The small town of Austin, Indiana is still dealing with an HIV outbreak, fueled by prescription drug abuse.
Business Councils, Lawmakers Concerned About SB 1062 Impact
Gov. Jan Brewer will be making a decision this week on whether to sign SB 1062, the bill lawmakers approved last week that would allow businesses to refuse service to gays and others, based on sincerely held religious beliefs.
Three Republican state senators have reversed their position on the bill in light of the controversy it’s ignited. Sens. Adam Driggs, Steve Pierce and Bob Worsley sent Brewer a letter Monday asking her to veto the bill.
Republican strategist Jaime Molera said business leaders hope a veto would preserve Arizona’s reputation.
"They'd like Gov. Brewer to send a powerful message, to say, you know, Arizona's been tagged with a lot of things in the past — I think the ghosts of 1070 are still out there — and they believe a veto would send a very strong and positive message that Arizona is not going to allow this kind of thing," Molera said.
Molera said Brewer likely has enough support in her caucus to withstand any conservative backlash if she does veto the bill.
Also on Monday, the CEOs of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Leadership and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council sent a letter to Brewer urging that she veto the bill.
Democratic State Sen. Mark Cardenas says the bill is having a toxic effect on business and events like next year’s Super Bowl.
“You have Apple who just moved here, who e-mailed me and said 'you know, we’re worried now,'" Cardenas said. "You have the Arizona Cardinals saying that you know, especially because they’re going to bring hundreds of millions of dollars into the state next year, in a state that’s so heavily reliant on the sales tax, you know we’re going to shoot ourselves in the foot basically.”
The controversy over the bill is creating concerns about possible boycotts and meeting cancellations for the state, and comparisons to the backlash following passage of Arizona’s immigration law, SB1070.
Republican State Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, who voted against the bill, believes a veto is the governor’s best choice,
“The conversations around the bill have taken far flight from whatever the bill did or didn’t do and it was dividing everybody as opposed to producing any meaningful policy," Brophy McGee said.
Supporters say businesses should be in favor of it, since it protects employees and allows them to live their religious values. Opponents argue it’s a thinly veiled effort to use religion as a weapon against LGBT members of the community.
There has been no indication so far which way the governor will come down on the issue. Once the bill is presented to her, she will have five days to sign it, veto it, or allow it to become law without her signature.
Nick Blumberg contributed to this story.
Updated 2/24/2014 at 1:39 p.m.