Gov. Jan Brewer has signed 191 bills this session, not counting four budget bills that were signed in special session. Here’s a look at some of the more notable bills the governor signed:
• H2103 – Independent counsel for state treasurer
Sponsored by Rep. Sam Crump, the bill adds the Arizona Treasurer’s Office to the list of state agencies that are permitted to hire outside legal counsel, as opposed to using the Attorney General’s Office. The bills stemmed from a dispute between Treasurer Dean Martin and Attorney General Terry Goddard over funds recovered in a fraud case in 2006. Under state law, the Attorney General’s Office is entitled to a 35 percent fee on recovered funds, which Martin said is more than his office would pay private sector attorneys. The bill puts the Treasurer’s Office in the same league as the Governor’s Office, Board of Regents, Corporation Commission, Residential Utility Consumer Office, Director of Water Resources, Industrial Commission, Auditor General, Advocate for Private Property Rights and Constitutional Defense Council.
• H2288 – Insurers’ tax credit for donations to school tuition organizations
Rep. Steve Yarbrough’s bill expands the corporate income tax credit for contributions to school tuition organizations (STO) to allow insurers to claim tax credits on their insurance premium tax. In order to qualify for the tax credit, insurers’ donations must fund scholarships for low-income students. Students must have attended a public school for at least 100 days during the previous fiscal year and transferred to a school qualifying for STO scholarship, or received an STO grant or scholarship in the previous year. Corporate tax credits for STO donations are capped at $17.3 million in the 2010 fiscal year.
• H2301 – Production cap for domestic microbreweries
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Reagan, doubles the annual production limit for domestic microbreweries from 620,000 gallons of beer to 1,240,000 gallons. If total annual beer production exceeds the new limit, microbreweries must apply for a producer’s license.
• H2396 – Public-private partnerships in transportation
The bill authorizes the state to enter into partnerships with private sector companies for the construction of new toll roads. Under the bill, sponsored by Rep. Andy Biggs, private companies may build roads and charge tolls, and the state is authorized to enforce those tolls. Rep. John Kavanagh emphasized that the bill does not authorize the state or private companies to enforce tolls on existing roads that have already been built using taxpayer money, but instead allows new roads to be built using private funds that would be available to people willing to pay. Kavanagh said the new roads could generate a great deal of revenue for the state, including hundreds of millions of dollars in up-front payments that could be put toward the expected budget deficit in 2011.
• H2572 – Pima sports authority
Pima County is authorized to establish a special taxing district and can ask residents to approve taxing and bonding for the construction of facilities for Cactus League spring training and youth sports. The taxes that can be levied are subject to voter approval, and include .35 percent of sales from car rentals, .45 percent from hotel and motel room proceeds, .25 percent from restaurants and bars, .35 percent from admissions to professional sporting events at facilities owned or financed by the district, .375 percent on amusements and sporting events, and .15 percent on retail businesses. The tax is terminated after five years if at least two Major League Baseball teams do not have binding contracts to train in the district for at least a decade. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies are the last two teams that still conduct spring training in Tucson, following a recent decision by Chicago White Sox to train instead in Glendale. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has agreed to build a facility for the Diamondbacks and Rockies near Scottsdale.
• H2150 – Animals fighting
The bill reclassifies Arizona’s dog fighting statutes to include any fight in which animals are intended to injure each other. The crime remains a class 5 felony. Additionally, the crime of stealing a dog for purposes of fighting is expanded to include the theft of any animal. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, includes an exception for animals that are trained to protect livestock from predators.
• S1088 – Domestic violence in dating relationships
The bill expands the definition of domestic violence to include any relationship in which there is a romantic or sexual relationship between the victim and perpetrator. Previously, a crime could not be classified as domestic violence unless the victim and defendant: are or have been married or living in the same household; they have a child together; the victim or defendant is pregnant by the other; the victim and defendant are related by blood or marriage; or the victim is a child residing in the same home as the defendant. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Paton, is known as “Kaity’s Law,” and is named after a 17-year-old girl, Kaitlyn Sudberry, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend.
• S1003 – DUI; prescription drugs
People are no longer exempt from DUI laws for driving under the influence of methadone if it was prescribed to them by a doctor. Arizona law previously exempted people from DUI laws if they did not show signs of impairment and were prescribed methadone by a medical practitioner. Under the bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Waring, anyone driving with methadone or its metabolites in his or her body is guilty of driving under the influence.