The Arizona Legislature closed out the session as Wednesday night turned to Thursday morning, after scrambling to get the final bills passed throughout the day.
In the morning, a bill that would regulate ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft was submitted to the governor on a final roll-call vote in the House. The bill received criticism from taxi businesses throughout the state because it will not hold the part-time drivers of ridesharing companies to the same regulatory standards that apply to the existing cab companies.
“This is innovative,” Sen. Bob Worsley (R-Mesa) said during the Senate debate on Tuesday, “There’s some nice friendly things that are happening as people get to know each other. Knowing your driver before they show up, them knowing you before you show up as well. I just think we need to be careful not to impose the same level of regulation on this new concept.”
Later on Wednesday, an empowerment scholarship bill that had been retained on the House calendar for the past two days finally made it through. The bill clarifies language surrounding the amount of money that students get if they qualify for Empowerment Scholarships. The passage of this bill comes after Gov. Brewer signed two minor expansions to Empowerment Scholarships, one that would expand the funds to children of members of the military and one that would expand it to siblings of children already in the program.
After taco dinners, the House and Senate tossed bills back and forth, giving them the necessary concurrence and final roll call votes to be submitted to the governor.
But the exchange came to a halt over SB1314, a bill sponsored by Sen. Al Melvin (R-Tucson) that would continue the Board of Barbers for eight years. But the continuation of a group that regulates barbershops wasn’t the issue. In the House, Rep. Michelle Ugenti (R-Scottsdale) and Rep. Eddie Farnsworth (R-Gilbert) tacked on amendments that upset the Senate.
The House held multiple continuations after they were Senate passed by the Senate, instead of voting on them and sending them back for a final vote. Instead they put all of them on to SB1314 in order to help pass a ten-year continuation for the Arizona Historical Society and funding for an underground storage tank assurance account.
For the most part, the Senate didn’t have a problem with the continuations that were tacked onto the bill; they had a problem with the process that the House used. The Senate was tempted to not bring the bill up for a vote, but after many discussions, Biggs allowed a roll-call vote.
“I’ve seen plenty of things happen that I thought were unjust that we had to go along with anyway, but I’m willing to tolerate this injustice tonight and as much as it saddens me to do this, I’ll be voting yes,” Sen Steve Farley (D-Tucson) said. With 17 members voting yes, the Senate reluctantly passed the bill.
“We’ve got both chambers here tonight late, and in the whole scheme of things given the size of this agency, I think we should voice our displeasure with this process and how this came to be,” Worsley said. “But in the scheme of things I think materiality would dictate that we move on and wrap up this session.”
With SB1314 out of the way, the Senate and the House were able to “Sine Die,” closing out the session on Legislative day 101, at 1:40 in the morning. Sine die, literally “without day” in Latin, traditionally describes the close of a session with no further days of deliberation scheduled.
Here are some more of the important bills that passed throughout the week.
Arizona is one step closer to hosting space flight. A bill written by Rep. Ethan Orr (R-Tucson) passed through the Senate Committee of the Whole on Monday, bringing it nearer to becoming law. The bill would remove liability from space companies that launch people into the upper atmosphere, in hopes of drawing the space industry to Arizona, where there is already a thriving space research industry.
The new law could set Arizona up to be a competitor in the space tourism industry, but Orr has his eyes on Paragon Space Development Corp., which plans on launching people to the edge of the atmosphere as soon as 2016.
Orr also had a bill that would make it a felony for adults to point laser pointers at helicopters, and a misdemeanor for juveniles. Fearing that it would set a bad precedent, Senate President Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) amended the bill so that it would be a misdemeanor all around, but included language that would increase the severity of the punishment if there was malicious intent. The bill passed and was sent to the Governor’s desk.
Rep. J.D. Mesnard’s (R-Chandler) revenge porn bill passed through the Senate unanimously. With an added amendment, the bill would label it as domestic violence if a private image (for example, nude photos and videos made in the bedroom) were put online without permission of the subject of the photo. The bill would make Arizona one of only seven states in the country to have laws forbidding revenge porn.
A bill that would make it more difficult for the public to access state records resoundingly failed in the Senate, by a vote of 6-17. HB2414 would enable state authorities to deny public records requests if the request was “unduly burdensome or harassing.”
HB2316, an anti-Common Core bill that would prevent the Arizona Department of Education from adopting any curricula or instructional methods enacted by the government passed through on Monday. The bill is unlikely to be signed by the governor, who supports the Common Core.
A bill that would require the Division of Emergency Management to come up with a plan in the event of an electromagnetic pulse over the United States passed on Wednesday. An electromagnetic pulse is a wave of radiation that comes after a nuclear explosion above the earth’s surface that disrupts electronics and electronic systems. The bill makes it so that the division has to put out preparedness recommendations every five years.
The governor also brought out her veto stamp several times throughout the week.
She vetoed the two gun bills that would expand freedom for gun owners. A bill that would allow anyone with a concealed-carry permit to bring their gun into a public place that wasn’t guarded by armed security or a metal detector got the rubber stamp, as well as a bill that would allow the discharge of a gun on one’s personal property with few limitations.
The governor also vetoed the bill that would provide a tax cut for businesses that host small churches. The governor cited fears over businesses abusing the tax cut.
On Wednesday, the governor vetoed a bill that would make quadricycles street legal. A quadricycle is a minimum eight, maximum 15-person bike (including the driver) where every passenger has a set of bike pedals. In the middle is a place to put a drink and, since the driver is required to be sober and controls the brakes, passengers are allowed to consume alcohol while the vehicle is in motion.