ISSUE 10 - March 16, 2012 PRINT VERSION

Legislative update

Today is the 68th day of the second regular session of Arizona's Centennial Legislature. It is also the deadline for committees (except appropriations) to conduct hearings on pending bills. New initiatives may yet be introduced in the form of strike-all amendments to bills considered by the appropriations committees of the House and Senate; otherwise, the universe of active legislation is fairly well known upon the expiration of today's deadline.

Consolidated elections

HB 2826 (consolidated election dates; political subdivisions) mandates that, with very narrow exceptions, all municipal elections must be held in the fall of even-numbered years. The bill, which is strongly opposed by the League, passed the House by a slim margin on March 1.

Department of Water Resources funding

On Thursday, March 15, the House Committee on Agriculture and Water unanimously approved SB 1288 (municipal water fees; repeal; appropriation). The legislation repeals the statutory authority of the Arizona Department of Water Resources to impose an assessment on cities and towns to fund departmental operations. The bill further provides for funding of the agency through the State's general fund. The League testified in support of the bill, which is scheduled for a hearing before the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, March 21.

Regulatory tax credit

On Thursday, March 15, the Senate Finance Committee approved HB 2815 (employment; incentives; regulatory tax credit) by a vote of 4-2. The League testified in opposition to the regulatory tax credit section of the bill, emphasizing: the convoluted nature of the claims process; the additional administrative expenses imposed on state and local government; and the bill's great potential for unintended consequences. Testifying in support of that provision, a representative of the Goldwater Institute observed that only health, safety and fraud are properly within the purview of government regulation. Moreover, according to the witness, any rules regarding aesthetics, building appearance or design review are beyond the proper scope of government. Some business groups testified in support of another section of the bill that phases out the state's capital gains tax, which would result in a $62 million reduction in state revenues in 2014 and nearly $400 million by 2020. The bill now proceeds to the Senate Rules Committee for further consideration.

Water and wastewater

On Wednesday, March 13, the Senate Committee on Water, Land Use and Rural Development heard HB 2416 (water and wastewater; denial prohibited), which previously passed the House on reconsideration. The bill mandates that cities and towns in Pima County provide water service to areas outside of their corporate boundaries. The committee amended the bill to further limit its application to a particular case involving the City of Tucson. Despite the League's opposition to the bill, it passed by a vote of 4-2. It now proceeds to the Senate Rules Committee for further consideration.

Border warnings

HB 2586 (border warning; dissemination), sponsored by Rep. Peggy Judd (R-Willcox), requires the state director of homeland security to monitor "dangerous conditions in regard to illegal immigration activities" in the Arizona-Mexico border area and authorizes the director to disseminate such information to the public. The bill passed the House Committee of the Whole on March 2.


On Monday, March 12, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed HB 2729 (state regulation of firearms) by a vote of 6-2. The bill, opposed by the League, requires governmental entities to allow guns into public establishments, unless certified law enforcement officers or armed personnel and metal detection equipment are present at their entrances. The measure, sponsored by Rep. David Gowan (R-Sierra Vista), applies to the state and all political subdivisions and preempts municipalities from having any firearms ordinances stricter than state law.

Homeowners' associations

On Monday, March 12, the Senate Committee on Veterans, Military and Government Affairs passed HB 2030 (homeowners' associations; public roadways) by a vote of 4-2. Sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills), the bill as amended restricts homeowners' associations from regulating parking on any roadways dedicated to a governmental entity if the HOA does not permit homeowners to have at least two vehicles parked in their driveways. The League opposes the measure because of its potential to shift costs of enforcement onto municipalities.

Sales tax collection

On Thursday, March 15, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved HB 2466 (NOW: Payment; local sales tax). The legislation provides for the creation of an online portal for the direct remittance of taxes by taxpayers in self-collecting cities. This initiative will be especially useful for taxpayers that have business in multiple jurisdictions. The League has been working cooperatively with the bill's sponsor, Rep. Rick Gray (R-Sun City), to establish the technological framework for the portal. The bill now proceeds to the Senate Rules Committee for further consideration.

Consumer fireworks

On Wednesday, March 14, the Senate Committee on Government Reform passed HB 2361 (NOW: regulations; consumer fireworks) by a vote of 6-0. Among other things, the legislation: prevents municipalities from adopting ordinances with penalties greater than a petty offense for a person using certain consumer fireworks; permits the imposition of fees on fireworks sellers; addresses certain signage issues; and permits restrictions on the sale and use of consumer fireworks in Coconino and Yavapai Counties.

Council Procedures

On Wednesday, March 14, the Senate Committee on Government Reform passed HB 2570 (political subdivisions; proceedings; governing bodies) by a vote of 4-2. The bill provides that a municipal ordinance may not take effect until it has been publicly posted in its final form for at least seven days. The bill also prescribes a process for the adoption of emergency ordinances and exempts certain other ordinances from the bill's enhanced notice requirements.

