- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday signed the remaining 25 bills passed during the legislative session that ended earlier this month, including a series of laws aimed at making the state friendlier for businesses and revamping and reorganizing state agencies that oversee economic development.

Included in the signings were a series of tax cuts that mainly target businesses, which along with earlier signings total about $26 million a year in cuts.

One of the major bills establishes a new economic opportunity office that combines several agencies to provide detailed analysis on taxes, regulations and available workforce. That will help the Arizona Commerce Authority and state Tourism Department better market the state.

Ducey also signed six bills that eliminate or limit state regulation. They include changes to the state’s industrial commission, which oversees workplace safety and licenses talent agents. Ducey called for the state to end that licensing in his State of the State address, which the bill does.

The governor proposed the economic opportunity office in February, when he combined the commerce and economic development functions of several agencies. The plan was to more effectively use the more than $50 million a year Arizona currently spends to boost tourism and draw businesses. It will bring about 50 staffers from several agencies together to provide detailed analysis on taxes, regulations and available workforce.

A new statewide financing authority to coordinate lower-cost private lending also is part of the plan and required legislative approval. The new one-stop financing operation for small and big businesses relocating or being created in Arizona will absorb several existing state financing operations and mirror efforts by some cities and counties.

The tax cuts were spread among several special interests that pushed exemptions to the state’s transaction tax this session. They include exemptions for crop dusters, animal feed, fine art and propane sales, an expansion of a power tax cut for smelting businesses and the acceleration of planned tax cuts for insurance companies.

In all, Ducey signed 374 bills this year and vetoed 14.

- This story has been corrected to show the signings happened Thursday instead of Friday.


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