Fate of legal-notice bill uncertain in House

PHOENIX - The state House gave preliminary approval Tuesday to legislation that would let Arizona's largest cities publish their legal notices online rather than spend money to buy newspaper ads.

Tuesday's voice vote came after Rep. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, agreed to alter his original proposal so that the opt-out provision applies only to cities with a population of 100,000 or more. That helps blunt opposition from rural lawmakers who have worried about lack of Internet access for some constituents, as well as about the financial viability of hometown papers.

All counties, however, would be able to scrap the need for newspaper-published legal notices.

The future of HB 2533, however, remains in doubt.

House leaders did not call for a final roll-call vote after Tuesday's preliminary approval. Petersen needs to line up 31 votes in the 60-member chamber to advance the bill to the Senate.

Capitol Media Services

House expands breaks for religious groups

PHOENIX - Religious groups would pay fewer property taxes if a measure backed by the Arizona House of Representatives becomes law.

The Republican-led House voted 35-24 along party lines to advance the measure Tuesday. It goes next to the Senate.

The amended bill passed after a compromise between local property tax assessors and conservative leaders.

Under its original form, the bill would have protected properties not used for religious worship. Critics complained that it would have allowed groups posing as religious institutions to avoid property taxes.

The bill that passed the House no longer specifies that student dormitories and shelters owned by religious groups are protected from property taxes. It instead seeks to exempt property used for "religious use," including vacant lots. The lots cannot be sold for profit.

Property used for worship is currently tax-exempt.

The Associated Press