House Republicans approve 'birther bill'
It aims to verify presidential candidate's citizenship
by Mary Jo Pitzl
The Arizona Republic
The Arizona House of Representatives
has approved the "birther bill," which would require the Arizona secretary of State to verify the citizenship of U.S. presidential candidates.
The measure, Senate Bill 1024, passed with the minimum 31 votes, all from Republicans.
Several Republicans joined Democrats to oppose the bill, which Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett has said is of questionable constitutionality.
Democrats complained the bill is a frivolous distraction and another black eye to a state that is becoming a national joke because of its legislative actions.
"This is the straw that will break the state's back," Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said. "We are the laughingstock of the nation."
The House's vote comes two days after the Senate gave final approval to a wide-ranging immigration bill that, if signed into law, would make it a state crime to be in the country illegally and would require police to check the citizenship status of anyone whom they might have a "reasonable suspicion" is in the country illegally.
The "birther bill" has to return to the Senate for a concurring vote before it would go to Gov. Jan Brewer's desk.
Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson, said the bill is a waste of time when Arizona faces grave problems.
"What I have a hard time with is our priorities," he said. "Right now, someone's home is being foreclosed on in Arizona because we failed to act. Right now, someone is driving by a closed rest stop."
Republicans said the bill is constitutional. Arizona already has statutes that specify presidential qualifications, said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, and this just adds to them.