PHOENIX — Gov. Ducey convened a special session of the Arizona Legislature this week to focus lawmakers on the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act. He announced his plan last week so N. 1 priority has been turning that plan into law.
That’s not to say regular lawmaking wasn’t in the cards. Here are some of the interesting bills from this week:
No More Police Paparazzi
Both the Senate and the House had bills introduced that addressed photo enforcement systems used by the police. The only problem is that they aren’t the same — one forces the police to review the photos before a citation is issued, while the other bill bans the practice outright.
Drivers may recognize the white cameras set up alongside certain sections of the freeway or busy intersections, and the camera vans operated by the police, as common methods of enforcing speed limits. The actual, legal definition in Arizona is as follows:
“Photo enforcement system” means a device substantially consisting of a radar unit or sensor linked to a camera or other recording device that produces one or more photographs, microphotographs, videotapes or digital or other recorded images of a vehicle’s license plate for the purpose of identifying violators of articles 3 and 6 of this chapter.”
Sen. Sonny Borrelli introduced SB 1110, which requires police to examine a photo taken from a photo enforcement system to determine whether or not a violation has actually occurred, while preventing the companies that operate the cameras from making that decision.
On the other hand, Rep. Travis Grantham’s HB 2208 would stop police agencies anywhere in the state from using photo enforcement systems to identify violators of laws regarding excessive speed or failure to obey a traffic device.
“They are killing people,” Shawn Dow, a speaker at the House Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, said. “They are putting property and lives at risk.”
However police departments and businesses came to speak against the House Bill, including Paradise Valley Chief of Police Peter Wingert. Paradise Valley has a prominent traffic camera set up on the intersection of east Lincoln Drive and north Tatum Boulevard.
“Our goal is to use the photo enforcement as a beneficiary to our staff,” Wingert said. He claims that as a small police force, PVPD has only a handful of officers doing traffic enforcement at any given time.
While these camera traps have been banned on the freeways and city of Tucson in the past, it remains to be seen which bill will make the final cut (if either actually does) in the coming weeks.
Legislating Lap Dogs
Sen. John Kavanagh has yet another dog-related bill, introducing SB 1116 to stop distracted driving of the canine kind. Passage of the bill would make operating a motor vehicle with an animal on the lap of the driver a finable offense. Those who do so can expect a $100 fine for their behavior. The bill doesn’t stop at dogs, either — “animal” is defined as any mammal, bird, reptile, or amphibian.
The obvious loophole here are bugs and spiders, so feel free to drive as you please if covered in cockroaches.
Helping with Hygiene
A bipartisan group of representatives have moved to cheapen access to important health and hygiene items by exempting them from local and state taxes. Reps Daniel Hernandez (D-D2), Reginald Bolding (D-D27), Todd Clodfelter (R-D10), Drew John (R-D14) and Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-D23) are the respective Primary and Co-Sponsors of HB 2217.
“Insurance doesn’t cover any of these products, food stamps doesn’t cover any of these products, so it’s a question of decency and fairness,” Diane Post, an attorney who spoke in favor of the bill, said.
If passed, the bill would exempt essential hygiene items from many of the taxes levied on regular items. Feminine products like tampons or pads, adult diapers and sanitary napkins would not be subject to sales tax, with the same items and baby powder exempt from municipal taxes.
Erik Kolsrud is the Don Bolles Fellow covering the Legislature for Arizona Sonora News, a service provided by the school of journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach him at email@example.com.