Some individuals and groups did better than others in the just completed legislative session. We take a closer look, but remembering that one person’s victory could be considered another person’s loss:
As early as January the Transportation Safety Administration won’t recognize Arizona driver’s licenses to board aircraft because the documents do not comply with federal security requirements. This law requires the Department of Transportation to create an optional license, for a fee, which the TSA would recognize, eliminating the need to get a passport.
PEOPLE WHO GET RAISES
A new law will index the state’s income tax brackets. That means those whose pay increases no more than inflation will not find themselves paying higher tax rates.
Not only do they get big money, now they will be able to keep their identities confidential for 90 days. Supporters say that enables them to obtain needed security, get investment advice — and perhaps hide from long-lost relatives.
Lobbyists for the industry beat back a proposal that would have erased requirements for corporations to publish certain notices, instead permitting them to have the Arizona Corporation Commission put them online. And legislation to eliminate publication of city and county notices was stillborn.
Until now, you needed a doctor’s order to get the majority of lab tests performed. A new law permits people to ignore the first step, go directly to labs and get the results themselves.
The Democratic senator from the Navajo Reservation annoyed party colleagues by being the only member of his party to support the budget. But Begay got some things in return, including a law that allows all students on Indian reservations to get vouchers to attend private or parochial schools.
The company makes a three-wheeled vehicle that looks a lot like a car. But it needed — and got — a special exemption from a law that says only those with a motorcycle license can operate anything with fewer than four wheels, an exemption that should help spur sales.
Firms like Uber and Lyft and their drivers actually were violating laws which govern requirements for firms and individuals who offer rides for money. A fix in the statutes solves that, mainly by imposing new insurance requirements.
TUCSON UNIFIED AND PHOENIX UNION SCHOOL DISTRICTS
A bid to require them to undergo a special “forensic audit” of their desegregation expenses went nowhere as lawmakers decided there already was enough financial oversight.
Home builders are getting new legal protections from lawsuits over construction defects. They also will escape requirements to build a certain number of affordable homes or apartments.
Current law exempts churches from property taxes. This new law says those who rent to congregations who can’t afford their own buildings get the same tax break.
SERVICE ANIMAL OWNERS
Lawmakers beat back attempts by Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, to allow restaurants to ban service animals. Thorpe insisted that wasn’t his intent but the wording said otherwise.
State law says once micro brewers grow to a certain size they have to live within the same restrictions as Budweiser or Coors, like not running their own restaurants. But legislators decided to give the small operations some breathing room to grow.
Lawmakers refused to cancel income tax cuts they already approved despite the state’s continued financial losses.
The company that manufactures only electric cars sought permission to sell directly to Arizona residents rather than having to work through dealers. But the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association had more political clout and quashed the legislation.
Lawmakers did approve a measure to make gold and silver coins legal tender amid claims the dollar isn’t worth much. But Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed the measure which also would have exempted investors from state capital gains taxes.
Seven years after voters rejected the idea of “payday loans,” the industry was back with an alternative “flex loan” program. But lawmakers rejected the plan after figuring out that the effective annual percentage interest rate was somewhere north of 200 percent.
Lawmakers agreed to let speeders wipe out traffic citations with defensive driving classes once every 12 months, twice as often as now allowed, a move insurers insist will lead to less safe roads. At the same time they once again rejected legislation to ban texting while driving. And a last-minute bid to require helmets on motorcycle operators and passengers went nowhere.
COMMON CORE FOES
Legislators refused to enact measures to wipe out the controversial academic standards in Arizona. And they balked at letting parents opt their children out of any sort of standardized testing.
They took what appears to be the biggest cut ever in state aid. Worse yet, there was no commitment from the governor or lawmakers to restore funding after the economy improved.
At one time Arizona had a five-year lifetime cap on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families that pays $277 a month for a family of three. That previously got cut to two years and now will be just one.
Industry lobbyists sought an exemption from laws which keep stores from selling alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of churches or schools, saying too many of these are springing up in strip malls. Lawmakers found the idea flawed and the measure died.
FARMERS AND RANCHERS
They sought their own set of laws on animal cruelty separate from statutes that govern pet owners. Gov. Doug Ducey thought otherwise and vetoed the measure claiming, wrongly, that it would have meant lesser penalties for abusing farm animals.
The governor vetoed legislation to keep secret the names of officers involved in shootings for 60 days. And legislation to ban police departments from grading officers based on number of tickets issued met a similar fate.
GUN RIGHTS ADVOCATES
While getting a new ban on local rules, top priorities faltered including allowing guns in public buildings, removing the state ban on silencers and sawed-off shotguns, and adopting an interstate compact to overrule any possible future voter initiative limiting who can carry guns and where.
Women will no longer be able to get coverage for elective abortions under policies purchased through the Affordable Care Act. And doctors will have to tell women the medically questionable conclusion that medication abortions can be reversed once started.
Two new laws will restrict how they beg. One bans “aggressive panhandling,” including making people fear for their safety while another says you can end up in jail for pushing the crosswalk button solely to stop traffic to beg.
CITIES AND COUNTIES
Lawmakers put new restrictions on communities, like telling them they can’t force grocers and restaurants to charge for plastic bags. But both cities and counties escaped more far-reaching proposals like requiring them to let some people bring their guns into public buildings unless there were metal detectors and guards at each entrance.
Lawmakers did approve new restrictions on the ability of voters to promote their own laws and voted to allow candidates to take more money from private donors. And minor parties will find it harder to get candidates on the ballot. But a bill to seek repeal of public financing of elections faltered. And the rush to finish the session doomed another measure to prohibit groups from collecting early ballots.
A bid to forbid schools from starting up before Labor Day faltered, good news for those who want out in May but bad news for those who like August vacations. The AIMS test is gone as a graduation requirement but seniors eventually will have to pass a new civics test to get a diploma.
The new governor got a budget mostly to his liking, though lawmakers balked at his idea that somehow shifting money from one side of education ledger to the other would actually result in more money for classrooms. And while they agreed to his request to abolish the Department of Weights and Measures, they rebuffed a demand to create an inspector general who answered only to him.
Her attempt to fire two members of the state Board of Education who did not agree with her policies to kill Common Core blew up and both staffers are back at work. But lawmakers never approved legislation which would have specifically limited her powers over board employees.
STATES’ RIGHTS ADVOCATES
Lawmakers did vote to demand the federal government give Arizona much of the federal land in the state. And they said state funds can’t be used to administer the Affordable Care Act. But they declined to say that federal agents could arrest people only with permission of the local sheriff.