Arizona Conservatives Flex Their Muscle
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
The Arizona House of Representatives has advanced legislation that would require future presidential candidates to produce a birth certificate before their names can appear on a statewide ballot.
The so-called "birther bill" is a reaction to unproven accusations that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen, and is the latest display of conservative power in Arizona following the departure of former governor Janet Napolitano, a Democrat who is now the U.S. secretary of homeland security.
The Arizona Republic reports that the bill still needs to clear a final vote in the House — as well as the Senate — before it reaches the desk of Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican who replaced Napolitano when she joined the Obama administration. Similar laws have been proposed in Florida, Missouri and Oklahoma, but none has passed. Democrats in Arizona have called the measure "frivolous legislation," according to the Republic .
While the bill's fate is unclear, the legislation is another example of conservative muscle-flexing in Arizona now that Republicans control both chambers in the statehouse as well as the governor's office.
Earlier this week, the legislature sent Brewer a bill that would become the toughest anti-illegal immigration law in the nation. If signed, the bill would make it a state crime to be in the country illegally and require local police to enforce federal immigration laws. The bill has drawn national attention and protests from immigrant advocacy groups. Brewer hasn't decided yet whether she will sign it.
Last week, Brewer signed a measure that allows U.S. citizens 21 or older to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. Alaska and Vermont are the only other states that have similar laws, the Republic reported.
Meanwhile, Arizona is expected to join other states challenging the federal health care law after Brewer overrode her own attorney general, Democrat Terry Goddard, and called a special session of the legislature to win authority to challenge the law on her own.