Despite a short session, state lawmakers still passed 324 new laws this past session. Reporter Ben Giles of the Arizona Capitol Times will tell us about those new laws.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," we'll take a look at new laws that went into effect in Arizona. Hear about how employers could be impacted by the ruling that allows same-sex marriage. And see how a local custom hat maker practices his craft. That's next on "Arizona Horizon."
NARRATOR: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Steve Goldstein, in for Ted Simons. Although state lawmakers had a quick-day session this year, they still managed to pass 324 laws; most of those new laws went into effect July 3rd. Here to talk about the new laws is the very lucky Ben Giles of the Arizona Capitol Times. Ben, welcome. If you win the lottery, we can somehow not know your name for a while. Tell us about that one.
BEN GILES: Just for 90 days. This is a privacy issue brought up by Fountain Hills lawmaker John Kavanagh. It was something he's tried to get passed in previous sessions and this session it finally got through. It's basically hopeful that people won't be coming after you begging for money now that they know how many millions of dollars you won because it usually doesn't take too long to find out who won those lotteries or whatever.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: Has there been a need for this?
BEN GILES: I think there was just some complaints from people who felt like it might be nice to have a buffer period; a time just to gather yourself, collect your thoughts and maybe get your financial state in order and this was a bit of a compromise. I know in previous years it would have been a longer grace period for winners and 90 days is what was settled on.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: You mentioned John Kavanagh. He's been busy with things related to panhandling or aggressive of asking for money and whatnot. There's a crosswalk bill, what's that one?
BEN GILES: It's illegal to push a crosswalk button solely for the purpose of triggering a red light so cars have to stop and you as a beggar would go out and ask for change or maybe try to sell somebody something and this is a personal experience of senator Kavanagh's where he happened to experience this on his drive home and now, it's interesting to imagine this being enforced but if you see someone pushing a crosswalk button just to ask somebody for change, technically that is illegal.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: What about bake sales, Ben? In terms of things going on after school, being able to sell non-nutritious snacks? There's been a fight about that, as well haven't there?
BEN GILES: Well, kind of in the same vein I think the bill you're talking about is more aggressiveness as far as the solicitation either to ask for something or to sell something. Depending on how aggressive you are that, too, could be illegal.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: Plastic bags don't seem like things we should necessarily worry about, we go to the supermarket, dominated by plastic bags. There were some cities around the state that wanted to plan plastic bags but the law says no dice.
BEN GILES: This is a preemption where the state says you can't do this and what the case was is Tempe and Flagstaff were considering bans that are happening in some cities and towns all over the country but now, they are not allowed to. So you can go to the grocery store and walk out with plastic instead of paper.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: Does this fall into that category, there's concern about state government complaining about federal government, local governments complaining about state government. Does this sort of fall into that contradictory trap there?
BEN GILES: Absolutely. I think the smaller government is going to be complaining about its big brother in a sense. As much as Arizona lawmakers like to gripe about the federal government's overreach, the cities and towns like Tempe and Flagstaff feel the same way about them.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: Coming back to automobiles with the crosswalk issue, speeding tickets, the time it's on your record has been cut in half, that's another one that one would think , was that a solution in search of a problem?
BEN GILES: Now, as you said, it's easier to wipe the record clean so to speak. You get every 12 month; you can take a defensive driving course to wipe off one speeding ticket from your record. And this is something that the insurance companies weren't so happy about because a big part of your premium getting hiked is how poor of a driver you are as far as your speeding record goes but now if you want to take these expensive classes of course, you can get your record wiped clean at least once a year.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: Apparently, people are concerned about microbreweries in Arizona, but, of course, that became a really big fight at a real big divide there. Ultimately, Senator Kelly Ward had a bill that made it through. Can you tell us about that?
BEN GILES: That was one of the biggest fights at the capitol this year, pitting two senators, Kelly Ward and Steve Smith against each other. There was a fight over what a microbrewery is, because local brewery Four Peaks was making so much beer that they were up against the cap for how many barrels of beer you can produce before we really call you micro anymore? And the reason they wanted to stay micro is there are certain business advantages to being a microbrewery in Arizona because the state recognizes you're smaller, we're going to allow you to do things like have a restaurant adjacent to your brewery so you can sell food, promote yourself as a bar and an establishment as well as a brand of beer, and now that cap has been raised so Four Peaks and eventually if other breweries happen to come up against that, they will have a lot more wiggle room to stay micro.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: As we jump around with new laws, strict compliance as it relates to ballot measures. Arizona has been a state that very much is involved with the grassroots effort of getting ballot initiatives. Could this make it more difficult?
BEN GILES: It's a very progressive state in that way where you have citizen-driven initiatives that become law through the popular vote, and now, there is a strict compliance where you have to have your i's dotted and your t's crossed. If you have a page number wrong when you file an initiative and start collecting signatures, that initiative can be tossed from the ballot because of that compliance issue, where in the past even if there was a copy editing error, the courts usually sided with the intent of the filers. It was understood this is what they're trying to do and just because you had a minor editing error we're not going to punish you by throwing it off the ballot.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: I don't want to read too much into this or put much pressure on you on this, I'm not sure if this has been discussed, is there motive behind this, a feeling from lawmakers that we have all this voter approved stuff and in some cases it's tied their hands on spending so is there something going on in the background we should know about?
BEN GILES: This was one of a number of efforts and this one actually did get through, but there were other legislative efforts to make the ballot initiative process a little tougher because for a lot of lawmakers, they're seeing issues that they would never vote to pass become law and that bothers them. It is a bit of a power struggle between the people and the legislature.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: Ben, in the general sense, is there a law that we've discussed or one we haven't discussed that could be the most impactful?
BEN GILES: There was a, you know -- I think that's it.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: What about a veto that approved to be impactful that maybe surprised you that the governor vetoed?
BEN GILES: There was one really controversial bill that would have protected the identities of police officers who were involved in a fatal shooting and I believe they got that in the same way as the lottery, they got that down to about 60 or 90 days, I can't remember what the exact compromise was there but essentially police departments, sheriff's offices, any law enforcement office wouldn't have to release the name of an officer who fatally shot someone for a certain number of days after that incident and this was pushed by the unions, this was designed to protect the officer and protect the family because at times, officers feel like they're threatened after these incidents and governor Doug Ducey who comes from a family with some officers in it, he actually vetoed it because he felt like it wouldn't really help build a trustful relationship between the police and the community and that was the complaint, particularly from the African-American community in Arizona, that we need to build up a trustful relationship between our police departments and our communities, and if you're hiding information from us, that on its face gives the appearance of something's not right.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: And that was a bill that came in the wake of Ferguson primarily.
BEN GILES: Exactly.
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: Ben Giles with the Arizona Capitol Times, thank you.
BEN GILES: Thank you.
Ben Giles : Reporter for Arizona Capitol Times