Wed, June 26

Potential costs of weapons bill concern Yavapai County officials

Yavapai County officials are concerned about a bill in the Arizona Legislature that would allow people to bring concealed weapons into public buildings where guns currently are prohibited.

"This is another one of those bills that I'm afraid is going to cost the county a lot of money," Yavapai County Supervisor Tom Thurman told his fellow supervisors at their bimonthly meeting Monday.

House Bill 2339 would allow people to carry deadly weapons into public establishments and public events if they have concealed carry permits.

The bill grants a few exceptions, including public establishments that have security personnel, screening devices and locked areas to store guns. Those accommodations would be cost-prohibitive to install in every county building, said Thurman, who tracks bills for the board.

Other exemptions cover schools and public events serving liquor.

The County Supervisors Association has registered opposition to the bill.

House members Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, and Karen Fann, R-Prescott, voted in favor of the bill.

Thurman said he doesn't know of any problem that the bill is trying to fix.

The Legislature is currently turning its sights to budget work so work on bills is slowing, Thurman said.

Counties and municipalities would like to see Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) money returned to them that was moved to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The HURF money comes from gas taxes and related fees.

While Speaker Tobin is supporting a return of $120 million in HURF money to local governments, Senate President Andy Biggs is supporting only $80 million, Thurman said. The CSA is supporting the larger number.

Money for local water infrastructure project grants in HB 2523 was reduced from $30 million to $1 million through a floor amendment, Thurman added. The amendment came from Rep. Brenda Barton of Payson.

"One million dollars doesn't go very far across the state," Thurman said.

Thurman's "Bill of the Weird" during this week's report was HB2530, which seeks to require people selling puppies younger than three months old to get temporary dog licenses.

Follow Joanna Dodder on Twitter: @joannadodder

By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- State lawmakers moved on two fronts Monday to let more people bring their weapons into government buildings.

On a 16-13 vote the Senate approved legislation allowing anyone with a gun, open or concealed, to ignore "no weapons' signs on public buildings if there are not lockers to secure them immediately available. SB 1063 now goes to the House.

Current law permits government agencies to declare their buildings to be weapons-free zones. Aside from posting that sign at the door, it requires that there be storage "readily accessible' on entering the building and allowing for the "immediate retrieval of the weapon' on leaving.

Proponents of the legislation said some government agencies were ignoring that requirement for the accessible lockers. They said this measure sends a clear message: Comply with the law or allow guns.

In a separate vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed to permit some gun owners to carry their guns into buildings, lockers or not.

HB 2339, which already has been approved by the House, applies to the more than 215,000 who have undergone a state-approved training class and background check which allows them to carry a concealed weapon. It says they can ignore "no guns' signs and lockers and keep their weapons with them in the building.

Only if a government agency puts an armed guard and metal detector at each public entrance could it enforce the gun ban.

In a separate vote, the same committee approved HB 2517. It requires a court to impose a $5,000 fine against any government official, elected or appointed, who knowingly enforces any local ordinance with contradicts state laws.

Committee members also voted to make it a felony to take someone's weapon from them unless it is in self defense.