- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - A bill making it a felony to steal a U.S. flag being flown displayed or flown from a flagpole has won approval from a split Arizona Senate committee.

Senate Bill 1009 by Republican Rep. John Kavanagh advanced on a 4-3 vote Thursday. All three Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee were opposed.

Kavanagh says constituents in Tucson brought him the proposal and it makes sense to boost flag-stealing from a misdemeanor to a low-level felony. He says it differs from other small-value thefts because taking a flag also affects someone’s free-speech rights.

Democratic Sen. Martin Quezada said he reveres the flag but thinks the proposal is mere political and patriotic posturing. He also questioned whether celebrating the flag as a symbol of freedom requires imprisoning more people.

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