Liquor regulation

On Monday, March 12, the Senate Rules Committee approved HB 2606 (s/e: liquor omnibus). The bill was caucused by both the Senate majority and minority the following day.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler), previously agreed to an amendment, adopted by the House, which permits the State Liquor Board to consider municipal tax delinquencies in liquor license suspension and revocation proceedings. The amendment further permits a city or town to use the average of the last five years of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for fee increases (as opposed to just the previous year's CPI). The bill now moves to the Senate Committee of the Whole for further consideration.

Animal cruelty

On Monday, March 12, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed HB 2780 (animal cruelty; ranching dogs) by a vote of 5-3. The bill provides an exemption from animal cruelty statutes for dogs involved in ranching and farming activities. The League testified against the bill, noting its objection to a provision that specifically prohibits cities and towns from enacting ordinances restricting activities involving such dogs. The League is working with the bill sponsor, Rep. Peggy Judd (R-Willcox), on an amendment that would remove the preemptive language.

Alarm system installation

On Wednesday, March 14, the House Commerce Committee unanimously approved SB 1306 (NOW: alarm businesses; agents; regulation; licensing). On the same day, the Senate Committee on Government Reform passed HB 2748 (cities; alarm licenses; reciprocity) by a vote of 6-0.

Street Assessments

On Thursday, March 15, the Senate Finance Committee passed a strike-everything amendment to HB 2151 (s/e: assessments; intergovernmental agreements). The amendment prohibits a municipality from assessing property for any street constructed or improved pursuant to an intergovernmental agreement between public bodies. The League opposes the measure, which would substantially restrict the ability of municipalities to reduce costs to the taxpayer through partnerships with other public entities. The bill now proceeds to the Senate Rules Committee for further consideration.

Government deposits

On Monday, March 12, the House Rules Committee unanimously approved SB 1135 (government deposits). The bill, sponsored by Senator John McComish (R-Phoenix), previously passed the Senate by a vote of 29-0. The League supports the measure, which now proceeds to the House Committee of the Whole.

Revenue allocation districts

On Thursday, March 15, the Senate Finance Committee passed HB 2469 (revenue allocation districts) by a vote of 5-1. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Rick Gray (R-Sun City), authorizes municipalities to form Revenue Allocation Districts, which can pledge increases in both property tax and sales tax revenue to secure bonds issued to benefit the district. The League strongly supports the measure, which now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

Public works notification

On Wednesday, February 14, the Senate Committee on Government Reform passed HB 2350 (NOW: cities; counties; regulations) by a vote of 6-0. The bill requires a municipality to post its capital improvement plan (CIP) on its website. Under the legislation, a utility may also request that it receive copies of the CIP, along with information on any new or accelerated projects. The League is neutral on the bill because of its inclusion of changes negotiated with proponents. HB 2350 now proceeds to the Senate Rules Committee.

Emergency Response

On Thursday, March 15, the Senate Finance Committee passed HB 2094 (prepaid wireless E911 excise tax) by a vote of 5-1. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bob Robson (R-Chandler), levies a tax of .8 percent 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 on all telecommunications services for this purpose. The tax, however, is currently collected only on monthly wired and wireless services. The League supports HB 2094, as a means to effect considerable improvement of Arizona's aging 9-1-1 system. The legislation now proceeds to the Senate Rules Committee.

Law enforcement

On Wednesday, March 14, the House Committee on Military Affairs and Public Safety passed SB 1186 (law enforcement officers; omnibus) by a vote of 7-0. Among other things, the measure, sponsored by Sen. Linda Gray (R-Phoenix), severely curtails the ability of law enforcement agencies to require fitness for duty examinations. The League opposes the bill as a costly impediment to the discipline of problematic officers.

Pension reform

On Thursday, March 15, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved HB 2745 (NOW: PSPRS; employer contributions). The bill changes the Alternate Contribution Rate (ACR) requirements of the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS). The change would preclude an employer from paying the PSPRS ACR on a PSPRS-eligible position if a person hired to fill that position: 1) was hired before the effective date of last year's pension reform bill; 2) previously retired from PSPRS; and 3) is enrolled in another state retirement system. This change will result in cost savings for some of Arizona's cities and towns. The League supports the bill, which proceeds to the Senate Rules Committee.

Legislator Profile - Representative Steve Court

Representative Steve Court
Court is now in session. Steve Court, that is: sophomore state legislator from District 18 and the Majority Leader of the Arizona House of Representatives.

Considering that, prior to his first run for political in office in 2008, Court had never served as a precinct committeeman, attended a district meeting or worked on a political campaign, his rapid rise from retired citizen to senior House leader is nothing short of meteoric. Characteristic of his modest nature, however, Court attributes his entry into leadership to logistics. "In 2008, forty freshmen were elected to the Legislature," he notes. "The freshman class of 2010 numbers forty-two. There just aren't that many people with experience from which to choose."

Court was born in Winchester, Massachusetts, and raised in Wakefield, a scenic town 10 miles north of Boston that was first settled in 1638. His mother's family, of Canadian and German descent, immigrated to the United States from Canada. His father's ancestors came to America from England during colonial times. Court, who still has family in New England, can boast of relatives who fought in the Revolutionary War.
Legislative Bulletin is published by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.
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Issue 10 - March 16, 2012
Issue 10 - March 16, 2012
Issue 10 - March 16, 2012