Gov. Ducey signs 27 bills, vetoes 6 in finishing up legislative session

Gov. Doug Ducey

Gov. Doug Ducey

PHOENIX – Because of Gov. Doug Ducey, some of Arizona’s needy will be able to get an additional year of help.

Big corporations and investors will get increased tax credits.

And cities will get to ask voters to hike taxes only once every two years.

But farmers can forget about growing industrial hemp. And student journalists are not going to get new First Amendment protections from administrative oversight.

Ducey penned his approval to 27 new laws on Monday, the last of what the legislature approved in its 122-day session. But he found six unacceptable, bringing his veto record this session to 11.

Proponents of industrial hemp said it would provide Arizona farmers with a new cash crop.

The plant is a type of marijuana, but with a concentration of tetrahydrocannibinol, the psycho-active element of the drug, of not more than 0.3 percent.

Technically, hemp production, like marijuana, remains illegal. But this measure was built on a 2014 federal law that allows state departments of agriculture to begin cultivating industrial hemp in certain circumstances, including research. The governor said his only reason for the veto was the failure of the legislation to provide funding for the state Department of Agriculture to administer the program.

Ducey had a more specific reason for his veto of legislation designed to guarantee both college and high school journalists some First Amendment protections from administrative censorship.

The legislation is the culmination of efforts Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, started when she was a student at Greenway High School and a staffer on the Demon Dispatch. After having some of her cartoons quashed by school administration she lobbied Stan Furman, then her state senator, to provide some shielding for student journalists.

It was only last year Yee said she realized that while the measure had cleared the Senate it died in the House. So now, a senator herself, Yee championed the measure.

In his veto, Ducey said student journalists “play an important role because they are the next generation of journalists who will hold our government and leaders accountable.’’

“I worry, however, that this bill could create unintended consequences, especially on high school campuses where adult supervision and mentoring is most important,’’ he wrote.

On the enactment side of the agenda, the governor agreed to restoring coverage for a full two years for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

In 2015 the governor and lawmakers imposed a one-year lifetime limit on the emergency cash, the stingiest in the nation. Ducey in January asked lawmakers to reverse course, but with restrictions and conditions that could disqualify some for violations like children not being in school at least 90 percent of the time, conditions may result in just 70 percent of eligible recipients actually getting the second year.

The measure also will allow drug offenders who have completed prison terms to get food stamps to help them get back on their feet, but with a requirement for random drug testing. Another provision waives state licensing fees for people above 200 percent of the federal poverty level – about $40,000 for a family of three – to help them start their own businesses.

On the subject of business, the governor signed three separate measures that proponents say will help economic development. One extends an existing state corporate income tax credit, an investor tax credit, and an expansion of the Arizona Competes Fund.