New laws on pawn shops, revenge porn, game prizes in place today - East Valley Tribune: Politics

New laws on pawn shops, revenge porn, game prizes in place today

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Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 3:00 pm | Updated: 4:20 pm, Wed Jul 23, 2014.

Beginning today, pawnbrokers can charge higher interest, bigger prizes will be available at some bars and restaurants, and some cough medicines will be off-limits to minors. State health officials will be able to inspect abortion clinics without first getting a warrant.

And anyone who puts a naked photo of you on the Internet without your consent risks going to jail.

That's because today is the effective date for most of the 278 laws signed by Gov. Jan Brewer. A few were declared emergencies and took effect on her signature; several others have delayed implementation dates.

Right now, pawnbrokers can charge 8-percent interest for the first two months and 6 percent a month beyond that. The new law changes that to an initial rate of 13 percent, dropping to 11 percent after the second month.

Critics charged there was no evidence the higher fees are necessary.

As a “sweetener” of sorts, the law requires a pawnbroker to waive any unpaid interest while someone in the service is deployed and for 60 days beyond that. They also cannot dispose of any pledged goods.

A separate measure makes several changes in consumer loans, including increasing the permissible origination fee from $75 to $150.

That measure on prizes deals with how much people can win at games of skill.

The law keeps in place the current $4 limit on the value of prizes or tickets for winning any one game. But it allows people to accumulate enough tickets to walk away with merchandise worth up to $550, up from the current $35.

It was pushed through by a lobbyist for Dave and Buster's chain of restaurants, which also features various games. But it also would increase the value of prizes available at places like Chuck E. Cheese's and Peter Piper Pizza.

The measure on cough medicines deals with products containing dextromethorphan, a commonly used cough suppressant. While generally considered safe at normal doses, lawmakers were told that high doses can cause hallucinations and other psychoactive effects. With that potential for abuse, the law says buyers must be at least 18.

Elsewhere on the health front, a new state law prohibits insurance companies from charging higher copays or deductibles for certain cancer-treating drugs that are self-administered than they do for those which are administered by doctors.

Physical therapists will be able to practice “dry needling” without being licensed to perform acupuncture. And naturopaths will be able to practice telemedicine.

Legislators also voted to allow unannounced inspections of abortion clinics by health inspectors, the same right they have over all other health facilities.

A federal appeals court voided an identical provision in 2004 as unconstitutional, but proponents said changes in other state laws now make a requirement to get a warrant unnecessary.

Changes were also made to various criminal laws.

For example, one makes it a misdemeanor to point a laser at an occupied aircraft. Prior state laws covered only those who aimed them at police helicopters.

There also are changes in laws on human trafficking, including new restrictions on how escort agencies and massage services can advertise.

Another makes it a crime to provide someone the means to commit suicide, with other new laws on theft of trade secrets, helping a witness evade a summons and mutilating the genitals of a minor female.

And the law on posting naked photos is designed to address “revenge porn,” where someone may have taken a compromising photo during a relationship that was not meant to be shared with others. The law deals with what happens when the relationship ends, often badly, and the images get placed online.

On a separate front, lawmakers voted to block homeowner associations from prohibiting indoor and outdoor political signs, including on the doors, walls and patios. HOAs would still be entitled to bar signs from going up earlier than 71 days before an election and could force their removal four days after the vote.

The same law bars cities from requiring developers to form homeowner associations as a condition of getting the necessary building permits or zoning;

Lawmakers also spelled out that autopsy photos and similar images produced by the county medical examiner are not public records.

That legislation followed the Yarnell Hill Fire and efforts by some media outlets to get more details on the deaths of the 19 firefighters, but a compromise worked out spells out that a judge can release these materials if that is in the public interest.

Another new law effective today also lets gamblers place bets by phone.

It permits what is called “advance deposit wagering” on horse and dog races. That would allow betting by phone, not only on the handful of races that still occur in Arizona, but on other tracks throughout the country. But officials at the Department of Racing say the system is not quite ready to go yet, with the agency still crafting the necessary rules.

That same law also makes changes in dog racing statutes, including requirements for the Department of Racing to make available to the public a list of racing-related injuries and deaths of animals.

Other measure of some note include:

- Setting up a fund to remove tamarisk and mesquites which otherwise would use water;

- Requiring state regulatory agencies to have a "small business bill of rights'' to inform people of how to appeal or complain;

- Making changes to laws governing wineries and the days they can have tasting festivals;

- Allowing beer aficionados to use refillable gallon-size "growlers'' made of any clean material to take home draft beers, ending the requirement to use glass;

- Expanding eligibility for a voucher-like program to let certain children use tax dollars to attend private and parochial schools;

- Establishing a “silver alert” system to notify the public of missing or endangered seniors;

- Changing existing laws dealing with those who operate watercraft while under the influence of alcohol;

- Allowing owners of alternative fuel vehicles to escape emission inspections for the first five years, up from three years;

- Creating a new tax credit for investment in renewable energy sources if the power will be used for manufacturing;

- Exempting manufacturers and smelters from having to pay state sales taxes on electricity and natural gas they purchase;

- Declaring city and town council seats vacant if the council member no longer resides in the community;

- Imposing new requirements on commercial trampoline courts;

- Requiring counties of at least 150,000 that now have three supervisors to put the question of expanding the board to five on the next general election ballot;

- Further limiting the ability of cities to regulate "sign walkers,'' people who advertise businesses by holding signs to attract the attention of passing motorists;

- Mandating state emergency officials to prepare recommendations for how people should be ready for an electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear device that would paralyze the power grid;

- Allowing golf carts in age-restricted communities in Maricopa County to be driven on the paved shoulder of a road;

- Lowering the state taxes on cider made from pears;

- Replacing all existing references to “handicapped” in state law instead to “persons with disabilities.”

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