Laws 2019: Feel free to swing your nunchucks but don’t text while driving

Laws 2019: Feel free to swing your nunchucks but don’t text while driving

Sure, there were big, broad policy and philosophical debates and decisions during the just-completed legislative session, like who gets a tax break, how much money for education and the rights of survivors of childhood sex abuse to sue their assailants.

But tucked into the nearly 300 measures that will become law are some items that are more likely to affect the day-to-day lives of typical Arizonans.

Consider: It is now illegal to text while driving. And making calls while holding the phone in your hands is also forbidden, though police can issue only warnings until 2021.


But feel free to keep eating that burger, putting on makeup or swatting the kids in the back seat, as Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed a broader ban on distracted driving.

On the subject of driving, if you’re someone who purchases the bare minimum liability coverage required you should look to pay more.

The measure approved would mandate that vehicle owners purchase policies which provide for at least $25,000 worth of coverage for injuries caused to any one person. The current minimum is $15,000, a figure that was put in place in 1972.

Lobbyists figure that change should boost bills by anywhere from $3 to $8 a month.

Motorists who commit offenses that now require them to go to traffic survival school – reserved for more serious offenses than the defensive driving programs – now will lose their license if they don’t complete the course.

If you’re into a bit of personalization of your vehicle, lawmakers added to the list of the more than 60 special license plates already available. Now, for an extra $25 a year motorists can order plates urging others to share the road or promote affordable housing.

There’s even one to help out the Mount Lemmon area through the Mount Lemmon Business Economic Association, though you’d have to read through the legislative gobbledygook to understand it: The proceeds go to “an unincorporated community with a population of less than 500 persons at an elevation of 7,000 feet in a county with a population of more than 500,000 persons and less than 1.5 million persons.”

And if driving with the top down musses your hair, you now can get a shampoo and blowout without going to a beauty salon. That’s because lawmakers decreed it no longer takes a cosmetologist’s license to do those things.

Along the same lines, the state now allows pretty much anyone with a professional license from any other state to ply their trade here without going through the process and testing to get an Arizona license.

medical marijuanaMedical marijuana users also could be kept healthier, courtesy of state lawmakers. They agreed to a new requirement for dispensaries to begin testing what they sell for unsafe levels of bacteria, heavy metals, pesticides and solvents, and provide that information to patients who request it.

Oh, and to make sure buyers are getting what they paid for, that testing also has to confirm the potency of the drugs.

But a bid to put more dispensaries in rural areas faltered.

Lawmakers also were out to help those convinced they can scratch or pick their way to riches in the Arizona Lottery. A new law allows those who win at least $100,000 to keep their names secret.

And if you happen to be a winner and looking for a new toy, consider buying a “personal mobile carrying device” which will become legal next year.

These are battery powered robots that can operate at up to 12 miles an hour and stay within 25 feet of the owner to transport, well, pretty much anything it can carry. Think R2D2 with a trunk.

Fancy yourself the next Bruce Lee? Then legislation to remove the criminal penalties for possessing nunchucks is for you.

If you’re renting out your home or condo on Airbnb or one of those other platforms, there are now new requirements to report what you’re doing to local officials, both so they can collect taxes and contact you if your guests get rowdy.

Martial-arts star Bruce Lee holds nunchucks in a scene from one of his movies.
Martial-arts star Bruce Lee holds nunchucks in a scene from one of his movies.

And if you’re hoping to avoid paying state income taxes – even with the cuts that are part of the new state budget – you’re in luck if you can stay below the radar. Another new law says the state can’t come after you after seven years for failing to file a tax return.

Lawmakers did agree to boost the penalty for intentional cruelty to animals.

Pain management clinics will now be licensed and supervised by the Department of Health Services.

And if you’re a budding trombone player, you may be sad to know that lawmakers repealed a law that allows cities and towns to levy a tax to establish and operate a municipal band.

Finally, don’t think that you can escape Arizona laws if you die: One new statute allows counties to place a lien on your estate to cover burial costs if you’re relatives don’t pick up the tab.

There also were a host of issues that failed to cross the finish line.

One relates to the relatively new service of peer-to-peer car rentals. That allows anyone to offer to rent out their vehicles through an online platform.

It’s kind of like Uber – but without the driver.

Lawmakers got hung up on the question of whether those renting out their vehicles should be liable to pay the same taxes now imposed on more traditional car-rental companies that fund tourism and sports facilities.

Three bills dealing with vaccinations also faltered, including one expanding the ability of parents to exempt their children from having to get the immunizations now required before their children can attend public school or child-care centers. What was probably the death knell for them was Ducey saying he would veto any measure he believed would result in fewer children getting required vaccines.

Arizona won’t be imposing new regulations on vaping. And the age to smoke or vape will remain 18.

And Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, failed in his bid to ensure that only true dairy products could be labeled “milk,” even with his insistence that “almonds don’t lactate.”

Correction: This story erroneously reported that a special new license plate was to generate cash for the Mount Lemon fire department. The target of the cash is the Mount Lemmon Business Economic Association.