- Associated Press - Monday, April 18, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - After introducing a proposal to register service animals and penalize impostors, Arizona lawmakers delayed voting on a compromise on Monday that would offer business owners more discretion to remove misbehaving animals under state law.

Many within the service animal community have dropped their opposition to the bill while others have come around to support the measure after lawmakers made changes based on meetings with advocacy groups.

Sen. Barbara McGuire, D-Kearny, is backing the measure that would allow business owners to ask people to leave if their service animals are out of control or are not housebroken.

The latest version of the proposal will help educate people about service animals, said SuAnne Pinoniemi, a service animal trainer with Paws for Life.

The bill would add into state law what is already allowed under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, a distinction that will help police better enforce the law and business owners better understand their obligations, Pinoniemi said.

The House delayed voting on Senate Bill 1382 on Monday.

The proposal originally called for the registration of service animals, although mandatory registration is illegal under the ADA, but that provision was left out of a later version.

It also called for people who lie about having service animals to face civil and criminal penalties.

Some advocacy groups for people with disabilities were concerned the latter provision could backfire and lead to uncomfortable exchanges between people with service animals and business owners demanding proof of legitimacy.

“It was the perfect storm where that provision, we felt, would have been used against the very people who everyone said they want to protect,” said Ellen Katz, director of the William E. Morris Institute for Justice.

Lawmakers pared the measure to the bill’s final language after meeting with the concerned groups. The Morris Institute no longer opposes the measure while Ability 360, an advocacy group for people with disabilities, now supports it.

At least one group, the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, said what remains in the bill lacks substance.

“The removal of the penalties portion of the legislation has made an unnecessary piece of legislation largely benign,” said Rip Wilson, who lobbies for the commission.

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