An Important Voice for These Times

This election year, one of the most interesting, engaging, thoughtful, and wise political voices is that of Gov. Mike Huckabee. Perhaps you catch his weekend show on Fox News or listen to his radio program.Well, plan now to join us for our CAP Family Dinner with Gov. Huckabee as the keynote speaker. Because of our growing statewide support, we’ve decided to take this show on the road and present the dinner in two locations: Tucson and Scottsdale. We need your help —- reserve your tables or tickets today and help us spread the word for this don’t miss event of the spring!

Join us for CAP Family Dinner in Tucson on March 21 and Scottsdale on March 22.

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS AND SPONSORSHIP INFORMATION

Pro-Life Mother’s Health & Safety Act Advances CAP-supported HB 2036 passed out of committee this week. Once again, Planned Parenthood tried to distort and misrepresent the dangers of abortion and the facts of this bill. Yet, thanks to the bill’s sponsor Rep. Kimberly Yee, and the members of the Senate Judiciary committee, Planned Parenthood was not able to derail this important legislation.

The two-hour committee hearing is well-worth watching. One of the most powerful moments was when one pro-abortion supporter tried to claim that giving birth is more dangerous – and causes more deaths – than abortion. Senator Steve Yarbrough reminded the woman that this is impossible because there is always one death from abortion – the loss of the preborn child.

The most concerning aspect of the committee hearing however is Planned Parenthood’s complete denial of any risks of abortion. You and I know abortion not only takes the life of the preborn child but also poses significant risks to the mother. All of us know women who were harmed by an abortion. Take time today to read our Issue Brief on AZPolicyPages.com about how abortion harms women.

Big Week for Religious Freedom 
Several CAP-supported bills to protect our religious liberty continued to pass through the legislature this week.
  • SB 1365 passed the Senate; awaits House hearing March 6 – Protects professionals from losing their state licenses for practicing their faith and strengthens protection for religious organizations that contract with the state.
  • HB 2625 passed the House; awaits Senate hearing – Expands the definition of “religious employer” for the state’s prescription contraceptive coverage exemption and protects employers and employees from being forced to pay for abortifacient contraceptives against their religious beliefs.
  • HB 2770 passed the House; awaits Senate hearing – Protects college and university professors from being denied tenure because of their religious convictions or political beliefs.
  • HB 2774 passed the House; awaits Senate hearing – Affirms the religious liberty of churches by clarifying the statutes that exempt churches from property taxes.

An Important Message for Young Women  
In partnership with Arizona State University Students for Life, CAP hosted a screening of the documentary eggsploitation this week. Following the film, the students and CAP staff discussed the ads they’ve seen on campus soliciting young women for their eggs, and their concerns about the ethical issues involving egg donation.
ABC 15 came to the screening and aired this segment on the topic.

Implications for Arizona

On Tuesday, two judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the California marriage amendment approved by a vote of the people is unconstitutional. Once again, we see judges making law, not interpreting law. Read the opinion here. Incredibly the judges can find no “rational basis” for Californians to uphold marriage.

Thankfully, this is not the final chapter in the fight to protect marriage. Let’s all remember that this is the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – the most overturned circuit court in the country. Shortly after the decision was released, our friends at Alliance Defense Fund and ProtectMarriage.com announced they would be appealing the decision.

There are two key “take-aways” from the opinion:

  1. When states adopt laws granting legal status and other recognition to individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation, the courts are more likely to say you can’t define marriage as only the union of one man and one woman. This is one problem with civil unions, domestic partnerships, and so-called non-discrimination policies. These laws set up the argument that you cannot grant special legal recognition to persons on the basis of their sexual orientation yet deny them marriage. CAP continues to oppose efforts at the legislature to pass such laws.
  2. The U.S. President nominates and the U.S. Senate confirms the judges who sit on the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Courts. When you cast your vote in 2012, know your vote counts in deciding who gets to nominate and confirm judges.

Check out the Marriage Counterfeits Issue Brief on AZPolicyPages.com to learn more about this topic.

