Derail Polygamy's Money Train

A bill before the Legislature would allow the state to begin reforming a society that steals public money and abuses underage girls


If the Legislature passes Anderson's bill with the current language, the governor will probably veto it, one prominent Democratic lobbyist tells me.

"She certainly would have the pretext because every school board in the state will have a reason for her to veto this bill," he says. "It would allow Tom Horne to come into virtually any school district in the state and take over the school."

As I was preparing this article, there appeared to be a glimmer of hope that a compromise could be reached that would allow passage of a bill acceptable to the governor.

Colorado City school board president F. Lee Bistline 
(top) and superintendent Alvin Barlow need to be 
removed from power.
John Dougherty
Colorado City school board president F. Lee Bistline (top) and superintendent Alvin Barlow need to be removed from power.

Representative Anderson told members of the Senate K-12 Committee he would be willing to narrow the House bill to focus on only financially failing school districts. Anderson's offer appeared to ease lobbyists' concerns, and the Senate K-12 committee passed the House bill by a 4-3 vote.

The full Senate is expected to take up the bill as this article goes to press.

It is imperative that Horne back off his power grab and that the Legislature passes a bill that will allow the state to finally seize control of the Colorado City school district.

"We have to do something, there is no doubt about it," says Republican Senator Toni Hellon, chairwoman of the Senate K-12 Committee. "We need to solve this before this session ends."

A school receivership law would mark a historic moment in the state's long and rocky history with the Colorado City polygamists.

It would for the first time in 70 years give the children of this isolated community dominated by a cruel theocracy the opportunity to receive a decent education.

This would have immense repercussions. It could mean the difference between a college degree and independence and a life as a polygamous wife shackled to raising dozens of children.

A receivership law would also send a powerful signal to FLDS leadership that the state of Arizona will no longer allow a religious dictator to reign over a community in violation of the state's constitutional prohibition against polygamy.

It's the crucial first step toward putting the law ahead of what the polygamists believe is the rule of God.

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