PHOENIX — Manufacturers and smelters could soon be exempt from paying state sales taxes on electricity they buy.

SB 1413, approved by the Senate Thursday, is part of an economic-development proposal by Gov. Jan Brewer. Aide Michael Hunter said Brewer believes the levy could be the difference between a company moving here or going elsewhere.

After objections from the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, a provision requiring cities to also give up electric taxes was eliminated. Municipalities would have taken a combined $9 million hit. The measure still stands to cost the state $10 million.

Bill sponsor Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, inserted language to narrow the definition of who is a “manufacturer” and gets the tax break and who does not. The final version excludes processing, fabricating, job printing, mining, generating electricity and operating a restaurant.

In the House, lawmakers voted unanimously Thursday to encourage more high school students to take computer-science courses.

Rep. Tom Forese, R-

Chandler, said there is a great demand by companies for computer programmers. But he said Arizona is producing few graduates who are capable of filling that demand. The result, he said, is that companies that need programmers will not come here.

Current law requires 22 credits to graduate from high school, including four in math. HB 2265 permits school boards to allow computer courses to count toward those math requirements. It also mandates that state universities accept these courses as meeting their own math admission requirements.

The measure now goes to the Senate.