The fiscal year 2014-15 (FY 15) budget took center stage this week amidst long hours and a fair share of drama.
The House of Representatives was set to tackle a budget proposal mirroring the budget passed by the Senate last Thursday.
(A summary of that budget can be found here.) However, it soon become evident that there were insufficient votes to pass that proposal
on the floor of the House as they gathered on Monday night, and the scheduled floor session was effectively cancelled.
Over the following three days, deep discussions were held in an attempt to reach a compromise on the budget.
That compromise was reached on Thursday evening with a revised budget proposal that spends approximately $54.3
million more in FY 15 than the $9.18 billion included in the Senate proposal. This latest package was passed by
the House in the waning hours of Thursday night and was First Read in the Senate Friday morning, setting the
stage for Senate Appropriations and floor action on the budget early next week.
If this proposal is sent to the Governor and she signs it, the Legislature will likely begin its final
labors on the path to sine die; the end of the regular legislative session.
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 7-1 on Tuesday to pass HB 2692 (DPS; operating expenses; appropriation; intent).
Sponsored by Speaker of the House Andy Tobin (R-Paulden), the bill appropriates $119 million in each of the next two
years from the state general fund to the Department of Public Safety for operational expenses. If enacted, this would
effectively restore Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) money to the proper distribution formula. Cities and towns specifically
rely on HURF revenue to maintain local roads. The League strongly supports the measure and thanks Speaker Tobin for his
leadership and support on the issue. However, with the passage of the budget bills in the Senate and House that
includes an increase of $30 million for local HURF funds over last year's distribution, the fate of this bill is
uncertain at best.
Fire District Annexations
HB 2044 (S/E: fire district boundary changes)
is now the vehicle for the fire district boundary change bill, HB 2152. The bill was the subject of a strike-everything
amendment in Senate Appropriations on Tuesday, and passed by a vote of 5-4. The measure sets forth requirements of certain
special taxing districts, including fire districts, when they seek to annex within a municipal planning area.
The League supported the measure because municipal taxpayers should not be forced to pay for providing fire
response services that are the responsibility of another entity; specifically the bill requires these taxing
districts get the permission of the adjacent municipality before they annex. This issue is also the subject of
a League Resolution. The measure now goes to the Rules Committee.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a strike-everything amendment on HB 2414
(S/E: public records; burdensome requests). The strike-everything amendment essentially
provides a definition of what may make a public records request unduly burdensome.
The strike-everything amendment was further amended to provide that when denying a public records request
it is a defense that the request was unduly burdensome or harassing. The language regarding the defense
reflects what had been worked out between the League and representatives from the newspaper association.
In committee, Appropriations Chairman Senator Don Shooter (R-Yuma) stated that the language contained in the
underlying strike-everything amendment was the result of a mix-up and that the intended plan is to remove the
erroneous language on the floor. The League signed in neutral on the measure, but with the changes discussed
in committee, the League will support the bill. The League thanks Representative David Stevens (R-Sierra Vista)
for his work on this issue.
Other Bills of Note
(All bills being actively monitored by the League can be found here.)
Bill Number - Short Title - Subject(s)
Legislative Bulletin is published by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.
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