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Calif. bill that would penalize Boy Scouts’ tax exempt status shelved

Calif. bill that would penalize Boy Scouts’ tax exempt status shelved

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A bill to strip the Boy Scouts of America of its tax-exempt status in California because of the organization’s refusal to allow gay troop leaders stalled Thursday in the Legislature after failing to garner enough votes to pass.

Ricardo Lara
Ricardo Lara

SB323 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, would deny state tax breaks to nonprofit youth groups that discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or religious affiliation.

Because the legislation is a tax measure, it requires a two-thirds vote in both houses to pass. The Senate approved it in May, but it was placed on the inactive file in the Assembly on Thursday, which is expected to be the final day of this year’s legislative session.

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Scouting leaders had objected that the bill would harm local troops that serve 180,000 California children and teenagers. Conservative legal aid groups promised to sue if the measure became law on the grounds that it would punish an organization based on its beliefs.

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If the tax break was eliminated, the Boy Scouts would have had to pay corporate taxes on donations, membership dues and camp fees while also paying sales tax on food, beverages and homemade items sold at fundraisers. The legislation was sponsored by the advocacy group Equality California.

Lara said in a news release that questions have come up in the last few weeks from youth organizations “that have inclusive policies,” prompting him to review the bill.

He said he plans to bring SB323 back when the Legislature returns in January.

“We will be taking the next few months to work closely with all parties involved to address and refine this legislation,” Lara said in an emailed statement.

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