House OKs grant limits on abortion providers
PHOENIX - The state House voted this week to prohibit any state-administered federal grants from being given to any organization that also performs abortion.
Both state and federal law already preclude public funds from being used for abortions. But supporters of HB 2800 said that leaves a loophole.
Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, said organizations can use federal money administered by the state to pay for its other operations, freeing up money for abortions.
Sponsors of the bill, which cleared the House Monday, made it clear the legislation is aimed at Planned Parenthood Arizona.
The proposal drew fire from Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix.
"I'm really tired of the attack on women's health," she said.
Lawmakers are free to preclude public funds for abortion, Hobbs said. "However, I don't think that gives you the right to eliminate women's access to safe, affordable and trusted reproductive health care services, and that's exactly what this bill will do."
But Rep. Terri Proud, R-Tucson, said she wants to be sure public dollars are not funding abortions, directly or otherwise.
"Until the dead child can tell me that it didn't want to live, I have no intention of clearing the conscience of the living," she said.
Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, said there is a simple way for Planned Parenthood to remain eligible for family planning grants: create a legally and financially separate organization for those services.
But Rep. Tom Chabin, D-Flagstaff, said that should not be legally necessary. He predicted the legislation, if enacted, will be successfully challenged in court because it is aimed at a single organization.
Measure challenging ACC's power advances
On a 31-27 margin the House voted Monday to give lawmakers the power to veto rules of the Arizona Corporation Commission.
HB 2789 is aimed at decisions by the commission to require utilities to obtain 15 percent of their power from renewable sources like solar, wind and geothermal by 2025. Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, said the energy policy of the state should be set by the Legislature.
The vote comes despite legal opinions issued by attorneys for both the Legislature and the commission that it would be an illegal infringement on the constitutional powers of the regulators. Lesko effectively conceded as much, promising to make changes to the measure when it is considered by the Senate.
Electioneering clothes may be OK at polls
Voters going to the polls could soon be able to wear clothing supporting their favorite candidate.
HB 2722 arose after a 2010 incident where someone showed up to vote wearing a shirt proclaiming "Flagstaff Tea Party - Reclaiming Our Constitution Now." Election workers, citing a ban on electioneering inside a polling place, said the shirt might influence other voters.
County officials agreed to back off after a lawsuit was filed.
This legislation, approved on a 40-18 vote Monday, narrows the electioneering law to apply only to election officials, party representatives or others working at the polls. The bill now goes to the Senate.
Howard Fischer / Capitol Media Services