Arizona House passes bill protecting religion

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona House has passed a measure that would expand religious freedom protections.

The GOP-led House voted 32-24 along party lines Wednesday to move the bill forward. It now goes to the Senate for passage.

Senate Bill 1178 would allow people to sue over potential violations of religious liberty. Civil liberties groups say the bill would be a nightmare for businesses because it could prompt a wave of lawsuits over alleged First Amendment violations.

Arizona law and the U.S. Constitution already protect religious freedom, but proponents say stricter language is needed.

Sen. Steve Yarbrough, the bill's sponsor, initially introduced a broader bill, but it was tempered to win over some critics who said it was too expansive. Yarbrough says he supports the amended legislation.