Now We’re Rolling
We had a full week at the state legislature. Six CAP-supported bills were heard either in committee or on the House or Senate Floor. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The “wrongful life” bill was heard in the Senate Health committee. Sponsored by Sen. Nancy Barto, SB 1359 prohibits so-called “wrongful life” and “wrongful birth” lawsuits against medical professionals for not diagnosing a birth defect of a preborn child, which, if known, would have led to the child being aborted. This bill is about ensuring that every life – whether born with a disability or not – is valued. CAP Legal Counsel Deborah Sheasby testified in support, drawing many questions from those who favor abortion. The bill passed 3-2.
  • The Senate Government Reform Committee passed by a 4-2-1 vote legislation to protect the rights of conscience of individuals who are licensed or certified by the state. Sponsored by Senator Steve Yarbrough, SB 1365 ensures no professional licensed by the state can be discriminated against because of the practice of his or her faith. I testified in support of the bill, along with ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joe Infanco.
  • Deborah also testified for another CAP-supported bill passed with bi-partisan support in the House Education Committee. HB 2770 passed 7-1 and protects college and university professors from being denied tenure because of their religious convictions or political beliefs. Read more about why Rep. Tom Forese sponsored this legislation in the East Valley Tribune.

The other big news of the week is the CAP-supported Mother’s Health and Safety Act introduced by Representative Kimberly Yee. You can read more about HB 2838 from the Associated Press. And, be sure to check out CAP’s Bill Tracker for current status on our bills and to access our Fact Sheets. Several more bills will be heard in committees next week. We’d appreciate your prayers as we work these bills through the legislative process.

Flying Out of the Gates

Only a week into session and two CAP-supported bills have passed out of a committee. SB 1047 and SB 1048 strengthen and expand Arizona’s Scholarship Tax Credit program, which gives a dollar-for-dollar tax credit to donations to School Tuition Organizations (STOs). STOs then provide families with scholarships so their children can attend the school of the parents’ choice.
Praying for those in Authority
At dawn Monday before the session began, concerned citizens from across the state participated in our annual Prayer Walk. We walked the grounds of the state Capitol, including the House and Senate floors, praying for our elected officials, the current legislative session, and for the future of Arizona. I hope you join me in continuous prayer for all of those in positions of authority.
Standing for Life
Opening day was full of citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. Planned Parenthood held a rally to push the pro-abortion agenda and tell legislators “women are watching them.” As it turns out, pro-life women are watching too, and Brooke Burns and the Arizona Right to Life crew held an impromptu rally to show our elected officials support for standing for life. Carrying signs that say “We Love You – Choose Life,” about 40 people boldly stood out in the Capitol lawn in support of preborn children and protecting the health and safety of women.
Arizona Day of Prayer Challenged … again
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has once again filed a lawsuit over the Arizona Day of Prayer, but this time in state court. You may recall a federal court judge tossed out FFRF’s lawsuit against the Day of Prayer in federal court. Prayer has been at the foundation of our country from the very beginning, and it is simply absurd that organizations like this are trying to rewrite history and block religious speech in the public square. Click here to listen to my interview with Family News in Focus on the lawsuit.
WARNING: Divorce Comes with Unexpected Side Effects
The University of Arizona released a review this week of more than 30 studies on the harms of divorce. They found that individuals that go through a divorce run a significant higher risk of dying earlier than married couples. In fact, they found that risks associated with divorce are similar to smoking and excessive drinking. Read more here.
CAP Back on Radio

Be sure to tune in daily to 960 AM The Patriot before the Hugh Hewitt Show in the afternoon and KPXQ 1360 AM The Christian Station in Phoenix to catch me on the Patriot Policy Minute. For you northern Arizonans, remember to tune into 90.9 FM Radio Shine every Friday for the CAP Family Minute, our weekly update from the legislature.

7/10, 419, 101, 1500: 2011 by the Numbers


7/10, 419, 4, 101, 1,500 – The 2011 highlights for Arizona families can be painted by the numbers. Here are five victories I’m most grateful for:
1) 7 Out of 10
Yavapai County Planned Parenthood that no longer offers abortion
Following our victory in the State Court of Appeals upholding the Abortion Consent Act, Planned Parenthood announced they would end abortion services at 7 of their 10 Arizona locations. This led to our next unexpected success…

2) 419 Lives  

The combination of Planned Parenthood ending abortion services at 7 of their 10 clinics with the new informed consent provisions in the Abortion Consent Act led to 419 fewer abortions performed from August to October of 2011, compared to the same time in 2010. This work is saving lives!

3) Winning in Court – 4 MAJOR Cases  

Cathi Outside Court of Appeals after ACA
Me outside the State Court of Appeals following oral arguments in the
Abortion Consent Act

 

  • The Arizona Court of Appeals upheld the Abortion Consent Act. Now in Arizona, minors must have notarized parental consent before an abortion, women must have an in-person consultation with a doctor at least 24 hours before an abortion, health care workers are protected from being forced to participate in abortions against their religious beliefs, and non-doctors cannot perform surgical abortions.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the CAP-supported Scholarship Tax Credit Program which provides tens of thousands of scholarships every year to ensure children can attend the school of their parent’s choice.
  • In a CAP-defended case, the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Ninth Circuit ruled the City of Yuma violated the religious liberty rights of a church when the city forced the church out of their downtown location because Yuma felt the church “didn’t fit in” with what they wanted downtown.
  • A U.S. District Court dismissed a baseless lawsuit against Governor Jan Brewer filed by the “Freedom From Religion Foundation.” The Foundation filed the lawsuit against the governor for her proclamation of the Arizona Day of Prayer.

