PHOENIX — The effects of an Arizona bill that would allow businesses to refuse services based on religion could be worse than one that enacted some of the harshest immigration laws in the nation.
“This actually, I think, has the potential of being bigger than (Senate Bill) 1070 was,” Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said of Senate Bill 1062 during a Tuesday interview on News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Mac & Gaydos.
Smith said SB 1062 is essentially strike three for Arizona, with 1070 being strike two and an earlier failure to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday.
“This just seems, when you read it, to open the door for institutionalized discrimination that goes far beyond what it think the authors were trying to accomplish and where the discussion was,” he said. “I don’t think anyone thought it through.”
Smith first learned of the bill passing the legislature when he was hosting the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He said many members of the bipartisan group spoke to him about the bill.
“The reaction was worse than 1070,” he said. “People saw this as an affront.
“They saw 1062 as a threat to the very liberties it purported to protect.”
Smith has experience dealing with mayors angered by Arizona law. His first time in the conference was shortly after SB 1070 was passed and he spent years trying convince mayors that this isn’t a bad state.
“I’ve really worked hard over the last few years with my fellow mayors to change their perception of Arizona, to help them to understand why we do some of the things we do here in Arizona,” he said, adding that 2014 was a breakthrough year in getting mayors to travel to Arizona.
However, one conservative mayor told Smith they would not have traveled to the state knowing Sb 1062 was making its way through the state Legislature.
Mayors aren’t the only issue on Smith’s hands. He and the city have been contacting companies, including tech giant Apple, to ask them to be patient while the government works.
“We have definitely reached out to companies and to individuals and to others, just like I did with the mayors. I said ‘Let this play out.'”
Smith has also
He has yet to speak to Gov. Jan Brewer on the matter, but Smith has publicly denounced the bill and feels a lot of residents agree with him.
“I don’t think that most Arizonans want that to be the face of Arizona because it’s not,” he said.