The ABA funds Arizona’s only broadcast lobbying at the state legislature to protect stations from new tax implications, freedom of information/public records access, and also from any unexpected state issues that might affect the business of Arizona broadcasting.

This year’s legislative session wrapped in May and was thankfully not a year that required the type of aggressive lobbying that past years have required. On the public access front, broadcasters can celebrate a number of wins from this year’s legislative session thanks to our lobbying efforts. The very lengthy 2019 report of all legislative enactments is linked here fore review, but I’ve pasted below a summary of five bills where broadcasters gained public records leverage this year:

HB2259 (Websites; Personal Information Access)
FAILED to advance after ABA opposition lobbying

This bill would have required any commercial or business website that collects personal information and had more than 500 users to establish a personal information portal allowing the user to access the collected information. The ABA opposed this bill because of concern over the hardship it could create for broadcasters who could have been forced to develop this portal without any financial assistance.

HB2191 (Criminal Justice Records; Prohibited Uses)
PASSED and SIGNED after ABA amendment request

This bill prohibits businesses from charging people money after they are arrested to remove their criminal booking photos from certain websites. The ABA initially took an oppose position because the language could have also made changes to Arizona’s public records laws and stopped our news media’s access to booking photos (and accompanying legal information). Thanks to extensive work from our ABA lobbyist, an amendment was added which explicitly protects Arizona’s public records laws and thus explicitly protects Arizona broadcasters.

HB2501 (Electronic Records; State Library)
PASSED and SIGNED after ABA support lobbying

This bill requires the state library and archives to establish an electronic records repository of the state archives and any documents and public records. The ABA supported this bill and lobbied for it to ensure Arizona broadcasters could gain access to this extensive information for the public good.

SB1135 (Public Records; Responses)
FAILED to Advance after ABA opposition lobbying

This bill would have amended law to put a timeline on responding to media public record requests – within 10 days – with an expiration of the time meaning the request was formally denied. Our ABA lobbyist met with the bill sponsor who agreed not to advance it because of our concern that while well-intentioned, the bill might actually worsen response times for public records requests.    

SB1441 (County Officers; Confidentiality; Email)
PASSED and SIGNED after ABA amendment request

This bill allows the county assessor and county treasurer to maintain the confidentiality of all e-mail addresses provided by county residents. At the request of the ABA, the bill was amended prior to introduction  to include language that will make email addresses available to media via public records request.