PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Arizona’s 54th legislative session wrapped up earlier this week and Governor Doug Ducey signed the $11.8 billion budget Friday. During the legislative session about 1,300 bills were introduced, and the session ran about a month long.
“It had its own personality quirks, it had a very thin majority, and it had a lot of scar tissue,” political consultant Stan Barnes said.
“It is completely typical for the legislature to do the easy stuff first,” Barnes said.
For example, House Bill 2552 is now law, and it allows people who win at least $100,000 in the lottery to remain anonymous if they choose.
“I think that’s really cool, actually. I don’t know why we didn’t do that a long time ago. It seems to be to make sense,” Barnes said. “If you won a million dollars, would you want anyone to know about it? I wouldn’t!”
And then there are robotic assistants, or more specifically, electronic ‘personal mobile carrying devices.’ They carry your stuff along the sidewalk, they’re legal. The bill does a lot to define what they are, and explains that they don’t count as motor vehicles. Barnes says this one may have started outside the statehouse.
“That’s where we get quirky bills – they come from constituents that have ideas. ‘Ah, that’s not a bad idea,” he said. “The legislature in Arizona is very approachable. Very approachable. It’s not Washington, DC. It’s people you go to the grocery store with.”
If you skipped out on filing a state tax return, there’s now a statute of limitations, so to speak. After seven years the state can’t come after you for failing to file.
“In someone’s mind, it is fair to chase a taxpayer for back taxes only in a certain timeline and after that it’s not fair anymore because memories fade, records get destroyed,” Barnes said.
And while 1,300 introduced bills may sound like a lot to you, just remember this:
“A lot of those bills are not new laws, but changing old laws, or repealing old laws,” Barnes said.
Take, for example, the bill which repealed an old statute that allows towns to levy a tax of up to a million dollars a year to support a municipal band.
“While it can be ugly and uncomfortable and downright nasty, it ends up being the best process, yielding year after year about as good as we can get,” Barnes said.