14 new laws include regulation of vacation rentals, e-scooters, nunchucks
Attorney General Mark Brnovich had his nunchucks ready when Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation in May ending a ban on the weapon in Arizona.
The state’s top prosecutor recorded a short video in his office showing the world his surprisingly good — too good, perhaps — nunchuck skills.
But the celebration was a bit premature as Senate Bill 1291 wouldn’t actually become law for several months. That time has come.
Tuesday marks 90 days from the end of this year’s legislative session and is when most new laws passed during the annual gathering of Arizona lawmakers take effect.
As curious as the nunchuck legislation is, it will hardly be the most significant among the new laws.
These are 14 new laws that take effect Aug. 27.
1. Party’s over for party houses
Vacation rentals are not just for vacations.
Websites like Airbnb and VRBO have given rise to a cottage industry of property owners leasing out homes for weddings and other events, much to the ire of some neighbors who have found their communities flooded with revelers.
House Bill 2672, sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, bans short-term rentals for special events, such as weddings, or other “nonresidential uses.”
While backers hope this goes some way toward cracking down on so-called party houses, Kavanagh had proposed going further.
Legislators have mostly tied the hands of local governments when it comes to regulating vacation rentals. But rising rents and a housing crunch in some communities may prompt lawmakers to revisit the issue next year.
2. Rules for scooters
Electric scooters have popped up on city streets across Arizona and the country. Senate Bill 1398, by Sen. Tyler Pace, R-Mesa, gives riders all the rights and privileges of bicyclists. So, scooters can go wherever bikes can go but must also follow the same local laws.
3. Have a license, get a license
One of Ducey’s priorities during this year’s session was legislation that would make it easier for professionals licensed in other states to move to Arizona and get to work in their chosen fields.
House Bill 2569 creates a universal licensing recognition program. Barbers, real estate agents, optometrists and a range of other professionals should be able to get licensed in Arizona if they are licensed and in good standing in another state.
They still will have to apply, pay fees and undergo any existing testing or background check requirements. But they may not have to go through the same sort of training and education programs required of new applicants.
LEARN ABOUT THIS LAW: How Arizona’s professional licensing law will work
4. No more money for mugshots
Guilty or not, just about everyone who goes to jail is photographed. And thanks to the internet, those booking photos can live on forever.
But erasing those photos from some websites can cost you.
Some websites have made a profit by gathering mugshots and charging people a fee to take down the picture.
Sponsored by Rep. Kevin Payne, R-Peoria, House Bill 2191 will ban the practice of charging money to remove mugshot photos from a website and level hefty fines against any company that violates the new rule — up to $500 a day.
5. Tighter rules for petitions
The framers of the Arizona Constitution envisioned a state where the public could take an active role in government and bypass the Legislature by proposing laws and placing them on the ballot, or by repealing laws they don’t like.
Legislators haven’t always been thrilled about it.
This year brings more changes in the rules for placing a proposal on the ballot.
Sponsored by Sen. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, Senate Bill 1451 requires anyone paid to gather petition signatures for a statewide initiative or referendum, or volunteering from outside the state, to register with the Secretary of State’s Office. They also must submit a notarized affidavit.
The Secretary of State’s Office says the law does not apply to petitions that already were issued serial numbers for circulation.
The bill also requires candidates for office to will have to file a statement of interest with election officials before circulating petitions to get a place on the ballot, preventing surprise candidates from breaking into the field.
6. School workers can administer emergency meds
Trained school personnel can administer certain drugs to minors in an emergency without parental consent under Senate Bill 1026, a proposal that was sponsored by Sen. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek.
The drugs include epinephrine, which is used to treat severe allergic reactions, and naloxone hydrochloride, which is used to reverse opioid overdoses.
7. Suicide prevention required
Teacher training programs in Arizona will have to include training in suicide prevention, identifying warning signs of suicidal behavior among adolescents and teens and appropriate techniques for intervening.
Suicide is a leading cause of death among young people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sponsored by Sen. Sean Bowie, D-Chandler, Senate Bill 1468 also requires school districts to provide suicide awareness and prevention training to staff, starting in the 2020-2021 school year.
8. New penalty for animal cruelty
Animal cruelty in Arizona can be punished as a class one misdemeanor or, one notch worse, a class six felony.
A new law by Kavanaugh will allow a tougher penalty for the crime of subjecting a domestic animal, like a pet, to cruel mistreatment or killing the animal without the owner’s consent.
Those cases could be prosecuted as a class five felony, increasing the potential sentence from one year behind bars to 18 months.
9. Don’t touch that horse
Harassing a police dog or horse in a trailer or vehicle will also come with a new penalty as a class one misdemeanor under a new law sponsored by Rep. Walt Blackman, R-Snowflake.
10. Anonymous lotto winners
Arizona Lottery winners who rake in more than $100,000 can keep their identities a secret starting Tuesday.
Currently, lottery winners are not identified publicly for 90 days after their prize is issued.
But House Bill 2552, sponsored by Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, will extend that confidentiality permanently for big winners.
11. More days for fireworks
Sponsored by Gowan, Senate Bill 1348 gives Arizonans more days to buy fireworks.
Vendors will be allowed to peddle their wares for several days around Diwali, the festival of lights celebrated by many Hindus, Sikhs and others, and around Cinco de Mayo. The bill also adds what are known as adult snappers to the list of permissible fireworks in counties with more than 500,000 residents.
Gowan’s bill raised eyebrows. He works for a fireworks company.
12. Don’t touch that sign
Defacing or removing a candidate’s campaign sign is a class two misdemeanor in Arizona.
Soon, that same penalty will apply to signs for ballot measures, not just candidates, thanks to House Bill 2023, sponsored by Kavanagh.
13. This really should be a prickly pear margarita
House Bill 2692 designates lemonade as Arizona’s official state drink.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, places Arizona among several states to have adopted an official beverage. Several states have designated milk as their official beverage while Florida has sided with orange juice and Massachusetts with cranberry juice.
14. Nunchucks are liberated
Attorney General Mark Brnovich shows off his martial arts “skill” in video post after a law passed that decriminalizes possession of nunchucks. Attorney General Mark Brnovich
Arizona’s laws on weapons are pretty permissive. But it has had strict rules on nunchucks.
Gowan, who sponsored Senate Bill 1291, said states began adopting laws on nunchucks when Bruce Lee popularized it in his films during the 1970s.
But all Arizona’s law has done is prevent martial arts instructors from teaching their students about the traditional weapon, he argued. Lawmakers and Ducey agreed.