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Chamber chalked up wins, but still pushes for tax cuts

A number of important legislative reforms supported by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Arizona Manufacturers Council made their way to Gov. Jan Brewer and were signed into law, including, for the second consecutive year, major regulatory and tort reforms.

This session the chamber strongly supported H2260, sponsored by Rep. Andy Tobin. The bill further strengthened rulemaking improvements that Brewer put in place when she took office last year.
This successful legislation modernizes Arizona’s rulemaking process, cuts red tape and helps to ensure that a rule’s costs and benefits are clearly understood before it takes effect.

We also stood strong in our belief that paperwork should not be criminalized. We successfully opposed measures in the state’s new immigration law, S1070, which would have allowed law enforcement agencies or prosecutors to issue subpoenas for businesses records without meeting a standard of cause before a court of law.

Furthermore, we worked to amend S1070 to ensure the burden-of-proof standard in the entrapment language for employers is a “preponderance of the evidence” to equate it with the government’s burden-of-proof standard. Prior to the amendment, the employer’s burden-of-proof standard was defined as “clear and convincing” evidence.

The chamber also worked to ensure the credibility of evidence introduced in the courtroom, an essential element of a fair legal system, by strongly advocating for the passage of S1189, which was introduced by Sen. Barbara Leff and signed into law by the governor.

This legislation will raise the threshold for the submission of expert testimony in civil and criminal trials by moving the state to the Daubert standard, which is the same standard used at the federal level and in 37 other states. It will decrease the probability of “junk science” being presented to a jury and cuts down on frivolous lawsuits built on flimsy evidence.

The chamber also helped to preserve funding for the state’s Job Training Fund and Career and Technical Education fund. If those programs were eliminated, it could have had a devastating effect on employers seeking skilled workers.

And the chamber was happy to have joined in the successful effort to prevent more uninsured patients from being injected into the state’s health care system by preserving funding for KidsCare.
Despite these victories, not all of our efforts were met with success.

To say we were disappointed that a jobs package with real tax reforms failed to achieve final passage would be an understatement.

We had hoped that the Senate and the governor would agree with the House that Arizona’s corporate income tax and business property tax need to be lowered in order to make Arizona more competitive with states across the country and to attract and retain good jobs here.

The chamber is continuing to press for a tax-reform package to make our business tax code more competitive as the best way to address the state’s jobs deficit.

As the state is now grappling with a weak economy and the fallout over S1070, it’s even more critical that we pass a jobs bill sooner rather than later.

— Glenn Hamer is president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of
Commerce and Industry.

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