4) 101 Bills  

At our spring dinner, Gov. Brewer signs CAP-supported legislation ensuring that an ultrasound is performed before an abortion.
Sixteen CAP-supported bills were signed into law in 2011, bringing the total number of CAP-supported bills enacted into law to 101. Thirty-eight of these bills were signed into law in the last three years alone. In 2011, a CAP-supported resolution honoring pregnancy care centers and a CAP-supported judicial reform ballot measure also passed.

5) 1,500+ Come to Put Their Faith in Action

                      Dr. Del Tackett speaking at the Faith in Action Tour
More than 1,500 people attended our Faith in Action Tour at Bethany Bible Church to discover how to be a part of the movement to transform our state through service.


Meeting the Challenge 

These are just a few of the highlights of 2011 – I could go on and on about how God equipped our work this year, enabling us to meet many challenges and opportunities. But we still have one major challenge to overcome this year and we need your help.

With less than two weeks remaining in this year, we still have not met our 2011 budget needs. Our team has been meeting this week to prepare to take on the many challenges and opportunities that await us in 2012. To forge ahead in a strong position, it’s essential that we finish this year in a strong financial position.

CAP is entirely funded by generous families like yours that believe in our work and want to partner with us – we receive no government grants or funding. Would you help us meet this final challenge of 2011 by giving an online gift today? Any support you can provide would be sincerely appreciated.

Contribute

(Or you can send us a gift in the mail: PO Box 97250, Phoenix, AZ 85060)

We all know what’s on the line in 2012, especially with the upcoming election. At Center for Arizona Policy, we are prepared and more than willing and ready to accomplish so much more in the months and years to come. Thank you for your support! 

Good News! 16 CAP-Supported Bills Become Law

Today is a great day for everyone who calls Arizona home.

It’s been 90 days since the end of the 2011 legislative session, which means 16 Center for Arizona Policy (CAP)-supported bills take effect today. That’s 101 CAP-supported bills enacted into law since 1995!

These new laws make significant progress towards advancing the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious liberty in our state.

Victories like these never come without hard work, the support and prayers of people across Arizona, and the Lord’s blessing. Today would also be impossible if it wasn’t for the amazing 2010 elections, in which a two-thirds majority of pro-life, pro-family leaders were elected to the state House, Senate, and the governor’s office.

I’d like to share with you a very special message from two legislators who stand on the front lines every day at the state Capitol with CAP to promote and defend foundational principles.

In His Hands,


 

Cathi Herrod
President, Center for Arizona Policy

BREAKING NEWS: Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of Church in Yuma!

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of religious liberty for an Arizona church today. In 2007, the city of Yuma had unlawfully denied the church a permit to use its building for worship. Attorneys for Center for Arizona Policy and the Alliance Defense Fund worked together to defend the church’s rights in court.

“Churches should not be treated unfavorably just because they are religious, and that is what the city of Yuma had done here,” said CAP Legal Counsel Deborah Sheasby. “Because of this ruling, government officials will not be able to discriminate against churches and single them out for negative treatment in how they use their property. We are excited about this victory for churches and religious freedom.”

In this case, the church purchased a building in downtown Yuma in 2007, but the city denied its permit saying that a church did not “fit in” with the city’s plans for the area. The church filed a lawsuit based on the Constitution and the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), both of which prohibit the government from discriminating against religious organizations. A lower court ruled against the church, but today the Ninth Circuit reversed that decision.

The Ninth Circuit’s ruling explains that cities may not treat churches less favorably than non-religious groups. The city’s zoning ordinance “expressly treats religious organizations on a less than equal basis,” the court wrote. “The Yuma City Code’s exclusion of religious organizations is not reasonably well adapted to the zoning criteria it is purported to serve. And it therefore violates the equal terms provision of RLUIPA.”

In 2010, Center for Arizona Policy worked to pass a bill that clarifies Arizona law to better protect churches from the type of discrimination faced by the church in Yuma. That bill was signed and went into effect in July 2010.

Sheasby commended today’s court ruling, saying, “Today’s legal victory reinforces that Arizona churches have a fundamental right guaranteed by the First Amendment to use their property to gather for worship. This is great news for Arizona churches!”

For more information, visit www.azpolicy.org.