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House OKs bill protecting licensed workers who deny services on religious grounds

Arizona workers would not lose their professional licenses for denying services on religious grounds under a new bill, although supporters acknowledged they knew of no cases where such action had occurred.

The Arizona House passed legislation Monday that would prohibit state licensing boards from disciplining a worker who declined service because of religion.

The bill states such religious protection wouldn’t apply to criminal or sexual misconduct.

It now heads back to the Senate where it is likely to be approved.

Critics have said the bill could protect those who engage in unprofessional conduct.

Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed similar legislation last year, saying she feared it could protect conduct by Arizona police who are followers of polygamous-sect leader Warren Jeffs.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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