Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs 35 bills into law

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed 35 bills into law Wednesday, including ones making it a felony for jilted lovers to post explicit pictures online of former flames for revenge, creating a memorial at the site where 19 Prescott wildland firefighters died last year and preventing the city from having to pay all of the expense of pensions paid to the firefighters' survivors.

Brewer's actions on Wednesday bring to 278 the number of bills the Republican governor has signed since January.

Brewer also vetoed five bills, including one that one requiring an outside review of the state's child welfare agency and setting aside $250,000 for the cost. That brings her veto total for the year to 24.

The "revenge porn" bill championed by Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, is one of many measures being considered across the nation in response to the posting of sexually explicit photos that has been made easier by the growth of social networking sites. Last year, California made it a misdemeanor to post such images.

House Bill 2515 passed the Senate and House unanimously. The bill also defines some postings as acts of domestic violence.

Brewer also signed a bill that will allow optometrists to prescribe certain drugs. House Bill 2380 drew contentious debate in the final week of the legislative session last week, splitting Republicans and Democrats along unusual non-party lines. Opponents called it dangerous. They argued that non-physicians should not be able to prescribe drugs and puts patients at risk because optometrists don't have the training to properly monitor for adverse reactions.

Supporters said optometrists are skilled medical professionals who need the authority to treat their patients.

Brewer also signed a bill that would help expedite the approval process for parents of students in the state school voucher program. Brewer signed Senate Bill 1237 after the Legislature stripped a major component that would have allowed the Arizona Department of Education to give all students in the program extra funding that is meant for students who leave charter schools.

The Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program was created in 2011, and it was expanded last year. Another major expansion failed this year, but two smaller ones were signed into law this year.

Senate Bill 1237, signed Wednesday, allows parents of special-needs children enrolled in the program to get verification from an independent contractor that would allow them to receive extra funding, instead of going through the school district the child previously attended.

Another bill signed Wednesday aims to make it easier to prosecute people who help someone commit suicide. House Bill 2565 defines assisting in suicide as providing the physical means used to commit suicide, such as a gun. The proposal was prompted by a difficult prosecution stemming from a 2007 assisted suicide in Maricopa County.

The bill designed to save Prescott from having to pay the entire pension costs of the crew lost in last year's fire will save the small city about $5 million. Sponsored by House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, House Bill 2693 distributes the cost of death and serious injury benefits among all members of the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, instead of keeping it within the city or town for which those killed work.

Another piece of legislation related to the firefighters, House Bill 2624, creates a memorial site honoring the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died. A $500,000 appropriation was previously included in the state budget. It creates a committee to oversee the memorial and administer the fund and any donations for the purchase.

All but one of the 20 Hotshots on the Prescott-based crew perished in the fire on June 30.

Brewer also signed House Bill 2179 regulating how trampoline courts operate in the state, requiring them to register with the Department of Fire, Building and Life Safety and show proof of a minimum $1 million in bodily injury insurance. The bill was prompted by the death of a man at one of the increasingly popular parks.

Brewer's vetoes included one requiring an external review of the state's child welfare agency. Brewer said in a veto letter for Senate Bill 1386 on Wednesday that issues regarding the state's child welfare agency should be part of a comprehensive overhaul the Legislature will soon take up in a special session. She also noted that transparency and oversight are key parts of that overhaul.

In her veto of a tax cut bill, she said that new agency needed the money more. House Bill House Bill 2664 would have increased the amount businesses that buy new machinery or equipment could deduct from their taxes from $25,000 to $500,000 and cost the state $25 million in revenue in the 2015 budget year.

"It is imperative that we marshal available resources to create and appropriately fund a new child safety agency," Brewer wrote. "Accordingly, the money would be better utilized to fund critical child safety functions, services and reforms."