for Arizona.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak in opposition to HB 2565, the proposed change to Section 13-1103 A.3.

This provision that extends the penalties of manslaughter to individuals who knowingly provide the physical means of committing suicide to another will add an additional cruel burden to those who seek to end the suffering of a loved one facing a tortuous death.

One hallmark of an ethical society is the option to choose a compassionate and dignified end to one’s own suffering.
If your parent, spouse, child or dear friend were in the throes of a painful and agonizing certain death, such as is common with any number of terminal diseases or physical injuries, how many of you could resist their anguished pleas to help them put an end to their torment?  Unfortunately, it isn’t until one is faced with this situation personally that the inhumanity of this provision becomes apparent.

It would be far better to craft legislation that would permit citizens of Arizona to get relief from an agonizing end through their licensed physician than to continue to try to criminalize every avenue for a caring loved one to provide relief.

The abuses that were predicted for permitting terminally ill individuals from receiving help in dying have simply not materialized in the 20 years that people have been permitted to choose this option in Oregon, three other states have wisely chosen to follow Oregon’s lead.

Action Alerts! Please Act Now!

This is the last week where House bills will be heard in Senate committees, and Senate bills heard in House committees.  As such, we have several bills that will be heard this week.  

Thank you for taking action on all of the ACTION ALERTS listed here. 

Using Public Funds to Subsidize Religious Education

While running from their religious motivations, and similar to the disingenuous double-speak calling SB1062 "religious freedom", the Religious Right continue to attempt to expand Empowerment Scholarships, all while using the talking point of "school choice." As with the voucher scheme used in some other states, the vast majority of empowerment accounts are used to send students to expensive private religious schools that they otherwise would not be able to afford, effectively offering the "choice" to bridge the personal financial gap.  And you guessed it, these bills have their genesis at the Center for Arizona Policy. Additionally, private schools have little oversight so your tax dollars are not accountable for as well as potentially put science-based education and other secular subjects that rile the faithful at risk.

Secular Coalition for Arizona Official Request for Gov. Brewer to Veto SB1062

View the original veto request here.

 
The Honorable Janice Brewer
Arizona Governor
Executive Tower
1700 West Washington St
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Ask Governor Brewer to Veto State-Sanctioned Religious Discrimination

Take Action Today

The Arizona Sate House and Senate passed concurrent bills (HB2153/SB1062) this week that will codify religious discrimination into law.

The bills, pushed by The Center for Arizona Policy, is so extreme that versions of the proposed law have recently been rejected by other state legislatures, even in conservative and religious states such as Idaho, Ohio, and Kansas.  This is just another bill in a long list of extremist bills that don't represent average Arizonans.

This bill has the potential to invite the types of boycotts seen under SB1070 and as far back as our refusal to recognize Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day that lost us the Superbowl. Tell Governor Brewer we can't afford another state scandal due to our discriminatory laws.

Discrimination Bill is Moving Quickly - Please Contact Lawmakers TODAY

Please send a message to the 60 members of the Arizona House of Representatives today. HB2153, the discrimination bill, will be heard on the House Floor at 1:30pm. We've made it easy to contact your lawmakers:

http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50691/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=13150

Secular Day at the Capitol

Join the Secular Community at the Arizona State Capitol on Tuesday, February 18, at 12:30PM.

Address: 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix

We will have a tour of the Arizona House of Representatives and we will be introduced to the Arizona House of Representative Members during the House Floor Session.

Please join us in solidarity to show the Arizona Legislature that we are a strong, unified voice for Arizona's Secular Community.

RSVP

Weekly Update from the Secular Coalition for Arizona 2-7-14

Rep. Ruben Gallego Gives Secular "Prayer" on AZ House Floor
Representative Ruben Gallego took a personal point of privilege to deliver the following statement on the House Floor yesterday (February 6, 2014):
The purpose of our opening prayer is to ask for something important. I’m asking that whichever God you pray to or whichever value system inspires you, let’s stay focused on the work we came here to do.  

There are a lot of versions of the Golden Rule in a lot of religions and secular traditions. They all say we should treat people like we want to be treated.

Arizonans and their families want to be treated like their state government is here for them. They want to know we’re going to fight for them. That we’re making Arizona a place of prosperity and opportunities. Let’s practice the Golden Rule today and get to work.
Representative Mach welcomed Secular Students and Secularists to Arizona House of Representatives
During the same floor session that Rep. Gallego made the personal point of privilege, Rep. Mach welcomed and introduced her guests from the Secular Student Alliance and the Secular Coalition.  Thank you to Representative Mach for the warm welcome!

Join us for Secular Day at the Capitol!

Secularists Laud Win for AZ Women

Secularists Laud Win for Women’s Healthcare
Phoenix, AZ -  The following statement was issued today by Zenaido Quintana, Chair of the Secular Coalition for Arizona, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear arguments in Isaacson v. Horne.

“We applaud and appreciate the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear arguments in Isaacson v. Horne, thus letting the decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stand.  

Abortion bans are not only bad policy because they prevent a woman from making her own personal, private decision about her health and medical care, but because they violate women’s constitutional rights. 

Laws and regulations of women’s healthcare must be based on scientifically sound medical research and driven by a compelling government interest, not sectarian religious beliefs.”

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The Secular Coalition for Arizona is a statewide, grassroots organization representing the Arizona nontheistic community – a vibrant and growing community of Arizonans who self-identify as atheists, agnostics, Humanists, freethinkers, and other labels of personal choosing.  For more information, visit www.secularaz.org

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