ISSUE 12 - March 30, 2012 PRINT VERSION

Legislative overview

Today is the 82nd day of the first regular session of Arizona's 50th Legislature. During the past week, the only legislative committees to hear bills were the Committees on Rules and Appropriations. Otherwise, legislative activity was confined to the floors of the two chambers.

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.

Liquor regulations

HB 2606 (liquor omnibus) failed in the Senate on Tuesday, March 27, by a vote of 12-18. Among other things, the bill, sponsored by Rep. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler), permits the State Liquor Board to consider municipal tax delinquencies in liquor license suspension and revocation proceedings. It 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). A motion for reconsideration was approved, which provides for a future revote on the measure.

State parks

On Monday, March 26, the Senate approved HB 2362 (state parks revenue fund) by a unanimous vote of 28-0, sending it to the Governor's desk. Sponsored by Rep. Karen Fann (R-Prescott), the bill creates a new fund for operation and maintenance of the state park system. The fund would be composed of private donations, revenue from fees and sales, and legislative appropriations. 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.

Animal cruelty

On Thursday, March 29, the Senate Committee of the Whole approved HB 2780 (animal cruelty; ranching dogs). The bill provides an exemption from animal cruelty statutes with respect to dogs involved in ranching and farming activities. The Senate adopted a floor amendment offered by Senator Ron Gould (R-Lake Havasu City), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. That amendment considerably narrows the exemption.

Traffic control

On Tuesday, March 20, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a strike-everything amendment to HB 2557 (NOW: intersection; definition) by a vote of 8-4. As amended, the bill redefines the definition of "intersection" in the transportation statutes to make it more difficult to cite drivers for red light violations. The measure passed the Senate Committee of the Whole on March 27 and now proceeds to its third reading.

Alarm installation

On Tuesday, March 27, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed HB 2748 (NOW: alarm business; alarm agent; certification). The measure provides for the establishment of a statewide certification requirement for alarm businesses and alarm agents, and preempts further local regulation of alarm installation. The measure was additionally amended on the floor to make technical and clarifying changes. The League is neutral on the bill, which now proceeds to its third reading in the Senate.

Consumer fireworks

HB 2361 (NOW: regulations; consumer fireworks), which passed the House by a vote of 46-14 on March 6, is subject to consideration by the Senate Committee of the Whole at any time. 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 vendors; addresses certain signage issues; and permits restrictions on the sale and use of consumer fireworks in Coconino and Yavapai Counties. The League is neutral on the bill.

Tax reform

On Wednesday, March 28, the Senate unanimously approved HB 2123 (transaction privilege tax reform committee). The bill, sponsored by House Majority Leader Steve Court (R-Mesa), establishes a 13-member committee to study various issues related to the future of taxes in Arizona. The bill requires the committee to report its findings and recommendations by October 31, 2012.

Law enforcement

On Monday, March 26, the House Committee of the Whole was scheduled to hear SB 1212 (law enforcement officers; just cause), but the bill was retained. Sponsored by Senator Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert), the bill mandates that the same "just cause" process required for the termination of law enforcement officers be applied to demotions and suspensions lasting longer than 40 hours. The League opposes the bill as a costly impediment to the discipline of problematic officers.

Emergency response

On Monday, March 26, the Senate Rules Committee approved HB 2094 (prepaid wireless E911 excise tax). 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 caucuses for discussion.

Public works notification

On Monday, March 26, the Senate Rules Committee approved HB 2350 (NOW: cities; counties; regulations), which was caucused in the Senate that same day. The measure 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, which has been placed on a Senate consent calendar.

Business incentives

SB 1442 (prime contracting; manufacturing facilities; infrastructure) was discussed by both House caucuses on Thursday, March 29. The measure allows municipalities and counties to recapture state transaction privilege taxes paid by qualified manufacturing facilities for public infrastructure necessary for those facilities. The League supports the measure as a tool for attracting manufacturing jobs to Arizona.

Sales tax collection

HB 2466 (NOW: payment; local sales tax) was scheduled for consideration by the Senate Committee of the Whole on Thursday, March 29. The bill, which provides for the creation of an online portal for the direct remittance of taxes by taxpayers in self-collecting cities, was retained. The League, which supports the measure, understands that it was held in order to resolve outstanding issues with the Arizona Department of Administration.

Political signs

On Wednesday, March 28, the House Committee of the Whole approved SB 1200 (political signs; hazardous locations). The bill, sponsored by Senator Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake), stipulates that a government agency must notify the owner of a political sign in writing if a particular sign is deemed to create a hazardous condition. It further provides that, for purposes of calculating the time frame for permissible sign installation, a primary election begins on the day that early ballots are first mailed out to voters. The measure now proceeds to its third reading in the House.

Legislator Profile - Senator Steve Pierce

Senator Steve Pierce
As a real-deal Arizona cowboy whose family has been in the ranching business since 1915, Senator Steve Pierce knows bull when he sees it. And make no mistake: as the president of the Arizona State Senate, he sees a lot of it.

There is little doubt that Pierce's reputation as a straight-shooting, no-nonsense, get-it-done leader figured largely in his election to the Senate's senior leadership post upon the departure of his predecessor. With a vocal minority and a caucus of independent-minded senators, Pierce constantly draws on a reserve of quiet strength to keep the Arizona Senate moving forward.

Given the depth of his Arizona roots, Pierce's ancestors may as well have walked out of the sea and right into the desert Southwest. Instead, his grandfather came to Arizona from Missouri, rolling into the territory on a boxcar. He found work at O'Malley Lumber in Phoenix, from which he retired as a manager at about the time that Arizona became a state.
Legislative Bulletin is published by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.
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Issue 12 - March 30, 2012
Issue 12 - March 30, 2012
Issue 12 - March 30, 2012
Issue 12 - March 30, 2012
Issue 12 - March 30, 2012
Issue 12 - March 30, 2012
Issue 12 - March 30, 2012