- Associated Press - Saturday, February 27, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Bills that would create standard designs for specialty license plates and free auto insurance companies from limits on non-renewals moved forward this week in the Arizona Legislature. Meanwhile, proposals to require a licensed plumber to install most sprinkler valves and for cities and school boards to post recordings of council meetings died, at least for now.

Here are highlights on those and other votes:

- Senate Bill 1101: Standard designed for specialty license plates

Democratic Sen. Steve Farley of Tucson has been trying to get a version of this bill creating a standard design for all “vanity” license plates for nearly a decade, but it has routinely failed. Farley cited complaints from law enforcement that it is hard for officers to determine if any of dozens of specialty plates the state issues are actually Arizona plates. His bill creates a standard design with a logo promoting the cause or organization benefiting from the plate. Existing plates aren’t affected. Farley’s bill failed on a 13-18 vote on Feb 18 but it was brought back Thursday under special rules allowing a second vote. The Senate erupted in cheers for Farley’s persistence when it passed 18-10.

- House Bill 2445: Auto insurance renewal

A bill that removes limits on how insurance companies can decide not to renew a customer’s auto insurance was brought back to life and passed on a 31-29 vote Thursday after failing the previous week. The measure was resuscitated through a rule that allows a bill’s sponsor a second chance if the bill fails the first time around. Republican Majority Whip David Livingston of Peoria pitched the bill as a way to allow insurers to drop coverage for people who move out of state. But Democratic Rep. Debbie McCune Davis says the bill blew up a carefully crafted deal from years ago, when the Legislature required drivers to buy insurance in exchange for a provision limiting cancellations. Rep. John Ackerley, R-Tucson, changed his vote to support the proposal and ensure party-line passage.

- House Bill 2405: Roofs for medical marijuana growing

The House approved a measure that would require all medical marijuana growing operations to have roofing with a hardened covering on a voice vote. Republican Rep. Vince Leach of Tucson sponsored the measure to prevent growers from putting a wall around a ten-acre lot and calling it a marijuana cultivation facility, which he said is what happened in Pinal County. Arizona’s medical marijuana facilities are protected by a voter-approved initiative that requires lawmakers to pass any bill amending the act by a three-fourths vote. The amendment must also further the act’s purpose to be valid. House Bill 2405 now awaits a formal vote.

- Senate Bill 1195: Work on water backflow prevention devices

The Arizona Senate soundly rejected a proposal requiring that only licensed plumbers or other contractors install or maintain backflow devices designed to prevent contaminated water in sprinkler and other lines from returning to a home’s potable water systems. Opposition was led by Sen. David Farnsworth, R-Mesa, who brought a common sprinkler valve to the Senate floor to show fellow members that the bill was unnecessary. Farnsworth, a Mesa Republican, told members that if the valve is installed incorrectly, it simply won’t let water flow. The bill failed on a 24-6 vote.

- House Bill 2583: Video recordings of all meetings by public bodies

The House failed a measure that would have required local and state governments to record all of their meetings. Rep. David Stevens, R-Sierra Vista, said he sponsored the bill to improve transparency in government. The measure would have required governmental bodies to post the videos to their websites within 24 hours of recording. It failed Thursday on a 36-23 vote, but could still come back up for a second House vote next week under rules allowing reconsideration.

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