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Governor signs flurry of pro-business bills to finish out the session

Doug Ducey

Gov. Doug Ducey put the finishing touches on the 2016 legislative session Thursday by signing the last 25 bills on his desk, including one that could leave some Arizonans without auto insurance and another designed to give a tax break to art collectors.

The approvals bring to 374 the number of bills that gained the governor’s approval this session. He vetoed 14 of them.

That compares with 320 bills that gained Ducey’s approval last year in his first legislative session and 20 vetoes.

The measure on auto insurance is linked to the fact that Arizona requires motorists to purchase liability coverage to operate a motor vehicle. The law until now has limited the ability of insurers from canceling coverage, with exceptions for things like the failure to pay premiums or unless the person’s driver’s license was suspended or revoked.

This new law allows an insurer to simply decide that it no longer wants to cover someone, with the only requirement being to send a nonrenewal notice at least 45 days out.

“We’re trying to be more business friendly in Arizona,” argued House Majority Whip David Livingston, R-Peoria.

Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix, said Arizona law should not be amended to the detriment of policyholders solely to benefit insurers.

The measure on art was pushed by Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, and largely will benefit the art dealers in her community.

Right now a gallery owes sales taxes when it sells a painting, sculpture or other item of “fine art” to a customer. The levy is traditionally passed on to the buyer.

This new law says if the buyer is a resident of another state and has the item shipped home, there is no tax.

Proponents argued the change is good for dealers. And they pointed out there already is a way for out-of-state buyers to escape the tax: Go home and order the item by phone or online.

Ducey signed a series of other measures that could be considered pro business.

One creates a new Office of Economic Opportunity that consolidates various state functions into what the governor called “a one-stop economic development shop that will focus on getting government out of the way of job creators.” Ducey also said the single office will not only try to land new business but also find ways to “drive down regulatory and tax burdens.”

Also signed into law is a change in the role of the state Industrial Commission whose general role is to oversee workplace safety.

But that agency also had licensed talent agents, a duty that Ducey derided in his State of the State message, suggesting the state “leave the job of finding new talent to (“The Voice” hosts) Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani.” That role for the agency disappears under the new law.

Ducey also signed a series of tax breaks for specified businesses, including the purchase of crop dusters and the sale of propane.

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