Issue 7 - February 22, 2013 PRINT VERSION

Legislative Overview

Today marks the deadline established by rule for legislation to be heard in committee in the house of origin. Given this significant deadline, legislative committee agendas were loaded with bills for consideration. Many committees went late into the evening hours and a number of committees held special meetings so that they could hear more bills within the allotted timeframe.

As a result, the League registered its position as well as testified on a number of bills this week. This increased activity is reflected in the length of this week's Legislative Bulletin, which can be expected to diminish in content as the session progresses.

The next notable deadline will not occur for another month. March 22 will mark the last day to hear legislation in standing committees, excluding the Rules and Appropriations Committees.

Changes to Transaction Privilege Taxes

HB 2657 (transaction privilege tax changes) was heard on Monday afternoon in the House Ways and Means Committee. After four hours of testimony from opponents and proponents of the bill, the committee passed out the bill unanimously on an 8-0 vote. It is important to note however, that the three Democrat representatives on the committee, Rep. Gallego, Rep. Cardenas and Rep. Wheeler explained that if the bill remained in its current form, they would vote against it if it reaches the House Floor for a vote. HB 2657 was also assigned to the House Appropriations Committee and has yet to be scheduled for a hearing. We want to thank Mayor Schoaf of Litchfield Park, Mayor Price of Maricopa and Mayor Wolcott of Surprise for ably testifying to the great concerns cities and towns have with the measure.

Taxes on Commercial Leases

Both SB 1028 (municipal TPT exemption; leases; ownership) and HB 2324 (municipal tax code; leases) passed out of their house of origin and are awaiting action in the opposite chamber. The goal of both bills is to expand upon legislation passed in recent years to exempt lease transactions between entities that share at least 80 percent common ownership from commercial lease tax. SB 1028 currently contains language that is more complete and we are working with the sponsor of HB 2324 to adopt the same language.

Transportation Funding

HB 2594 (local transportation assistance fund; restoration) re-establishes the County Assistance Fund, the Local Transportation Assistance Fund (LTAF), the Local Transportation Assistance Fund for Mass Transit, and the Arizona State Parks Board Heritage Fund. Sponsored by Rep. Ethan Orr (R - Tucson), the measure also prescribes the allotment of funds to municipalities on a population based revenue sharing system and that cities and towns may use 10% of their funds for certain non-transit services. On February 18th the bill passed the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee by a unanimous vote, and now goes on to the House Appropriations Committee.

Election Changes

On Tuesday, February 19, the House Government Committee passed HB 2527 (elections; revisions) on an 8-0 vote. Among other changes, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Ugenti (R- Scottsdale) authorizes municipalities to lengthen or shorten their terms in order to transition to candidate elections in the fall of even years. The bill also modifies municipal incorporation statutes accordingly. The committee adopted an amendment to provide municipalities with their "home rule" authorization expiring in the spring of 2014 the opportunity to move those elections to the fall of 2014 without suffering harmful consequences. The League testified in favor of the bill and the amendment, supporting these key changes to ensure the smoothest transition to a consolidated election schedule. The League thanks Rep. Ugenti for sponsoring HB 2527 and the amendment.

Guns in Public Buildings

HB 2554 (firearm regulation; state preemption) passed out of the House Public Safety, Military and Regulatory Affairs Committee by a vote of 5-2. The measure stipulates statewide gun locker storage and signage requirements, as well as penalties for entering public establishments that ban firearms. The League is opposed to HB 2554, which now goes on to the House Rules Committee.

Ineligible Employees

HB 2562 (public retirement systems; ineligible employees) places employees ineligible for ASRS and PSPRS into a defined contribution plan under ASRS and expands the definition of member under PSPRS. The League is neutral on the bill because the definitions need further development, but we support the efforts of the sponsor and look forward to reaching a bill the League can support. The bill passed the House Insurance and Retirement Committee on a 6-2 vote on Tuesday, February 19. The League thanks the sponsor, Rep. Bob Robson (R-Chandler) for his leadership on this issue and willingness to bring stakeholders together to craft a solution to employees that may currently be enrolled incorrectly into a state pension system.

Photo Radar

The House Committee on Transportation heard two bills related to the photo enforcement of traffic laws on Thursday. HB 2579 (photo radar prohibition) sought to ban all photo enforcement programs in the state. The bill, which is opposed by the League, failed to pass the committee on a 2-4 vote. However, HB 2292 (photo radar citations; service times) passed out of committee. This bill proposes to limit the service times for photo radar citations to between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Steve Smith (R-Maricopa), agreed to work on some amendments as the bill moves forward.

UN Rio Declaration

On Monday, the Senate Government and Environment Committee passed SB 1403 (United Nations Rio declaration; prohibition) by a vote of 4-3. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Judy Burges (R-Sun City West) prohibits the state and its political subdivisions from adopting or implementing "the creed, doctrine, principles or any tenet" of the 1992 United Nations Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. The bill also specifically identifies a number of organizations with which Arizona political entities are prohibited from affiliating. The League opposes the legislation, based on its ambiguous language, potential for unintended negative consequences and prospective impacts on municipal initiatives.

Dedicated Property Tax

On Wednesday, February 20, the Senate Finance Committee adopted a strike-everything amendment on SB 1470 (bond contracts; technical correction). The strike-everything amendment allows towns to seek permission from the voters to levy a property tax to pay the costs of providing police, fire and emergency medical services. The League supports the amendment as provides towns with another method for paying for public safety and emergency services. The amended bill passed on a 7-0 vote.

Other Bills of Note

(All bills being actively monitored by the League can be found here.)

Bill Number - Short Title - Subject(s)
HB 2138: municipalities; right-of-way; transfer - annexation

HB 2347: tax levy; bond costs - finance

HB 2443: cities; counties; regulatory review - regulations

HB 2608: EORP; closure; defined contribution - pension

SB 1103: charter schools; zoning procedures - regulations

SB 1210: municipalities; municipal policies; shared revenues - general government

SB 1231: public buildings; construction; indemnity - general government

SB 1278: homeowners' associations; public roadways- HOA

SB 1321: residential energy efficiency; building codes - regulations

SB 1454: campaign finance; in-kind contributions; disclosures - elections

Legislative Bulletin is published by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.
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Issue 7 - February 22, 2013
Issue 7 - February 22, 2013
Issue 7 - February 22, 2013
Issue 7 - February 22, 2013
Issue 7 - February 22, 2013
Issue 7 - February 22, 2013