House votes to restrict use of welfare-benefit cards

PHOENIX - The Arizona House of Representatives has passed a bill that would prohibit the use of welfare benefits at liquor, gambling and adult-entertainment businesses.

The GOP-led House unanimously passed the bill Tuesday without debate.

Welfare recipients are issued their benefits via Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, cards. They can be used like debit cards to buy things or to withdraw cash from ATMs. House Bill 2205 says the cards can't be used at certain adult-orientated businesses.

Under the proposed law, the cards could still be used at grocery stores located in the same building as a casino.

The Senate passed the bill in a 26-1 vote in April.

NM, Arizona cities lead in mobile home prevalence

Northwestern New Mexico's Farmington region and two metro areas in Western Arizona are the mobile-home capitals of the country, a new report finds.

The U.S. Census Bureau report covering 2009-11 found that the largest number of mobile homes included in a metro area's housing inventory were in Farmington, with 32 percent; Yuma, with 29 percent; and the Lake Havasu City-Kingman area, at 26.7 percent.

The three were the only metro areas in the country with more than 25 percent of their housing inventories made up of mobile homes.


Boom in US, Canada transforming oil market

NEW YORK - The surge in oil production in the U.S. and Canada and shrinking oil consumption in the developed world is transforming the global oil market.

The threat of chronic oil shortages is all but gone, U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil will continue to dwindle, and oil will increasingly flow to the developing economies of Asia, says a five-year outlook published Tuesday by the International Energy Agency.

The report paints a picture of a world with plenty of oil to meet modestly growing demand. Where the oil is coming from, and where it is going, is changing dramatically, says the IEA, an energy security and research organization based in Paris that serves 28 oil-importing countries, including the U.S.

Big 4 cellphone companies plan texting-danger ads

The country's four biggest cellphone companies are set to launch their first joint advertising campaign against texting while driving, uniting behind AT&T's "It Can Wait" slogan to blanket TV and radio this summer.

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile will be joined by 200 other organizations backing the multimillion-dollar ad campaign.

The campaign is unusual not just because it unites rivals, but because it represents companies warning against the dangers of their own products.

Small-business owners a bit more optimistic

Small-business owners were a little more optimistic during April but are generally still cautious.

The National Federation of Independent Business' Index of Small Business Optimism rose 2.6 points to 92.1 last month, erasing a drop of 1.3 during March. The index was compiled from the survey of 1,873 NFIB members. The index has averaged 90.7 since the recession.

Airlines collect record $6B in baggage, reservation fees

U.S. airlines collected more than $6 billion in baggage and reservation-change fees from passengers last year - the highest amount since the fees became common five years ago.

Passengers shouldn't expect a break anytime soon. Those fees - along with extra charges for boarding early or picking prime seats - have helped return the industry to profitability.

Airlines started charging for a first checked suitcase in 2008, and the fees have climbed since.

Airlines typically charge $25 each way for the first checked bag, $35 for the second bag and then various extra amounts for overweight or oversized bags.


2 more clothiers sign Bangladesh safety pact

Italian fashion brand Benetton and British retailer Marks & Spencer are among the latest global retailers to agree to sign a pact to improve safety at Bangladesh factories after a building collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers in the country last month.

The moves, announced Tuesday, come after H&M, a trendy Swedish fashion chain that is the largest clothing buyer in Bangladesh, said Monday that it would sign the same five-year legally binding factory safety contract.

EU wants banks' creditors to pay cost of their rescue

BRUSSELS - European Union governments want to shift the cost of rescuing troubled banks from taxpayers to the banks' creditors - including the holders of large deposits - as part the region's plan to shore up its shaky financial system. Finance ministers from the 27-country bloc meeting in Brussels on Tuesday sought to hammer out the new rules.

The Associated Press