The Arizona Legislature adjourned last week after approving a plan for teacher pay raises that ended a six-day school walkout. But education funding was just one topic lawmakers took on this session. The Legislature passed 369 bills during their 116-day term. So far, Gov. Doug Ducey has signed 285 of them into law, and more will be signed in the coming days. Most of those new laws take effect Aug. 3. Many of the laws are small changes to existing state statutes that will have little effect on the public. But here are 5 changes that could affect our daily lives:
Senate Bill 1083 requires Arizona schools provide at least two recess periods per day for students in kindergarten through third grade starting next school year. The requirement expands to include students in fourth and fifth grades starting in August 2019. Many parents have long lobbied the state Legislature to mandate recess time because schools for the most part have cut back on breaks in favor of more classroom instruction.
House Bill 2484 requires local governments in Arizona to tax all food items equally. That effectively prohibits cities, towns and counties from imposing extra taxes on soda or sugary drinks, as some liberal-leaning cities in other states have done.
HB 2166 creates a new vehicle-registration fee that will be levied on every motorist who registers in Arizona. The fee will cost an estimated $18 to $24 per year, with the amount set by director of the Arizona Department of Transportation. Motorists will pay the fee starting Jan. 1, 2019. Arizona motorists could soon face a new $17 to $20 vehicle-registration fee as state lawmakers search for money to repair crumbling roads and bridges. Ostensibly, the fee will pay for the state’s highway-patrol operations. But in reality, the fee will partly fund teacher-pay raises approved by Ducey and lawmakers. It also will restore funding for road projects.
HB 2006 prohibits marriage for children under the age of 16. Arizona currently has no minimum age for marriage. The bill would still allow children ages 16 and 17 to marry someone no more than three years older than them with a parent’s consent, or if they are legally emancipated from their parents.
SB 1289 allows allow teachers and school administrators to post the state motto “Ditat Deus,” or its English translation from Latin, “God enriches” in classrooms. It adds to the list of national or historical phrases allowed to be read or posted in Arizona schools. That list already includes the national motto, but the bill clarifies that the motto is “In God We Trust.”
Adena Astrowsky is a prosecutor and author of Mother of Souls, The Story of a Holocaust Survivor. She recently received an Amazing Women award from the Phoenix Suns and National Bank of Arizona for her professional and philanthropic work. She lives in Scottsdale with her husband and three children.