ISSUE 4 - February 3, 2012

Legislative Update

Today is the 26th day of the second regular session of Arizona's 50th Legislature. As of 9:00 a.m. today, 1,417 bills, memorials and resolutions had been introduced in the House and Senate combined.

Monday, January 30, marked the deadline for members of the Senate to introduce legislation in that body. The corresponding deadline for the House of Representatives is next Monday, February 6.

Municipal Water Assessment

On Wednesday, February 1, the Senate Committee on Water, Land Use and Rural Development considered SB 1288 (municipal water fees; repeal; appropriation), legislation to repeal the authority of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) to impose an assessment on municipalities to help fund departmental operations. Passage of the bill would yield savings to cities and towns of up to $7 million per year.

The Honorable Doug Von Gausig, Mayor of Clarkdale and Vice President of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, appeared before the committee to testify in support of the bill. In addition, more than thirty Arizona municipalities formally registered their support of the legislation.

The bill passed the committee unanimously. It will next be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday, February 6. Cities and towns are encouraged to communicate their support of the bill to appropriators by using the Legislature's Request to Speak system.

On Thursday, February 2, the House Committee on Agriculture and Water considered related legislation, HB 2493 (department of water resources; funding). The bill would establish a joint committee to determine alternative funding mechanisms for ADWR. In the meantime, the municipal water assessment would continue for two years. HB 2493 passed the committee by a unanimous vote.

Online Tax Remittance

The House Committee on Ways and Means was scheduled to consider HB 2466 (local sales tax; payments; DOR) on Monday, January 30. The legislation provides for the creation of an online portal for the direct remittance of taxes by taxpayers in self-collecting cities.

The League has been working closely and productively with the bill's sponsor, Rep. Rick Gray (R-Sun City). In order to permit further refinements to the bill, the measure was withdrawn from last Monday's Ways and Means calendar at the sponsor's request.

A committee hearing on the bill has been rescheduled for Monday, February 6. Barring unforeseen changes, the League will testify in support of the bill when it is brought up for consideration.

Permit Self-Certification

HB 2168 (building permits; self-certification process) provides that, "on receipt of any completed permit application, a municipality shall give the applicant the option of obtaining the issuance of the requested permit through a municipally directed permitting process or through self-certification." The bill further outlines standards for the establishment of the mandated self-certification program.

The legislation was scheduled for consideration by the House Committee on Government on Tuesday, January 31. Due to a timing issue, the bill was held for another week. The League understands that a strike-everything amendment will be offered by the committee's chair, Rep. Michelle Ugenti (R-Scottsdale), on behalf of the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jeff Dial (R-Chandler), at such time as the bill is considered. The amendment, containing language drafted by the League, would exempt smaller municipalities and provide for a limited pilot program. Adoption of the amendment would substantially mitigate the bill's negative impacts and would move the League to a position of neutrality on the bill. In the meantime, we will continue to work with affected communities and bill proponents to address outstanding concerns with the proposal.

Homeowners' Associations

On Tuesday, January 31, the Senate Committee on Veterans, Military and Government Affairs heard Senate Bill 1113 (homeowners' associations, public roadways). Sponsored by Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix), this bill would divest homeowners' associations of their authority over roads that are dedicated to a governmental entity. The League opposes the measure because of the burdens it would impose on local enforcement and financial resources.

After nearly two hours of debate, the contentious measure passed by a vote of 4-3. It now proceeds to the Senate Rules Committee.

Regulatory Reform

On Wednesday, February 1, the House Committee on Commerce was scheduled to consider HB 2468 (regulations; entry; public service; limitations). The measure requires "agencies" to review and limit business "entry regulations" and "public service restrictions." The League is concerned that the bill could have significant unintended consequences and negative impacts on cities and towns.

League representatives met with the principal sponsor of the bill, Rep. Rick Gray (R-Sun City) earlier in the week to propose clarifying amendments to the legislation. Subsequently, the bill was withdrawn from the hearing calendar at the request of the sponsor. The League will continue to monitor and evaluate the measure as the legislative session proceeds.

State Parks

On Thursday, February 2, the House Committee on Agriculture and Water unanimously passed HB 2362 (state parks revenue fund), sponsored by Rep. Karen Fann (R-Prescott). The legislation creates a new fund (which may be composed of private donations, revenue from fees and sales, and legislative appropriations) for operation and maintenance of the state park system. The measure also permits the State Parks Board to acquire and develop real property and improvements, subject to review by the Joint Committee on Capital Review. The League supports the bill, which now proceeds to the House Rules Committee.

