Brewer signs law permitting unannounced inspections of Arizona abortion clinics

2014-04-16T00:00:00Z Brewer signs law permitting unannounced inspections of Arizona abortion clinicsBy Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star

Gov. Jan Brewer signed legislation Tuesday allowing the state Department of Health to make unannounced inspections of abortion clinics without first getting a warrant from a judge.

Backers of HB 2284 said there is no reason to exempt abortion clinics from the same regulations that apply to all other health-care facilities. Foes said the clinics need protection because there is a heightened need for privacy both for patients and staff.

The new law could wind up in court before it takes effect later this summer.

In a 2004 ruling, a federal appeals court voided an identical provision, ruling the statute’s authorization of “boundless, warrantless search of physicians’ offices” by state health officials violates constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

But Cathi Herrod, president of the anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy, which helped write the measure, said state regulatory policies have changed since then, legitimizing this version of the law.

Experimental drugs

Terminally ill patients could get access to drugs that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under the terms of a measure given preliminary Senate approval Tuesday.

HCR 2005 permits, but does not require, manufacturers, health-care institutions and doctors to make investigational drugs and devices available. Eligibility would be limited to those with a disease that, without life-sustaining procedures, will result in death in the near future “or a state of permanent unconsciousness from which recovery is unlikely.”

Only drugs that have been through at least the first phase of FDA testing — meaning they have been screened for harm — would be available. Federal procedures usually require four stages of investigation.

A final Senate vote puts the measure on the November ballot.

Alternative vehicles

With only one dissenting vote, the state House approved legislation Tuesday allowing motorists to drive enclosed three-wheeled vehicles without having a motorcycle license.

SB 1201 is being pushed by Elio Motors, which hopes to market such a vehicle here. While it’s enclosed like a car and has a steering wheel, it is currently classified under Arizona law as a motorcycle, meaning drivers need to take a separate test and get a special license.

The same measure also gives legal status to “quadricycles,” four-wheel pedal-driven bicycles that can accommodate up to 14 passengers. A Tucson-based company makes them and leases them out, with a driver, for parties and similar events.

Pawnbrokers

People who borrow money from pawnbrokers may soon have to pay higher interest.

Current law caps pawnshop interest at 8 percent a month for the first two months and 6 percent for every month afterwards. HB 2537 would raise the initial rate to 13 percent, with an 11 percent cap for the third and following months.

HB 2537, which was approved by the Senate 22-8, does require pawnbrokers to waive unpaid interest charges and hold pledged goods for members of the military who are on active duty until 60 days after that person returns from deployment. It now goes to the governor.

Medicaid restrictions

State senators voted Tuesday to require state officials to petition the federal government every year to allow Arizona to impose new restrictions on Medicaid recipients.

HB 2367 seeks to require that those getting government-provided health insurance be working, actively seeking employment or attending a job-training program. Exemptions would be available if the person is sole caregiver to a family member younger than 5 or is getting long-term disability benefits.

The House already has approved the measure.

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