Supreme Court rules on community property

PHOENIX - The Arizona Supreme Court ruled a married person has some flexibility in deciding how to divvy up a retirement account that is his or her marriage's community property.

The court says a spouse who dies can leave more than one-half of a retirement account to a beneficiary other than his or her spouse even if the retirement account is community property.

The unanimous ruling says that can be done as long as the surviving spouse receives at least one-half of the value of the total community property.

The court issued its ruling Friday in a Pima County case in which a man listed his son from a previous marriage as the beneficiary of 83 percent of an individual retirement account. The account was community property in his current marriage.

The Associated Press

Business audits, tax measure pass the House

PHOENIX - In Arizona legislative action Monday:

• On a 39-17 vote, the House approved HB 2485, which would create a special "privilege" for health and safety reports and audits that companies do of their own products and practices. That means these reports could be kept confidential not only from people who file suit but also from government regulators.

Rep. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, said the bill, which now goes to the Senate, would provide the privilege only if a company actually cleans up what it finds.

Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson, said her constituents fear allowing firms to hide such information. "It is going to affect children, workers, business owners," she said. "It allows people to keep things secret."

• The House voted 44-15 to let insurance companies take up to $50 million in credits against taxes they owe the state in the next three years if they invest that much in new high-tech firms.

HB 2646 now goes to the Senate.

Capitol Media Services