Government Transparency

HB 2621 (local government budgets; posting; contents) was the subject of a House Government Committee hearing on Tuesday, January 31. The legislation makes a number of changes to the statutes governing local government budget processes.

The League expressed concern about a provision that would prohibit municipalities without websites from using the League website to comply with the law. The sponsor, Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Glendale) indicated in committee that she is willing to remove that provision when the bill proceeds to the Committee of the Whole. With that change, the League is neutral on the bill, which passed the committee by a unanimous vote. The legislation now proceeds to the House Rules Committee for further consideration.


SB 1241 (forfeiture of weapons and explosives), sponsored by Senator Rick Murphy (R-Peoria), passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, January 30, by a vote of 5-2. The bill diminishes the authority of local government over the disposition of confiscated or forfeited weapons. Cities and towns would lose the authority to destroy such weapons and would instead be required to sell them to authorized dealers, unless state or federal laws otherwise apply. The League registered its formal opposition to the bill, which now proceeds to the Senate Rules Committee.

Emergency Response

On Tuesday, January 31, the House Committee on Employment and Regulatory Affairs considered HB 2094 (prepaid wireless E911 excise tax). The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bob Robson (R-Chandler), levies a tax of .8% on the retail sale of prepaid cell phone services to assist governmental entities with the maintenance, operation and capital costs associated with the 9-1-1 system. Arizona currently levies a tax of 20 cents for this purpose only on monthly wired and wireless services.

The measure passed by a vote of 8-1. The bill, which was previously approved by the House Committee on Technology and Infrastructure, now proceeds to the House Rules Committee. The League, which supports HB 2094, thanks Representative Robson for his championship of the legislation, which will improve Arizona's aging 9-1-1 system.

Law Enforcement

On Wednesday, February 1, in a hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Safety and Human Services, the League opposed two bills affecting relations between government employers and law enforcement personnel. The first measure, SB 1186 (law enforcement; omnibus) severely limits the use of fitness for duty examinations. The omnibus legislation, sponsored by Senator Linda Gray (R-Glendale), includes several miscellaneous provisions providing additional protections and benefits to law enforcement personnel. The bill passed by a vote of 4-1.

The second bill, SB 1212 (law enforcement officers; just cause), permits law enforcement officers who are demoted or suspended for more than 40 hours to utilize the just cause appeals process currently in place for officer terminations. The bill also requires the adjudicating hearing officer, administrative law judge or appeals board to state in every finding of disciplinary action whether or not just cause exists. The bill passed 6-0, and, like SB 1186, proceeds to the Senate Rules Committee.

League Directory Errata

The newly printed 2012 Local Government Directory displays incorrect professions for some mayors, vice mayors and council members on various city and town pages. This situation occurred as a result of a technical online data download problem. Unfortunately, and despite our efforts to double and triple check all the data in the directory, this error was not caught before publication. We deeply regret the error and apologize for any confusion it may cause.

Legislator Profile - Representative Kate Brophy McGee

Representative Kate Brophy McGee
If you have lived in Arizona for any amount of time, you have likely run across a Brophy or two in the course of your journey. And if you don't know a Brophy personally, perhaps you are familiar with Brophy Preparatory Academy or the Brophy Sports Complex in Phoenix. Maybe you've driven along Brophy Road in Bisbee or have heard tell of the famous Babacomari Ranch near Sonoita, a 28,000-acre Spanish land grant which has been operated under the stewardship of the Brophys since 1935.

Brophy is one of the most storied names in Arizona history. Keeping the proud family legacy aflame is the Honorable Kate Brophy McGee, a freshman legislator representing legislative district 11 in the Arizona House.

Brophy McGee acknowledges the profusion of Brophys throughout the state and distinguishes the Phoenix branch from the southern branch of the family tree, but she doesn't work too hard to map out discrete genealogical relationships. "I remember trying to explain how my Uncle Frank was also my first cousin twice removed," she recalls, "when a relation advised, 'it's a lot easier to just say we're all cousins.'" Accordingly, if you ask the newly minted representative about her connection to a particular Brophy, she is more likely than not to respond, "Of course, he's my cousin."

