Arizona Catholic Conference seeks to increase charitable tax credits, affect abortion

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State House Speaker David Gowan poses with the bishops of Arizona Feb. 3. From left to right are Bishop Gerald N. Dino of the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Eparchy of Phoenix, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix, Speaker Gowan, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucscon, Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, New Mexico, Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares of Phoenix and Ron Johnson, director of the Arizona Catholic Conference. (Photo courtesy of the Arizona Catholic Conference)
State House Speaker David Gowan poses with the bishops of Arizona Feb. 3. From left to right are Bishop Gerald N. Dino of the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Eparchy of Phoenix, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix, Speaker Gowan, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucscon, Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, New Mexico, Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares of Phoenix and Ron Johnson, director of the Arizona Catholic Conference. (Photo courtesy of the Arizona Catholic Conference)

A pair of bills aimed at charitable tax credits plus three bills aimed at abortion are making their way through the Arizona Legislature.

Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, the policy arm of Arizona’s Catholic dioceses, discussed the slew of legislation with The Catholic Sun as he stood in the midday sun that warmed the capitol lawn.

Years ago, laws dealing with the charitable tax credit were complicated, he said, but the efforts of the ACC and like-minded legislators have made the credits easier to navigate. Faith-based organizations such as Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul that assist the poor are given a boost through the credits.

“These are great ways for individuals to really help out faith-based charities and other charities to help out the people most in need,” Johnson said. “We think these agencies often do better work than the government or anyone else.”

SB 1217 would double the tax credit and SB 1216 would extend the deadline for giving to April 15.

SB 1217, Johnson said, makes the tax credit easier to use by extending the deadline to April 15 of the following year. Taxpayers would be able to donate when doing their taxes and still get the credit from last year.

“The other part is, it doubles the credit to $400 for an individual and $800 for a married couple,” Johnson said. There’s also a foster charity tax credit so that under SB 1217 increases the credit to $500 per individual and $1,000 per married couple.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Yarbrough has been a key sponsor on almost all of the charitable tax credit bills over the years, Johnson said.

“I believe that by increasing the maximum allowable donation, we will generate more donations for the benefit of food banks, pro-life family service providers, homeless shelters, domestic violence services — a whole group of extraordinary charities that really do the critical thing to help the neediest folks in our community,” Yarbrough said. “Private charity works miracles and that’s why I think if we can do more, we should.”

At press time, the legislature was also dealing with three bills regarding abortion: SB 1474 would ban the sale of aborted babies or their body parts; SB 1485 would prohibit the state’s Employee Charitable Campaign from facilitating employee donations to abortion providers; and SB 1324 would ensure that abortion providers do not go around FDA protocols pertaining to RU-486, a medication that induces abortion.

Right now the FDA protocol states that abortion providers can only prescribe the drug for babies at seven weeks gestation. Local purveyors of abortion, such as Family Planning Associates in Phoenix, advertise on their website that the abortion method is available up to the ninth week of pregnancy.

“We’re very fortunate to have a pro-life legislature in Arizona,” Johnson said. “With our leadership, we’ve been able to block a slew of problematic bills relating to abortion and healthcare providers’ rights of conscience, for example, as well as bills that promote assisted suicide.

“We don’t want to ever take for granted the leadership we’ve had,” Johnson said. “Every single pro-life bill and rights-of-conscience bill we’ve had in the last decade or so, believe me, there’s more than one bill out there to undo it. Every single one.”

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