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AZ bill would require classroom flags

PHOENIX — Arizona legislators like the concept of displaying the American flag to promote patriotism, particularly for school children, but they have their limits.

Endorsing a House-passed bill to require that an American flag be displayed in all public school classrooms, the Arizona Senate agreed Tuesday to extend the requirement to legislative hearing rooms but not the offices of legislators or other public officials.

The Senate gave preliminary approval to a House-passed bill that would require that community colleges, state universities and public K-12 schools display American-made U.S. flags at least 2 by 3 feet in all classroom.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Russell Pearce of Mesa, contends putting flags in classrooms would help raise the level of patriotism.

The bill (HB2583), which now awaits a formal Senate vote, was amended by the Senate to expand the requirement to include private schools that receive contributions from tax credit-contribution contributions for scholarships. “All students should have the flag in their classroom,” said the amendment’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Ken Cheuvront of Phoenix.

The bill states that the Legislature intends that donations and fundraising be used to acquire flags, but the Senate deleted a requirement that school districts, charter schools, universities and colleges report by July 2007 how many classrooms do not have flags.

The Senate also amended the bill to require flags be displayed in all House and Senate hearing rooms.

However, the Republican-led Senate rejected a Democratic amendment to also require that flags be displayed in the offices of all public officials, including legislators.

“We’re the legislators and we get to tell everybody else what to do,” the amendment’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Bill Brotherton of Phoenix, said sarcastically.

Senate President Ken Bennett, R-Prescott, argued against that amendment, saying it was enough that the Legislature has a flag in its chamber and would put them in hearing rooms, the places where it conducts official business. “We don’t vote anywhere else,” Bennett said.

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