A third-generation Arizonan, Brophy McGee was preceded by intrepid pioneers who immigrated to Arizona from Ireland via San Francisco. Her direct ancestors settled in Bisbee in the 1870s, helping prepare for the explosive growth that would attend the copper boom at the turn of the century. By the early 1900s, Bisbee was the largest American city between St. Louis and San Francisco.

The Brophys were community-minded entrepreneurs who helped develop infrastructure to support the fledgling municipality. They established a power and light company in Bisbee and founded the Bank of Douglas (which later became Arizona Bank). Farmers and cattle ranchers as well, they made a good living from their hard work and responsible management of natural resources.

Brophy McGee spent her formative years in Bisbee and then moved with her family to Tucson as she was entering fourth grade. She attended Tucson High, which proved to be a breeding ground for Arizona political figures. At the time she was in school, fellow Badgers included: Fred DuVal, chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents; Jan Lesher, who served as former Governor Napolitano's chief of staff and Director of the Arizona Department of Commerce; and attorney Andrew Federhar, a tireless policy activist who has served on countless state boards and commissions.

Brophy McGee is one of seven children, all of whom graduated from college. Aside from herself, siblings included four attorneys, one commodities broker and one rancher. Brophy McGee warms at reflections of her late brother, Mike, one of the most effective water lawyers produced by the Grand Canyon state. "I learned so much from him," she muses. "He effectively argued his points of view without becoming disagreeable."

Upon graduating from the University of Arizona, Brophy McGee entered a bank management training program, where she was given the option to pursue a career in commercial lending or branch management. She chose the former, and her decision led her to both a job in Phoenix and to her husband, Bob McGee, a fourth-generation banker. From the perspective of a Brophy, he was a relative newcomer to the state, having just arrived in 1956. "He was a wonderful man" Brophy McGee laughs, "but I was dumb enough to attempt to set him up with girlfriends of mine."

The future representative enjoyed great success in the men's club that was at the time commercial banking. She and Bob were married, and Brophy McGee took a leave of absence in 1986 to give birth to the couple's oldest son. She never returned to banking, devoting herself instead to raising their three sons and serving the community.

Community service is to Brophy McGee something like an article of faith, a fundamental obligation not to be doubted. Given the opportunity, she will do everything within her power to improve the condition of her tribe, broadly defined. Accordingly, she served on the Washington Elementary School District governing board for nearly ten years, including four terms as Board president. She has been active in many causes, and currently serves as the president of her homeowners association.

So it was that when an open House seat presented itself in 2010 (with the move of Adam Driggs to the Senate), Brophy McGee decided to throw her hat in the ring. For Brophy McGee, an avowed enemy of apathy, the campaign trail represented a battleground for a fight against this nemesis. Brophy McGee thoughtfully opines, "Apathy is the worst thing that can happen to a governing system. When it sets in, leaders lose their accountability."

Brophy McGee is genuinely honored and joyful to represent her district 11 constituency in the state legislature. She is especially proud to hold a position of public trust at a time when Arizona, the state her forebears helped create, approaches its 100th birthday.

Brophy McGee enjoys her committee assignments (Agriculture and Water, Health and Human Service, and Energy and Natural Resources) and appreciates the collegial nature of the House. She observes that, "there is a respect among members born of common experience. Representatives recognize that their colleagues, like themselves, worked hard to get here."

Presented with a Friend of Cities and Towns award by the League following her first session in the House, Brophy McGee has great respect for local officials and suggests that a city council may be the most challenging governing board on which to serve, especially because its decisions have such direct and immediate impacts on the lives of citizens. Moreover, she was "horrified" during her first legislative session by the number of bills that sought to micromanage municipalities. She promises to continue to resist legislative efforts to erode local authority.

When she is not legislating, Brophy McGee is busy catering to the whims of her movie star dog, Meggie. The standard poodle ("a more evolved form of life") is a PetSmart model that has appeared in print ads for collars, dog beds and canine clothes, and has recently moved into videos. Meggie works fairly cheaply, trading her services for grooming on shoot days and free treats on set.

Brophy McGee has faithfully continued her family's uninterrupted tradition of dedicated service to her native state. She hopes that has done her clan proud, and that her contributions will help ensure that the Brophy name remains associated with Arizona in the future.

Legislative Bulletin is published by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.
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